Some 400,000 visitors come annually for Astoria’s Astor Column’s stellar views, park-like setting and historic significance. The Column is 125’ tall, sports 164 interior steps and sits an impressive 600’ above sea level, affording a 365-degree view that encompasses Young’s Bay, the Coast Range, the Columbia River, and the Pacific Ocean at a distance. Commissioned by Ralph Budd, a president of the Great Northern Railroad, the monument was built in 1926. Italian American artist Atilio Pusterla etched the spiral of images which run its length, a record of the seminal events that took place at the mouth of the Columbia and honoring the role of early Astoria explorers and settlers in expanding US boundaries to the Pacific Coast with discovery of a South Pass through the Rocky Mountains permitting hundreds of thousands of settlers followed.
The monument has undergone several restorations, thanks, in large part, to the efforts of the Friends of the Astoria Column. Formed in 1988, the Friends have funded important restoration work and improvements. About 50 parking spaces are available near the Column for visitors who want to drive there. The site has picnic tables, benches, public restrooms and a gift shop. Telescopes are on hand to augment the views from this lofty perch. There’s also the option to hike to the Column by way of the Cathedral Tree Trail, which takes about 40 minutes. The trailhead is at 2850 Irving Avenue.