Paula and I made a day trip to Astoria, Oregon to celebrate the week off from work (me) and school (Paula). We visited Fort Stevens State Park, Fort Clatsop National Park, the Maritime Museum and got to learn about the history of the area, which was pretty interesting. The waves, wind and rain were out in force, but we took a few photos.
This is the remains of the Peter Iredale, a ship that ran aground on it’s attempt to find the entrance to the Columbia River. I linked to the wikipedia article which has its story if you’re interested. The Peter Iredale’s Captain’s final toast to his ship was: “May God bless you, and may your bones bleach in the sands.” The wind was very fierce which whipped sand around. Paula and I were covered in sand from just a few minutes out in the wind. The poor Sports Kia was covered, too!
Paula and I went up to the top of a Viewing Deck at Fort Stevens to see the wind and waves up close. You can see the big waves and rocks out there. A little further up would be where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean at the infamous Columbia River Bar. At both the Fort Stevens State Park and the Columbia River Maritime Museum, this is referred to as the “Graveyard of the Pacific”, because there have been so many shipwrecks. The Columbia River pushes so much water that hits the force of the Pacific Ocean and creates a giant turbulent mess.
The Columbia River Maritime Museum had a little video that talked about ships crossing the bar, and they have special “Bar Pilots”, who board inbound and outbound ships to pilot them across the bar because it is so dangerous. Then, once they’ve crossed the bar, another “River Pilot” boards the ship and pilots it the rest of the way, while the Bar Pilot gets off and heads over to the next ship.
Next, we stopped at Battery Russell at Fort Stevens. There’s a link to one of the Fort Wiki pages where you can get more information about the fort if you’re interested. As you might guess from the picture, it’s no longer in service, but it was used for Columbia River defense and also during World War II. It had two large 10-inch gun emplacements for firing on enemy ships.
This photo was taken up on the second floor of the Battery. The big hole on the left is where a big 10-inch gun was mounted. It could raise up over the wall of the fort and point out toward the Pacific Ocean (left) and fire at incoming ships. Then, it could rotate back around to the right and hide below the horizon behind the fort and its earthen and concrete walls. One of the websites I’ve linked to talked about new 12-inch guns that had been developed for sea fort defense, but Battery Russell was already under construction, and it was too late for the 12′s, so they stuck with the 10′s. Up on the right is another room, I’d guess for machine guns and observation.
The Battery saw action in World War II, where a Japanese submarine surfaced and started shelling Fort Stevens. None of the shells hit the Battery or the Fort, but 17 were fired before the submarine left. According to a historical poster at the site, to the dismay of the soldiers at the fort, they were ordered to keep quiet and not return fire, so they did not give away the position of the Battery to the submarine. I read somewhere that there was also speculation that the submarine may have been just out of range of the 10-inch guns. I read somewhere else that the Japanese were shooting at a submarine base that was planned, but had not been constructed yet, and were unaware of the Battery.
While Paula and I were exploring the Battery and seeing its dark, spooky rooms, we were talking about how it might be a neat place for a paranormal investigation. Imagine our surprise (or lack thereof) when we found Battery Russell listed by a few websites as a haunted fort. That link mentioned a ghostly former park caretaker making the rounds with a lantern at night.
The Battery Russell was named after a commander, David Russell, who was killed during the Civil War. It was deactivated at the end of 1944 once a newer and better sea defense Battery was completed.
Lastly, here’s another view of Fort Stevens Battery Russell from the opposite end. So, Paula and I headed back out to our next destination, which was Fort Clatsop in the Fort Clatsop National Park.
Fort Clatsop was where Lewis and Clark spent their winter in Astoria. The original fort disintegrated over the years and was rebuilt for it’s 150 year anniversary. It burnt down and was rebuilt in 2005, so we’re looking at the rebuilt version of it. We checked out the museum and walked the nature trail. We would have taken more pictures if the weather didn’t get extra nasty.
Anyway, hope you enjoyed the pictures, and also that my blog post didn’t turn into a history lesson!