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Sunday June 26- Astoria Sunday Market, Tour, Trolley,

We went across the road for breakfast, again. It cost $6.50 again, since we reversed our meals. There is no way we could beat the price, especially with taking ½ home!

We drove north, this time to tour the city of Astoria.

Astoria was the first city established west of the Rockies in 1811 by John Jacob Astor as a fur trading post.  Astoria is a maritime town, on a hillside overlooking the Columbia River, surrounded by natural beauty.  They claim a heritage of fur trading, logging, fishing and canning. The town is filled with Victorian homes, and boasts of having more buildings on the National Historic Register per square foot than anywhere else in Oregon.

The history begins with Captain Robert Gray (1755-1806), an American merchant sea captain,  arriving in 1792 and  naming the Columbia river, then sailing up the river while searching for the inland passageway. Capt. Robert Gray was the first American to circumnavigate the globe. It continues with the Lewis and Clark Expedition arriving in 1805 and wintering in the area until they departed March 23, 1806. Then of course, John Jacob Astor, who never set foot in Astoria, setting up the fur trading post in 1811. The town is celebrating its bi-centennial this year.

Our first stop was the 12th Street Market. This is only a small part of the market!

This event occurs each Sunday, from May to October, with 200 + vendors. We saw some of the same vendors that we had seen yesterday in Ilwaco, plus many more. We lucked out and found a parking place on the main street, half a block from 12th street. We bought some more of the wonderful cherries that we bought yesterday, from the same vendor. Then we found some fresh Rainier cherries, so we bought some of them also! We sampled some boring wine, then some interesting flavored fudge, and had difficulty deciding what flavor to purchase. We finally settled on Black Forest, a medium-dark chocolate and cherry cordial flavor fudge. The vendor had about 20 delicious flavors, so it was hard to choose just one flavor!

We wandered through all of the tents, trying various products like different flavors of kettle corn, breads, cookies etc. We bought two fruit pockets, one Marionberry and one Cherry, both sweetened with pear juice, for dessert this evening. We finished at the market and backtracked to the Visitor Center. We picked up some more brochures and the lady printed out information on the Washington state light houses for us. We asked for the “Walking Tour of Astoria” CD and map. We proceeded to do a driving tour of the city, using the CD.

Astoria has a rich history with varied ethnicity. Our tour started south/west of the Astoria-Megler Bridge, the 4.1 mile bridge, built in 1968,  in the Union Town area, mainly settled by Finnish immigrants. This was also the “cannery” area, with at one time, as many as 38 canneries along Astoria’s waterfront.  This area was also home to the Union Fishermen’s Co-Operative Packing Company. The homes in this area are built in the Finnish tradition, of narrow houses with high pitched roofs. There are also Danish and Norwegians in the area.

Centered in the area is the Doughboy Monument,

put up by the American Legion, to honor the WWI veterans. It is maintained by volunteers, and is noted to have the only public restrooms listed in the National Register of Historic Places. They are in the basement of this structure. We progressed east to Bond Street. In the 1800’s, the water came almost up to this street. When the city dredged the channel for shipping, they put the dirt downhill from most of the town creating the waterfront area. Bond Street had boarding houses, with up to 175 men staying in these houses. Of course, nearby were ladies boarding houses, which were actually housing the ladies of disreputable behavior, if you catch my drift! They also have the distinction of having the first Post Office, in 1847, west of the Rockies. The cost of postage, in 1847 was $0.40, a fortune in those days. Since there were few roads and no train service yet, all mail went by ship, and took between 1-2 years for delivery.

If anyone wanted to open a saloon in town, they had to build a church. So there are a lot of churches in Astoria, in fact there are more churches than liquor sales locations.

Captain George Flavel built this Queen Anne house.

He was the first “bar” pilot, bringing ships across the Columbia River bar. He married his 14 year old wife, when he was 31. The mansion was built in 1885, they had 1 son and 2 daughters. The son had been sent off to boarding school. When he returned home, his father thought he was a brat, so he had him shanghaied. When he returned in a year, he was straightened out and became a model citizen running the bank. The two daughters never married. Capt. Flavel built up the town and became very wealthy. In the 1929, during the depression, the granddaughter gave the house to the town, since she didn’t want to live in this big mansion. They gave it back, since they could not afford it; the county took it for taxes, and  in 1955 the historical society took the building over, as the town wanted to level it for a parking lot. One of the trees that Capt. Flavel planted is this huge Sequoia

and many other varieties of trees on the property. Mrs. Flavel took over management of the Flavel businesses after her husband died, and managed the money well enough to support generations of family members. She died in 1928.

Astoria had a huge fire in 1892, which destroyed 16 blocks of the town. Flavel house was saved as well as the Courthouse and the jail.  We ran back to the Market and bought our lunch. These are Po Girls-they are grilled cajin shrimp with a delicious lime-mayonnaise on top, with a coleslaw, on freshly baked rolls.  They were terrific! 

In 1922, a young man who was working in Portland, came over to Astoria with his girlfriend. She was involved in a play called “Bumbling Billy”. When they went to do the play, the main actor did not show up, so the girlfriend said, that her boy friend could probably play the part.

That turned out to be the first time that Clark Gable was ever on the stage!

There was an Astor Hotel, the tallest building in town, which is now shops at street level and senior housing, above. The original Ft. Astoria,

which was the foundation for the town, was built by the fur traders. A plaque here tell the story of the first English teacher in Japan, Randal McDonald, who was born at this fort. He was sent to boarding school, and met some Japanese students, who had been shipwrecked in the area. He was impressed by them, and wanted to go to Japan. Since the Japanese were a closed society, they did not welcome him with open arms, in fact they threw him in jail. Since he had learned some Japanese from his school friends, he spoke a little Japanese. This impressed the jailers, who learned some English from him. Later, when Europeans visited Japan, the first English they heard was Randal McDonald’s name.

Many of the houses are Victorian in style, these are two

There are 120 of the Sears Craftsman homes in the town. These were houses in the Sears Catalog, that people ordered sent to them, and they put them together themselves.  Here are examples of 2 of them. 

This is just a house that I liked this porch. I think it also might be a Sears house. 

We went up hill to the Astoria Column, the final crowning monument, in a series of 12 historical markers erected in the early 1900’s between St. Paul, Minnesota and Astoria. The markers were the pet project of Ralph Budd, president of the Midwest-based Great Northern Railroad. In 1925 he spearheaded the project to salute the explorers and early settlers for their critical role in settling the area and keeping it part of the US, as Canada and the Russians both wanted the area.  We looked up and saw this rainbow around the top of the column. 

The column is in a bas-relief technique called ‘sgraffito’, an Italian Renaissance art form that combines paint and plaster carvings to decorate the column exterior with a frieze of 22(for some reason only 21 are listed in the brochure!) significant events that occurred in the region. The artist was Attilo Pusterla, an Italian. The column is constructed of concrete with a depth foundation of 12 ft.; elevation 600 feet; height 125 ft.; number of cartoons 12, with the length of the artwork, unwound, 500+ ft. The original cost was $27,133.96. The column was repaired in 1936 and the stairway inside replaced in 2008 for the cost of 600K. There are 165 steps to climb, and we climbed all of them!

If you look closely, the bottom picture is Capt. Robert Gray!

The art murals, from the bottom are:

  1. Before the white people arrive.
  2. Capt. Robert Gray arrives on the ship the Columbia, 1792
  3. First contact with the Chinook and Clatsop Indians
  4. Lt. Broughton names Mt. Hood.
  5. Lewis and Clark expedition crosses the mountains, 1805.
  6. Indians greet the explorers.
  7. Lewis and Clark Expedition reach the Pacific.
  8. Salt works on the Pacific Shore.
  9. Fort Clatsop.
  10. Explorers complete Ft. Clatsop, 1806.
  11. Tonquin sails from New York, 1810.
  12. Astor overland party leaves St. Louis, 1811.
  13. Tonquin arrive at the Columbia.
  14. Destruction of the Tonquin.  the Tonquin was a ship sent by JJ Astor)
  15. Overland Astorians cross the divide, 1812.
  16. First overland Astorians arrive.
  17. The lost Astorians.
  18. Transfer of Astoria to the Northwest Company, 1813.
  19. US ship Ontario
  20. Coming of the pioneers, 1834
  21. Arrival of the railroad, 1880’s

For the dedication in July,1926, they draped the column in parachutes, for the grand unveiling. The weather did not cooperate, and the parachutes, blew off the night before!

The picture above is Mt. Rainier.

This picture above is of Mt. St. Helena. We were lucky, most of the time you cannot see these from the Column, due to the weather. Below, is a replica of a burial canoe, used for Chief McConnelly, one of the Native American chiefs, who acted as ‘bar pilots’, building ships across the Columbia River sandbar.  The local Native Americans would ‘bury’ the chiefs on these canoes. They would elevate the canoe, so that water creatures would not feed on the bodies, but the birds would “take the body up into the sky”. When there were only bones left, the would bury the bones.

We went back downhill to the Pier 39 Cannery Museum.

The building, 132 years old, one was home to the Hanthorn Cannery. If you ever wondered where your Bumble Bee tuna came from well here it is!

The building is currently hosting a variety of businesses. Each year, the building owner hosts a reunion of the workers who are still alive. Over 3,000 of them! At the last reunion, he had them sign this wall.

This boat, which has a license on it which expired in 2003, was used for tuna fishing.

We turned around and headed back into town just in time to catch the Astoria Trolley.

The Trolley, which is fully manned by volunteers,  receives no funds from the city, runs approximately every 50-55 minutes for the round trip. We hopped on, paid our $1 per person, and took the tour. This ‘train’ goes back and forth on the track, along the waterfront. The single trolley is 98 years old, and the seats are 100 years old.  The city of Astoria did not want electric wires above the trolley tracks to detract from the river view, so the trolley society came up with the idea of putting a diesel engine behind the trolley for fuel. When you reach the end of the line, the conductor, has everyone on one side of the trolley stand up and reverse their seats.

Then he has the other side do the same thing. Then the conductor, announcer and another volunteer start the train going back in the other direction. All three of the volunteers rotated positions and the announcer gave a guided tour of the area and the history.

Some of the items they discussed were that two items were invented in a building that is now a Veterinary office: imitation crab and cable television! There have also been at least 13 movies filmed in town. Goonies in 1985 and Kindergarten Cop in 1990 are the most famous, but there was also The Ring Two,2005; Come see the Paradise, 1990; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III ,1990; Point Break, 1991; Free Willy, 1993; Cthulhu, 2007; Short Circuit, 1986; Into the Wild, 2007; Wendy and Lucy, 2008; The Road, 2009.  Evidently Goonies is a cult movie and there are fans who make pilgrimages from all over the world to visit the filming sites.

We will have to go back to visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum. We drove back to Seaside, exhausted after an interesting day!  We returned to the motor home. I cooked dog food and pasta salad for tomorrow when we were cooking out spaghetti dinner.

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