Historic Ilwaco (ill-WOK-o) is a charter, sports, and commercial fishing town on the south end of the Long Beach Peninsula, with docks on protected Baker Bay. The town was named for a Chinook leader, Chief Elowahka Jim. Walk around town to find five murals on the sides of local businesses, and some wonderful old buildings.
Ilwaco’s old Fire Station No. 1 on Lake Street contains the “Mankiller,” an 1846 hand pumper that was the first fire-fighting apparatus of its kind in Washington Territory. You can view the Mankiller through a window when the building isn’t open.
Just north of Ilwaco is a pullout along scenic Black Lake; paddleboats are available for rent here in the summer (360/642-3003).
Visit the excellent Ilwaco Heritage Museum (115 S.E. Lake St., 360/642-3446, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–4 p.m. Sun. in summer, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Sat. fall–spring) for a look into Pacific Coast history via models, Native American exhibits, and photographs of early settlers’ fishing, oystering, and logging methods, along with Cape Disappointment shipwrecks and rescues. Of particular interest is a detailed scale model of the Columbia River estuary, and a display on the Sector ($3 adults, $2.50 seniors, $1 children under 12), a 26-foot boat that Gérard D’Aboville rowed from Japan to Ilwaco in 1991.
Washington State Parks conducts tours (360/642-3078, $1) of historic Colbert House at the corner of Spruce and Quaker Streets daily in the summer.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition