Knappton Cove Heritage Center The Historic Columbia River Quarantine Station
Knappton Cove Heritage CenterThe Historic Columbia River Quarantine Station 

Explore the History of the U.S. Public Health Service at Knappton Cove

Virtual Gifts for 2021 Holiday Season!

Thanks to the countless hours put in by Board Members Pat Johns and Jay Paulsen, we have 2 documents for you to read at your leisure. Please email us at if you would like us to send them to you. They are large files!

  • List of Ships Serviced by the Columbia River Quarantine Station (1899-1939)
  • Transcription of the Log Book (1906-1939)

Hear Nancy Bell Anderson's interview (May, 2021) with Sean from PHS Proud. They discuss the history of the U.S. Public Health Service at Knappton Cove. When the Station opened, it was called the Marine Hospital Service.


This early MHS symbol is from a plate donated to the Knappton Cove Heritage Center by the family of Dr. Baylis Earle, serving the Station from 1900-06.

Historic Public Health Service Quarantine Station Hosts Ceremony for New Citizens - 2016


With CAPT Lou Glass presenting a brief history and the current role of the U.S. Public Health Service in protecting the nation’s health, the Knappton Cove Heritage Center hosted a citizenship ceremony conducted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service on September 16, 2016 for 11 new United States citizens.  The new citizens came to the U.S. from Korea, Thailand, South Africa, Canada, El Salvador, and Mexico.  Including new citizens, their families, officials, community members, and Heritage Center volunteers, approximately 100 people attended the event on a perfect late-summer afternoon.  Quinn Andrus, USCIS Community Relations Officer, served as Master of Ceremonies.  Mike Phillips, representing American Legion Post 12 in Astoria, Oregon, presented the Colors, and Aubrey McMahan, a local high school student and the 2016 Astoria Regatta Queen, sang the National Anthem.  In addition to CAPT Glass, those providing an official welcome to the new citizens included:  Nancy Anderson, the President of the Knappton Cove Heritage Center; Debbie Kaspar, a National Park Service Ranger from Fort Clatsop at the nearby Lewis and Clark National Historical Park; Shelly Langlais, the Acting Portland Field Office Director for the USCIS; and CAPT Jay Paulsen (USPHS Ret.).  Also attending the celebration was John Orthman, a member of the Pacific NW Living Historians who volunteer in the Pacific Northwest as Lewis and Clark reenactors.  Mr. Orthman was wearing a replica of the U.S. Army uniform worn during the early stages of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and was representing PVT Joseph Whitehouse.  Along with CAPT Glass, wearing Service Dress Blues, and Ret. CAPT Paulsen, wearing a replica of the 1914 uniform worn by Assistant Surgeon Jay Tuttle when AS Tuttle served as the Quarantine Station’s medical officer in charge, the three uniforms represented 200 years of United States uniformed services history.  Following the official citizenship ceremony, the Heritage Center hosted a reception of punch, coffee, fruit, cookies, and cakes, and the Center’s museum was open for tours.


The Columbia River Quarantine Station, which had been known as the Columbia River’s “Ellis Island,”[1] was one of at least 17 such hospitals and health facilities operated by the Public Health Service on the West Coast and in the Pacific in 1938[2], the year the Station was closed and its operations moved to Portland, Oregon.  In its first year of operation, 1898, station documents show that 6,120 immigrants and crew were inspected[3] and, by the time it closed, it is estimated that approximately 100,000 immigrants and crew had received inspection services there[4].


The Knappton Cove Heritage Center, which is located in the actual historic lazaretto, or pesthouse, of the Public Health Service’s Columbia River Quarantine Station, is on the Washington side of the Columbia River across from Astoria, Oregon.  The pesthouse at the Station was in service from 1912 to 1938, and is one of the very few remaining historic PHS facilities in the country that are intact and still open to the public.  On the National Register of Historic Places and part of the National Park Service’s Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, the Center and its museum present the history of this important site and the Public Health Service officers who served there.  It is open from 1-4 PM on Saturdays from Memorial Day through Labor Day, or by appointment.  For more information on Knappton Cove and the important role of the PHS Commissioned Corps in its history, please visit  The US Public Health Service at Knappton Cove tab on the website provides information on each of the PHS officers who were assigned to the station during its years of operation, along with archival photos of many of these officers and past events.




[1] Sunday Oregonian, October 2, 1921, p.6.

[2] Annual Report of the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service of the United States for the Fiscal Year 1938

[3] Anderson, Nancy B., The Columbia River’s ‘Ellis Island,’ 2012, p. 51

[4] Ibid, p. 63

CAPT (Ret) Paulsen, CAPT Glass, Ranger Kaspar, Nancy Anderson, and Director Langlais congratulate a new citizen.  Photo courtesy of Carolyn Anderson. Click here for event video.

© Copyright 2021 Knappton Cove Heritage Center

Check out the Immigration Hospitals at Angel Island and Ellis Island to see how the Columbia River Quarantine Station fits into the story. Our site's primary mission was to stop disease from entering America, with immigration paperwork handled in Portland. There was much commerce coming in at this West Coast port of entry. Our research tells us this is the only remaining US Public Health Service lazaretto (or pesthouse) left in the country.

PHS Quarantine and Inspection Stations (US and US Territories and Protections) – 1901 to 2016

1901 (25)

1917 (61)

1938 (74)

2016 (20)+


*Alexandria. VA

*Brunswick, GA

*Cape Charles, VA

*Cape Fear , NC

Columbia River, OR

*Delaware Breakwater, DE

*Dutch Harbor, AK

*Eureka, CA

Gulf, MS

*Hoquiam. WA

*Los Angeles, CA

*New Bern, NC

*Nome, AK

*Pascagoula. MS

*Port Angeles. WA

Port Townsend, WA

*Reedy Island, DE

*San Diego, CA

San Francisco, CA

*San Pedro, CA

Savannah , GA

*Seattle, WA

*South Atlantic, GA

*Tacoma. WA

*Washington. NC


U.S. Ports

*Alexandria, VA

*Atchafalaya, LA

*Beaufort, SC

*Bellingham, WA

*Biscayne Bay, FL

Boca Grande, FL

*Boston, MA

*Brunswick, GA

*Cape Charles, VA

*Cape Fear, NC

*Cedar Keys, FL

*Charleston, SC

Columbia River, OR

*Coos Bay, OR

*Cumberland Sound, FL

*Darien, GA

*Delaware Bay and River, DE

*Delaware Breakwater, DE

*Eagle Pass, TX

*Eastport, ME

*El Paso, TX

*Eureka, CA

*Ft. Bragg, CA

*Galveston, TX

*Georgetown, SC

Gulf (or Gulfport), MS

*Hidalgo, TX

*Hoquiam, WA

*Ketchikan, AK

Key West, FL

*Laredo, TX

*Los Angeles, CA (San Pedro)

*Los Angeles, CA (Santa Barbara)

*Mobile, AL

*Monterey, CA

*New Orleans, LA

*Newport, SC

*Nome, AK

*Pascagoula, MS

*Pensacola, FL

*Perth Amboy, NJ

*Port Angeles, WA

*Port Royal, SC

*Port San Luis, CA

Port Townsend, WA

Portland, ME

*Providence, RI

*Reedy Island, DE

*Rio Grande City, TX

*San Diego, CA

San Francisco, CA

Savannah , GA

*South Bend, WA

*St. Andrews, FL

*St. Georges Sound, FL

*St. Johns River, FL

*St. Joseph, FL

*Tacoma, WA

*Tampa Bay, FL



*Aberdeen, WA

*Aguadilla, PR

*Ahukini, HI

*Arecibo, PR

*Arroyo, PR

Astoria, OR

*Baltimore, MD

*Beaufort, SC

Boca Grande, FL

*Boston, MA

*Brunswick, GA

*Carabelle, FL (St. Georges Sound)

*Central Aguirre, PR

*Charleston, SC

*Charlotte Amalie, VI

*Christiansted, VI

*Corpus Christi, TX

*Eastport, ME

*Eureka, CA

*Fajardo, PR

*Fall River, MA

*Fernandina, FL (Cumberland Sound)

*Frederiksted, VI

*Freeport, TX

*Ft. Lauderdale, FL (Port Everglades)

Ft. Monroe, VA

*Galveston, TX

*Georgetown, SC

*Guanica, PR

Gulfport, MS

*Hilo, HI

*Honolulu, HI

*Humacao, PR

*Jacksonville, FL (St. John’s River)

*Kahului, HI

*Ketchikan, AK

Key West, FL

*Lahaina, HI

*Los Angeles, CA

*Mahukona, HI

*Marcus Hook, PA

*Marshfield, OR (Coos Bay)

*Mayaguez, PR

*Miami, FL

*Mobile, AL

*New Bedford, MA

*New London, CT

*New Orleans, LA

*New Port, RI

New York, NY

*Ogdensburg, NY

*Panama City, FL

*Pensacola, FL

Philadelphia, PA

*Plymouth, MA

*Ponce, PR

*Port Allen, HI

*Port Isabel, TX

Port Townsend, WA

Portland, ME

*Portland, OR

*Providence, RI

*Sabine, TX

*San Diego, CA (Point Loma)

San Francisco, CA (Angel Island)

*San Juan, PR

*San Luis Obispo, CA (Port San Luis)

Savannah , GA

*Seaport, ME

*South Bend, WA

*Tampa, FL

*Vineyard Haven, MA

*West Palm Beach, FL

*Wilmington, NC

*Wrangell, AK



Anchorage, AK

Atlanta, GA

Boston, MA

Chicago, IL

Dallas, TX

Detroit, MI

El Paso, TX

Honolulu, HI

Houston, TX

Los Angeles, CA

Miami, FL

Minneapolis-St. Paul , MN

New York, NY

Newark, NJ

Philadelphia, PA

San Diego, CA

San Francisco, CA

San Juan, PR

Seattle, WA

Washington, D.C.


+All of these stations are for inspection and temporary holding purposes; no pesthouses remain.

* Evidence of currently-existing facilities from the historical era (e.g., early 1900s) not identified through Internet searches




Historical Quarantine Facilities or Buildings That Are (or Appear to be) Still in Existence


Astoria (or, Columbia River), OR: ; the pesthouse for this station is preserved and is accessible to the public for its historical value.


Boca Grande, FL: ; the facility appears now to be a private residence, with an historical marker of its past as a quarantine station.


Ft. Monroe, VA:; the quarters for the station’s officer in charge remains at this site, but as a private residence.


Gulfport, MS (on Ship Island):; the facility was located in Fort Massachusetts, which exists today under the management of the US NPS, but there is no apparent reference to the old quarantine station, or maintenance of it as a historic quarantine facility.


Key West, FL; now part of Dry Tortugas National Park, Fort Jefferson still stands and was used as a quarantine station around 1888, but is not maintained for its past as a quarantine station.


New York, NY:; opened in 1892, and still managed by the National Park Service; according to the Save Ellis Island website ( ), the “29 structures on the south side [where the hospital was located] are in severe states of decay and have been empty and abandoned since 1954. Stabilization funds to save these buildings have been secured from the United States Congress, the State of New Jersey, and the National Park Service. The south side hospital and administration buildings now have been stabilized and work on the stabilization of the contagious disease wards is underway.


Philadelphia, PA: ; the lazaretto building still stands but is not open to the public or preserved as a lazaretto; it has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1972; also, it was not a federal facility under the USPHS quarantine system .


Port Townsend, WA: ; only the surgeon’s residence remains, and only as a guest house.  The hospital for the station was destroyed by fire.


Portland, ME ; some of the original 1907 station buildings still exist (the detention barracks, the hospital, and the doctor’s house), but they are not preserved for public access.


San Francisco (Angel Island), CA:  According to the Angel Island Conservancy’s website ( ), the only original structures of the quarantine station remaining are four residences of attendants and medical staff; all others were destroyed and burned in 1957.


Savannah, GA:; according to this site, “the Quarantine Attendants' Quarters is the only historic structure remaining from the quarantine station.”





USPHS Quarantine Stations 1901 to 2016

Contact Us Today!

Nancy Anderson &

Heather Henry, Directors




Free Admission During

Regular Open Hours--2024

Saturday Afternoons

July and August

1-4 pm

Guided Tour @ 2 pm


Please Email for Appointment Availability Outside of

Regular Hours

$5/person | $25 Minimum




521 WA State Rte 401

(See 'How to Find Us' page for detailed information)



*Click links for

short video exhibit

Check out Nancy's interview on Coast Radio's ARTS - Live & Local with Carol Newman. She talks about Women's History in the Public Health Service at Knappton Cove. The interview starts about 5 minutes in to the podcast.
Read more details about the history of Knappton Cove in Nancy's Book, The Columbia River's "Ellis" Island. Available for purchase on Amazon--$5 of every book goes toward the preservation of this historic site.
Listen to a longer discussion of the book and history of the Public Health Service at Knappton Cove with Sean from PHS Proud.

New Book!

     Board Member Friedrich E. Schuler has a new book out, Pestered by Plague: The U. S. Public Health Service Station in Astoria, OR and Knappton Cove, WA, from Cannery to Quarantine Station 1899-1901. It explores how the Plague scare in 1899 hastened the opening of the Columbia River Quarantine Station. Hear an excerpt from the book at our Open House on May 20.

By Board Member Friedrich E. Schuler, Professor of History at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. Read his interview in the PSU News!

A Shield for the Columbia Book Cover

A Shield for the Columbia offers the stories behind the founding of the quarantine station of the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) at Knappton Cove, Washington and Astoria, Oregon at the mouth of the Columbia River. It is a compelling account of unlikely political and economic alliances featuring the United States Marine Hospital Service (USMHS), transpacific shipping lines, Astoria's business community, and members of the U.S. Congress.

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