Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Back to the mouth of the Columbia River


Before we headed north from Tillamook, Oregon, Hailey had to have one last look at the ‘guppy’ plane outside the Air Museum located in the remaining blimp hangar at Naval Air Station Tillamook.


If any of my Canadian friends are running low on magazines for their AK-47’s, I found a source that sells them!


From Tillamook we headed north up the coast as far as we could, till the Columbia River blocked our way. Looking across at Washington state, we watched as a number of large bulk carriers arrived and departed the Astoria port area.


They were passing by so close, it took three photos to get the whole ship!


To guard the Columbia River, three historical forts were constructed at the mouth of the river, Fort Canby and Fort Columbia on the Washington side and Fort Stevens on the Oregon side.  I imagine they were ‘state of the art’ at the time, but at least now, they are historical  ‘'Winking smile.


At Fort Stevens, several huge guns were mounted to guard the river mouth, designed so that they could retract out of sight when being reloaded.IMG_2508

The fort was used up until the second world war and was the only mainland US base fired upon by the enemy when a Japanese submarine opened fire. The rounds caused minimal damage, and the fort did not return fire either because they believed the sub was out of range, or because they did not want to disclose the exact location of their guns, or what type of armaments they had in place.

At the extreme ends of the fort were these bunkers, used to assist in aiming the big guns.  When an enemy was sighted, the coordinates were relayed to the guns to enable accurate aiming.


When the weather was decent, a check of the ‘Astoria Column’ was in order.  From a distance, I had thought this was just a communications tower, but discovered otherwise.

I think it is about 100 feet tall, and I was surprised to see that there were stairs inside, and that it was totally open to the public ($2. parking fee).


The outside was completely covered in historical murals.


Of course, there was good views from the top, as it is also located on the highest land in the area.


I watched as this ship came in the rivers mouth, and under the big bridge leading to Washington, to the mooring area just offshore.


As it came by, a pilot boat approached, and in the photo below, the pilot is climbing a ladder on the side of the ship.  Since this ship had no cranes on deck or obvious piping that would indicate a bulk carrier or a tanker, I think it must have been a car-hauler as there appeared to be ramps at the stern and on the starboard side of the ship.IMG_0212

This ship we had seen coming in the river mouth several days previously was now laying at anchor.


And, there were several other vessels moored just offshore along the river bank.  All photos taken from the top of the Astoria Column.


Next, we took the four mile long bridge north over the Columbia to the Washington side, to check out the lighthouses and forts on that side.  Park entry was free – as it was Veteran’s Day.


There are actually two lighthouses on this side at the mouth of the Columbia, only two miles apart. The first one was Cape Disappointment, which was somewhat within the mouth of the river. As shipping traffic increased from the Puget sound area to the north, the original light was not visible enough, so North Head light was installed further out on the point.  Below is North Head light.IMG_2527

As this plaque attests, none of the 600 acres of land that exists today in this location was there in 1917 when the north jetty was completed.  The jetty caused the increased deposition of sand in this area, and the present day campground was built where there was only ocean in the past!IMG_2529IMG_2530

On the return we made a brief stop at Fort Columbia, which has a commanding view over the river at this point.


Interestingly, the present highway goes through a tunnel, directly under the original fort’s location.


As a part time fire lookout, it’s hard to resist reporting such a nice smoke as this one!IMG_0224.


  1. You're in some of my favorite country right now, although I'm sure it's getting a little chilly, Desert must be calling soon?

  2. That's an impressive Astoria Column tower & I like that Lighthouse photo.