The Historic Depot Museum


222 E. Commercial Ave

Dayton, WA  99328




May 1 – September 30:  Wednesday-Saturday 10:00-5:00

October 1 – December 24 and February 1 – April 30:  Wednesday-Saturday 11:00-4:00 (Closed for the month of January)

For more details about the Historic Depot Museum, please select a title below.


Established as an agricultural community in 1871, the community of Dayton grew rapidly.  However, its residents struggled to get their products overland to market.  For several years, there were rumors of railroads coming to Dayton, and finally in May 1880, Henry Villard, the president of Oregon Railway & Navigation (OR&N) promised Dayton a line.  The following year, the spur line to Dayton was complete, as was the fashionably designed Stick/Eastlake style Depot.


Originally the Depot and the entire rail yard were located at the base of Rock Hill on the southwest edge of Dayton, right beside the Touchet River.  This location was chosen because the OR&N needed the logs that came down a flume along the river in order to build trestles into the Palouse.


Competition between railroads was intense in the late 19th century and Columbia County farmers took advantage of this.  Believing that a direct line to the Puget Sound would save them money, they negotiated with the Oregon & Washington Territory Railroad to bring a line into the center of Dayton, right up Commercial Street. This line was completed in 1889.


Within just a few years, OR&N who by this time had become a subsidiary of Union Pacific, decided they needed to move their rail yard and  Depot in order to compete with the new line.  In 1899, the OR&N Depot was jacked up and moved on roller logs pulled by horse and capstan to its present location on Commercial Street.


Both Depots continued in business until the OR&N Depot closed at the end of 1971.

Main Floor

The Main Floor of the Depot has had very few alterations since it was built in 1881.  It houses the Waiting Room, the Station Agent’s Office, and the Freight Room.


The Waiting Room and Office are both have the original beadboard walls, with horizontal beadboard above the chair rail and vertical beadboard below it.  They also have an unusual shallow panel of alternating vertical and diagonal beadboard at the wall and ceiling juncture.  The original beadboard ceilings are also still in place.  The Station Agent’s Office still has the original desk and cabinetry and one of the two original Ticket Windows in still intact.  Both of these two rooms have many of the original furnishings, including benches for the passengers, and the pot-bellied stove.


The Freight Room has the original horizontal plank walls and ceiling and the built-in-the-floor Fairbanks scale is intact and usable.

Station Agent's Home

The second story of the Dayton Historic Depot originally housed the Station Agent and his family.  We have opened up the original parlor, dining room, and one small bedroom to create a large gallery space for rotating exhibits.  In the gallery, the walls again have the original vertical beadboard below the chair rail and horizontal beadboard above the chair rail.  Through the years, there have been changes made to the floorplan as electricity became available and lifestyles changed.  Presently, the original Station Agent’s home houses our Upstairs Gallery, a butler’s pantry, a large eat-in kitchen, and a master bedroom.  There is also some limited storage for our museum’s artifacts.



The Depot was originally located on the southwest edge of Dayton.  It was moved to its current location in 1899.  A Kiosk at the edge of the courtyard holds a display of early Depot artifacts and tells the story of the relocation of the Depot using the Capstan method.  A beautiful mural painted by local artist Jackie Penner shows the Capstan method being employed.






The City of Dayton-owned park adjacent to the Depot is the showcase for a restored Union Pacific Caboose that is open for tours during special events.  The Caboose was donated to the Dayton Historical Depot Society in 1992 by Union Pacific Railway and restored by donation from Weaver Construction of LaGrande, Oregon, the general contractor for Dayton’s Main Street Revitalization Project.







The Dayton Historical Depot Society is always accepting gifts that will add depth and breadth to our collection.  If donors wish to establish a value for tax or other purposes, they should consult an independent appraiser prior to contributing to the Historical Society.  Please contact us if you have an item you would like to donate.


Historic Objects of particular interest include the following:

1.  Photographs that document Columbia County history of its people and places.

2.  Photographs that document Columbia County and Dayton yards, gardens, and homes and associated artifacts that we can store at the Depot.

3.  Memorabilia that documents Columbia businesses, events, and people.

4.  Furniture that is reasonably documented as Baileysburg, that was made and used in Columbia County, and can be displayed or stored at the Depot.

5.  Objects that were made or used in Columbia County that can be displayed or stored at the Depot that directly relate to the mission of the Depot and are essential to telling the story of the Depot.

6.  Books that contain Columbia County history or Northwest train history.

7.  Train memorabilia or objects that can be stored at the Depot that are specific to the railroad history of the Columbia County railroad line.

8.  clothing that was worn by a member of the Columbia County community which is documented by photograph and/or receipt and is iconic of a particular event or era of Columbia County history.

Gift Shop

With the original Fairbanks Scale as a backdrop, the Depot’s former freight room houses a wonderful gift shop.  The shop is filled with local western and specialty books, commemorative Depot gifts, low technology games, and unique hostess gifts, thank you gifts, and other incidental gifts for your friends and family members.