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From Astoria's Skyline Come Tales, Images of an Oregon Coast and American First

Published 03/26/23 at 1:20 AM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

From Astoria's Skyline Come Tales, Images of an Oregon Coast and American First

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(Astoria, Oregon) – Where the Oregon coast absolutely ends, a whole lot of adventure begins. A good deal of it is sky-high as well. Astoria is not only a town crammed full of wowing finds both large and small, hidden in just about every corner, but it's also the oldest settlement west of the Rockies (1811). Sights and sites abound that tell a story or at least beg a few questions, and they're everywhere high and low. (All photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

Astoria is so filled up with cool discoveries it's overflowing, even into the skies above it. Like these funky examples:

Understandably, the sky is dominated by the imposing Astoria-Megler Bridge, the main connection from the Oregon coast to the Washington coast. At 4.1 miles, it's the longest such construct in the U.S. Just about anywhere on the waterfront it makes its presence known; it looms.

At night, as pictured at top, it's a surreal visage, especially if coastal fog descends on the area (or in this case low-lying clouds – which is what fog actually is). It's almost ghostly but certainly ethereal. Which in itself is a curious angle, as going over the bridge spooks a lot of people, being so high and so long. For some others, that feeling is just edgy enough to make it a bit of a thrill ride. Oregon Coast Virtual Tour: Astoria-Megler Bridge, History

During sunsets, few outlines on the Oregon coast do what this does, photographically. Also, check out that touch of greenish glow on the one dock in the foreground.

There's one thing for sure about this ancient Oregon coast town: it's quite the hub of activity. Enormous cargo vessels and massive barges make their way through the mouth of the Columbia at least several times per day. In any given hour you'll spot a few or more. They're great, majestic beasts, in a way, ultimately mind-bogglingly huge if you're not used to such sights.

At blue hour, as sunset has already sank below the horizon, the faint light is causing the northern view to diminish into a purple-tinged haze. In the distance, the cargo rigs wait in line, likely for pilot boats to lead them across the bar as they head back to where they came from.

This place wouldn't be Astoria without the Astoria Column jutting up into the sky. The sgraffito-style-covered tower was first thought up in 1898, and ideas for it were dreamed up in and around then, hopefully to be built for the town's centennial in 1911.

That date came and went, and then two major fires in downtown Astoria squelched any progress on the memorial for about a decade. Finally built in the mid-20s, the soaring Oregon coast landmark has 164 steps to the top. It's 125 feet high, sitting on Coxcomb Hill, which is 700 feet in the air. Beginnings, Inspirations of the Astoria Column - N. Oregon Coast History

On some days, with that rounded hill or its angles, it makes a perfect minimalist photograph if the sky is empty or mostly so. At night, it's a dazzling, glowing wonder.

On other days, more true to form for the Oregon coast, clouds behind take on grand new color schemes when lit by the sunset.

One of the more envy-inducing parts of Astoria is this unique set of condos set right on the river. It's almost as if a bunch of apartments were on a houseboat. It's called the Columbia House Condos, and it's been around a long time.

What else comes with a famed Oregon coast burgh and its rather impressive skyline? An old pilot vessel in the sky. At the end of 20th street, right off Marine Dr. It's the Pilot Boat Peacock, and a slice of revered local history. You should see it during the holidays when it's all lit up in festive lights. See another Astoria moment below

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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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