My father was a historian and I always appreciate the history of an area.  In 1811, Astoria, Oregon was the first incorporated American city west of the Mississippi.  Founded by John Jacob Astor of the American Fur Company, it was all about exploiting and shipping of natural resources.  Located near where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean, it was strategically located on a peninsula not unlike a miniature San Francisco.

The Columbia is treacherous with over two thousand documented shipwrecks on shifting sand bars and along its shores.  One of the early wealthy citizens made a fortune as a pilot guiding ships to safety.  Later phases of Astoria include a period as a major fishing center with remnants of piers still visible above the waters.

Astoria brings back memories of a long-gone relationship.  While we were there a strike had shut down the ports along the West Coast and tankers were anchored in the wide waters of the Columbia River, waiting for word that the strike was over and they could go upriver to Portland.  Many of the great ocean-going steel tankers were rusty hulks of metal painted red above water line, bare metal below.  I looked up the history of one rusty tanker and it had done nothing but carry lumber across the Pacific to Korea for twenty years.

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