Astoria's Rich History
By Grace Saad
Published: 06/23/2011  Updated: 08/08/2019

A rich history, steeped in culture and exploration, has shaped the iconic Oregon coastal town of Astoria. Today, people continue to explore the area and its history.

While Astoria, the port town, did not exist during Lewis and Clark's journey across the United States, the famed explorers did venture very near present-day Astoria, wintering over on the Oregon Coast at Fort Clatsop. The Corps of Discovery spent the winter of 1805 in a "soggy" fort, and left the coast in March to make their journey eastward.

A few years after the Lewis and Clark expedition, in 1811, John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Company began development of Fort Astoria, the first permanent U.S. settlement on the Pacific Coast. Astor and his men controlled the Fort for only two years, and after the U.S. went to war with England in 1812, Astor sold the Pacific Fur Company to the British. Fort Astoria was under British control from 1813 to 1818 and was known as Fort George.

While the treaty establishing the Oregon Territory was signed in 1818, the British occupied Astoria until 1846. Trade with Native Americans on the Pacific Coast had taken place for years prior to Astor's establishment of Astoria. Some say that trade with North Coast tribes began as early as the 5th century.

After Astoria was established as a port town, trade drastically increased, and today, more than 2000 ships travel down the Columbia from Astoria to take goods to Portland, Vancouver, and Longview. Astoria has come a long way since the establishment of Fort Astoria. Its rich history continues to fascinate visitors to the North Coast, and will likely do so for years to come. - Grace Saad


Fort Clatsop is an amazing place to learn about Lewis and Clarks' journey and their time on the coast. Visit the replica fort that sheltered the Corps of Discovery in the winter of 1805 and 1806, and enjoy interpretive programs by National Park rangers throughout the summer. The visitor center houses a variety of exhibits, including two movies and rotating displays. 92343 Fort Clatsop Road, (503) 861-2471 ext. 214, Hours: 9am–6pm June through Labor Day; (hours vary for the Fort exhibit itself)

The Flavel House was built in the late 1800s and was home to bar pilot Captain George Flavel. The 11,600 square-foot home is a great example of Queen Anne architecture. It has been restored to reflect the design of the time period and the history of the Flavel family. The property also includes a carriage house and park-like grounds for visitors to explore. 441 8th Street, (503) 325-2203, Hours: 9:30am–5pm

This early 1900s building used to be Astoria's City Hall, but was converted into the Clatsop County Historical Society's Heritage Museum in the 1980s. The building is now home to temporary exhibits and a research center and archives where visitors can search through over 35,000 photos and historical records of Clatsop County. 1618 Exchange Street, (503) 338-4849, Hours: 10am–5pm

Featuring interactive displays of maritime history, this museum houses six galleries of artifacts and offers public access to the National Historic Landmark ship, the Lightship Columbia, a floating lighthouse commissioned in 1950. Current temporary exhibits include Tattoo: the Art of the Sailor and Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam, which will be on display throughout the summer. 1792 Marine Drive, (503) 325-2323, Hours: 9:30am–5pm
Astoria's Rich History