Coast Explorer Magazine - The Explorer's Guide to the Oregon Coast and Washington Coast
Facebook Email Twitter Instagram Pinterest
Read Coastal Explorer Visit Destinations in Coastal Explorer Coastal Explorer Calendar of Events
Astoria's Adventures in History
Published: 02/22/2014
 
Peter Iredale Shipwreck, Fort Stevens State Park
Peter Iredale Shipwreck, Fort Stevens State Park
Gary Hayes

Astoria's historical attractions shine a beacon on the events and characters that shaped this important West Coast seaport founded in 1811.

It was the terminus of the Lewis and Clark expedition and later Oregon's first boom town, a hub for fur traders and a port for fishermen. Astoria and its Columbia River surroundings offer a treasure trail of history in the region's maritime capital. Take a walk through history by visiting these seven sites.

Fort Clatsop
Fort Clatsop is one of several sites that make up the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park. Explore a replica of the original 1805 fort with a historic interpreter, learn of the hardships of surviving an unforgiving winter in this coastal forest, and take in the visitor center's exhibits about Lewis and Clark's journey west. To plan your visit, go to
nps.gov/lewi/planyourvisit/fortclatsop.htm.

Columbia River Maritime Museum
The Columbia River Maritime Museum has world-class exhibits that offer a walk through Astoria's role as a maritime hub. Visitors learn about "the graveyard of the Pacific" where thousands of shipwrecks dot the treacherous mouth of the Columbia, about the elite pilot team that keeps shipping traffic safe, and about Astoria's historic salmon fishing and canning industry. For more information, visit crmm.org.

Fort Stevens State Park
Fort Stevens State Park is the home of Civil War-era Fort Stevens. This defense site—one of three that guarded the mouth of the Columbia River from confederate or British attack by sea—was an active-duty military installation until the end of WWII. Visitors can check out more than three dozen sites on a self-guided military history tour (pick up a tour brochure at the park's visitor center). The oldest site is the original 1863 earthen fort from which a 120-lb. cannonball might hit a target a mile away. For visitor information, go to oregonstateparks.org.

Peter Iredale Shipwreck
The Peter Iredale shipwreck near Astoria is one of the most photographed attractions on the beach. In 1906, this four-masted cargo vessel was waiting for a pilot ship escort into the Columbia when stormy conditions forced her into the breakers and beached her near Fort Stevens. Today, the skeleton of the ship offers testimony to the power of Nature on the Northwest coast. Access the shipwreck via Fort Stevens State Park.

Flavel House
Flavel House presents a history lesson in Victorian lifestyle. Located on 8th and Duane Street, this opulent Queen Anne mansion, built in the mid-1880s as the residence of Captain George Flavel, has been meticulously restored and preserved as a museum. In the carriage house behind the mansion, watch a short history video before touring the house. At the mansion, walk through the rooms with period furnishings and learn tidbits of Astoria's history along the way. For more information, go to the Clatsop County Historical Society's website: cumtux.org.

Astoria Column
Astoria Column has stood tall since 1926 on the highest point in Astoria, 600 feet above sea level. Styled after Trajan's Column in Rome, the monument rises 125 feet from base to crown. Spiraling upward, a graphic timeline depicts the history of the old West, beginning with early explorers' first contact with indigenous peoples and ending with the building of the railroad. Today, Astoria Column is one of the coast's most fascinating monuments, and offers unmatched views for those who tackle the 164 spiral steps to the observation deck. For more information, consult astoriacolumn.org.

Clatsop County Heritage Museum
The Clatsop County Heritage Museum houses exhibits in a 1904 Neoclassical building on 16th and Exchange Street. Stop in to learn the details of Astoria's history through artifacts and interpretive displays. Especially interesting is the museum's second floor exhibit, "Vice and Virtue in Clatsop County: 1890 to Prohibition," about the city's colorful past as a sinner's playground with its infamous saloons and brothels. For more information, go to cumtux.org. - By Allen Cox

Search
MORE TO EXPLORE
 
The oldest American settlement west of the Rocky Mountains, Astoria, Oregon preserves the flavor of years past. Just a few... [read more]
A rich history, steeped in culture and exploration, has shaped the iconic Oregon coastal town of Astoria. Today, people continue... [read more]
Follow the footsteps of the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery for a well-rounded glimpse into their mission, triumphs and... [read more]
Sponsored Links
  • Uppertown Firefighters Museum
    Astoria Activities and Attractions
    An extensive collection of firefighting equipment and memorabilia from Clatsop County dating back to 1877 are on view at the...
  • Oregon Film Museum
    Astoria Activities and Attractions
    Housed in the old Clatsop County Jail that was featured in The Goonies, the museum invites visitors to explore the...
  • Flavel House Museum
    Astoria Activities and Attractions
    The stately Queen-Anne mansion was built between 1884 and 1886 by river bar pilot Captain George Flavel as his retirement...
  • High Life Adventures
    Warrenton Activities and Attractions
    Enjoy an exhilarating experience in a beautiful setting! Take a guided tour of 8 zip lines around and over a...
Subscribe
to Coast Explorer
Subscribe to Coast Explorer Magazine now and don't miss another issue featuring our beautiful photography and design, interesting feature stories and guides to coastal attractions, events, dining, shopping, arts and lodging. Annual subscriptions (3 issues) are only $15