The written history of the area dates to 1792, when Robert Gray in his small ship, Columbia Rediviva, entered and named the river. Lewis and Clark’s expedition of 1804–1806 established the new nation’s claim to the Pacific Northwest. The oldest American settlement west of the Rockies, Astoria offers more points of historical interest than any other city on the Oregon Coast. During the 1980s, Astoria’s seafood processing and timber-based economy ended with the closing of the Bumblebee Seafood canneries and the Astoria Plywood Mill. While Astoria continues to have a commercial fishing industry, the main economy in this city of 10,000 is tourism.
Intriguing historical museums include Flavel House (not wheelchair-accessible), Heritage Museum, and Uppertown Firefighters Museum. The official maritime museum of Oregon is the Columbia River Maritime Museum. The display of a 44-foot motor lifeboat on a rescue mission is unforgettable.
The 125-foot Astoria Column atop Coxcomb Hill was built in 1925. Around the outside are 14 historical scenes that spiral upwards. Inside visitors can climb the 164-step spiral staircase for unsurpassed views of the ocean, town and bridge, rivers, and mountains. The column commemorates the westward sweep of discovery and migration. Another great view can be had from the Sixth Street Viewing Platform at the end of the Riverfront Walkway. The visitor information center is on West Marine Drive, about 1/2 mile east of the Astoria–Megler bridge. Hospital: Columbia Memorial, 503-325-4321 City Hall: 1095 Duane, 503-325-5824 County Courthouse: 503-325-8000 Chamber of Commerce: PO Box 176, 503-325-6311 or 800-875-6807 www.oldoregon.com