Cathlapotle Plankhouse

Plankhouse - Ridgefield NWR Friends_512x219

Built by more than 100 volunteers over the course of two years, this modern full-scale Chinookan plankhouse was built based on findings from the archaeological village site of Cathlapotle. The Plankhouse and the objects inside of it offer a tangible link to those who lived there and provide a unique site for the interpretation of the natural and cultural heritage preserved on the Refuge. 

The US Fish & Wildlife Service and the Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge partner with the Chinook Indian Nation to offer an accurate representation of Chinookan culture both past and present inside the Plankhouse.

  • Visit

    The Plankhouse will be open every Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 4 (pending volunteer availability) through the first full weekend of October.  Before you make the trip out be sure to check the Friends of Ridgefield NWR Event Calendar to check on special events and last minute closures.  

    For more information on tours for educational groups see the For Educators page.

    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

  • Second Sunday Series

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

    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.  

  • 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.

    For questions about volunteering at the Plankhouse contact Juliet McGraw at 360-887-4106 x 123 or email  

  • 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.

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  • 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.

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