On the 600-foot high Coxcomb Hill in Astoria, Oregon, the Astoria Column stands, overlooking the mouth of the Columbia River. Constructed in 1926, the concrete and steel structure is part of the city park and an icon of the city.
The column was 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. It is made of concrete, and cost more than $27,000 to build. The column was officially dedicated on July 22, 1926.
The Astoria Column is patterned after Trajan’s Column. a triumphal monument commemorating Rome’s victory in the Dacian Wars. Inside the 125-foot (38 m)-tall structure is a 164 step spiral staircase, 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 Astoria Column 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!