The Camp 6 Logging Museum is a mostly outdoor location with a wide, and in some cases, extremely large range of exhibits. Using original historic bunkhouses as locations for other exhibits and scattering 500 tons of logging equipment around their 14 acres, their mission is to present firsthand history on the methods of logging used in Washington.
The staff is 100% volunteer, and is funded purely by donations and on-site sales. The museum is located in Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, and although indoor exhibits are subject to closing for large portions of the year, the outdoor exhibits are open year-round, pending extremities in weather that may close the entire park.
Most museums are indoors and take very special care to preserve the artifacts that they display. It's not uncommon to find artifacts restored, re-painted, and kept in a temperature-controlled display case. This is the way we have come to know museums and it makes sense.
The Camp 6 Logging Museum, due to both an apparent lack of operational budget and to the size of the exhibits, does not seem to have the ability to preserve the artifacts that they display. The result is an outdoor museum oozing with authenticity. The equipment looks non-operational, but you definitely feel as though you have time warped back to the 1880s and are exploring a logging camp that might have just been abandoned by loggers who had moved on to the next site. Equipment can be touched and examined up close. Most visitors will appreciate the unique experience of the Camp 6 Logging Museum, where the exhibits are large and can be touched.
This museum does a great job showing one of Washington's most influential industries at its heyday. Few, if any, museums present logging in Washington State in a living-history setting.
During the summer months, from October to April, the museum also offers logging train rides and additional indoor exhibits including examples of bunkhouse life.
The biggest problem with the Camp 6 Logging Museum is that is not open all of the time. While my class visited in January, the museum was, in fact, closed. The museum is open April through October.
The museum's hours alone limit the amount of people who can see the exhibits since field trips for classes often take place when Camp Six is closed.
Throughout the museum grounds there are many different large pieces of machinery, such as "steam donkeys," which were used to haul logs out of the woods. The exhibits have taken a lot of abuse from being outside for so many years; large cracks appear throughout the machinery. Weeds and other plant life have overtaken much of the exhibits, showing the lack of time and money to correctly care for the machinery. Being that the pieces are so aged does add some character, and gives the appearance that they were just left there one day after logging. It would be nice to see a restored piece, since the machinery is so large and spectacular.
The museum also lacks thorough exhibit interpretation. In the six or seven large exhibits we examined outside, we found only two interpretive signs (pieces of paper tacked inside a plastic bag) that explained machinery. It would be nice to have more interpretive signs telling visitors what the pieces are and what they did in the past.
Camp 6 Logging Museum
City of Tacoma's Point Defiance Park, Tacoma, WA