Portland has always been an important river port , making river marine and recreation a vital aspect of life in the state and nearby communities. The Oregon Maritime Museum seeks to teach locals and visitors about the history of the Columbia river basin and preserve maritime objects and records for scholars and the public. It features many models of different kinds of ships that travelled the Willamette and Columbia rivers, including military ships such as the Battleship Oregon, as well as paintings, navigational instruments, and other relevant artifacts. The history this museum covers spans a 150-year period of rich and interesting maritime activity.
The museum includes several exhibits, all on boats and ships. Str. Portland is a stern-wheel tug boat that was built in 1947 to help ocean going ships into the Portland Harbor. In 1981, she was retired, and the Maritime Museum was able to add her to their collection. Her hull, which is where the fuel, 8 watertight bulkheads, and the feedwater and potable water tanks are located, is made of welded steel plates over steel frames.
The Gil Netter is set on the Moms Boat, which was built in Astoria, Oregon for fishing in 1929. This type of boat was known for being very fast for the period. This boat was originally made out of materials that are impossible to find today, including oak ribs and Port Orford Cedar planking. The materials used explain how the boat was able to survive, despite the rigors of fishing.
A visitor said the highlight of the museum is the engine room, where visitors can see steam engines, the boiler, and control systems and learn more about how these historical boats functioned.
The museum includes tours, lectures, educational programs, and a research library. Lectures inform visitors about the ship's construction and function, life as a sea-farer, and how nautical instruments worked. There's even a gift show that sells different maritime items, nautical books, and shirts and hats. All in all, it's a wonderful example of history and the technical skill of a past era.
The Oregon Maritime Center and Museum is located in Tom MCall Waterfront Park, a beautiful grassy area where many Portland fairs and events take place, in front of the Battleship Oregon Memorial.