Troutdale Historical Society Museums

Select from each of our Museums below to learn more. Image galleries for each museum as well as hours of operation are also available. Enjoy!


Harlow House, Barn Museum and Depot Rail Museum open on Third Saturday of Each Month.

The Troutdale Historical Society will have all three of the museums open on the third Saturday of each month starting January 16, 2010, from 10a.m until 2 p.m.
The Harlow House will feature a display of the society's vintage Valentines.

The Barn Museum exhibit is called "What Went By" and illustrates the history of Troutdale from its beginning as a city in 1907 until its centennial celebration in 2007.

Among the exhibits visitors will find text panels, antique farming tools, a slide show of vintage photos, and murals by local artist Kathy Allegri.

A wonderful collection of railroad memorabilia and tools is on display in the Depot Rail Museum.

The Depot store will also be open on Saturday.

The Rail Depot Museum, End of the Line Museum Store, and THS office are also open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday thru Friday. The Harlow House and Barn are open when volunteers are available. To visit the Harlow House and Barn museums, please contact us, so we can arrange for a volunteer to be there when you visit.




726 E. Historic Columbia River Highway

Photo Gallery of the Harlow House
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The Troutdale Historical Society Announces new exhibit at Harlow House Museum

We are pleased to announce that we have on display a wonderful, quirky collection of Penny Balch’s hats. Penny was a long time member and faithful volunteer of the Troutdale Historical Society who lost her battle with cancer last year. Her family has graciously allowed us to show off her vintage hats, along with some bags and gloves, too. Please join us and honor Penny’s memory by viewing her collection.

In addition to Penny’s hat collection, we still have antique ruby glass on display. The ruby glass is being loaned to the Troutdale Historical Society by long time member and ruby glass collector, Doneva Shepard. Her collection includes dishes, cups and mugs, pitchers of all sizes, and a wonderful assortment of souvenir items.

Since the Harlow House is a turn of the century house, it is a perfect venue for these fantastic collections. Anyone with an interest in ruby glass and/or vintage hats will not want to miss seeing these exhibits, and anyone who has an appreciation of beauty from the past will enjoy it too.

The Harlow House Museum is open every third Saturday, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and on other days by request. The hats and ruby glass will be on display throughout the summer.

This home was built in 1900 on what was known as the "Harlow Farm" by Fred E. Harlow, son of Capt. John Harlow, Troutdale's founder.

Originally a sea captain from Maine, Capt. Harlow was a Portland businessman who came to the Sandy River to establish a country farm. He named his place Troutdale because of the fish ponds he built near the cliff. When the railroad was built from Portland through the Columbia River Gorge in 1882 he convinced them to establish a depot, which took the name of the farm.

Fred Harlow and his family lived in the home until about 1915. The second occupants were Lou Harlow, another of the captain's sons, and his wife, Laura Bullock Harlow. Both Lou and Laura were mayors of Troutdale.

The last residents of the home were Lee and Mabel Evans, both descendants of pioneer families. She was a piano teacher and claimed to be the "first white girl born in the newly-platted town of Troutdale".

The knoll on which the house stands kept it above the 1948 flood waters. There are four bedrooms upstairs. One serves as the curator's office, the others are open to visitors. The contents of the house include household goods from both the Harlow and Evans families as well as many items donated by residents of the area.

The Harlow House is on the National Register of Historic Places. The grounds of the Harlow House are part of the city park system.

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726 E. Historic Columbia River Highway

Info on the current exhibit
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Our Barn Museum was the brainchild of John Nasmyth, who was one of the founding members of the Troutdale Historical Society. He suggested that the society needed a place to display (and store) all the farm equipment and other artifacts being donated. His idea of funding was to bring a check every time he had a notion to do something.

Members went to work designing and building the barn in their spare time. Dick Jones, who discovered the society through a tour of historic homes, contributed many hours to the construction of the barn. He is considered the main builder. Ten years later, the museum was completed enough to hold an exhibit.

In 1998, we opened our first exhibit entitled "Smelt Run! A Fish Story", coinciding with the society's 30th anniversary. Included in the exhibit were a collection of pictures, text and artifacts of the Troutdale smelt runs that once drew thousands of visitors to the Sandy River. A glimmer from the small silver fish in the spring run off, and the news of the smelt run spread quickly from Troutdale to Gresham to east Portland. There was also a film of the runs from the Oregon Historical Society files which showed in Riegelmann's Smeltvision Theater.

Currently displayed in the Barn museum is an exhibit commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery. The explorers spent six days in the Troutdale area, discovering plants and learning about the native peoples. For more on this exhibit select here.


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473 E. Historic Columbia River Highway

Photo Gallery of the Rail Depot
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On November 20, 1882, a rail line was built through what is now Troutdale and on east through the Columbia River Gorge.

Troutdale's founder, Capt. John Harlow, asked railroad builders to establish a depot at his town site. When they refused, he sailed his small riverboat up the Sandy River during a spring freshet and declared the river navigable.

Harlow demanded an expensive drawbridge to accommodate river traffic instead of the trestle planned by railroad builders. He obligingly withdrew his demand when the railroad bowed to his wishes for a depot.

Troutdale grew up along the tracks, a one-sided main street facing what is now the Union Pacific line. The town flourished and once boasted a meat packing plant, a five-story distillery, a lumber mill, an opera house and its own newspaper.

In 1894, Coxey's Army, a ragtag band of unemployed men, invaded the railroad yard, hi-jacked a train and attempted to reach Washington, DC, where they planned to ask the president for jobs. They were stopped by troops at Arlington.

The original 1882 depot burned in 1907. A replacement structure was built in that same year. Indoor restrooms were later added and the trackside bay altered. Otherwise, the building, which was the shipping site of many carloads of fresh vegetables, is much the same as when it was new. The station agent's office contains railroad artifacts donated by local residents.

The depot was given to Troutdale by Union Pacific Railroad in 1976. It was moved to this location from its original site on the north side of the tracks about two blocks west. The depot is part of Troutdale's Depot Park, which offers access to the Sandy River and Beaver Creek.

In 2001, the society was given a caboose, also from Union Pacific Railroad, which was moved to the Depot's parking lot. It is also open for viewing during regular museum hours.

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