February 19, 2024
This Issues Topics:
2024 • Business Connections • history • Lewis County Historical Museum
UFOs descended upon the Lewis County Historical Museum’s model train exhibit during the Chehalis Flying Saucer Party in September 2022.

By Emily Fitzgerald
For the C-C Chamber of Commerce

Lewis County has an eclectic history, and there’s no better place to explore all that history has to offer than the Lewis County Historical Museum.

Founded in 1966, the Lewis County Historical Museum started out in a house up on a hill in Chehalis and moved to the rail depot building after the railroad closed in 1976, according to museum Executive Director Jason Mattson.

Before he took the museum executive director position in July of 2017, Mattson was the facilities manager for the Yard Birds Mall & Flea Market, according to reporting by The Chronicle. Mattson spearheaded efforts from 2010 onward to restore the formerly decaying large Yard Bird structure on the property and, after Yard Birds closed in late 2022, Mattson acquired the Yard Bird statue from a private owner on behalf of the museum.

“We were able to purchase it from someone from Yard Birds who kind of rescued it from demolition,” Mattson said. “It may have taken a fall on its face, so the beak was just smashed … I was able to go in and remove all the broken bits and reshape the framework and redo the fiberglass on the beak and give it a whole new paint job.”

The Yard Bird statue now sits proudly just outside the entrance to the Lewis County Historical Museum, a fitting opener to the large Yard Birds exhibit the museum currently has in its rotating exhibit section.

Permanent displays inside the Lewis County Historical Museum include a turn-of-the-century model kitchen, a vintage barber salon, a display on the Cowlitz and Chehalis tribes, and a model railroad.

An interactive exhibit that’s popular amongst all ages, the model railroad highlights the major train stops in Lewis County in the ‘70s, Mattson said.

“It’s just fun for everyone to check out,” Mattson said of the model railroad.

The museum also has a kids area with a wooden train set and other toys kids can play with. The museum is currently working on a scavenger hunt for kids, “so that’ll be coming out soon,” Mattson said.

In addition to pursuing displays, museum attendees are invited to dig into the Lewis County Historical Museum’s research library, which includes thousands of obituaries, high school annuals, biographies, town histories, and historic photographs.

“It’s pretty extensive,” Mattson said of the library.

In the winter, the Lewis County Historical Museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Summertime hours, which are in effect from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. General admission is $5 for adults, $4 for senior, student or military. Kids 8 and under can enter for free.

Outside of its regular museum hours, the Lewis County Historical Museum hosts a wide variety of events, ranging from regular author meet-and-greets, to the popular Blueberry Pancake Breakfast during ChehalisFest in July, to the alien-packed Flying Saucer Party in September.

For more information about the Lewis County Historical Museum, including memberships and upcoming events, visit https://lewiscountymuseum.org/.

photos 1: The newly-restored Yard Birds statue sits in the background of the annual ChehalisFest Blueberry Breakfast outside the Lewis County Historical Museum in Chehalis in July 2023.

Photo 2: Lewis County Historical Museum Executive Director Jason Mattson presents at an event titled “Bigfoot: Real or Hoax” in Chehalis in April 2023.

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