Fort Astoria marks the spot where the town of Astoria was begun. John Jacob Astor sent the schooner, Tonquin to seize the mouth of the Columbia and forever control the river and its traffic and the area Lewis and Clark explored. The first building was built in 1811. Palisades against the indians were added later. Not all of Astor’s plans succeeded, but the fort served as the business center for everyone who followed, adventurers, trappers, farmers, ship builders and entrepreneurs. The first white woman in the Northwest Territory, barmaid Jane Barnes, lived at this fort in 1814. The fort was sold to the North West Company to avoid capture during the War of 1812.
The 125 foot Astoria Column stands on top of Coxcomb hill. It is wrapped with sgraffito drawings, an Italian process where the paint colors are mixed with the cement, making them weather resistant and relatively permanent. The panoply of drawings depict significant events of the area and remind us of the significance of the great river Columbia where it meets the Pacific. The view over the valley from the grounds is spectacular. If you choose to walk up the 164 step spiral staircase to the top of the tower, it is even better. The tower is undergoing restoration-thus the crane.
Many old buildings remain in the heart of downtown Astoria. Don't miss the Liberty Theater. Completely restored in the opulent style of old theaters, the inside is exotically decorated with scenes from Venice, transporting you to a Venetian Palace with elegant light fixtures and heavy draperies. It operates now as a performing arts center.
We lunched at the Wet Dog Cafe where the food was expensive but the beers had no peer. Kick Ass Stout was my choice but tasters allow you to try Bitter Bitch Ale, Poop Deck Porter, DaBomb Blonde, Kirby Kolsch, Red Beard Amber, Solar Dog IPA, and Stone Cold Strong. Hmmm! A beer lovers heaven with a view to the ocean as well.