New exhibit at Montesano’s CVHS Museum

Preserving history and showcasing culture is an important aspect of telling the story of our society. As time moves forward, our ways of life adapt and simplify, but that wouldn’t be possible if not for the people who blazed the trail before us. For one historical society in Grays Harbor County, some forgotten history and culture will get its chance to shine.

On Saturday, June 4, the Chehalis Valley Historical Society Museum will be adding an exhibit celebrating the contributions of Finnish people to Grays Harbor. The exhibit will showcase how women of Finnish heritage promoted strength and courage in the early 1900s, as well as provide visitors with traditional Finnish foods like salty licorice.

Gina Blum, who is a board member for the historical society, said that she’s the one who came up with the idea for the exhibit after reading about Finnish History in the Grays Harbor community.

“The impetus for the exhibit was my wondering of what made Finnish women so damn tough that they would stand up to a fire hose trained on them by hired thugs bent on breaking up the 1912 strike in the wood product industry,” Blum said via phone call. “It kind of snowballed into wanting to showcase what Finnish people have done in our historical community.”

Blum further explained while the exhibit won’t be huge, due to a small yearly budget, the goal is to educate people more on how Grays Harbor became the way it is today.

The history of the museum goes back almost 40 years. In 1984, Randy Beerbower and Mike Clark formed the historical society with a vision that the communities within the Chehalis Valley needed a museum to preserve the history of the area. As a result, the museum opened in 1985 in Elma.

However, the museum later relocated in 1988 to a historic 1906 Scandinavian Lutheran Church in Montesano where it remains today. The museum contains memorabilia from logging, farming, businesses, and schools, as well as dedications to Schafer Bros Logging and Clemons Logging.

The exhibit will open at noon at the museum located at 703 W. Pioneer Ave., and is expected to remain for at least six months. Blum said while the museum is free to the public, donations are greatly appreciated. The museum is open every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.