Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, Astoria Column is a 125-foot tall tower overlooking the mouth of the Columbia River. Settled atop the highest point in town, Coxcomb Hill at 600-feet above sea level, the views from here are amazing.
This northwest Oregon landmark had been on our list of places to see for awhile. Passing through the town on the way to Cannon Beach provided the perfect time to stop and check it out.
The day was clear, cold, and windy. Since this wasn’t a hike, we didn’t mind the cold or the wind so much. The clear sky and sun worked in our favor. We could see for miles, even before climbing to the upper viewing platform.
The column was completed in 1926 with financing provided by the Great Northern Railway. The president of the railway, Ralph Budd, set to celebrate the role of Astoria in expanding the United States to the Pacific Ocean. This was the “crowing monument” out of 12 other historical markers spanning from St. Paul, Minnesota to Astoria, Oregon.
The artwork that spirals the column was done by Attilio Pusterla, an Italian immigrant with expertise in sgraffito art. The mural displays 14 significant events of Oregon’s history and Astoria’s role in the expansion west. These include Captain Gray’s discovery of the Columbia River and the Lewis & Clark Expedition.
The column has undergone numerous renovations over the years. The most recent was this past Summer of 2015 which was mostly done to restore the exterior artwork. Over time the harsh winds and rains deteriorate the work to near disappearance. They did a fine job of restoration as the mural looked brand new when we visited.
The Climb Up
Climbing to the top of the tower isn’t an easy task. The 164-steps will certainly have you feeling dizzy shortly after starting. The spiral stair column is narrow but it does periodically provide small platforms that extend out a bit from the main staircase in order to take a break or let others pass by.
The views from the top are amazing and you have the opportunity to walk all the way around the structure to see in all directions. It was a clear day when we visited which provided views of the Columbia River, Young’s Bay, the Astoria–Megler Bridge, the Pacific Ocean, and the mountain ranges to the southeast.
The wind at the top was out of control. Definitely remove your hats, sunglasses, and anything else that may be loose before walking out onto the platform. If you’d like to toss something over the edge you’ll be happy to know that you can buy small, wooden gliders from the onsite gift shop and you’re allowed to throw them over.
This was a perfect place to stop off, take a break and take in some views. The Column is awe inspiring. High atop the perch it’s erected on with the panoramic view, only punctuates its majesty. There are numerous plaques on the site and a Native burial canoe, all deserving of a perusal. So, stop off, explore this spot and take in all it has to offer. History, views, discovery……
Open seven days a week from 9:00 A.M. to either 5:00 or 5:30 P.M., there’s no reason to not make time for a visit if you’re in the area. The website mentions a $2 parking fee, however, we never noticed any pay station when we arrived.
Wander More, Worry Less!
Follow along on our wanderings around the Pacific Northwest.
The only thing better would be being there yourself!
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