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United States: Astoria, Oregon

° Astoria ° Coos Bay ° Hollering Place ° Portland

Astoria is the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies. It was first visited by Captain Robert Gray in 1792, by the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery in 1805, and followed by adventuresome pioneers by the thousands. Mt. Hood came into view shortly after the Lewis and Clark party began traveling on the Columbia River, confirming that they would soon be back in charted territory and eventually reach the Pacific Ocean. As they travelled, the explorers recorded in details their scientific observations of fish, wildlife, plants and people.

As they proceeded west, the arid landscape transformed into a moist environment filled with ancient trees, mosses, ferns, and waterfalls. They encountered Indian villages all along the river. Lewis and Clark reached Grays Bay, a wide point in the Columbia River estuary, on November 7, 1805.

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Lewis and Clark on the Lower Columbia, 1905
Charles Marion Russell

In 1904, Charles Russell and his wife Nancy traveled to St. Louis to visit his family and attend the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. The largest world’s fair up to that time, the exposition commemorated the centennial of Lewis and Clark’s epic journey of exploration across the continent, which was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson. This watercolor was one of a number of works Russell later produced of the subject. Here, the red-haired William Clark stands in his canoe with a flintlock rifle cradled in his arms, while the Shoshone guide, Sacagawea, communicates with a group of Columbia River Indians.

Astoria had its share of problems throughout the years. It went from a money making powerhouse through profitable waterfront businesses to a city in need of building updates. Initially, with the influx of Europeans, the large male population of seamen, fishermen and loggers, generally rough in nature, were handling grain, shanghaiing unsuspecting young men and fleecing residents.

Historical image of Astoria, Oregon.
Downtown Astoria, Oregon

Daily Alta California, October 19, 1878

The British Ship "City of Dublin" Wrecked on the Columbia River Bar- A Total Loss

PORTLAND, October 18th. The British ship City of Dublin, while attempting to cross the Columbia River Bar this forenoon, ran on the middle sands and stuck fast. Several tugs were despatched at once from Astoria to the assistance of the vessel. After working some time unsuccessfully, the tugs were forced to abandon the ship to her fate, and the latest news from Astoria is to the effect that she was going to pieces. She will prove a total wreck. The Captain and crew were all rescued. This vessel came from Wellington, New Zealand, in ballast. She was consigned to James Laidlaw. The City of Dublin is an iron vessel of 814 tons register. This is her third voyage to this port. There is probably no insurance on the vessel. The cause of the disaster is mainly attributable to tbe attempt on the part of the Master to cross the Bar without having a Pilot on board. The vessel is comparatively new. Loss, from $60,000 to $70,000.

Daily Alta California, May 3, 1879

The "Great Republic"

PORTLAND, May 2d. The Board of United States Inspectors of Steam Vessels for the District of Portland, Oregon, met this morning for the purpose of investigating the loss of the steamship Great Republic at or near the sand island between the Columbia River Bar and Astoria. There were present George H. Flanders, Inspector of Hulls, and James Lotan, Inspector of Boilers. The investigation has been in progress all day. Several witnesses have been examined, including Captain James Carroll, Pilot Dolg, Purser Peck, Commissary Cummings, and others. Thus far nothing new has been developed. Captain Carroll and Pilot Doig have both made statements, but they are substantially the same as those already published. The enquiry will be concluded tomorrow.

The waterfront empire had crumbled and the shipping of the 1870's and 80's was gone. Work in the canneries had tapered off, leaving the Chinese and Hindus who were employed in the canneries and mills to abandon Astoria.

Chinese Americans in Astoria Oregon.
Chinese-Americans Working at the Kinney Salmon Cannery in Astoria, Oregon. c. 1880s.

Because of the abundance of lumber during Oregon's early days, Astoria included shacks built on wood piling foundations which were not the most appropriate material for permanent construction. The lightframe buildings were a great fire hazard. The city council proposed an ordinance requiring property owners to install fire stops, but the taxpayers objected to the expense. Insurance rates had skyrocketed so high that less than 50% of $18,000,000 in real estate was insured, and only 20% of personal property. Astoria was destined to go up in flames, the question was when.

At 1 a.m., December 8, 1922, the Astoria business district burned to the ground. Thirty-two acres of buildings were leveled. Of those, 90% were of light frame construction and supported by wood piling.

Cleaning Salmon in Astoria Oregon 1900.
Cleaning Salmon in Astoria, Oregon, 1900

Daily Alta California, July 29, 1877
Merchandise Market
The Ajax has 7842 cases of Salmon from Astoria.

Chart of the Columbia River.
Columbia River Chart & Views

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Oregon History.
Great and Minor Moments in Oregon History
Dick Pintarich
The history of Oregon is filled with a fascinating array of facts both expected and surprising. Great and Minor Moments in Oregon History highlights the significant and the unexpected, from the prehistoric to the present with in-depth, and often humorous glimpses of the personalities and peculiarities that inhabit Oregon's past. Learn about the forces of nature that created Oregon, the natural gifts that inspired the mythic world of its natives, and what it was like for Lewis and Clark to spend a winter on Oregon's cold and wet north coast.

Mapmaker's Eye.Mapmakers.

The Mapmaker's Eye

David Thompson on the Columbia PlateauMapmakers.
Jack Nisbet
David Thompson was a fur trader, explorer, and meticulous geographic surveyor. He was, and is, the English and Canadian counterpart of Lewis and Clark. He visited the Mandan villages on the Missouri River in 1798. He crossed the Continental Divide in 1807 and spent five winters on the west side of the divide trading with the Indians. He explored the Columbia River from its origin to the Pacific Ocean. He kept complete journals. He was a better writer than Meriwether Lewis, although not Lewis' equal as a naturalist. He took astronomical readings and did his own computations of both latitude and longitude. Because of this, his maps were much more accurate than those of William Clark. Later in his life, Thompson helped survey the boundary between Canada and the United States.

Portland Then and Now.Portland.
Portland Then and Now
Linda Dodds
"In 1894 Portland was a bustling port city, whose two halves were connected by four bridges.


Historical Atlas of the Pacific Northwest: Maps of Exploration and Discovery: British Columbia, Washi

Sextant by David Barrie.
Sextant:
A Young Man's Daring Sea Voyage and the Men Who Mapped the World's Oceans
Mapping the World's Oceans.
David Barrie.

Rare and Collectible Books at AbeBooks.com

Rare Books.
First Migrants
Ancient Migration in Global Perspective
Ancient Migrations.
Peter Bellwood

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