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Manufacturer: Ahrens Manufacturing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1889.

This steam fire engine was delivered to Tacoma,

Washington on September 21, 1889.  It is an operating

tube boiler fire engine. Pulled by a team of horses, this vehicle utilized a steam engine to pump water. Named Tacoma #4, it could steam in 3 minutes and 50 seconds. In 1902 the boiler was replaced with a spiral tube boiler. It was later sold to the North Yakima fire department.

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Agricultural Equipment

243 objects comprise the collection of agricultural equipment at the museum.  Agriculture is the economic backbone of the Yakima Valley and the museum’s collection shows the history of the industry. Artifacts include a Lindeman BO crawler, apple-picking bags, Wenatchee Heads (a form for building apple boxes) and Nail Strippers (a device that organized the nails so the box-maker could build a box fast), lidding machines that bowed the lid of a box so as not to bruise the fruit during shipment, apple packing stands and apple labels.

Apple Box Labels

One of largest collection of apple box labels anywhere, comprising over 3,000 different labels, many of them extremely rare. 




The museum has collected more that 1,400 pieces of art.  The collection includes paintings and sculptures by renowned regional artists. The breadth and depth of this collection is a visual delight, a kalei­doscope of color and techniques, reaching deep into the canon of local amateur artists. Many of the works are abstract bright and playful, while others are more serene. Some art is from around the world and there is some amazing Native American art.  A new storage space allows researchers access to the pieces of art that are not currently on exhibit.

Cabinet of Curiosities

This collection is an eclectic assortment of sometimes bizarre and unusual objects. There are 177 bird specimens and 38 types of eggs in the exhibit. Twelve animals including cape buffalo, kudu, gazelle elk, moose, a brown bear cub, deer, caribou, antelope, stone sheep, mountain goat, and even an armadillo shell. Weapons on display include bolas from Argentina, a bone club from New Zealand, a knife and boomerang from Australia, a Japanese spear point, and an English mace and battle-axe. “Lotus shoes” from China are only 4” long - made for the bound feet of an adult noblewoman! Plus the oddest chair you are likely to see made from bison horns.

Campaign Buttons 

The buttons displayed in this exhibition document sixty years of presidential elections.

Campaign buttons are a purely American phenomenon—invented in the United States as a way for citizens to proudly display their independent thought. From the beginning, political buttons have been an expression of individual patriotism. The earliest "campaign" buttons, worn after the election of President George Washington, were clothing buttons embossed with the slogan "Long Live the President, GW."

The museum acquired a collection of campaign buttons in 2001.  It consisted of 1,120 buttons of which 883 were political campaign buttons.  The museum has continued to obtain political buttons from recent presidential elections.

Costume Collection

The Yakima Valley Museum's Costume Collection has been designated an official project of Save America's Treasures.  The Yakima Valley Museum's collection of period clothing is the largest collection in the museum. Containing over 9,000 7,000 individual dresses, pairs of shoes, hats, scarves, purses, and pieces of underwear, the collection, which dates from 1800 to the present, has been acquired primarily through individual donations.

Carriages and Cars

The museum has 38 animal powered vehicles, including an 1875 Rock Falls Manufacturing Company Hearse, an L. Downing & Sons Concord Stagecoach ca. 1850, a Brewster Company Landau ca. 1890, a Brewster & Company American Town Coach ca. 1890, and a 1910 sheepherder’s wagon complete with stove, table, and bed.

The museum also features 5 motor vehicles.  The collection consists of a 1903 curved dash Oldsmobile, 1916 Dodge Brothers Touring Model automobile, 1925 Chevrolet One-ton pickup, 1940 International D-2 pickup truck, and a 1941 John Deere farm tractor with Lindeman tractor tracks making it a Lindeman BO crawler.


Historic firearms were part of Yakima Valley Museum’s first collections when it was founded in 1950.  The museum now has an extensive and varied collection of firearms that speak to the history of the Yakima Valley, the United States of America, and human civilization itself.  The collection consists of 151 firearms and 149 firearm accessories.  Our best-known firearm is the 1883 Colt Gatling Gun.  One side-mounted crank could shoot 800 rounds per minute and the other 1,500 rounds per minute.  The serial number and other markings on this weapon indicate it was used by the Army during the 1898 Spanish-American War.

Firefighting Equipment

From leather helmets, fire buckets, fire extinguishers, uniforms, hose clamps and nozzles, fire plug wrenches, fire axes, bombardier ladder to an 1889 Aherns steam fire engine, the museum has an impressive collection of fire firefighting equipment.

Fossilized Wood

The museum has 220 specimens of fossilized wood.  Most of the collection is from Ginko Petrified Forest, Trout Lake, and Yakima Ridge.  The best of the collection is on view in the Helen N. Jewett Basalt Gallery.  Installed in 2008, four Miocene tree trunks and ten and slabs of wood have been installed.  The variety of trees, elm, honey locust, hickory, maple, oak, Douglas fir, Sweet Gum, shows how different the environment was 15 million years ago in the Yakima Valley.


The museum has over 300 pieces of furniture from pioneer furniture to late 20th Century.  Victorian taste from the 1860s through the early 1900s resulted in a style of home furnishings that were elaborate and lush.  The Ames dining room set exemplifies the elaborate details in this style. 


In the 1950s and 1960s, the trend in both architecture and home furnishings was toward simple, clean lines without much ornamentation.  Danish Modern furniture was popular because of its plain, slightly curvilinear style. In addition, especially in West Coast states, Asian influences began to appear.


The museum has 2,640 geological specimens in the collection.  It contains a large collection of 464 Ellensburg Blue agates collected by Dr. Hal Bergen and his wife Marjory.  The collection consists of specimens from around the world. 

Military Uniforms and Equipment

Over 1,000 items including uniforms, helmets, firearms, service flags, medals, Civil War hardtack, backpacks, and rangefinders, makes up the military collections.  The museum is still looking for items related to Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, Iraq War, and War in Afghanistan that has a connection to the Yakima Valley. 

Neon Signs 

In 1996, The Yakima Valley Museum started collecting neon signs from businesses that either were closing or did not want the continued expense of maintaining their neon business signs.  There are eleven commercial and one art installation of neon in the museum.  Dick Elliott’s Circle Squared, a piece of neon artwork, is placed as a dramatic end to the Helen N. Jewett Bassalt Gallery.


The museum has a robust collection of over 300 quilts.  The oldest quilt dates back to 1805 and was brought to Yakima by a pioneer family.  The most famous quilt in the museum’s collection is the Emma Van Fleet quilt.  She created it to celebrate the end of the Civil War. Like many mothers, daughters and wives of soldiers serving in the Union Army, she designed her quilt to echo the design of an American flag.  And, like many women of her time, Emma created her quilt as a keepsake, not as a functional textile.  The quilt is an unusual size, carries only a thin batting and is quilted “in the ditch” only enough to hold the cloth sandwich together, not enough to provide the stability required to withstand regular use. The list of battles and their dates is embroidered in fine red thread along the center white stripe of her quilt.  Emma’s quilt reminds us that public events are also personal dramas.

Yakama Indian Artifacts

The museum is proud to own nearly 3,000 thousand Native American artifacts. On display are some of the best of the baskets, beadwork, parfleches, and horse gear made by Yakama, Klickitat, and Nez Perce Indians.


The collection also includes headdresses, hats, dresses, leggings, shirts, moccasins, arrow heads, arrows, fishing weights,  and beaded bags.  There are currently over 400 artifacts on view.  All of the North American cultural groups: Plateau, Northwest Coast, Great Basin, Southwest, California, Plains, Eastern Woodlands, Southeast, and Alaska are included.  The collection’s core is the Plateau collection of beadwork and baskets.  The museum has worked with elders and artists from the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, not only for research into our own collections, but also to inspire young artists. 

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museum is distinguished by a collection of often unique objects (referred to as artifacts) that forms the core of its activities for exhibitionseducationresearch, etc. These are usually tangible, physical objects which is what differentiates it from an archive or library, where the contents may be more paper-based, replaceable and less exhibition oriented, or a private collection of art formed by an individual, family or institution that may grant no public access.


Since its founding in 1951, the Museum has amassed a collection of over 48,000 objects. Many of these were donated to the Museum by the individuals who originally collected them. The exhibits in the lower floor collections area draw from both these specialized collections and the general Museum collections to display ever-changing selections of interesting but rarely-seen objects. The actual number of objects on display, however, is less than 9%. 

The museum has many unique collections and artifacts such as -

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