Elevated high above the Columbia River on 593 acres of Chinook Point, Fort Columbia State Park was handed over to the state of Washington in 1950 after serving as a military installation during World War I and World War II.
Although the American Civil War officially ended in 1865, British sympathy with the Confederacy and historic disputes over the U.S. northern border raised concerns regarding the vulnerability of the U.S. coastline in a climate of British naval supremacy. The U.S. government undertook a nationwide initiative to improve harbor defenses, and in 1896 construction of Fort Columbia began. The fort served as one of the key fortifications protecting the mouth of the Columbia along with Fort Canby 8 miles to the west and Fort Stevens on the Oregon side of the river.
Today, visitors can tour three artillery batteries, two well-maintained coastal artillery guns, numerous bunkers, and 12 of the original wood-framed quarters of the fort. Visitors can also hike on any of trails that meander through the old-growth coastal forest up to Scarborough Hill.
Notably, it was off of Chinook Point that the American fur trader Robert Gray anchored in 1792 when he named the mighty Columbia River after his ship, the "Columbia Rediviva."
Note: The Commanding Officer's Historic House, filled with era-specific decor, is only open in July and August from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.