Astoria: Little San Francisco

Astoria is increasingly well known as one of the West Coast's most lovely and lively towns. The Astoria-Megler Bridge, a four-mile-long continuous truss structure completed in 1966, was once derided as a "bridge to nowhere." It now carries thousands of vehicles a day, linking the people and economies of Pacific County, Wash., and Clatsop County, Ore. Looking east on a clear day, you can see Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams.<BR><I>LARRY KELLIS photo</i>

Astoria has been called "a little San Francisco on the hill," an image easy to understand considering its Victorian architecture, river-front trolley and the age-old vision of ships passing by the city on their way out to sea.

There are lots of chances to touch history here, but the vision of Astoria is planted firmly in the future.

Astoria has a working waterfront, a ribbon of canneries, warehouses and maritime concerns. Columbia River bar and river pilots maintain offices here, regularly ferrying out to the huge ships that traverse the river to help make safe passage. Listen for ship whistles - that's the way the ship pilots talk to each other.

Fine restaurants, art galleries, antique stores and other attractions round out Astoria's central core.

Be sure to take a trolley ride uptown. The fare is $1, and it takes about 35 to 45 minutes to make the round trip.

The city's 17th Street Dock also has space for the public to tie up. In the past few years, Astoria has become an increasingly popular cruise ship destination.

The Clatsop County Heritage Museum is a must-see for history buffs.

Travel to the very top of the hill to find one of the city's crown jewels: The Astoria Column. This 125-foot monument commands an awe-inspiring view of the river and the surrounding area. Its 164 steps are a great way to burn off kids' excess energy. To get to it, follow the signs from downtown.

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