On a typically rainy, dreary day, we set out for the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, followed by an amazing lunch at Drina Daisy, the local Bosnian restaurant. The museum is terrific and features wonderful old photographs that tell the story of Astoria and the Columbia Bar—the treacherous crossing from the ocean to the river.
At one time Astoria was where nearly all the salmon sold in the United States was processed. Salmon canneries lined the river along the docks. Huge salmon, like the one in the photo above were regularly caught. With the damming of the Columbia, preventing the salmon from returning to their spawning grounds, the abundance of the fish and especially those of such incredible size has greatly diminished and the canneries are all gone now.
Access from the Pacific Ocean to the port of Portland, upriver, was across the Columbia Bar at Astoria. It is a narrow passage with ever-shifting underwater shallows and sand. Ships are required to bring on board a "bar pilot" trained especially to direct the big ships through this treacherous area. It is a highly skilled and very dangerous occupation. This display shows the number of shipwrecks in the area from the early 1800's. Each red dot represents a wreck.
The Columbia River has huge ocean-going ships making the passage up the river, as well as excursion ships from early days to the present.
We loved the museum. It gives you such a sense of the rich history of the area.
The river was gray and churning that day. The long, long bridge that spans the river, connecting Oregon and Washington state was visible through the mist and the sky briefly opened to expose a bit of blue late in the afternoon.
the Astor column.