Take a Hike, Movie Buffs: The Historic Oregon Film Trail Opens

By Ann Powers | Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Oregon is no stranger to Hollywood.  From Animal House filmed at the University of Oregon in Eugene to The Goonies made right here on the North Oregon Coast in Astoria, we’ve shared the silver screen with numerous Tinsel Town A-listers including John Belushi, Kristen Stewart, Josh Brolin and more. In fact, state officials say about 450 feature films and TV shows have turned to the Beaver State as a backdrop for productions – originating with the silent movie The Fisherman's Bride (also filmed in Astoria) in 1909.

And in typical Oregonian fashion, the Oregon Governor’s Office of Film and Television is honoring our celebrity status with a statewide hiking trail (no surprise there) set to debut January 10. It’s called the Historic Oregon Film Trail, and Astoria is its pilot project. The trail’s dedication will take place in Astoria at Alameda Park, with the time and other details yet to be determined. (And word is some high-ranking elected VIPs are on the guest list!)

So if you’re looking for a preview, a few signs are already in place commemorating iconic set locations, buildings and homes where The Goonies, Kindergarten Cop and Short Circuit were filmed on the North Coast.

Oregon Film Museum Executive Director Mac Burns says Astoria, as well as Clatsop County, have been cast in dozens of other movies and TV shows. Markers for those locations will be added at a later date. January 10, according to Buns, is merely the beginning.

Over the years a popular tourism draw to Astoria has been the home which played a starring role in The Goonies – a 1985 flick about a group of adventurous kids who take on a property-developing company that plans to demolish their home to build a country club.

However, the real home has real Astoria residents, and the constant attention of overly-eager Goonies fans can be more than bothersome for them – often resulting in invasions of their privacy and litter left behind on their property. Officials hope the sign’s strategic location along the Astoria Riverfront at the East End Mooring Basin will eradicate trespassing on the hill of the privately-owned home, while providing fans with a good alternative spot to snap a photo from a distance.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Photo Credits to John Jacob Astor Elementary School

John Jacob Astor Elementary School in AstoriaPassersby of the Astoria Riverfront sign will also see the John Jacob Astor Elementary School, featured in Kindergarten Cop. But much like The Goonies house, the school is a real educational institution with real students, which means wandering onto campus is off limits.

Another trail sign can be found at Alameda Park near the Astoria-Megler Bridge, paying tribute to Short Circuit. The bridge was used in a scene where a robot character escapes as part of the movie’s plot.

All of the film trail markers, in Astoria and statewide, will be placed at photo-worthy areas and offer fun facts about the location’s part in the movie it served. The plaques are designed to encourage travelers “to explore more and to learn more and to share more,” Burns says.

The film trail also serves another purpose – profits. Since movie makers are banking on the films made here, the local economy driven by tourism dollars should too. This doesn't just mean while a film's production is under way but also for years to come.  

Photo Credits to the Oregon Film Museum

Oregon Film MuseumSome of that has already occurred. For example, the Oregon Film Museum is located in Astoria and that can be a big plus for the community. The museum has been known to attract more than 15,000 visitors in a single weekend for special events focusing the area’s cinematic history. That means 15,000 people (in a town of approximately 10,000 residents) shopping at local stores, eating at local restaurants, staying in local lodgings .... You get the idea. There’s also a driving tour in place for fans to road-trip it past movie-making landmarks, bringing even more visitors (and their wallets) to the region.

To bolster the film trail's potential tourism revenue, Burns says new signs will be rolled out one location at a time through Astoria and the entire state to keep fans coming back for more. A digital trail map is also in the works.

The Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce and the Oregon Film Office partnered with the Oregon Film Museum to identify the Astoria movie locations. The Oregon Coast Visitors Association assisted with funding for the signs.

The Historic Oregon Film Trail is just one more great reason to visit the North Coast. We love everything creative and fun – and if it’s outdoors, all the better. While North Coast Oregonians love to show off our stellar surroundings, welcoming communities and interesting history, locals ask visitors to please be respectful of our neighborhoods, homes, buildings and other locations showcased along the trail.

That said, lace up your hiking shoes, grab your camera and get your movie fandom on!

About the Author Ann Powers
Ann Powers is a reporter and writer who has lived and worked on the Oregon Coast. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Madison and currently working on her master's degree in multimedia journalism at the University of Oregon's Portland campus. Originally from Wisconsin, she now calls Oregon home, describing it as, "the Midwest of the Pacific Northwest," due to its dairy-state status, beautiful environment and friendly people.