After our visit to Ilwaco, we still had lots of time so we decided to drive to Astoria, Oregon. It is just across the 4.1-mile Astoria-Megler bridge, which spans the mouth of the Columbia River. The town was named for the early fur trader, John Jacob Astor.
We went first to the waterfront near the bridge. We stopped at the Columbia Chocolate Factory to have a little treat. I bought two dark-chocolate turtles and a small latte. We sat on their deck and watched the river activities for a while and enjoyed the cool breeze.
Then we drove up to the top of Coxcomb Hill to see the Astoria Column. The murals on the column celebrate Northwest history, mostly from 1792 to the 1880s. The column is 125 feet tall and is constructed of concrete. Its foundation is 12 feet deep. Inside are 164 steps to the top of the column. Its original cost was $27.1 million. In 1995 it was restored at a cost of $1 million. The staircase was replaced in 2008 and the pieces are now being offered for sale.
The Astoria Column is the final monument in a series of twelve historical markers erected in the early 1900s between St. Paul, Minnesota and Astoria, Oregon. The artwork was done by Italian artist, Attilo Pusterla, using a bas-relief technique called sgraffita. The fourteen 25-foot-long scenes spiral around the column. (www.astoria-column.org)
Our last stop was at the Columbia River Maritime Museum to catch ‘Old 300’ trolley, a refurbished 1913 streetcar (www.old300.org). Volunteer motormen and conductors provide information about the riverfront area. The round trip takes about an hour and runs from the Astoria Red Lion Inn to 39th Street. The fare is only $1.00. By the time we returned from our trolley ride, it was too late to visit the Maritime Museum so we headed home.