An August 2001 trip
to Astoria by Re Carroll
Quote: Located on the northwestern tip of Oregon, Astoria is more working class town than beachfront resort but there is lots of history here and one of the best maritime museums in the U.S.
Astoria is wedged between the Columbia River and lots of green hills. There are many large Victorian era homes throughout town. Some need a full makeover while others are well preserved and serve as B&Bs. If the Victorian era interests you, check out the Flavel House Museum. This Queen Anne style mansion was built in 1885 and is filled with furnishings from that period.
The Astoria-Megler Bridge between Oregon and Washington is the world's largest continuous truss bridge with a length of over four miles.
A brochure lists movies that have been filmed in Astoria and you can drive past the school that was featured in Schwarzenegger's "Kindergarden Cop".
The Riverfront Trolley, a restored 1913 streetcar, is a fun way to get around the waterfront, especially if you're going to the Maritime Museum. If you'd rather walk, the paved River Walk follows the trolley tracks along the banks of the Columbia.
Hotel | "Comfort Suites"
Our one bedroom suite was fairly large and decorated in rich earth tones. The small living room was separated by a partial divider and had a pull out coach along with a table and chairs. At night, we could hear the sea lions barking near the East Mooring Basin boat ramp.
The small fridge came in handy for keeping drinks cold. There was no sink in the bathroom but a large counter with sink was just outside the bathroom door. A small packet of make up remover wipes was included along with the standard toiletry items and hairdryer.
Each floor has wide hallways and a large picture window at the end that frames the Columbia River.
Near the reception on the main floor is a large indoor pool with hot tub. The front entrance had a fireplace and cozy chairs and a steady supply of coffee was available. The front desk also had a list of nearby restaurants, including directions.
Breakfast,included in the room price, was served from 6:30 to 9:30 in a separate room on the main floor. It featured instant oatmeal as well as cold cereals, sliced fresh fruit, pastries and coffee, tea and hot chocolate.
The cost for our suite was $104.97.
Note: There is no charge for children under 17.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 24, 2001
Comfort Suites Columbia River Astoria
3420 Leif Erickson Drive
Astoria, Oregon 97103
The menu is varied with burgers, prime rib, salads, seafood, etc. A sample of the features included poppyseed chicken breast sauteed in white wine and topped with pears; grilled razor clams or vegetarian yaki soba, a noodle and vegetable stir fry.
The meals we did choose ranged from good to only adequate. My niece had a cheeseburger which was good but it's pretty hard to mess up that kind of meal. The prime rib was served on a sizzling platter, accompanied by steamed vegetables and a baked potato for $14.00. The meat was a bit tough but otherwise, ok. Halibut fish and chips came in two sizes - small which had 3 pieces of fish and large with 5. My sister ordered the small portion but was disappointed to find that the pieces of fish were very small, probably the equivalent of one large pie in a standard fish and chip order elsewhere. There were lots of fries but that's not why she ordered the meal. The vegetable side dish with cheese sauce was good but a bit watery.
The decor was somewhat old fashioned - dark booths and moose heads on the wall but service was pleasant and the entire restaurant is non-smoking which we appreciated.
It's open daily from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on August 24, 2001
Stephanie's Cabin Family Restaurant
12 W. Marine Drive
Astoria, Oregon 97103
The first exhibit as you enter the museum is about lighthouses, particularly the offshore Tilamook Rock Light Station, nicknamed Terrible Tilly. Men died during its hazardous construction in 1881. There is also a full size Fresnel lens, the kind used in lighthouses, as well as beacons, buoy lights and lots of black and white pictures from the early 1900s.
There are many displays on naval ships, including the USS Missouri, the most technically advanced battleship of its time and the last to sail on the open ocean before being replaced by aircraft carriers.
There are some fun hands-on exhibits. You can spell out your name according to ship signals or take over a helm (wheel) and pretend to steer a ship. Also, the many models, especially the ships in glass bottles, will keep the kids entertained for awhile - how'd they get that ship into that little bottle anyway?
The highlight of the scrimshaw display is a large ostrich egg, fully covered with intricate drawings. Close to that is a large mural of colourful old labels from tins of salmon.
I liked the old fashioned diving suit, complete with round helmet.
This musuem is extremely well laid out and the gift shop has a good selection of fun and educational toys, books, games, videos, etc. as well as pretty pastel coloured glass net floats.
Your ticket also entitles you to visit the Lightship Columbia, at the dock behind the main museum building. Lightships were basically floating lighthouses, anchored offshore in places where is was too dangerous or expensive to build a permanent structure. The Columbia was the last active lightship on the west coast and was anchored six miles off the entrance to the Columbia River. It was built in 1952 and decommissioned in 1979. Rotating crews of 8 to 10 men lived aboard and you can tour their quarters as well as the stainless steel galley. It paid to be an officer during that time since they had a small private bathroom and their beds were equipped with side rails to make sure they didn't fall out in rough weather. The general crew had to take their chances and hold on to whatever they could find.
The museum and lightship is open daily from 9:30 am until 5:00 pm. Admission is $5.00 and is good for all day use.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 24, 2001
Columbia River Maritime Museum
1792 Marine Drive
Astoria, Oregon 97103
Attraction | "The Astoria Column"
Built in 1926 and modelled after the Trajan Column in Rome, Astoria's Column is certainly the focal point of the park. I climbed the 164 spiral stairs inside the Column but the view over town was obscured due to heavy mist; oh well, at least I got my exercise. You can walk 360 degrees around the observation platform but if you suffer from vertigo, you may want to take a pass on this.
The exterior of the Column is impressive and worth a look even if you don't go inside. It is covered with a frieze that winds its way around the length of the Column and features scenes from Astoria's past. There is also a text panel under each picture and it starts with the time before the white man came, up to the railway's arrival in 1893. Some of the events detailed in between include Lewis and Clark's expedition, the building of Fort Clatsop and the arrival of the pioneers.
The Column is open daily from 9:00 am until dusk and there is no charge to enter.
One Coxcomb Drive
Astoria, Oregon 97103
Abbotsford, British Columbia