Astoria, Flavel House

June 2003

My parents came to visit for a couple weeks, and I took them out to Astoria on the coast.

Astoria, Oregon

Astoria sits near the mouth of the Columbia River, and was named after John Jacob Astor, once the wealthiest man in America.  After Lewis and Clark spent a winter at Fort Clatsop (about five miles southwest of present-day Astoria) in 1805–1806, Astor’s Pacific Fur Company sent an expedition in 1810, which established Fort Astoria as their primary fur-trading post in the Northwest.

In the mid 1840’s, pioneers following the Oregon Trail began arriving in and around Astoria.  The first US Post Office west of the Rockies was established there in 1847, and the town was officially incorporated in 1876.

A number of movies have been filmed in Astoria, most notably The Goonies.

Astoria Column

The 125-foot Astoria Column was built in 1926 on Coxcomb Hill above the town.  A spiraling mural tells the city history.

Flavel House

Captain George Flavel arrived in Astoria in 1849 (by ship, obviously).  He soon established himself as a river bar pilot for ships using the Columbia River to get to the inland port of Portland.  The mouth of the Columbia remains one of the most dangerous river bars in the world, and today there are about 20 pilots who temporarily take the helm of anything from tugboats to 1100-foot tankers for the twenty-mile crossing.  These are seasoned pilots and are indubitably well-paid, but Flavel had a virtual monopoly for 25 years, and amassed a fortune.

In 1883, he built a 7300-square-foot Queen Anne Victorian mansion where he retired with his family.