Astoria Oregon

at this place [Fort Clatsop] we had wintered and remained from the 7th of Decr. 1805 to this day and
have lived as well as we had any right to expect, and we can Say that we were never one day without 3
meals of Some kind a day either pore Elk meat or roots, not withstanding the repeeted fall of rain which
has fallen almost Constantly Since we passed the long narrows on the [blank] of Novr. last.

William Clark, Corps of Discovery, 23rd March 1806

"In the morning we had a view of the somewhat famous Astoria, which is any thing but
what I should wish to describe. Half a dozen log houses, with as many sheds, and a pig-sty
or two, are all that it can boast of, and even these appear to be rapidly going to decay."

Charles Wilkes, U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1841

"Astoria, a small fishing town on the mouth of the Columbia River,
has never attained much importance to anyone except Finns."

P. George Hummasti, Texas Tech University, International Migration Review, Vol 11, No 3, 1977

Click on any picture to get a larger view (if one is available).
Some links for a few older pictures of Astoria can be found here and here.

Old pilings where many commercial industries were built upon (canneries, stores, etc) until the Fire of '22. (The Fire of 1883 didn't teach them much, apparently.)

Old Pilings

The Columbia River Bar is one of the most treacherous in the world. Ships must use a licensed Columbia River Bar Pilot to cross, and then when entering the main channel in Astoria, they must switch to a Columbia River Pilot for the journey up to Portland. Basically, the Master of the ship just sits on his hands while the pilots do all the work. But he does pay a small fortune for the privilege. Bar Pilots and River Pilots make in excess of $250,000/year (!). It can cost a ship owner as much as $30,000 (or as little as $8,000) for a two-way transit up and down the Columbia to Portland. The rate is dependent upon Gross Tonnage, Draft, Length and other little nitpicky items. Here is an interesting article convering many facets of bar and river piloting. (Note: corrections to this paragraph and the following one about 'underkeel clearance' attributed to my 'undisclosed source' in the maritime industry.)

Old Pilings

A bar pilot boat in calmer seas delivering the pilot.

Old Pilings

Many ships anchor at Astoria while they are waiting for a berth to free up in Portland (100 miles up river). Note how high the ship is riding in the water, indicating it is very empty. A full ship may only have an 'underkeel clearance' of two feet (four or five feet is "considered a luxury") when negotiating up and down the Columbia, which results in the occassional mishap when one hits a shifting sand bar in the narrower passages.

Ship in Fog

A very typical Winter day in Astoria.

Finnish heritage culture and resources are still present in Astoria but not as prevalent when I was growing (when you still had some Finnish bars and restaurants).

No picture collection of Astoria could be complete without a picture of the Astor Column (which somehow in the past few years got renamed to the Astoria Column without anyone asking me first).

Astor Column

And if you climb to the top of the 164 stairs, you get a rather spectacular view.

View from Astor Column

This view of the bridge (built in the early 60s) is interesting because it is not more than 500 feet from where I used to live. That house doesn't exist anymore because they had to tear down the house (among others) to build the bridge.

Astoria Bridge

This used to have (and may still have) among the best fish and chips in Astoria.

Fish and Chips

The ubiquitous log truck. Well, not so ubiquitous any more but during the logging heyday in the middle of the last century, you might see a dozen of these a day hauling their load to one of the local mills.

Log Truck

Speaking of fish, you can still catch a few here. These guys had some pretty good luck.

Astoria Salmon

Astoria has many Victorian Homes which have now been converted to museums or Bed & Breakfasts. Of course, when I was young, they just happened to be places where I would go to visit my friends. Most of them didn't know they were living in Touristy gold mines. Pictured below is the Flavel House, a small but excellent museum.

Flavel House

One place that must not be missed is the Columbia River Maritime Museum. OK, maybe I'm prejudiced, but this museum is Truly Excellent.

Columbia River Maritime Museum

Incredible history in this picture of downtown Astoria. On the left is the Liberty Theater where we used to watch double features for a quarter. On the right is the Hotel Elliott which, when it was first built, I suppose, was pretty nice ("Wonderful Beds", says the writing on the wall). Then it became... well... rather slummish. It reached it's nadir in the 50's and 60's and languished for decades (insert sad story here when I had to retrieve my Uncle Velu's belongings when he died in one of their miserable rooms). But then a magical transformation occurred (late 90s or early 2000s) and is now a premier, and pretty much world-class hotel. OK,OK, so maybe not world-class but still pretty nice. Check it out on their webpage.

Flavel House

At the former site of a lumber mill (of which Astoria had many), new houses and stores cropped up after they tore down the mill but they left the mill pond. Even the old abandoned rail tracks have been partially restored and you can now ride a trolley from one end of the town to the other.

Mill Pond

An univited guest at a local pubbery.

Portway Seagull

A bleak picture of Astoria is also obligatory. I felt this fulfilled the criteria quite well.

Mill Pond

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