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Historic Astoria Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Nellie Wilson House (1895), Astoria (bobcat)
Flavel House (1885), Astoria (bobcat)
Martin Foard House (1892), Astoria (bobcat)
Replica of Fort Astoria (bobcat)
John Welch House (1885), Astoria (bobcat)
The route described (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps

Contents

Hike Description

The concentration of 19th century and early 20th century homes in these few blocks of the first American settlement west of the Rocky Mountains is unique in Oregon, particularly since these slopes somehow escaped devastating fires in 1883 and 1922 that gutted the nearby downtown area. You'll also visit the site of Fort Astoria, the first American settlement west of the Rocky Mountains, as well as a small monument to the first post office west of the Rockies. A Walking Tour of Astoria pamphlet can be purchased at a few different places in Astoria, including the gift shops at the Astoria Column and the historic Flavel House.

Begin at the Flavel House, actually at its 1887 carriage house, which is now a gift shop and mini-museum. Tours of the 1886 Flavel House depart from here and cost $5. The tour will take you to two levels of this historic Queen Anne-style house that was commissioned by Captain George Flavel, a prominent Astoria citizen and pilot on the Columbia River Bar. Even if you don't take the guided tour, stroll around the outside of the building to admire the octagonal tower, wrap-around porch, and bay windows. The garden features a large sequoia, cork elms, and plantings of roses.

From the Flavel House, head up 8th Street one block, passing two 19th century homes once owned by sawmill operator Conrad Boelling, and then turn left onto Franklin Avenue. You'll pass various old homes on the left and right before you come to the 1916 Methodist Church. When you reach 11th Street, go right for one block. Two of the homes on this block of 11th Street were built by D.K. Warren, the founder of Warrenton. Turn left onto Grand and view the 1903 First Presbyterian Church on your right. At 1133 Grand and 1167 Grand, you'll see the homes of Captain John Babbidge, a steamboat operator, and the Rev. Thomas Hyland, first priest of the Grace Episcopal Church.

Next, make a left on 12th, and at the corner of 12th and Franklin, you can note the elaborate spindlework on the 1895 home of Nellie (Fisher) Wilson, later occupied by county judge T.S. Cornelius. Now you'll go right to proceed along Franklin again. In the middle of the block, at 1337 Franklin, is the 1852 home of river pilot Captain Hiram Brown. This is the oldest house in Astoria, and thus one of the oldest homes in the state of Oregon. Hiram Brown constructed one part of the house on the east side of town. Ten years later, he put it on a barge that took it down the river. Using a system of rollers, the house was hauled to its current location where he had already constructed the west section of the current building. On the left side of Franklin, pass the 1867 house of Charles Stevens, a pioneer of the Oregon Trail, poet, and book shop owner. 1410 Franklin was a boarding house where the future governor of Oregon, Oswald West, once lodged.

When you come to 15th Street, proceed uphill to Grand Avenue, but first admire the derelict and haunted-looking "second" Flavel House. This home was left to wrack and ruin by reclusive descendants of George Flavel. After being abandoned for a quarter of a century, the building was purchased in 2015 and there are plans to renovate it. Next, go left on Grand. At the corner of Grand and 16th is the 1896 Philip Stokes House: Stokes owned a clothing store in downtown Astoria. Continue on to 17th Street. The corner here displays some wonderful Victorian homes, including 1711 Grand, the 1890 home of George Sanborn, a cannery owner. Head down 17th one block and go left on Franklin for two blocks. Between 16th and 15th on your left is the 1885 Grace Episcopal Church, the oldest church in Astoria. On the right is the 1922 Masonic Temple. Turn right on 15th: on the corner is the 1910 dwelling of Chris Schmidt, a cannery owner. On the right in the middle of the block is an obelisk marking the site of the first post office west of the Rockies.

At the corner of Exchange and 15th is a partial replica of Fort Astoria, established in 1811, and the principal trading post of John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Company. The site was purchased by the British-owned North West Company, later merged with the Hudson's Bay Company, in 1813 and renamed Fort George. Here, you'll also find a monument to Ranald McDonald. McDonald, the son of Hudson's Bay factor Archibald McDonald and Princess Raven, the daughter of Chinook Chief Concomly, was born at Fort Astoria in 1824. Something of a wanderer, the adult McDonald booked passage for the East on a whaling ship and, in 1848, rowed ashore the northern island of Hokkaido in Japan, a country then closed to westerners. The Japanese banished him to Nagasaki, their only trading port with the West, and decided to use him as an English teacher. For almost a year, McDonald taught the language to a select group of samurai before he was shipped home the next year. Thus, Ranald McDonald became the first native speaker of the language to teach English in Japan.

You can drop down to 15th and Duane and stop in at the Fort George Brewery and Public House for a locally-brewed pint and a bite to eat. Then return to Exchange, and proceed west for two blocks. At 16th and Exchange is Astoria's Heritage Museum, once the City Hall. Turn left on 17th and walk two and half blocks, crossing Commercial Street, to the waterfront and the Columbia River Maritime Museum. The museum is open daily ($14.00 admission) and exhibits cover the history of shipping on the lower Columbia River and the world-famous Columbia River Bar, the "Graveyard of the Pacific". Even if you don't want to go inside there are some outdoor exhibits you can take a look at, most notably the lightship Columbia and the pilot boat Peacock.

After viewing the waterfront here (See the Astoria Riverwalk Hike), walk back to Commercial to turn left to walk through part of the downtown area, taking in the John Jacob Astor Hotel and the 1920s Liberty Theater. When you get to 8th Street, make a right to return to the Flavel House. First, however, you could check out the Oregon Film Museum at 732 Duane Street. The museum is housed in the 1914 Clatsop County Jailhouse, and exhibits displays related to movies that were filmed in Oregon.

Maps

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash
  • Admission fee for Flavel House, Columbia River Maritime Museum, and Oregon Film Museum

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Walking Tour of Astoria, Oregon by Vera Whitney Gault
  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range by William L. Sullivan

More Links


Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

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