In 1955 Willis Carey had a dream, and he had cancer, and it was going to be a
race to see which won.
During his lifetime he amassed a personal collection of Native American
artifacts, historical relics, antiques and curios that were famous throughout
Central Washington. As his cancer progressed, he lamented to friends there was
no place to house his treasures after his death. The word spread among the local
businessmen and the Chamber of Commerce, led by John McDonald, began exploring
the possibilities of building a local public museum for the Carey artifacts.
On a late summer day the committee visited the terminally ill Willis Carey at
his home to acquaint him with the proposal. McDonald later reported that “tears
of joy streamed down Carey’s face” when he realized his collection might be
preserved for the people of Cashmere. He immediately called for paper and pen
and on the spot, signed over his entire treasure.
He died the next day.
Nearly 30 years after Carey’s dream was realized another addition was opened,
the Russell Congdon wing with its collection obtained from archaeological sites
on the Mid-Columbia. It has been called the most significant collection in the
During the same time, a small village of original pioneer cabins was growing
below the museum, preserving the rich heritage of the pioneer’s contribution to
For over half a century hundreds of volunteers have worked thousands of hours
making the Cashmere Museum and Pioneer Village in Cashmere a showcase of Central
Washington. The Museum building has grown to over 13,000 sq. ft. and the Pioneer
Village now contains over 20 original pioneer structures furnished with antiques
from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Before you enter the museum, take a moment to enjoy
our beautiful fountain and sculpture by local artist William F. Reese. The
“River Dance” sculpture depicts the importance of the salmon to the Native
American people of the area. William F. Reese and donations from our many
supporters of the museum made this sculpture possible.
600 Cotlets Way, PO Box 22
Cashmere, WA 98815