Dayton Area History

Dayton is rich in history, featuring several museums ranging from a historic train depot to Victorian homes to Native American artifacts. The area also was a main stop on the Lewis & Clark expedition with several sites and statues commemorating their visit. Below is a listing of the many historical nuggets found in the Dayton area.



Address: 410 N 1st St  Dayton, WA  99328

Built in 1880, The Boldman House was bequeathed to the Dayton Historical Depot Society in July of 2000 by Gladys Boldman. The Boldman House Museum and Garden has a mission: to bring life to the family home of Miss Gladys M. Boldman through restoration, conservation, interpretation, and education. It is listed on the Local, State and National
Historic Registers as the Brining/Boldman House.

Winter Hours (October - April) are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 1 to 4 pm

Summer Hours (May - September) are Wednesday-Saturday 11:00 am - 4:00 pm

 Individual or group tours during other times are available by appointment. For reservations, call 509-382-1548 or email your request to

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Address: 222 E Commercial Ave  Dayton, WA  99328

Originally built in 1881 and designed in the Stick/Eastlake style, the Dayton Historic Depot is now the oldest surviving passenger train station in the state. The Depot has been beautifully restored and is now a museum. Revolving exhibits are featured in the upstairs gallery. Located at 222 E. Commercial Street.

WINTER HOURS (November thru April.): Wednesday thru Saturday, 11 am to 4 pm

SUMMER HOURS (May through October) : Wednesday thru Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm, closing for lunch from noon to 1 pm.

For information call 509-382-2026.

Closed Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Holidays.

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Address: 113 N Front St  Dayton, WA  99328

Built in 1900, this country schoolhouse was originally located eight miles north of Dayton. It served grades 1-8 in the Smith Hollow School District until 1933, when that district consolidated with Dayton. The building, however, continued to be used as an area meeting place and community center on into the 1980s.

In 2010, the building was moved to Dayton, where it underwent a three-year restoration. Looking again as it did in its heyday, the Smith Hollow Country Schoolhouse now showcases the history of education—as well as rural community centers—in Columbia County.

Visitors may experience sitting at the wooden desks, writing with chalk on slates and chalkboards, using vintage typewriters, pumping the player piano, playing 78 records on a Victrola, and building with a set of Tinker Toys.

Additional exhibits rotate in and out of the back room of the schoolhouse.

New to the site is a cabin built in 1898 for a soldier returning from the Spanish American War. It was moved in 2017 from the backyard of a Richmond Street home and reassembled on the schoolhouse site.

OPEN (April - November) Fridays and Saturdays from 1:00-4:00 pm.

Other times are by appointment. Call 509-540-9560 or email 


Address: 426 East Main Street, Dayton, WA (across from the Columbia County Veterans Memorial)

The local American Legion, Frank Bauers Post 42, has provided the museum a collection of uniforms, pictures, artifacts, and binders detailing local involvement in every war from the Indian Wars and Civil War through current conflicts. It is an honor to have this display ready for the public to view.

The Palus Museum also features locally found artifacts from the Palus (Palouse) Indian tribe. Other exhibits focus on the Lewis & Clark Expedition (1804-1806), tools, early railroad memorabilia, and more.

A nomadic people, the Palus tribe wintered near Palouse Falls. The year’s other seasons were spent hunting, collecting roots and berries, and fishing in the nearby Blue Mountains, the Dayton area, and the Columbia Basin.

Horse races were regularly held on what is now Dayton’s Main Street.

OPEN (April - November) Fridays and Saturdays from 1:00-4:00 pm.

Other times are by appointment. Call 509-540-9560 or email



On their return journey, Merriwether Lewis and William Clark and the Corps of Discovery passed through what is now downtown Dayton. Having traveled 19 miles on that particular day, the group encamped near Patit Creek.

As part of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial, a group of Dayton residents created a full-scale restoration of the campsite with life-size metal silhouette sculptures. Using the journals as reference, all members (human and animal) of the expedition are represented.  The camp is located just two miles east of Dayton on Patit road. Silhouette statues of Lewis, Clark and horses mark Patit Rd at the turn from US Highway 12. Signs at the site include a legend of those represented.


Rich in area history, Dayton was first settled in the 1850′s and soon became a thriving community. Between 1880 and 1910, prosperous businessmen and farmers built impressive residential, commercial, and public buildings in the Queen Anne, Italianate, Gothic and Craftsman style. Today, 117 of those buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and form three National Historic Districts. Self-guided walking tour maps are available for each district at the Dayton Chamber of Commerce, the Dayton Historic Depot, and local retail stores.

Sacajawea Statue

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Fort Walla Walla Museum discovers, preserves and shares regional heritage through its cultural resources management program, five exhibit halls, 17 building Pioneer Village, special events and summer kids camps.

Located on the grounds of a 19th-century military fort, Fort Walla Walla Museum provides an exciting and educational experience for the whole family. The Museum features a 17-building historic pioneer settlement, beautiful gardens, and five sprawling exhibit halls housing thousands of artifacts. The Entrance Building and Galleries feature dynamic exhibits, artifacts, and an admission-free Museum Store filled with books, heritage gifts, traditional crafts, old- fashioned toys and gourmet foods.

Located at 755 Myra Road, Walla Walla, WA 509-525-7703

The Museum is open daily, 10-5