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Columbia Gorge Research Library

Area History & Research

The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum has more than 26,000 documented objects in its collections. Explore photographs, Native American artifacts, and tools and household furnishings of the region. The Center is interested in expanding its collections and welcomes inquiries from potential donors. The collections are open for research by appointment

Historical research at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center touches many areas of interest, including Lewis and Clark archaeology, Native American basketry, local land settlement, Rock Fort, historic Fort Dalles and steamboats on western rivers. The collections are open for research by appointment only. Contact: or 541.296.8600 ext. 242.

Making a Donation FAQ

Click here for questions about making a donation.

View Part of our Collections.

You can explore a portion of our collections online.

Click here to view the Native American Basketry archive.

Click here to learn about our photo collection.

William Dick Research Library

The William Dick Library
The library has over 2,000 volumes on local and regional history. Genealogy files are the strength of the library. The library also houses the Educator Resource Center (ERC) which provides local gorge area educators free access to classroom curricula and materials. The library is open for research by appointment. Email for information.

Photo Collection of Native American Fishing


Explore images of Celilo Falls, the Gorge, and area communities from the mid-1800s through the 20th century. With the generous assistance of Northern Wasco County People’s Utility District, the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum photo archives have nearly ten thousand photos, including the Wasco County Pioneer Association collection. Many of these images are online for viewing by researchers, students, and the general public. If you would like to purchase a digital image of one of the photos in our collection, contact the Collections Manager at or call 541-296-8600 ext. 242. Please have the catalog/accession number handy. Images requiring staff time to research are subject to additional cost.

View the online PHOTO COLLECTION.

Native American Basket Collection


The first people to inhabit North America arrived in the region approximately 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, making this area one of the longest inhabited regions in the western hemisphere. Theirs is a rich culture, evident in the basketry and tools used in daily life. The basketry collection at Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum showcases intricate Native American design work unique to the mid-Columbia basin and the Pacific Northwest. Conservation and online access to the basket collection is supported by grants from Oregon Heritage Commission and Oregon Cultural Trust, both of which invest in preserving Oregon’s arts, humanities and heritage. Exhibit 10,000 Years.

View the online Native American Basketry Collection.

Artifacts from the George Lawrence Company

George Lawrence Company Exhibit

This newly-expanded exhibit features the leatherworking machinery and tools of an industry integrally tied to the history of the west. From Irish immigrant roots dating to 1857, the George Lawrence Company of Portland grew to become a famed icon in saddle making. The artistry and skill of 140 years in operation is conveyed in this unique collection, funded by The James F. & Marion L. Miller Foundation, the Oregon Cultural Trust, and the Lawrence family.

Columbia Gorge Links

USDA Forest Service / Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act of 1986 established the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum as the official (national) interpretive center for the Columbia River Gorge. Historic and current information about the Columbia Gorge; helpful to recreational visitors.

Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute
Life-long learning opportunities to foster a sense of wonder and community stewardship of the Columbia River Gorge’s natural systems.

The Historic Columbia River Highway
Current topics and information about the historic highway, updated regularly by the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Lewis and Clark Links

PBS Online: Lewis and Clark
Companion site to the Ken Burns film, ‘Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery.’ Information on the explorers, expedition journals, trip timeline and maps, interviews with historical experts, an overview of Native American tribes, and classroom lessons.

Lewis and Clark
National Geographic Kids’ expedition gallery, with references.

Lewis and Clark Trail
Historical account of the Corps of Discovery along the Lewis and Clark Trail. Includes an events calendar, trail properties, and trail treasures.

Following the Voyage of Discovery
A few historical FAQs, with an expedition map.

The Trail of the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery
This unique travel guide locates hundreds of attractions along the trail pioneered by the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Area Chamber and Visitor Associations

Columbia Gorge Tourism Alliance —
Columbia Gorge Tourism Alliance is a non-profit network of diverse businesses and organizations focused on maximizing the positive impacts of the visitor economy to both enhance our local communities and to protecting the natural resources they are coming to see.

The Dalles Chamber of Commerce
Located three miles from the Discovery Center in downtown The Dalles; local business listings, lodging, recreational, and event information.

Hood River County Chamber of Commerce
Located in Hood River, OR; local business listings, lodging, recreational, and event information.

The Dalles and Wasco County History Links

Historic The Dalles Days Oregon
Includes local history for The Dalles and surrounding communities, a local calendar of events, and links to museums and area attractions including the Fort Dalles Museum and Anderson Homestead, the Original Wasco County Courthouse, and the Old St. Peter’s landmark.

Other Museums of Interest

Maryhill Museum of Art
Just 29 miles from the Discovery Center near the eastern entry to the Columbia River Gorge in Maryhill, WA; features sculptures and other works from Rodin, and art and artifacts from around the Pacific Northwest.

Oregon History Museum (Oregon Historical Society Museum)
Located in Portland, OR; preserving and thoughtfully interpreting Oregon’s past.

Yakima Valley Museum
Offers historical displays focusing on the Yakima Valley; its natural history, Native American culture, early pioneer life, and the roots and development of the Valley’s fruit industry.

The Museum at Tamastslikt Cultural Institute
Located in Pendleton, OR; dedicated to the cultural history of the indigenous Cayuse, Walla Walla, and Umatilla tribes.

The Museum at Warm Springs
Conceived and created by The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, OR.

State Visitor Information Links

Columbia River Gorge Travel Information with Road and Weather Conditions

TripCheck ODOT Road Conditions



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