We toured Fort Stevens and Fort Clatsop, both near Astoria, Oregon - then crossed over into WA in the SNOW!
03.26.2008 - 03.26.2008 35 °F
Fort Stevens is on the far NW corner of Oregon. This morning we visited an old shipwreck on the beach from a four masted sailing ship called the Peter Iredale. It ran aground just off the beach on October 25, 1906 - over 100 years ago. There isn't much left of it, but as one of the most accessable wrecks off the coast, it's a very popular destination.
We also visited the South Jetty, which is on the mouth of the Columbia River. From here, I could see the mouth of the Columbia River as well as the Cape Disappointment lighthouse across the river in Washington.
The weather this morning was quite windy and cold, so I couldn't resist one more photo of the wind driven waves. These were along the south jetty - very wild.
After visiting the shipwreck and jetty, we drove over to where the main portion of Fort Stevens was located. There is a nice Military Museum there as well as what remains of the barracks, gun emplacements and some equipment. The large field in front of the museum is where the barracks were located for soldiers stationed at the Fort when it was active. It was decommissioned in 1947, after WWII, since technology had made coastal fortifications such as this obsolete.
Behind the museum are one of several gun batteries at the fort. The guns in the picture are on display at the museum.
There is also some old WWII equipment, such as this searchlight. Searchlights were used to try to spot enemy planes at night. Radar was just being developed as WWII broke out.
In the Museum, I was surprised to learn that Fort Stevens was was actually fired on by a Japanese submarine during WWII - on June 21, 1942. The sub fired several 5.5 inch shells in the general vacinity of the Fort, probably not realizing it was even there. They landed in the beach area without doing any damage and the Fort's commander refused to let the gunners return fire - realizing that the sub was too far out to have much chance to hit it and returning fire would only give away the position of the US guns. This is the only military installation in the US mainland to actually be attacked by an enemy since the war of 1812 (Pearl Harbor is not on the mainland of course)!
We spent far longer at Fort Stevens then we expected, afterall when we came here we had just been looking for a place to camp! However, as usual we are finding there are just so many more interesting things out there that we had no idea about. But we did finally leave Fort Stevens to drive the short distance to Fort Clatsop. On the way out of the main gate however, I did stop for a black tailed deer that was hanging out in some of the old foundations.
It started raining by the time we left Fort Stevens. By the time we drove the few miles to Fort Clatsop, it had turned to snow. This was so unusual here that the park rangers started running outside with their camera's to document the event! Mom wasn't quite as thrilled, in fact I think if she hadn't lost her keys again, she'd have taken the RV and headed back south! But she gamely joined me in going through the visitors center at Fort Clatsop
Fort Clatsop was built by the Lewis & Clark Expedition as a winter quarters after they reached the Pacific Ocean in 1805. In the spring, they left it to the local Clatsop people, after which it had been named, and the Expedition headed back to Saint Louis. Inside the Visitors Center is a wing with museum type displays and a lot of information about the Lewis & Clark Expedition and it's participants. There is also a gift shop, which we did some serious damage in!
Out the back door of the Visitors Center is a short walk to the fort itself. The original fort is long gone of course, what stands there today is the second replica built based on rough sketches from Captain Clarks journal. (The first replica burned down in 2005 and was rebuilt in 2006, using additional research to make it more realistic.) In spite of the snow, Mom checked out an electric cart available from the Park Rangers (first time we've seen this since Virginia - or Wal-mart). She didn't stay in the Fort area very long, but did visit it.
Here's a slightly better view of what the (replica) Fort looks like from the outside (with Mom in the Snow).
Here are some additional shots of the Fort details. It was a pretty bleak place and most of the expedition members complained about their stay in Fort Clatsop.
Given the snow and lack of activities in the Fort, I didn't stay at the Fort very long either. But between the Visitors Center displays, an interpretive film they showed, and the gift shop - we managed to kill quite a bit of time. Given that it was starting to get well into the afternoon and the cold, wet, snowy weather - we decided to skip Astoria except for a quick shot. (Due to the weather, it just doesn't seem as inviting as it did in the movie: "Kindergarten Cop".)
There are several things I still want to see in Astoria but it's not that far from my home, so I'll plan to visit it again. One of the more interesting things about Astoria is the very long, narrow Astoria-Megler Bridge which crosses the Columbia River into Washington. At 21,474 feet long, it is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America. I wasn't sure it would be open in such awful weather, but it was and we crossed it!
The weather was just so cold and wet, we decided to head straight to the campground and continue the trip in the morning. Besides, between Fort Stevens and Fort Clatsop, we'd seen a lot more today than we'd expected!
IF the roads are icy in the morning, we may stay here another day - otherwise, we'll do a little sightseeing down here, then start up north again through Raymond and see how far we can get. Ocean city would be nice, but we may not make it that far - too much sightseeing to do, even in the snow! (Mom might not agree, I think she's ready to head back to Yuma.)
We are safely tucked in at an RV Campground in Long Beach, WA - heavy, wet snow since late morning, but appears to be just cold and wet now - quite cold! Maybe we should have stayed south a little bit longer.
Miles Driven - 54, Cumulative - 19,440
Camped at ROD RV Campground in Long Beach, WA
Provisions: Gas $39.05 for 11 gallons at 129,320, Propane $4.80 for 2.2 gallons