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Lighting Up Astoria's Historic Landmarks with the Last Glow of an Oregon Coast Day

Published 06/14/23 at 5:31 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Lighting Up Astoria's Historic Landmarks with the Last Glow of an Oregon Coast Day

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(Astoria, Oregon) – When you think of coastal sunsets, you think about beaches. Certainly on the Oregon coast. You think about that boldly-colored disk sinking just beyond the flat horizon, varied shades erupting in the sky – all of it on an oceanic straight line. (All photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection).

Yet you may not think of those towns just slightly inland from the beach. Which would be a bummer, because one in particular sends the sundown vibes into glorious overdrive.

That happens to be Astoria, on the very northern edge of the Oregon coast, where the region meets the Washington coastline. Not only is the place full of history, but it's full of sunset histrionics at times. Especially as those last rays of the day illuminate various landmarks.

Even so, the sun often goes down right in that area between the two landform of the Columbia River, setting right on that endless water, as seen from many parts of Astoria (top photo). Often it does so in between parts of the four-mile-long Astoria-Megler Bridge.

Inland parts of the north Oregon coast stalwart can participate in the pageantry. The ancient Flavel House gets painted incredible colors sometimes, but more often it's the sky above it that puts on the show. The above shot is a detail. Below is the full frame version.

The Flavel House is one of the greater masterpieces of a town already chock full of them. The Victorian beauty is a wonderful example of Queen Anne architecture and one of the best preserved in the entire Northwest. Built in 1884 by Captain George Flavel, he was 62 and just recently retired from being a bar pilot when it was done. He had made much of his fortunes in real estate investments, however.

Astoria is in many ways one big museum, but there's a few official ones – more than most towns in Oregon. Among them is Columbia River Maritime Museum, an Oregon coast legend in some ways. It started in 1962 in the Old Astoria City Hall (which still exists at 1053 Duane St). Here, its home since 1982 is smothered in warm hues, acquiring an ethereal glow.

This modern building has some of the more interesting architectural lines on the Oregon coast

Docked here are U.S. Coast Guard vessels, which light up nicely when hit with a sunset.

The dock walkways also make lovely recipients of the last rays of the day.

Among the constant exhibits here is the Lightship Columbia, which began its life as a rescue ship back in 1952. For 28 years it braved storms of all kinds to keep crews out of Davey Jones Locker. It was brought to the museum's future site in 1980, where it's remained ever since.

Well, it did disappear for awhile last year as it got some cosmetic work done, but $1.5-million later it's been back for awhile.

Finally, the light ends on the north Oregon coast town, causing a stillness to fall all around. Astoria slowly begins to go to sleep, and blue hour takes over as human-made lights begin to reshape the visuals of this placid little town.

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

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