David and I spent several days in Astoria, Oregon last week. The town is steeped in history, and not only as the final destination of Lewis’ and Clark’s historic cross continental trip, wintering at Fort Clatsop. Astoria is notorious in Maritime history through the present for the difficulty encountered by freighters and fishing vessels crossing the bar, the point where the mighty Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean converge. In present day, crossing The Bar requires the expertise of pilot ships and their captains to navigate safely. And yet, occasionally there are mishaps
If you’re interested in the history of the Pacific Northwest, I am, and the history of Astoria in particular, I recommend reading Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire, a Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival, by Peter Stark.
David and I drove to the Clatsop Spit to see what remains of the wreckage of the Peter Iredale, a cargo ship with an empty hull that went aground on October 25, 1906. It was sailing to Portland to load with wheat for export in the UK. Although the ship was a total loss, fortunately, the crew survived.
The weather was beautiful this particular day, and lots of people had the same idea as David and I. There were children joyously climbing the rusted steel and iron wreckage as though it were a jungle gym, laughing and playing while their parents supervised.
I found a spot in the sand and began to draw…