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Ethereal Nocturnal Glow of Astoria, N. Oregon Coast

Published 02/22/22 at 6:02 AM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Ethereal Nocturnal Glow of Astoria, N. Oregon Coast

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(Astoria, Oregon) – Astoria is not like most Oregon coast towns in many ways. For one thing, it's not really at the beach. It's also larger than on the others, giving it that special city vibe at times.

And after the sun goes down and the street lights come up, this over 200-year-old place comes alive in a whole new way.

You could say the Astoria Column (see Beginnings, Inspirations of the Astoria Column - N. Oregon Coast History) is the pinnacle of Astoria's attractions, competing for attention with the much larger Astoria-Megler bridge. There's 125 feet of architecture here, stealing the hearts of thousands each year and providing an almost birds-eye view to the bridge, and definitely such a view to the parts of town immediately below it. At night, however, it takes on a whole new, even mind-blowing character, lit up in different ways over the years and especially during the holidays. Pair it with a bright moon and you have a study in one of the most engaging of sights along the entire Oregon coast.

Columbia River Maritime Museum (1792 Marine Dr,) has a lot of distinctive attractions, both inside and outside of it. The scope of the place is so big that, well, it can't all be contained within its walls. Some points of interest can literally not fit, such as the pilot boat Peacock. It once served a greater purpose, helping many ships over the treacherous Columbia River Bar.

On occasion, it's covered in Christmas lights. Other times, it's simply its own resplendent ornament, such as on this crisp fall night.

Nearby, the trolley tracks, a trolley station and the riverfront create an ethereal vibe, with fall foliage getting a trippy color after dark. Above, the sky continues to move in front of the camera, making for a wispy look, even starkly dreamy. At night this walk is unusually pleasant, and it's certainly bursting with romantic possibilities.

Periodically, sternwheeler cruises come through here, making for a true time travel feel to Astoria. They run down the Columbia to the north Oregon coast town and back. Here, it's a striking, glowing mass all its own.

From the top of Coxcomb Hill, next to the Column, the view here is not exactly a shirker, either. In this case, the headlights and taillights of traffic along the bridge create a wowing white and red streak, and the moon lights up the sky above it into a peculiar, faux but captivating daylight.

Walk to a slightly different vantage point and the north Oregon coast town spreads out below in a way that brings the streets to life, with Warrenton aglow in the background.

Not everything fascinating about Astoria is for tourists: sometimes the simplest of city utility buildings make for unique displays.

Like much of the Oregon coast, it gets foggy here. That fog is a real asset to night photographs sometimes, churning out tons of atmosphere in this shot of the wharf.

Then, of course, there's the Astoria-Megler bridge itself, that lifeline to the Washington coast and three miles of metal and concrete that really freaks out some people while they're driving across. At night, with some amount of fog surrounding it, its lamps light up the fuzzy stuff and create a serious dreamlike visage, even further intensified by the fact this misty layer is a bit above the bridge and affecting mostly the upper tresses.

In the eastern section of town, a quaint little bit of history sits: the replica of the US Customs house (3455 Lief Erikson Dr,) that once stood in this spot. Originally built in the 1840s, back then there was no real road to burgeoning little Astoria. It only lasted three years before getting burned down, but this replica was built in the 1990s.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees nearly 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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