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Traveling the trails of America's military past.

Exploring the sites of the nation's martial heritage makes for a fascinating historical journey. It is both entertaining and educational for an entire family, but especially so for history buffs. To make your travels more rewarding and convenient, VFW magazine is launching a special series of articles focusing on geographic regions of the country.

The articles will provide you with a brief description of preserved battlefield parks and museums that are part of the National Park, state park and military service museum systems. Some private sites are listed, too. Only the essentials--historical significance, location and telephone contact--are provided here. By offering these leads, we hope you will pursue them further. Most places identified can send individual brochures on request. The Internet also contains relevant Web sites, which provide additional details.

Whether your military history preferences lie in colonial Indian campaigns or World War II--or any war in between--we think this compilation will spark your interest. To be sure, we will have missed some sites. So let us know your favorite spots so they can be shared with your fellow veteran-travelers in Mail Call.

TRIP 1: WEST COAST Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington


Alaska State Museum, Juneau, (907) 465-4826. Military artifacts relating to Alaska history after U.S. purchase in 1867. American and Japanese WWII military objects from the 1943 Aleutian campaign.

Aleutian World War II National Historic Area Unalaska, (907) 581-9944.

Site of Japanese raid on Dutch Harbor, June 2-4, 1942, and center for history of WWII Aleutian campaign. Visitor center, memorial park, bunkers.

Sitka National Historical Park, Sitka, (907) 747-6281.

Site of 1804 battle between Russians and Tlingit natives. Visitor center, Russian Bishop's House and tour trail.

Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park Kodiak, (907) 486-6339.

Remnants of WWII military installations within 186-acre wooded park, including coastal defense guns and bunkers. Site houses Kodiak Military History Museum.


Golden State Museum Sacramento, (916) 653-7524.

Displays cover WWII expansion of military bases, shipbuilding, aircraft industry and employment they produced. Also, state archives containing military records from 1850s to WWII, including state militia and National Guard.

California Military Museum Sacramento, (916) 442-2883.

Three floors covering state military history from Spanish California through U.S. peacekeeping mission in the Balkans. Extensive library and research center.

Fort Point National Historic Site San Francisco, (415) 556-1693.

Coastal fortification at foot of Golden Gate Bridge built in 1850s to guard entrance to San Francisco Bay until 1886. Cannon-loading demonstrations, tours.

Lava Beds National Monument Tulelake, (530) 667-2282, ext. 232.

Includes Captain Jack's Stronghold (a natural fortress) from the 1872-73 Modoc War. The Historic Trail consists of 23 points of interest. Also, Thomas-Wright Battlefield and visitor center.

Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historic Park Richmond, (510) 236-7435.

Tells story of local and national WWII home front experience, including labor contributions of women. Visitor center, shipyard, S.S. Red Oak Victory, memorial, historic buildings.

Fort Humboldt State Historic Park Eureka, (707) 445-6567.

Served as a buffer between settlers and Indians from 1853 until 1870. Original post hospital houses museum with pre-Civil War military artifacts. Reconstructed surgeon's quarters.

Fort Ross State Historic Park Jenner, (707) 847-3286.

Russian fort built in 1812 for trade, manned until 1841. Reconstructed Russian Orthodox chapel, stockade, Commander's House with exhibits of Russian occupation.

Fort Tejon State Historic Park Lebec, (661) 248-6692.

Manned 1854-64 to protect and control Indians on Sebastian Indian Reservation. Restored buildings, visitor center, museum.

San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park, San Pasqual, (760) 737-2201.

Site of 1846 Mexican War engagement with Spanish settlers. Visitor center, three memorials.

Civil Engineering Corps/Seabee Museum, Port Hueneme (Los Angeles), (805) 982-1249.

Artifacts and memorabilia from history of CEC/Seabees, with extensive medal, uniform and arms exhibits.

Marine Corps Amphibious Vehicle Museum, Camp Pendleton (Oceanside), (760) 725-2418.

Most extensive collection of amphibious vehicles in country on outdoor display. More than 30 LVTs (Landing Vehicles, Tracked) dating from WWII through Vietnam.


San Francisco, (415) 561-4323.

Military base from 1776-1994. Now 1,490-acre park, part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Features 470 historic structures dating back to 1861, coastal defense structures and ordnance, barracks, guided walks. Visitor center, San Francisco National Cemetery, memorial to missing of Pacific WWII.

Aviation Museums

Castle Air Museum, Atwater

Air Museum Planes of Fame, Chino

March Field Museum March AFB (Riverside)

McClellan Aviation Museum, McClellan AFB (Sacramento)

San Diego Aerospace Museum San Diego

Silver Wings Aviation Museum, Mather AFB (Sacramento)

Historic Ships

USS Hornet, Alameda

USS Pampanito, San Francisco

USS Potomac, Oakland


Bishop (state) Museum Honolulu, (808) 847-3511. No military exhibits.

U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii, Fort DeRussy (Honolulu), (808) 438-2821.

Covers state military history from 1775 to present, with emphasis on Army in Pacific and coast-defense artillery from 1898 to present.

Nu'uanu Pali State Wayside Honolulu, (808) 587-0300.

Site of gruesome 1795 battle when King Kamehameha forced Oahu armies over steep cliffs to their deaths, uniting the Hawaiian Islands. One of the best views on Oahu. Two plaques commemorate battle and remains.

Battleship Missouri Memorial Honolulu, 1-877-644-4896. (Foundation)

Living museum with exhibits, memorabilia and activities, including ship history, life at sea. Offers several tours.

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl), Honolulu, (808) 532-3720.

More than 33,000 gravesites. Honolulu Memorial inscribed with names of MIAs from Vietnam, Korea and WWII Pacific Theater (other than Southwest).

Pacific Submarine Museum and USS Bowfin Memorial, Honolulu, (808) 423-1341 and (808) 423-1341.

Submarine artifacts and submarine-service memorabilia from WWI through post-WWII era. WWII sub USS Bowfin available for self-guided tours. Japanese Kaiten "Human Torpedo" on display.

Tropic Lightning Museum, Schofield Barracks (Honolulu), (808) 655-0438.

History of Schofield Barracks and 25th Infantry Division. Relics from wars of 20th century, emphasizing WWII through Vietnam.

USS Arizona Memorial Honolulu, (808) 422-2771.

Commemorates Americans killed during 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, with names of men from the battleship who died.

Lies over hull of the sunken ship. Accessible by boat. On-shore visitors center. Nearby USS Utah also available to see with special requirements.


Oregon Coast History Center (state) Newport, (541) 265-7509.

Soldiers' uniforms, insignia, photographs and weapons, plus role of civilians (through civil defense and industry) during WWI and WWII.

Oregon Military Museum Camp Withycombe (Clackamas) (503) 557-5359.

State military history of 20th century, with 10,000 artifacts, 10,000 library items and photographic files dating back to 1898. Quonset hut (aviation items), 1911 barn (artillery exhibits), restoration shop, exterior exhibits.

Fort Clatsop National Memorial Astoria, (503) 861-2471.

Wintering spot of Lewis and Clark at the end of their 1804-06 expedition to the Pacific Ocean. Reconstructed fort, visitor center, museum, exhibits

Fort Stevens State Park Hammond, (503) 861-3170.

Protected Columbia River from invasion from Civil War through WWII. Shelled by Japanese in 1942; only continental-U.S. fortification to be attacked since War of 1812. Original fort buildings, museum, walking tours.

Other Museums

Camp White Military Museum, White City

Fort Dalles Museum, The Dalles

Fort Klamath Historical Frontier Post, Fort Klamath

Klamath County Museum Klamath Falls

Tillamook Air Museum, Tillamook

USS Blueback, Portland


Washington State History Museum Tacoma, 253-272-3500.

No permanent military exhibits or collections.

Washington National Guard State Historical Society Museum, Camp Murray (Tacoma), (253) 512-8268.

History of state units dating back to 1848. Open by appointment only.

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site Vancouver, (360) 696-7655.

Fur-trading post from 1824-46. First military post in Pacific Northwest, built in 1849. Reconstructed fort, visitor center, museum, tours.

San Juan Island National Historic Park, Friday Harbor, (360) 378-2240.

American and British military fortifications back to 1859. English camp at Garrison Bay, with blockhouse, commissary and restored barracks. Remains of U.S. camp on southeastern tip of island.

Whitman Mission National Historic Site, Walla Walla, (509) 522-6357.

Memorial to missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and others, killed by Cayuse Indians in 1847. Visitor center, monument, mass grave, restored section of Oregon Trail, millpond.

Fort Casey State Park Coupeville, (360) 678-4519.

Part of Puget Sound defense system, active from 1900 through WWII. Fortifications, interpretive center in 1890 lighthouse.

Fort Columbia State Park Chinook, (360) 642-3078.

Typical coastal artillery fort built during Spanish-American War, operational from 1896 to 1947. One of the few intact coastal defense sites in U.S. Original fort, interpretive center, museum.

Fort Simcoe State Park, White Swan, (360) 902-8844.

1850s-era installation built to keep peace between settlers and Indians. Tells story of mid-19th century Army life. Partially restored fort, interpretive center.

Fort Worden State Park (Coast Artillery Museum) Port Townsend, (360) 385-4730.

20th century coastal defense in Puget Sound area. Park encompasses original fort batteries, buildings.

Coast Guard Museum-Northwest Seattle, (206) 217-6993.

Coast Guard and northwestern U.S. maritime history from War of 1812 to present. 10,000 photos, 2,000 documents and 1,000 books.

Fort Lewis Military Museum Tacoma, (253) 967-7206.

Focus on U.S. Army in Pacific Northwest from 1804 to 1917 and histories of 9th Division, I Corps and Fort Lewis from 1918 to present. Also, outdoor display of military equipment.

Naval Undersea Museum Keyport, (360) 396-4148.

History of exploration and evolution of undersea technology. Largest collection of naval undersea history and scientific artifacts in U.S.

Other Museums

Bremerton Naval Museum, Bremerton (Includes USS Turner Joy)

Fairchild Air Force Base Heritage Museum, Spokane

McChord Air Museum, Tacoma
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Title Annotation:military historic sites, museums, parks, memorials in western United States
Author:Kolb, Richard K.; Hanson, Shannon
Publication:VFW Magazine
Article Type:Directory
Geographic Code:1U900
Date:Aug 1, 2003
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