Astoria's history along the tracks






Astoria originally had trolley service back in the 1880s, first horse-drawn, then electric. After the great fire in December 1922, some trolleys were stranded on the east end of town and couldn’t get back to the trolley barn, which was south of the Astoria Warehouse area.

The Spokane Portland & Seattle Trailway. which merged with Burlington Northern Railroad owned the tracks we’re running on until 1996 when they were railbanked and turned over to the city. The railroad once crossed Youngs Bay on a long trestle and went to Warrenton and Seaside.

Red Lion Area

The West End Mooring Basin provides moorage for pleasure boats, sailboats and sportfishing boats. It is operated by the Port of Astoria, which has dockage farther west for large, ocean-going ships.

“Kindergarten Cop,” a 1990 movie, was filmed in several Astoria locations. The restaurant at the Red Lion Inn, Seafare, was used in this movie and was the setting for Schwarzenegger and his co-star to have a romantic dinner. Several local people were used as extras in that, and other locally filmed movies.

The rubble-strewn dock east of the Red Lion is all that remains of the old Union Fishermen’s Cooperative Packing Co. that opened in 1896. It will be the site of a new, four-story, Victorian-style hotel, called the Cannery Pier, in Spring 2004. And we expect a Conference Center to built along here in the next couple of years.

From 1843 to 1844 all the land from Youngs Bay east to Tongue Point was taken up in Donation Land Claims.

Samuel Cole “Ticky” Smith took up the western end of Astoria (west of the trolley barn) up to what is now First Street. The area is still known as Smith Point.


An important feature in Uniontown is the historic pathways and stairs, which are part of the public right-of-way. Two of the more notable in the district are located along the southern extension of Flavel Street to W. Duane and the stairs at the corner of W. Duane and Lincoln Streets. These stairs and pathways are still utilized.

Two historical objects in the district are the World War I “Doughboy” Soldiers Monument (July 21, 1926) and the Uniontown Curfew Bell (1904) located at the fire station.

Uniontown was named after the Union Cannery. It was settled largely by Finns and was also known as Finntown. The single men came first and lived in boarding houses while working in the fishing and canning industries. Soon, the single women followed and the new families moved up the hill.

From 1895 to 1905, the homes built up on the hillside were done in the vernacular (ver-nack-ular) style. In other words, workingmen’s homes with no specific architectural plans. The building style was a tradition passed down from generation to generation.

The Uniontown area covers roughly 30 blocks. There are 132 primary and secondary historically significant buildings in the district. Building styles include typical late 19th- and 20th-century architecture, such as Italianate, Queen Anne, Stick Style, Commercial, Bungalow and Craftsman.

Homes built during the primary building period are typically one to two story with a front-facing gable roof. An unusual feature of these simple, early buildings is the elevated basement level, which raises the house one full story off the ground.

After the turn of the century, the bungalow style replaced the earlier vernacular and Queen Ann styles. Characteristics of the Bungalow or Craftsman style are low-pitch gable roofs, wide overhanging eaves and exposed brackets.Craftsman-style homes could be ordered through the mail.

The “immigrant” stage of Uniontown area was halted with the advent of WWI and the passage of new U.S. immigration laws in the early 1920s.

Suomi Hall, the big white square building, was originally a one-story structure built up the hill by the Finnish Temperance Society and was originally known as Temperance Hall. Later it was dragged down the hill to its present location and another level was added. Temperance Hall was later sold to the Finnish Brotherhood, which was organized in 1886, and is still used for their meetings today.

The big yellow building near Suomi Hall was one of the old Finnish boarding houses.

The old Finnish Meat Market across the street is now the home of the Astor Street Opry Company. The company puts on a melodrama called “Shanghaied in Astoria.” “Shanghaied” is a great play based on the custom of kidnapping men from bars and putting them on ships going out to sea. Playgoers get to throw popcorn at the villain and learn more about Astoria’s infamous past. It runs mid-July to mid-September every summer.

The Astoria Bridge

The 4.21 mile long Astoria Bridge opened in 1966. It is the longest continuous truss span bridge in the world. It had a $1.50 toll until 1994, when the bridge was paid for and the toll was removed. The bridge has more than 200 feet of clearance on the Oregon side so the huge ships can pass beneath it in the shipping channel. It is 150 feet more to the top of the span. It has been featured in several car and truck commercials and the 1985 movie ‘Short Circuit’ featured the bridge.

One morning every October, traffic is stopped and you can run or walk across the bridge during the Great Columbia Crossing. More than 2,000 walkers and runners participate

Friday and Saturday before the run the Silver Salmon Celebration takes place at the West Mooring Basin. This event features fresh salmon direct from the fishing boats, a salmon barbecue, food and craft booths, live entertainment, and a salmon cookbook.

Under the bridge is Maritime Memorial Park, dedicated to the memories of local people who were involved in the maritime industry. It also honors those members of the U.S. Coast Guard who lost their lives while serving here on the Columbia River.

The small boats seen on the river may be sportsfishing for sturgeon. To keep a sturgeon, it must be at least 42 inches long and not more than 60 inches. Every thing else goes back in the river for another day.

Just like Seaside and Cannon Beach, Astoria prides itself as a beach community. Coming up on the waterside is Astoria’s only sandy beach. Don’t blink, you’ll miss it!

The pile of rubble in the water is a cold storage plant that burned down in the early ‘90s. There is a legal dispute about ownership, and therefore, a dispute about who will clean it up.

To the south is the site of the first electric plant in the area, dating to 1885. It was operated by the Trullinger Family. Customers paid $16 per lamp a month.

Astoria Warehousing Inc. Area

In 1881, Samuel Elmore built the original Elmore Cannery on this site and out over the water on pilings. The mid-1880s were boom years for the cannery and Elmore employed 350 fisherman and 100 cannery workers and canned 37,000 cases of one-pound Chinook tins. The Elmore Cannery was known as “one of the best equipped operations on the Pacific Coast.” It employed many Chinese as cannery workers, doing nearly all the hard labor. The original cannery was replaced in 1886 and the second plant was replaced by a third in 1899 when Elmore Cannery consolidated with other canneries to form the Columbia River Packers Association.

The cannery continued to be successful until the 1940s when the salmon run declined sharply, and the cannery would have shut down if not for the discovery of the Albacore tuna industry. The CRPA built a tuna cannery alongside the salmon cannery. The combined canneries were said to be the largest fish cannery in the world.

In 1976 the cannery, by then known as Bumble Bee Seafoods, had ceased to can salmon and dealt strictly with tuna production until 1980 when it was closed down completely.

Associated with the cannery was a bunkhouse, constructed 1915, for the Chinese labor. The building was later used as the office for the cannery. The bunkhouse burned down in 1984 to make way for new warehouses. Nothing remains of the first cannery Elmore built.

Astoria Warehousing was the site of American Can Company that supplied all the cans to Bumble Bee. Now, it receives and stores canned fish from Alaska and labels the cans when the fish are sold. It stores as many as 72 million cans of salmon.

Most of the piling you see in the river once supported fish canneries, packing houses, warehouses and wharfs. Some of the pilings supported flourmills. Wheat used to be milled before it was shipped out, unlike today when the unprocessed wheat is shipped.

The large object in the river (just opposite Josephson’s) is all that remains of the White Star Cannery, which burned down about 50 years ago. What you see is the cannery’s boiler. The plants are courtesy of seeds brought by the birds which nest there.

Astoria was the port of entry for the Great River of the West. In 1877 the Astoria Daily Budget reported that 189 buildings were in all stages of construction in town.

Col. John McClure had the second donation land claim in what is now Astoria located between First and 13th streets (downtown Astoria). He donated the city block for the county courthouse, putting the county seat in Astoria. McClure School once stood up the hill from the present-day courthouse.

In 1866 McClure sold the claim to Cyrus Olney for about $10,000 and McClure returned to Indiana. When Cyrus Olney became owner of Astoria, he slashed down 40 acres of forest, making a great change in the look of the place. In 1852 the entire peninsula on which Astoria stands today was one solid forest of tall hemlock and spruce timber. Many of those trees measured 12 to 17 feet in diameter, except about 14 acres of Astor Hill and 6 acres on the south side of Smith’s Point, which had been burned off by the Indians many years before. The tall forest reached down to the very edge of the little town of 20 families.

Just off the trestle in front of the Ship Inn are ballast rocks, which are visible at low tide. Ships would sail to Astoria to pick up cargo. When they got to Astoria they unloaded the ballast rocks, and loaded up with seafood, lumber and other cargo and sail off to other ports.

Second Street

Columbia House is Astoria’s first condominium, built in the mid-70s. The units sell for $200-225,000. The building illustrates how piling is still used today to support buildings over the river.

Up at the top of the hill, the house set by itself with green trim was used in the filming of “Kindergarten Cop.” It was the home of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love interest, the schoolteacher.

Third Street

The red brick building on the waterfront behind Burger King was built as the Astoria Wharf and Warehouse Co. in 1892. It earned the nickname the “Bonded Warehouse” because of its design, but was never used for U.S. Customs. The primary purpose of this building was the storage of tin plate and accessories for manufacturing tin cans for early salmon canning. It was occupied by seven different can companies until 1949. It has survived three major fires. It was made from locally fired brick and the foundation goes down into the river bed. This is unusual because all the other over-water structures are built on pilings. The granite keystone over the doorway and the granite door were relocated from the Customs House in east Astoria. It is the only surviving building to show this early “tin can” industry on the lower Columbia River.

No. 1 Sixth Street

The fish packing industry developed quickly in Astoria. Kinney Cannery was built in 1876 between Fifth and Sixth streets, and was the third cannery in Astoria and the first to be built in the downtown area. Built as a salmon cannery, in its first year of operation, it experimented in canning of beef and mutton. Inexperience and lack of facilities curtailed this enterprise. By 1891, Kinney was the leading salmon packer in Astoria, packing 67,000 cases. Kinney owned two other canneries, 138 fishing boats, and 300 men were needed to operate his fleet. The cannery was rebuilt in 1894 on its original supports to replace the original building, which had burned to its pilings. Large mounds of melted cans are still located beneath the building from the 1894 fire. Canning was discontinued around 1920 and the building served as a central machine shop and warehouse for the CRPA, later called Bumble Bee, until 1980. The Kinney Cannery building was placed on the National Register of Historical places in 1989.

No. 10 Sixth Street

The Kinney Box Factory was built in 1908 as a box factory and office for the CRPA. The building was enlarged to the east in the 1920s and the northern section has undergone a series of renovations ever since. The Columbia River Packers Association used this building for its office and warehouse from 1915 through 1976. It has been renovated for use as an office building with bakery and shops. There is a beautiful penthouse on the riverside that can be rented for meetings, reunions, etc

Sixth Street has a viewing platform that is a small city park and a small dock area where folks fish for sturgeon in season.

Astor Street was Astoria’s red light district, site of numerous establishments euphemistically referred to as “female boarding houses.” A young man visiting the bars and boarding houses of Astor Street might be Shanghaied – kidnapped and forced to work on the crew of a sailing ship for months or years. Astoria had a Barbary Coast atmosphere that prevailed at the turn of the century, when houses of questionable business dotted the waterfront and men were shanghaied from saloons. Seafaring life was little better than prison for the hands of a sailing ship. There were ‘labor brokers’ who resorted to kidnapping and trickery to man these vessels. Many a farmboy woke up bound for Shanghai with a hangover or a knot on his head.

One of the most beautiful of the Astor Street bars, the four-story Louvre, opened in 1896 on the site now occupied by McDonald’s. Artifacts from the Louvre can be seen in the Vice & Virtue exhibit at the Heritage Museum.

12 Seventh Street

This 1906 building was originally the Elmore Dock and served as a fish landing for Samuel Elmore’s Cannery. From 1924 to 1938, the Owen-Peeke Feed & Grain Company occupied the building. In 1939 the New England Fish Company of Oregon, used this building as a fish processing plant and for cold storage until the company’s bankruptcy in 1980.

Presently the building is occupied by Bornstein’s Seafoods. At Bornstein’s, the shrimp peeler and other processing equipment were invented and manufactured by Carruthers Equipment in Hammond/Warrenton. The fish-unloading machine is like a big vacuum cleaner that sucks the fish out of the boat’s hold. Fish, shrimp, crab and oysters are all processed on Astoria’s waterfront.

Bornstein’s even collects the shrimp casings in large bins to sell for use in cosmetics, soap and contact lenses.

Eighth Street

Capt. George Flavel played an important role in Astoria’s history. He was a very successful businessman and had a virtual monopoly on pilotage services, after a lively campaign to run off the competition. He also had extensive real estate holdings; a wharf and warehousing business because he owned both steam tugs and the steam tug business. In 1885 he built a house for his retirement. He died in 1893, the first Astoria millionaire. This home, at Eighth and Exchange, is one of Astoria’s biggest and most beautiful Queen Anne style Victorian homes. It is now a museum run by the Clatsop County Historical Society.

Foot of Ninth

Sebastian-Stewart Fish Company occupied this building from 1945 to 1965.Then Ocean Foods used this building for their processing business.

Currently, the Astoria Holdings Co. operates the sardine plant at Ninth Street. They recently processed 22 million pounds of these trout-sized fish in a year. Seventy percent of that was used as bait for long-line tuna fishing. The rest is shipped to Japan as food grade under the label, “Delicious Seven Star Fish.” Astoria is prominent on all boxes used for shipping.

Sardine fishers employ spotter airplanes to locate schools of sardines. The ships then encircle the fish with a purse seine net and can fill their holds with just one net full.

Our Post Office dates back to 1847. Who can guess what postage cost then? It was 40 cents a letter. The original post office location was between what is now known as Exchange and Franklin on 15th. There is an obelisk marking the location of this, the first U.S. Post Office west of the Rockies.

In the 1850s, there were no improved streets or wagon trails. Walking from Shark’s Point (at the foot of Ninth) to Astor Hill or Shivley’s Astoria meant walking a narrow gravel path skirting the bay. Going this way meant one had to pass through Welch’s Sawmill where Commercial intersects the shore. Vessels anchored out in the river sent freight and passengers ashore in small boats. The landing was two large fir logs (50 or 60 feet long) spiked together, making a floating wharf at the foot of Ninth.

All of the flat land you see between the river and the hill is fill. Astoria’s business district was originally built on pilings over the river, including nearly all of the buildings and streets. That helped fan the 1922 fire that burned down the entire downtown area. A sanitary district was formed about 1915; and a seawall built so river sand could be used in as fill.

10th Street

Between Ninth and Tenth streets, the parking lot to the south will soon be a new intermodal center, featuring the “mother of all trolley stops.” The dock was the original location of City Lumber, built in 1904.

12th Street

From May to October the Astoria Sunday Market is held on 12th Street between Marine Drive and Exchange. Market hours are 10 to 3, with vendors selling produce, art and craft items, food, jewelry, clothing. There’s a food court and usually live music.

13th Street

John Shively, the first postmaster, laid out a donation land claim just east of McClure’s. Soon after setting up his claim, Shively went east to get married and left his land in the hands of his friend, James Welch, who came here in 1846 with his wife, Nancy, as the first white married couple in Astoria. On Shivley’s return, Welch claimed the land by actual occupation. A lawsuit settled to a compromise and the land was divided between the two. Welch built the first sawmill in 1851 on what is now Ninth St., between Bond and Commercial. Later the mill was sold and became the W.W. Parker Mill.

The U.S. Schooner Shark was sent to give comfort and encouragement to the Americans in the Oregon Territory. She entered the Columbia in July 1846 and promptly ran aground. High tide and local help freed the ship and the crew proceeded up the river as far as The Dalles. On their return trip, the schooner again grounded on Sept. 10, and this time the Shark broke apart. The crew made it ashore and built a double log cabin near the post, which later became the first home for several early pioneer families.

The stranded men carved their names on a rock (Shark Rock) on the bank of the river near what is now 13th and Exchange, but after part of it (now at the Maritime Museum) was removed, the remainder was buried under fill for a parking lot.

Part of the hull of the Shark, with three cannons attached, found its way to a beach about 25 miles south. One cannon was retrieved in 1898 and today’s Cannon Beach is named for it.

14th Street

14th Street was the site of the George Hume cannery. It is another small riverfront park with interpretive displays to explain its history. This is where the ferry to Washington was based before the bridge was built in the 60s. The very day they opened the bridge, they closed the ferry. The ferry followed a deep north-south channel in the river, which filled in with ash when Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980. Today, this dock is home to tug and pilot boats. Part of the movie “Free Willy” was filmed here.

The building on the southeast corner of 14th and Marine Drive, the building with the rounded corner made of two-story-high glass blocks, is the birthplace of cable T\/. On the second floor of this building, inventor Ed Parsons, a partner in a radio station housed here, invented cable television and operated the world’s first cable system. He picked up his TV signal from an antenna on the roof of the Astor Hotel and distributed the signal via cable to people’s homes and businesses.

Fire in Astoria

On two occasions, fire has reshaped Astoria.

The 1883 Astoria fire started at the Clatsop Mill, then located at what is now 13th and Exchange St.

The mill was running at the time, and it had no fire pump, hose or buckets. It was a firetrap right in the center of town, because it was built along the shore with planer shavings and trash discarded in heaps below. Within an hour, the fire was hopelessly out of control and spreading eastward.

In the end, the fire had destroyed the sawmill, two docks and all structures on Commercial Street, between 14th and 17th, Damage totaled $2 million.

At that time, all of downtown was built on pilings over the water and there were no fire hydrants or even buckets at the ready. There was plenty of tinder-dry fuel. They did have a fire engine and buckets and pumps to bring water from the river.
In the effort to save goods from surrounding stores, all the goods carried out were taken to the O.R.&N. {Oregon Railway & Navigation} dock (15th and Commercial). All the work was in vain as that part of town burned that evening.

Looting was a major post-fire problem, and a Vigilance Committee was hastily formed to oust anyone caught stealing. They dug a grave in the old cemetery east of 14th, appointed a burial committee and put out notice that all stolen property was to be returned to city hall.

A committee was sent out to arrest one of the known leaders of the thieving bunch and the sheriff and chief of police were ordered to stand aside. The leader was taken to city hall, given a short trial, found guilty of having stolen property in his possession. He was given the choice of hanging or whipping. The man defied the committee, so the entire committee escorted him to the graveyard. The rope was put over a limb of a tree and with a grave waiting for him, he changed his mind and took the whipping and then was sent out of town on the next boat for Portland.

The action of the committee became know the next day, but little attention was paid. That evening the committee was instructed to bring in a character that had sent out in defiance of the vigilance committee. This man was brought in, found guilty, and given his choice. He too decided to take the whipping after seeing the rope and the grave. He was placed aboard the morning boat and was lucky to escape the hanging.

When this news was known, the next morning stolen goods began to be delivered to the city hall. In a short time, city hall was full and other storage rooms had to be found. A long time after the fire, folks were careful about claiming ownership of this property.
15th Street

After the 1883 fire, the other mills kept busy producing lumber for the rebuilding process, which was done in much the same fashion as before. This allowed for some great fishing along the sidewalks and for Shanghai doors in tavern floors, but it retained the potential for fire to spread once again beneath the town.

At 12:15 a.m. Dec. 7, 1922, the fire alarm was sounded. The fire was thought to have started near 11th and Commercial streets. Water was pumped from the river at the foot of 14th in efforts to douse the flames. At 2:40 a.m. signs on Handley’s Pool Hall and the Brown Shoe Store exploded in flames. The fire stopped the clock on the Astoria National Bank building at 4:20 a.m.

The fire raged swiftly through 32 city blocks, burning approximately 40 acres, and by 6 a.m. more than 33 buildings and the streets they stood on were destroyed. There was little to slow the fire, almost everything was made of wood-framed construction. Water mains were also wooden, and carried water beneath the wooden streets.

In a desperate attempt to block the fire’s path, a few of the masonry buildings were dynamited.

Interestingly, none of the three churches in the downtown area burned. The wind shifted each time and the buildings remained untouched by flames.

Only two lives were lost in the fire. One was Norris Staples, a car dealer. His partner, Sherman Lovell, held the distinction of being the first man to sell a Model-T Ford in Astoria. Staples died of a heart attack while pushing autos out of his sales garage in the hopes of saving them from the flames. The second man was an unidentified suicide. Another man was said to have fallen off a boat and drowned because of the thick smoke.

It should be remembered that the 1922 fire left many special reconstruction problems. The burned area was wholly without streets, gas and water pipes, and electrical and phone systems. Before the buildings could be rebuilt, the streets had to be replaced and property owners agreed to widen the streets.

Chair-wall (Chair-rail) construction provided a concrete tunnel for water and gas lines in addition to wire systems. The area around the chair-wall was filled in with dredge sands before downtown was rebuilt.

The resulting Astoria was a modern city, said then to be the only city of its size in the country with an underground wiring system throughout the business district.

The lightposts which line Commercial St. today are replicas of those that were removed in the 1960s.

West of the Hauer’s Cyclery building used to be a boarding house for seamen, owned by Bridget Grant. She often sold men to Shanghaiers and even sold her husband to avoid a divorce. Her husband returned a few years later, tripped on a dock and drowned. Bridget sued the city, but it is said she didn’t get much since she had already set a value on her husband’s life.

16th Street

The big gray building on the top of the hill once was Astoria High School but for many years, it has been part of Clatsop Community College, with an enrollment of about 1,200 students. It may have the most spectacular view of any college in the country.

The Shallon Winery makes wines, not from grapes but from Oregon fruits and even from chocolate.

This National Guard Armory was built in 1942 during World War II on top of cemetery used by inhabitants of the old fur trading post. In addition to being an armory, the building housed the Clatsop unit of the Oregon National Guard. It was once used as a roller skating rink and a church. It is now owned by the Columbia River Maritime Museum

West of the armory is the Heritage Museum, built in 1904 as Astoria’s City Hall. During the war, the building housed the USO and later the Maritime Museum. On display are exhibits of Clatsop County history.

17th Street

The Columbia River Maritime Museum is recognized as one of the best in the country. One of the things you’ll learn in the museum is that the mouth of the Columbia used to be known as the “Graveyard of the Pacific.” That’s because more than 200 ships and over 2,000 boats of all kinds have been wrecked by the notorious Columbia River Bar.

17th Street Dock is home base for two Coast Guard cutters, the Alert and Steadfast, and the retired Lightship Columbia, the last floating lighthouse to serve on the West Coast and now a part of the Maritime Museum. This dock is where the river tour boats tie up when they visit Astoria.

18th Street

Astoria originally started streetcar service back on May 9. 1888. The first four-wheel horse-drawn car was run out of the OR&N (Oregon Railway & Navigation) dock onto the new track on what is now Commercial Street down near the foot of 18th. The fare was 5 cents and it operated daily from 5:45 a.m. to 11 p.m. By 1899, the trolley system went bankrupt and was reorganized by General Electric. Pacific Power and Light acquired the trolley system in 1910.

The Astoria Aquatic Center has a lap pool, recreation pool, 100-foot water slide, lazy river, adult spa pool, kiddies wading pool and fitness room. It also has a beautiful mural along the full south wall that was conceived and painted by Chicago muralist Tom Melvin in 1998. Visitors are welcome.

This area to where Columbia Memorial Hospital is now used to be underwater, known as Scow Bay. The bay divided Astoria. There was a bridge built in 1878 on what is now Exchange Street from 18th to 21 streets connecting the two sides of Astoria, but earlier you had to row or sail from Downtown to Uppertown.

The Oregon State University Seafood Lab conducts research to increase the uses and benefits of seafood while the Seafood Consumer Center offers hands-on training in seafood preparation.

The brick building is the old train depot built in 1924.

Passenger service to Portland was established by the Astoria and Columbia River Railroad. The line was completed by the A&CR on April 4, 1898. The first train was May 16, 1898.

The Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway bought the A&CR on Feb. 24, 1911. In 1924, the SP&SR constructed a new brick depot at 20th and Commercial. The new depot was just east of the old and handled passenger traffic until service ended in 1952. It served as the office for the local agency and maintenance people after that. It was donated to the Columbia River Maritime Museum by the Burlington Northern Railroad.

In 1924, at the peak of rail activity, there were eight passenger trains a day, including a “daddy train” which brought fathers to spend the weekend with families in Seaside. The train left Portland shortly after work noon Saturday and got the dads to Seaside for dinner. They went back on the train Sunday night to get to work Monday.

Astoria Column

The Astoria Column was built in 1926 to commemorate the westward sweep of discovery and migration. Designed by Electus Litchfield, a New York architect, the monument is patterned after Trajan’s Column (114 AD).

It is the only large memorial of reinforced concrete finished with a pictorial frieze (freeze) in sgrafitto (‘g’ sounds like ‘k’) work. This makes it unique in all the world.

Ralph Budd (president of Great Northern Railway) and the Astor family financially supported the Astoria Column. The Column’s 14, 25-foot-long scenes represent the history of white settlers in chronological order, with the earliest event at the bottom. The ambitious visitor can climb the 164 steps to the top of the Column and get a spectacular, 360-degree view. The Column cost $27,000 to build in 1926 and $1.5 million to restore a few years ago.

The former site of the Astoria Plywood Mill has been cleaned of environmental hazards and is being transformed into Mill Pond Village, an upscale commercial and residential development. Wauna Federal Credit Union plans to build its world headquarters here.

30th Street area

The Uppertown Firefighters Museum at 30th Street has a collection of antique firefighting equipment and some great photos of Astoria’s big fire. The building it occupies used to be the North Pacific Brewery, which was closed in 1915 by prohibition. In 1928 the site was remodeled by the City of Astoria as Upper Firestation #2. On display are hand-pulled, horse-drawn and motorized vehicles, fire-fighting equipment and memorabilia. The Astoria Children’s Museum also makes its home here.

Adam Van Dusen was the first merchant who sold goods from shelves (the Hudson’s Bay sold from boxes) and his family prospered in their Uppertown store. Ulysses S. Grant used to visit him at the store. Five generations of Van Dusens have been active in Astoria. Today, Willis Van Dusen serves as Astoria’s mayor.

The big red building out in the river was a net drying and mending shed or net loft. Natural fiber nets, which often were made in the fishermen’s homes during the winters, needed to be dried between uses. Fishermen could navigate their boats right up under the building where a hoist would lift the nets to dry. The building was used in the movie “Free Willy II.” A local artist and art professor has purchased the building and is renovating it to be artist studios and small shops.

33rd Street

A.E. Wilson took possession of the next claim east of Shively’s holding, starting at 33rd and westward until 1849, when he sold it to Gen. John Adair. Adair was sent by President Taylor as collector of customs for the Port of Astoria. Abraham Lincoln had turned this job down.

Robert Shortess took up the next claim from east of the Adair land almost to Tongue Point.

The former Sentry Market is the site of the first cannery in Astoria. Until it was sold in 2002, it was the oldest family-owned grocery store west of the Rockies, established in 1890. It is soon to become Safeway.

The white building across the street is a replica of Adair’s original custom’s service office, the oldest customs house west of the Rockies. We also have the oldest shoe store (Gimre’s on 14th St.), Post Office (1847 – Shively was postmaster). Astoria is the oldest U.S. settlement west of the Rockies.

36th Street

Astor School was used in the movie “Kindergarten Cop” (1990) and the cream-colored house with red trim up the hill to the east was the Goonies House in “The Goonies” (1984). Movies filmed here also include the first two “Free Willy” movies (1992/1995), “Short Circuit” (1985), “Benji, the Hunted” (1987), “Come See the Paradise” (1989) and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III” (1992).

Areas on the hillside where you see lots of beautiful green trees and no houses are slide areas. If you built a house there, your address might change overnight.

The East End Mooring Basin is home to some of the commercial fishing vessels that provide seafood to your supermarket and to restaurants. During certain times of the year, it is also home for dozens and dozens of thousand pound male California Sea Lions.

Along side the trolley tracks is the Astoria Riverfront Walk. It now runs for three miles and soon will stretch for five miles along the river, from the Port to Tongue Point.

30-second History

Clatsop Indians lived here for thousands of years. In 1792, Capt. Robert Gray found the mouth of the River and sailed in with his ship, the Columbia Rediviva. In 1805, Lewis and Clark led their Expedition here and spent the winter at Fort Clatsop, just south of town. Astoria is the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies, dating from the fur trading post set up by John Jacob Astor’s men in 1811. There’s a small park and a partial replica at the site of the original post at 15th and Franklin John Jacob Astor never visited Astoria.

The United States and England went to war in 1812. In 1813 a British warship sailed into the Columbia River to capture the post and take control of the fur trade. Astor’s fur traders beat them to the punch by selling the post to the British NorthWest Company. From 1813 to 1818, the British owned Astoria and it was known as Fort George. In 1818, a treaty with England established joint occupation of the Oregon Country, as it was called then. The boundary was set at the 49th Parallel. The British did not completely abandon Astoria until 1846.

A hundred years ago, Astoria was the second largest city in Oregon with a population of 8,975. The population now is just over 10,000.

Fishing Facts

The means of catching the salmon were many and varied.

Fish wheels were like Ferris wheels that scooped up huge quantities of salmon from the river. Fish traps were used.

Horses were employed to drag heavy nets to the sands. Men and horses lived in the middle of the river during the season.

Wide-beamed Columbia River sailing gillnet boats were developed specifically for Lower Columbia waters and were collectively called the Butterfly Fleet. Typically, the boats and nets were owned by the cannery and only rented by the fishermen. The price per pound was not negotiated.

Some of the practices of the Columbia River Packers Association gave rise to political violence, and disgruntled fishermen formed the Union Fishermen’s Cooperative and Packing Co. The cannery was located between the West End Mooring basin and the Astoria Bridge.

Shipping Facts

More than 2,000 large ships enter the river each year, headed to Portland, Vancouver, Kalama or Longview. The Columbia is the world’s second largest grain export gateway.

You may notice red and green buoys in the river. To stay in the shipping channel, you need to keep the red buoys on your right and the green buoys on your left as you go upriver, or return to the river.

World trade passes within yards of the waterfront of Astoria. Most cargo ships on the Columbia River travel to ports on the West Coast and elsewhere. They typically have crews of 15 to 25.

Travel times in days: Australia 17; Taiwan 16; Korea 14; Japan 12; Los Angeles 3; San Francisco 2; Seattle 1; Portland 1/2

Auto Carriers – Floating parking lots that carry up to 8,000 automobiles and trucks. Unloading ramps are on the side or the stern.

The wood chips you see being barged up the river today will become the toilet paper, paper towels, baby diapers and other such items you pick up at your store. The Georgia Pacific Paper Mill is about 25 miles up the river at Wauna.

Other Astoria Facts

Astoria is surrounded on three sides by water and on the fourth by watershed forest and has little room to grow. To house all of the Navy personnel during World War II, many people with larger homes did their patriotic duty by creating apartments. After the war, most of the apartments were removed.

Not having room to spread out is one of the reasons we’ve taken good care of the houses we have. That’s why you see all the beautiful Victorian homes on Astoria’s hillsides, many of them on the National Register of Historic Places. About a dozen have been converted into bed & breakfast inns. There are more than 350 homes in use today that are more than 100 years old. Every September, the Clatsop County Historical Society organizes a historic home tour that gets you inside some of these classic homes.

Astoria is only a few miles from the Pacific Ocean and the tides raise and lower the level of the river here by 8 to 12 feet. The 1,200-mile-long Columbia River is second only to the Mississippi in the United States and it pushes a plume of fresh water as far north as Victoria, British Columbia, and as far south as Monterey, Calif.