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What's Up with Astoria? And What's Down Below the Oregon Coast Town

Published 06/07/23 at 5:50 a.m.
B
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

What's Up with Astoria? And What's Down Below the Oregon Coast Town

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(Astoria, Oregon) – You could say Astoria is a place of serious ups and downs. (All photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

It's the coastal town chock full of high places. And there's wonders below. This spot at the very northern edge of the Oregon coast is truly unique as it has no beaches and no ocean waves coming in, but there's a host of other attractions that more than make up for that, and some of them quite unusual.

A few of these are incredibly high as well. The entire town has the steepest hills of anything along the West Coast aside from San Francisco. It's even a bit unnerving to drive on initially if you're not used to it.

Astoria in many ways is a north Oregon coast burgh of startling stats as well, and a lot of these are soaring. Literally.


Coxcomb Hill, where inventors created the beginning of cable TV, hosts the enormous Astoria Column. Already one of the highest points on the entire coast at 600 feet high, the Column then juts another 125 feet or so above the skyline.

Of course, from up here, the place erupts in spectacular scenery, with the enormous bridge looking tiny and sunsets exploding with all kinds of colors. There's little like it.


The Astoria-Megler Bridge is itself a statistical highlight. At just slightly over four miles long, it's the longest continuous truss bridge in the U.S. with the main span a whopping 1,232 feet in length. Driving over the behemoth scares the bejeezus out of plenty on a regular basis, which is actually a little amusing if you're not one with that affliction. It may or not help them to know the roadway stands about 196 feet high above the water, but it's much shorter near the Washington coast side as those waters are shallower.

Even the buildings in Astoria are trying to get in on the act. Originally the Hotel Astoria, what became the John Jacob Astor Hotel, was built in the '20s. It now stands as the second highest building on the Oregon coast. These days, the eight-story building is called the John Jacob Astor Apartments and soars some 86 feet high. There's still a bit of confusion out there, with some claiming it's the highest on the Oregon coast. However, that title goes to the Tioga Building in Coos Bay, which is 110 feet high and nine stories.


Then there's what's underneath Astoria, which gets rather trippy.

A series of tunnels run throughout the downtown area, the result of a big fire a century ago razing much of the area, and then city officials setting up retaining walls to elevate the ground for new places to be built on. The town is actually constructed upon something else. The walls are called “chairwalls” because of their shape, if you look at a cross-section of one. They have been holding up the new city after about the 1920s.

There are even underground tours (https://www.oldastoria.com/underground.php) which, as legend (and reviews) have it, are awesome sauce.

Farther beneath the waves just offshore from the north Oregon coast, there are hundreds of shipwrecks still out there. This area is part of a region called the Graveyard of the Pacific. We can't ever get to these 100s of sunken objects, but hopefully new technology will soon give people a chance to explore via footage.

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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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