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Astoria, Oregon - Overview and Essential Travel Information
by cctraveler2 at TravelPost

The area of Astoria and Warrenton is a nationally significant historic region at the western end of the Lewis & Clark Trail. Astoria is the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies; a place that takes visitors back to simpler times, its architecture dominated by hundreds of Victorian homes clinging to steep wooded hillsides and with a revitalized 1920s era downtown; all set against a backdrop of tremendous natural beauty in the temperate rain forest at the mouth of the Columbia River.

Visitors have an opportunity to escape into an appealing, intriguing past. Unspoiled and generally uncrowded, Astoria and Warrenton nonetheless have several first-class interpretive attractions including Fort Clatsop, the Columbia River Maritime Museum, the Flavel House, Fort Stevens State Park, the Astoria Riverfront Trolley and the Astoria Column. The area has an extraordinary sense of place and feeling of history.


Astoria is a city of 10,000 people on the Columbia River, just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean. It is surrounded by the beauty of the forest, mountains, 3 rivers and the sea. Just across Youngs Bay is Warrenton, a city of 4,500, that encompasses Fort Stevens State Park and its broad, clean ocean beaches. Because of its steep hills and beautiful Victorian homes, Astoria has been Called the “Little San Francisco of the Pacific Northwest.'

Astoria and Warrenton have a marine climate, which means the summers are cool, with highs around 70, and the winters are mild, with few nights of freezing temperatures. The area gets about 75 inches of rain per year, which accounts for its vivid greenness and crystal clear air. Winter storms can be dramatic with winds reaching 70 to 100 miles per hour on the ocean bluffs. The area has a strong Scandinavian heritage.


In May, 1792, American Captain Robert Gray sailed his 230-ton Columbia Rediviva between Point Adams in what is now Oregon and Cape Disappointment in what is now Washington to first enter the Columbia River. Ten years later, President Thomas Jefferson asked his personal secretary, Army Captain Meriwether Lewis, to lead an expedition to the Pacific to find “ ...whether the Columbia, Oregen, Colorado, or any other river may offer the most direct and practicable water communication across this continent for the purposes of commerce”.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition left St. Louis August 31, 1803. The Corps of Discovery entered the Lower Columbia River in November of 1805 and stayed through March 1806. They “wintered over” at Fort Clatsop, where it rained all but 12 days, hunting, making moccasins and other clothing, trading with the Clatsop, Tillamook, and Chinook Indians, and working on their journals.

In 1811, five years after the departure of Lewis & Clark, John Jacob Astor, a New York financier, sent fur traders aboard the ship Tonquin to establish a trading post. They built Fort Astoria on a site now preserved as a monument in the downtown area.

Well over 200 major shipwrecks have occurred near the mouth of the Columbia River - known for a century as 'The Graveyard of the Pacific.' One, the Peter Iredale of 1906, is still visible on the beach at Fort Stevens State Park. Native Americans lived in the area for an estimated 10,000 years before Captain Gray’s arrival.

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