Captain Robert Gray reportedly died at sea in 1806, most likely succumbing to yellow fever, never knowing that his exploits in the Pacific Northwest would one day make him famous.
If only he had known that one day, the Tillamook County city of Garibaldi would celebrate him by naming a mountain after him, placing a statue of his likeness along U.S. Highway 101 and commemorating his 1788 visit to the area with a plethora of exhibits in the Garibaldi Maritime Museum.
Gray, a Bostonian, and his crew were the first United States citizens to cross the Tillamook Bay bar, which they did in the sloop Lady Washington, nearly 20 years before Lewis and Clark reached the Oregon coast. Unfortunately for them, however, their encounter with Tillamook Indians took a hostile turn, resulting in the death of Gray’s black “servant,” Marcos Lopez, and prompting Gray to refer to the bay as Murderer’s Harbor.
Today, visitors to the Garibaldi Maritime Museum, located along Highway 101 in the shadow of Capt. Gray Mountain, can view a model of the Lady Washington, a half-model of Gray’s other ship, the Columbia Rediviva, and an 8-foot-tall replica of the Columbia Rediviva’s figurehead.
They can learn more about the 18th-century sailing world in general through reproductions of a Jolly Boat, mariner’s clothing, musical instruments played at the time and authentic sailmaking tools.
The museum also features an entire wing dedicated to the history of Garibaldi with photos and artifacts from as far back as the turn of the 19th century.
As a kid-friendly facility, the Garibaldi Maritime Museum offers a Kids’ Corner, with reproduction vintage sailing attire for them to try on and “old-fashioned toys that don’t require batteries,” such as an abacus. Children and grown-ups are invited to participate in the museum’s ongoing scavenger hunt, designed to make learning fun.
Throughout the year, the museum hosts a variety of events targeted to all ages, from children’s educational happenings to artist receptions and an annual silent auction. Check the events calendar, and find out about admission and hours of operation.