Astoria Warrenton - Pure Character

Past, present, future on display along Astoria waterfront

Author: Mike Brodwater / Published by The Spokesman Review
The Astoria-Megler Bridge spans the Columbia River, connecting Oregon and Washington. The pilings in the foreground provide evidence of the numerous canneries that at one time made Astoria famous worldwide for Columbia River salmon.

Along the waterfront of Astoria, Ore., you can sense the drama of times past. The hundreds of pilings where salmon canneries used to stand give a clue to a city with a busy and turbulent history. But spend some time in this town and there comes an awareness that something else is stirring and evolving.

Graveyard of the Pacific

Just off from downtown Astoria and downriver, the huge Columbia River carries water drained from rivers of three states and Canada into the Pacific Ocean. The resulting collision of water creates tremendous waves, unpredictable currents and shifting sand bars as the river slows and drops much of its sediment. Crossing the bar is terrifying and dangerous during winter storms. Since 1792, at least 2,000 ships have sunk in the area. Even now with high-tech navigation equipment and trained guides, at least one ship a year goes down at the mouth of the Columbia.

Astoria had found itself in an economic recession, mainly because of the loss of its natural resources, especially timber and fish. There was high unemployment with businesses boarded up. But today the town is re-creating itself, the streets are busy with tourists wandering and exploring the town. They are enjoying new restaurants (as well as a few established ones) and lodging.

Read the rest of the story at The Spokesman Review.
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