We spent the day visiting Astoria, a city of 10,000 people at the mouth of the Columbia River, just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean. Founded 200 years ago at the beginning of Oregon’s North Coast, Astoria was named after the American fur trader, John Jacob Astor in 1811 and was the first permanent United States settlement on the Pacific Coast.
sits on the site of the original for whose erection began on April 12, 1811 by thirty-three members of the Astor party who had sailed around Cape Horn to establish a fur trading post at the mouth of the Columbia River.
We first visited the Flavel House Museum,
the home of Captain George Flavel (1823-1893), one of Astoria’s most influential citizens; a noted Bar Pilot on the Columbia River and prominent businessman. The mansion was built as a retirement home for he and his wife, Mary (1839-1928), whom he married when she was just 14 years old.
The Flavel House rests on a park-like setting covering an entire city block. Its Queen Anne architectural style, popular during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, can be seen in it steeply pitched roof of irregular shape, a front-facing gable, asymmetrical facade, patterned shingles, cut-away bay windows, a one-story porch that extends along one or two walls and a stain-glass window.
It is approximately 11,500 sf and consists of two and one-half stories and four-story tower and full basement. The Douglas Fir doors, mouldings and wainscoating were faux wood grained by a master craftsman to look like exotic hardwoods such as mahogany and burl rosewood.
Six fireplaces grace the home and feature different imported tiles from around the world and elaborate hand-carved mantels.
The home also had the most modern conveniences of its day, including hot and cold running water and indoor plumbing and central heating.
Directly across the street is the Oregon Film Museum, housed in the former County Jail.
Table in front of a Window
Shooting a Car Scene
and green screens behind them to set the environment.
The first documented film made in Oregon was a short silent film titled The Fisherman's Bride, shot in Astoria and released in 1909. Since then, numerous major motion pictures have been shot in whole or in part in the state, including City Girl (1930), One Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest, Animal House, Goonies, Stand By Me, Free Willy, Free Willy II, Wild, Drugstore Cowboy, Elephant, and Kindergarten Cop.
We considered taking the
for an informative ride along Astoria’s five mile Riverwalk but opted to do a self-guided tour of the city.
Maritime Memorial Park
Port of Astoria
The Clatsop County historical Museum
Astoria's Old City Hall building, a neoclassical structure is home to the Historical Society's Archive and local history museum. Objects on display include a 1,000 year old hunting implement, finely crafted 19th century Chinook and Clatsop Indian baskets, and a sea otter pelt and beaver hat which illuminate the early history of Fort Astoria. Logging and fishing, the two economic mainstays since 1870, are represented in collections of tools, equipment, and photographs. The stories of the many diverse ethnic groups that settled in the area are depicted in the Emigrants Gallery.
A recent addition to the Heritage Museum's exhibits and located on the second floor is Vice and Virtue in Clatsop County: 1890 to Prohibition.
The gallery contains a partially reconstructed famous Astoria saloon and illustrates Astoria's seedy past when the town was known along the West Coast for its infamous saloons and brothels.
There is also an extensive exhibit of the Astoria-Megler Bridge
The Astoria-Megler Bridge stretches 4.1 miles from Astoria, Oregon, across the mouth of the Columbia River, to Point Ellice, Washington. The bridge replaced previous ferry lines running form Astoria to Washington. The cantilever-span section, which is closest to the Oregon side, is 2,468 feet long, and its main (central) span measures 1,233 feet, through truss, and is flanked by five steel deck trusses, one hundred forty 80-foot concrete deck girder spans, and, at the Washington end of the bridge, seven 350-foot steel through truss spans; and is the longest truss bridge in North America.
While we did not visit any of the many churches in Astoria, their steeples were prominent throughout the city
Purple Sidewalk Glass
The crown jewel of the city, Astoria Colum, rising 125’ atop a 600’ hill, was modeled after the Trajan Column in Rome. The Astoria Column was designed to celebrate three historic events: the discovery of the Columbia River by Captain Robert Gray; the end of the Lewis and Clark Expedition; and the arrival of the ship Tonquin. Each of these events contributed to the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and parts of Montana and Wyoming becoming part of the United States. It features a hand-painted spiral frieze that would stretch more than 500 feet if unwound.
The artwork was created using a technique called sgraffito (“skrah-fee-toh”), an Italian Renaissance art form. Immigrant artist Attilio Pusterla, hired for his expertise in the technique, began transcribing the artwork onto the surface of the Column on July 1, 1926, with the help of his assistants. The work of transcribing the artwork was completed October 29, 1926.
Memorial to Chief Comomly
Commemorating Chinook Chief Comcomly, is the likeness of a native canoe into which the deceased were placed together with all of their possessions and let float away … with their names ever to be mentioned again.
Pilot Boat in Action
We were able to see an actual pilot boat at work
The Mystery of the Old Pilings
Entering Astoria and all along the waterfront, we were taken by the slowly decaying pilings
Most of the pilings once supported fish canneries, packing houses, warehouses and wharfs. Some of the pilings supported flourmills. Still others provided the foundations for other businesses, bars and restaurants, brothels and even private homes. Many of these building were lost in one of teh city's tragic fires.
many artifacts are on display
as are two really informative videos, one taken from an old television show showing the lines in operation and interviews with plant owners and workers, and the other a series of interviews with men who fished for a living, often in small boats.
And of course …
Public Trash Receptacles
Whereas other cities display painted horses, cows, dolphins or other animals, Astoria celebrates it history of the Salmon industry with decorative trash receptacles made in the image of former can of salmon canned in the city.