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Cathlapotle Plankhouse

Plankhouse - Ridgefield NWR Friends_512x219

Built by more than 100 volunteers over the course of two years, this replica plankhouse was built based on findings from the archaeological site as well as additional sources of information. The Plankhouse and the objects inside of it offer a tangible link to those who lived here in the past and provides a unique site for the interpretation of the natural and cultural heritage preserved on Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Washington.

  • Second Sunday Series

    Join us every Second Sunday through September for a special presentation, kids' activities, tours and more!

    June 12th: Come watch the film screening of "People of the Whale" presented by Rose High Bear, Executive Director at Wisdom of the Elders and learn more about the Inupiag peoples. 

    12 - 4pm: Plankhouse Tours and Kids' Activities ongoing throughout the event.

    1pmPeople of the Whale"

    Rose High Bear (Deg Hit’an Dine, or Alaskan Athabascan), will discuss her organization’s Climate and Native Wisdom documentary series and screen “People of the Whale”, a short documentary featuring the Inupiaq peoples.  This film will share Inupiaq perspectives on unprecedented climate issues being experienced in Alaska along with their rich cultural arts. 

    Rose will also provide an update on two new documentary films being produced as part of the series focusing on treasured Native American elders, scientists and cultural leaders from the Pacific Coast and other parts of Oregon.

    2:30pm: Ethnobotany Hike

    Join a Refuge Naturalist for a walk on the Oaks to Wetlands Trail. (2 mile hike on moderately uneven terrain.)

    The Second Sunday Series is brought to you through a partnership between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.   

    Learn more about this event and other programs on the Refuge that are presented in collaboration with the Friends. 

  • Visit

    The Plankhouse will open on Sunday April 10th and continue to be open every Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 4 (pending volunteer availability) until October 2nd.  Before you make the trip out be sure to check the Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Calendar to check on special events and last minute closures.  

    Requests for fall season school group visits and summer tours are now being accepted. For more information on tours for educational groups see the For Educators page.  The 2015 spring field trip schedule is now full and not accepting any more applications.  

    Access for those with disabilities: Special arrangements can be made for people with qualified disabilities to access the Plankhouse.  Please call the Refuge in advance during regular business hours to arrange this.  360-887-4106

  • Volunteer

    The Plankhouse is staffed almost entirely by volunteer docents and we depend on those volunteers to keep the Plankhouse open on the weekends and to lead school group tours and programs. This rewarding volunteer position takes no previous experience and is open to all that are interested and enthusiastic about local culture and the environment.

    This year's Plankhouse Volunteer training will be held on April 2nd from 10 am to 3.  Meet staff, other volunteers, and find out how fun volunteering as a cultural interpreter can be!  For questions and to sign up contact Sarah Hill at 360-887-4106 or email  

    Plankhouse Volunteer Flier
  • History

    The Cathlapotle Plankhouse is a full-scale Chinookan Plankhouse located on the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. It was built based on archaeological evidence from the Cathlapotle archaeological site located on the refuge property. This archaeological site is what remains of the town of Cathlapotle, a Chinookan town encountered by Lewis and Clark on their expedition.

    Learn More
  • Additional Information

    The Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is the not-for-profit group that supports the Refuge in many ways including Plankhouse programming.  Workshops, lectures, demonstrations, hands-on student experiences, and cultural events interpret and emphasizes the tangible connection between environment and people. Find out more about the Friends, these programs and sources for additional cultural information on their website.

    Learn more

Last Updated: May 26, 2016
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