Thursday, August 2, 2012
The Astoria Column and the Wreck of The Peter Iredale
We heard about the Astoria Column and were advised that it was a great place to visit, so off we went. However, when following the signs to get to the column, we encountered incredible hills in the city of Astoria! It is hard to believe from this picture, but this road must have a grade of 40%! Glad we were not in the coach!
Anyway, after quite a climb, we finally got to the Column, and sure enough, it was spectacular. Standing 125' high, on a 600' high hill, it commands the view of the entire area.
The Column is covered by remarkable artwork depicting scenes that were important historical milestones of the area. The artwork scenes wind around the column as it goes up and provides a very interesting mural as you can see here. You can climb the 164 steps to the top, but we were satisfied with the great view at the base.
Astoria is a classic maritime city and remains an important harbor to this day as we saw many large, ocean going ships cruising through the river to lumber mills and other docks in the area.
Of course, for ships to enter the Columbia river, they first must cross the bar where the river and Pacific Ocean meet. This turbulent area has proven to be very dangerous for ships over the years and even with modern navigation systems, continues to be a risky area to this day.
We were able to see the actual mouth of the river from this observation tower and even on this calm day, the ocean swells were very large. We were glad we did not have to go out in a ship today.
The Peter Iredale was a four masted ship of 285' in length. This ship of iron frames, covered with steel plates, weighed some 2,000 tons and had a crew of 27. Grounded during a squall on a lee shore, the Iredale was firmly stuck in the sand and could not be moved.