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Historic Astoria Ferry Abruptly Sinks - Rare Interior Photos of N. Oregon Coast Landmark

Published 08/01/22 at 4:35 AM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Historic Astoria Ferry Abruptly Sinks - Rare Interior Photos of N. Oregon Coast Landmark

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(Astoria, Oregon) – A bit of north Oregon coast and Washington coast history partially sank into the waters of Astoria on July 28, as the 100-year-old Tourist No. 2 ferry suddenly capsized. There is no clear reason yet why or if there is serious environmental damage in the area, which is near a dock in downtown. (All photos Angi Wildt / Angi D. Wildt Gallery)

U.S. Coast Guard crew responded to the area after police received a call about the sunken ferry.

Officials with the Coast Guard said even days later they still did not know why it abruptly submerged, listing to one side. However, they were aware that the vessel had fueled up with around 500 gallon two weeks prior to the incident. Witnesses at the scene report smelling a strong diesel odor and numerous boats arrived to help contain what was clearly an oil spill.

Coast Guard crews set up a containment boom to prevent a possible further oil spill. Crews were dispatched on Friday to clean up any more oil found.

The exact environmental impact of this is not yet known.

Angi Wildt of Angi D. Wildt Gallery in Astoria provided these photos to Oregon Coast Beach Connection after noticing the sinking herself that day. She was also able to visit the vessel months ago and take some photos of what the Tourist No. 2 looked like as it was awaiting more restoration work. Among the photos (at bottom), you can see the dance lighting system installed.

The Tourist No. 2 had returned to Astoria in 2016 under new, local ownership after being away for some time. It was built in the '20s and originally served the Columbia River as a ferry, taking people and vehicles across to the Washington coast side of the border. This was the primary means of getting across before the Astoria-Megler Bridge was built in the '60s. During World War II it was acquired by the U.S. Army to lay mines at the mouth of the Columbia.

When the bridge was finished in 1966, the ferry eventually found its way to Puget Sound to work routes there.

After its return to Astoria, a number of north Oregon coast residents and entrepreneurs tried to raise money for restoration, with plans to turn it into an entertainment venue of some kind and floating historical site, with the owners even getting as far as creating a lighting system and a dance floor. Ideas included a floating bar, but there was also talk of moving it on land where it might remain an attraction. The group had considerable trouble trying to raise any funds, however.

The current owner put it up for sale in 2021, and there reportedly have not been any serious buyers.

What's next for the historic ferry? That's extremely uncertain. Local experts are saying it won't be salvageable now that its interior and electrical systems have been immersed in sea water. SEE INTERIOR PHOTOS BELOW, RARELY SEEN

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KEYWORD: Astoria ferry, Tourist No. 2, Columbia River history

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