Nestled on the Gig Harbor waterfront where Donkey Creek meets the bay, the Harbor History Museum is celebrating its 10th year of operation. Yet the Museum’s campus has a much deeper history, reflecting the site’s logging mill and power company past and includes the 1893 Midway Schoolhouse and 65-foot fishing boat, Shenandoah. Step through the Museum’s front doors, surrounded by massive logs reminiscent of the trees that were once milled here, and a whole world of culture and tradition welcomes you.
The Museum’s 7,500 square-foot permanent gallery takes you on a journey from the twisted remnants of “Galloping Gertie” (the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge) to the immigrant stories of boat builders, fishermen, farmers, and ferry operators. Look closely and find the first winners of Gig Harbor’s fabled Round Rock Contest and hear the clamor of the crowd as C.E. Shaw’s famous racing roosters take to the track. These roosters were so well known they were invited to Madison Square Garden in New York in 1936.
Fans of local boat building will delight in the Willits canoe, the giant wheel from the ferry Defiance, and a purse seiner’s power block—the 1950s invention that changed commercial fishing forever. Loved by many are the Norwegian and Croatian costumes on display from the days of Scandia Gaard, a 1970s local attraction where Nordic heritage was celebrated through music, dance, and folklore.
Visitors delight in the one-room schoolhouse, the last of its kind in the Gig Harbor area. Restored to 1915 standards, the schoolhouse is home to the popular Pioneer School Experience field trip program for third through fifth grade students. During this program, costumed school teachers lead students through lessons in reading, writing, and arithmetic.
The Shenandoah is 65 feet of wonder. Fished for some seven decades by local families and built in Gig Harbor at the Skansie Brothers Shipyard, the boat is undergoing complete restoration and will eventually be open for public tours.
HARBOR HISTORY MUSEUM
4121 Harborview Dr, Gig Harbor