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Free Willy Jump Scene Site on N. Oregon Coast Gets Signage

Published 07/20/2019 at 4:53 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Free Willy Jump Scene Site on N. Oregon Coast Gets Signage

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(Hammond, Oregon) – For fans of movies made in this state and along the Oregon coast, most people associate Free Willy with Keiko himself, the massive Orca with the curled fin that occupied Oregon Coast Aquarium for a few years before being released into the wild. He was the star of the movie, and his departure from Newport via a long procession to the ship awaiting him was a massive media event back in the ‘90s.

Yet serious film buffs know a different fact about Keiko and the movie Free Willy: parts of it were filmed here. In fact, a lot of movies were filmed in the Astoria area, making it a kind of pilgrimage hotspot.

In that spirit, The Historic Oregon Film Trail was launched in Astoria earlier this year, set upon the task of identifying iconic set locations around the state. The latest addition to the trail - highlighting the scenic Columbia River views from Free Willy – was just installed in Warrenton, Oregon.

Free Willy debuted on July 16, 1993, telling the story of a boy who gets attached to a local Orca and then learns the whale will be killed by its aquarium owners. He jumps into action to free him. The breakwater at the Hammond Marina was used in that iconic escape scene where the boy coaxes the whale to jump to freedom. Signage marks that spot as of earlier this week.

The City of Warrenton and Marina Staff were eager to accept the sign and see it as a promising effort to help support their goal to welcome a variety of community members and visitors to the marinas.

The dedication ceremony held on July 16 featured a variety of people, including devotees from Florida.

“Historical markers are typically about famous people and events,” said Tim Williams of Oregon Film. “Movies filmed here are also an important part of Oregon’s history and culture, so this trail offers a twist on that convention. The new signs will provide interesting insight into this history to passersby while acting as a beacon to visitors seeking out film locations and stories. Placed at photo-worthy locations, we hope the signs will encourage fans to learn more and share about our state’s film destinations.”

Oregon Film, in partnership with the OregonMade Creative Foundation, created the Historic Oregon Film Trail featuring signage located at strategic points around the state. Showing Oregon’s unique and varied locations − from the coast to the desert − new markers will be rolled out one location at a time to reinforce the correlation between the film/TV industry, economic development, and tourism. Development of a Digital Trail Experience as well as a Trail Map is in the beginning phase of development.

Several regional movie locations were brought up in the planning as the Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce and the Oregon Film Office developed the initial concept. The Oregon Coast Visitors Association provided additional funding for the coastal signs. The Historic Oregon Film Trail will be expanding again next month, with Goonies-related signage going in at Cannon Beach’s Ecola State Park, and other designations coming soon to Ashland, Cottage Grove, Eastern Oregon and Eugene, according to the Astoria / Warrenton Chamber.

Even more are planned in partnership with various cities, destination marketing organizations, Travel Oregon, Travel Portland, Oregon State Parks and the U.S. Forest Service.

Currently, you can find film trail signs along the Oregon coast in Astoria, Warrenton and Gleneden Beach, and in Brownsville in the Willamette Valley. More Oregon movie scenes below: Hotels in Astoria/Seaside - Where to eat - Astoria Maps and Virtual Tours









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