The Astoria Column – Astoria, Oregon - Atlas Obscura

Astoria, Oregon

The Astoria Column

A Roman style column in Oregon hides a spiral staircase inside. 

Overlooking the mouth of the Columbia River on the 600-foot high Coxcomb Hill in Astoria, Oregon is The Astoria Column. Constructed in 1926, the concrete and steel structure is part of the city park and an icon of the city.

Built by the Great Northern Railway and Vincent Astor – the great-grandson of John Jacob Astor – in commemoration of the city and the Astor family’s business history, the Column was dedicated on July 22, 1926

Patterned after Trajan’s Column (a Roman triumphal column in Rome which commemorates victory in the Dacian Wars) the 125-foot (38 m)-tall column has a 164 step spiral staircase inside which leads to an observation deck at the top.

The exterior of the column features a spiral frieze almost seven feet wide, and if “unrolled,” over 525 feet (160 m) long. Painted by Electus D. Litchfield and Attilio Pusterla, the mural shows 14 significant events in the early history of Oregon with a focus on Astoria. It includes Captain Gray’s discovery of the Columbia River in 1792 and the Lewis & Clark Expedition. The decoration on the top is the State seal of Oregon.

The column, made of concrete and built at a cost of 27,133.96, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 2, 1974.


Know Before You Go

For a pittance, you can buy balsa wood gliders from the gift shop to throw from the top of the tower. The view is spectacular and makes the climb to the top worth it, but for some reason the gliders complete the experience!

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