Gateway to the West: The Columbia River

Of the four museums I visited on a recent trip to Astoria, Oregon, the Columbia River Maritime Museum was by far the most interesting.

The entrance of the Columbia River, via my fantastic photography skills.

The entrance of the Columbia River, via my fantastic photography skills.

As a native of the gorge area, I’ve always been fond of “The Great River”. While researching the history for my Lawmen novels, I learned a few unique facts.

  • The river was first noted by Captain Robert Gray during a journey along the west coast in 1792, although he only traveled a short distance before turning back to the ocean. Technically, the first explorer to find the river was a Spaniard named Bruno de Hector in 1775 but he didn’t go near the bar.
  • The river flows through 4 mountain ranges.
  • The mouth of the river is over 4 miles wide.
  • Due to treacherous sandbars and swirling currents, over 200 ships have wrecked trying to travel up the river. The bar has been labeled “The Graveyard of the Pacific”.
    Quote in the front lobby of the museum.

    Quote in the front lobby of the museum.

I highly recommend a visit to this facility. I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibits and bought a neat book, Columbia River, Gateway to the West, which has a great collection of photos.

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