Astoria, OR is having it’s 200th birthday this year–0ne of the few towns on the West coast that can claim to be that old! This area just finished celebrating the bicentennial of the Lewis & Clark Expedition (which ended up on the shore of the ocean near Long Beach, my current home town).
The Lewis and Clark Expedition spent the winter of 1805–1806 at Fort Clatsop, a small log structure south and west of modern day Astoria. The expedition had hoped a ship would come by to take them back east, but instead endured a torturous winter of rain and cold, then returned east the way they came. Today the fort has been recreated and is now a national monument.
Located near the mouth of the Columbia River, Astoria has always been a center of commerce and river traffic.
In 1810, John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company sent the Astor Expedition that founded Fort Astoria as its primary fur-trading post in the Northwest, and in fact the first permanent U.S. settlement on the Pacific coast. It was an extremely important post for American exploration of the continent and was influential in establishing American claims to the land.
Astoria has served as a port of entry for over a century and remains the trading center for the lower Columbia basin, although it has long since been eclipsed by Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington as an economic hub. Traditionally, Astoria’s economy centered on fishing, fish processing, and lumber. Today, tourism, Astoria’s growing art scene, and light manufacturing are the main economic activities of the city. It is a port of call for cruise ships since 1982, after $10 million in pier improvements to accommodate cruise ships.
In addition to the replicated Fort Clatsop, a popular point of interest is the Astoria Column, a tower 125 feet (38 m) high built atop the hill above the town, with an inner circular staircase allowing visitors to climb to see a panoramic view of the town, the surrounding lands, and the Columbia flowing into the Pacific. The column was built by the Astor family in 1926 to commemorate the region’s early history.