Earlier this week, (when the weather was still mild not wild), we traveled south for a few days of vacation in Astoria.  Our home base was a lovely boutique hotel built on an old cannery pier on the Columbia River.  We woke each morning and drank our coffee watching the sea lions and the ships go by.  There are worse starts to a day.

We perused the shops downtown, ate at the restaurants and visited the boardwalk along the waterfront.

And found some history at the Flavel House, which was built in 1886, and reminiscent to me of the House on Haunted Hill. (I wouldn’t visit alone after dark.)

There’s history to be found in this town to be sure.  Lots of it. The first and oldest American colony on the Pacific Coast, Astoria was founded in 1811 by an expedition sent by millionaire John Jacob Astor (who never set foot there by the way.) He had made his money in the fur trade in New York, and sought to expand his enterprise world-wide, including a base on the rugged Pacific Coast for trade with China.  The expedition was both by land and by sea.  The two parties were to meet up at the mouth of the Columbia to set up a trading center; this only four years after Lewis and Clark returned from their famous trip.  In hindsight, Lewis and Clark made it look easy. Astor’s men didn’t fare as well.  Many were lost and died violent deaths on Astor’s venture, though they did manage to establish the short-lived colony before the British took it over.  The area remained under ‘joint occupation’ by the Americans and the British until today’s borders were established in 1846.  (For more fascinating detail on its history, read Peter Stark’s book, ‘Astoria.’)

To see history of another kind, go to Fort Stevens Park and visit the shipwrecked Peter Iredale which was grounded off the coast in 1906.  In fact many ships have been lost where the Columbia meets the Pacific, in an area known as the Graveyard of the Pacific.

And now from sea to sky. We visited the 125 ft. Astoria Column,  built in 1926 and standing 600 ft. above sea level.

I bravely climbed the 164 stairs inside its narrow spiral staircase.

I even ventured outside at the top, for the few minutes I could endure standing on the exposed narrow platform, where the views below were wonderful. Bob was pleased to stay behind and now I know why.

Our third day and it was time to head home, but not without swinging by Washington’s Long Beach, the longest beach in the world, according to the sign.  (Uh-huh.)

By then the winds and waves had picked up considerably and  the birds were grounded. So were we.

It was steadily pouring by the time we made it home, and stormy weather would be with us for days to come. The high winds even shut down several Oregon beaches where we had stood the day before, including the Peter Iredale beach at Fort Stevens Park.

Timing is everything.

~  Susanne

13 Comments on “Astoria!

  1. This is terrific, thanks for sharing the pictures – it really is amazing how many incredible places are literally in your backyard – thanks also for sharing the history!

    • Thanks John. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I hadn’t realized how much history there was until I read the book by Peter Stark. I only knew about the Lewis & Clark expedition, not the one sent by Astor. It’s a great place to visit!

    • The stair climbing wasn’t as bad as standing on that platform at the top! Still my husband was smart to stay at the bottom. The tower is beautiful, and thankfully the views are great from that hilltop even if you don’t climb the tower. thanks for your comment! 🙂

      • When we were kids we would race (!) to the top and lean over the rails and see how far our spit could fly!

      • Look out below!!! 🙂 Lean over the rails? I was scared standing on that platform! After about 2 minutes I was ready to go down again!!

  2. I would love to climb that tower, and love the spooky old house!
    Nice atmospheric shots, Susanne.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  3. Don’t know how many times I have driven the Colombia River Highway and don’t think I have ever tarried there. Next time we will spend a day or two… Excellent posting…

    • Thanks so much! It’s well worth stopping to explore the area. There’s also an excellent Maritime Museum on the waterfront, but we didn’t take it in this time.. 🙂

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