Ocean breezes and the promise of a beautiful late summer day led Mike and I to take Ollie and head for the coast before daylight this morning. We watched the sun come up as we drove the 80 or so miles, marveling at awesome territorial views as we traveled from Longview, Washington across the Columbia River, near Rainier, Oregon, and west toward the Pacific Ocean.
Our first stop was Dutch Brothers Coffee in Astoria, where we indulge ourselves in a cup of decaf with cinnamon sprinkles (and cream for me). Then up the hill to the Astoria Column. We arrived before the park opened and got some really clear pictures of the area.
Did you know the Astoria Column was built in 1926? It was funded by Vincent Astor, great grandson of John Jacob Astor whose Pacific Fur Company settled Astoria in the early 1800’s. The Astoria Column is built on Coxcomb Hill, the highest point in the area at an elevation of 600 feet above sea level. The Column rises 125 feet. You can walk up 164 steps to get to the top viewing platform. Neither Mike nor I felt compelled to do that and preferred to appreciate it from the base.
Murals wrap the column. They begin at the base with scenes from a time before white man; the discovery of the Columbia River; Lewis & Clark’s expedition arrives at the Pacific Ocean; the arrival of the ship Tonquin; and the arrival of the railroad. The murals are done in sgraffito (skra-fee-to) by artist Atilio Pusteria – a New York artist immigrated from Italy – in the style of italian Rennaisance art. (Sgraffito is a process of applying a dark base coat plaster, overlaying it with a white plaster and etching the picture thru it.)
Looking west from the park on Coxcomb Hill you will see the Astoria-Megler bridge between Washington and Oregon. It’s 4.1 miles long!
In 1961 Lord John Jacob Astor honored the Chinook at the Column by dedicating this memorial – a replica of Chief Comcomly’s burial canoe, elevated and facing west as is Chinook custom.
The meadow beyond Mike is pretty steep. Somebody has to mow that!
The kiosk’s explain the history of the early explorers -William Clark and Meriwether Lewis. The Astoria Column celebrates Lewis & Clark, and Captain Robert Gray.
The view looking southwest from the Astoria Column is pictured above. From here you can see farm land, three bridges, and part of Warrenton, Oregon. I’d recommend visiting this park on a clear summer day. You’ll be able to see for miles and miles.