After a hearty lunch at one of my favorite Oregon breweries, Bergen and I (solo mother and son travelers) were looking to explore the town just a bit more before getting back on the road to drive to our ultimate destination of Nehalem Bay State Park on the coast. I was thinking we would just wind up and down the historic streets, giving me a chance to marvel over the many Victorian homes with the hope that my little passenger might nod off, and as well as give me a bit of a break. But then, signs began to appear pointing us toward Coxcomb Hill. I was intrigued. I figured, given the fact that we were winding our way up the steep streets of Astoria, that Coxcomb Hill must be the highest point in town. When we finally reached the top, my suspicions turned out to be correct, but there was more! Not only were we blessed with amazing views of Astoria and the surrounding natural wonders (Columbia River, Pacific Ocean, Saddle Mountain, Youngs Bay), but a tall and skinny structure, reminding me of a lighthouse, suddenly appeared! After paying our parking fee ($1/car) inside the gift shop, we also picked up one of the small balsa wood gliders (also $1) and I learned that we had arrived at the Astoria Column. Apparently, it is a tradition for visitors of the column to launch the gliders from the top viewing platform, and I knew that my gravity-obsessed little guy would be thrilled to participate. Some launchers know exactly where their gliders end up and make a fun quest out of going back down and retrieving them while others (shown by the amount of glider remnants seen around the park) aren’t so lucky. Nevertheless, it’s great fun to watch the flight pattern and see what each flyer can do! It’s also quite spectacular to take in the views from the top–a well deserved treat after climbing the 164-step staircase (total height: 125 feet), and in my case while carrying your 35 pound toddler! According to the plaque just inside the column at the bottom of the stairs, this historical monument was originally completed in 1926, and “…depicts the discovery and settlement of the Columbia River until the arrival of the railway”. Art restoration for the cartoons spiraling the column was completed in 1995, with further improvements in accessibility, landscaping, and the addition of a plaza with benches surrounding the structure happening in 2004. During that last phase of improvements, lighting was also added, which is what gives the column that feeling of a beacon in the night. It turns out that Coxcomb Hill is indeed the highest point in Astoria, Oregon sitting at about 600 feet above sea level. I was appreciative of the perspective along with being thankful for a relatively clear day for Western Oregon standards and loved the added adventure of seeing something new in a town I already completely adore!
Have you visited Astoria, Oregon? Tell us about your favorite points of interest!
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