With its mild Oregon climate, Astoria on the north coast is one of the most interesting places in the state. In fact, there is so much to see and do there that there will be 2 separate posts about it. Fort Astoria was established by John Jacob Astor – think Waldorf-Astoria Hotel family connection – as the American Fur Company in 1811, a trading post.
Born in Germany in 1763 the third son of a butcher, Astor made his way to New York and eventually Oregon to create the first permanent U. S. settlement on the Pacific Coast. Here, too, was the first U.S. Post Office west of the Rocky Mountains.
There is much history associated with the establishment of Fort Astoria which became just Astoria and it was a very important center for exploration, timber, fishing and more for many years. Hardy folks from Finland emigrated here to fish and the Chinese emigrated to work in the canneries. While it has become over-shadowed by Portland and other places, Astoria is still the trading center for the lower Columbia basin and a major port of entry.
Timber and fishing have long since dwindled and Astoria’s main economic venues now are tourism and light industry. One big tourist attraction is the Astoria Column, a tower 125 feet high. I took this photo from the base of the tower on a very foggy day.
The Column was built on top of Coxcomb Hill overlooking the town by the Astor family in 1926 to commemorate the area’s early history. There is an inner circular staircase you can climb for a panoramic view of Astoria. The fog prevented me from making the effort to go up.
One of my favorite places in Astoria is the Captain George Flavel House Museum. Captain George somehow found his way to Astoria in the 1840s and soon became one of the earliest and most successful Columbia River Bar Pilots. This was a big deal and there will be more about the Columbia River Bar in post 2.
Captain George also got into real estate and owned much of the town of Astoria to the point that it became a kind of ‘company’ town. In 1854 at age 30, he married a 14 year old girl and they had three children. In 1886 he built his 11,600 square foot mansion and carriage house. The mansion, carriage house and grounds are now a museum on the National Registry of Historic Places owned and operated by the Clatsop County Historical Society. Visit with a docent as they are a wealth of information about the house and family histories.
Being a fan of beautiful houses, I spent a great deal of time touring this one with its many rooms, framed braided hair pictures and the luxurious feminine bedrooms of his two girls. Many items in the house, including clothing on display, have been donated by Flavel family descendents.
The Carriage House on the grounds with buggies and more is also interesting and the place to buy tickets.
At the front of the mansion is the tallest tower where Captain Flavel would go to watch his ships come into port and his daughters would wave them off when they left. But you can also see the “Big Tree” in the yard that has survived many years. It is a Port Orford Cedar.
Let’s go to Historic Downtown Astoria. As can be seen in the photos, it was a cloudy, foggy and even typically rainy weekend. So I spent one day downtown perusing the several really nice antique stores. I found a few treasures that weren’t over-priced as is often the case in antique stores. I seldom have time for this kind of shopping, which was mostly window shopping, so it was a treat.
But the biggest treat of the weekend was happening upon the Drina Daisy restaurant. Pure Bosnian in food, atmosphere and staff. Mom does the cooking and son serves. Bosnian radio is playing. That’s real Bosnian music on Indira Radio. Because of my background in International Dance and Music the music was a delightful surprise.
I couldn’t decide what to order. I love goulash but the entire menu looked delicious. Son-server and I discussed the menu and he recommended the goulash partly because he knew I already was a goulash fan. I’ve never had better. Sumptuous doesn’t describe it. Too much does describe it. Son-waiter said mom-cook tends to over-do on proportions. That was ok. I took half of it with me to enjoy another day.
I was the only patron in the restaurant and received lavish attention. When I left it was with hopeful thoughts that this unique ethnic place at 915 Commercial St. would become popular and thrive. Apparently it has as it is still there. If you get to Astoria do not miss the Drina Daisy!
Watch for the next post about Astoria, Oregon, coming soon!