The Pacific Northwest is replete with history; two of the biggest players in this drama are Lewis and Clark, who ended their epic journey in this region. To commemorate their journey, a turn of the century railroad tycoon–Ralph Budd–had a dozen markers built at various places from Missouri to Oregon. The westernmost of these is the Astoria Column, which rises 125 feet from its base on Coxcomb Hill, which itself is the high point of the area. That means if you climb to the top and walk out the door there (provided vertigo is not an issue) and take in a 360 degree panorama. It’s magnificent.
On a clear day, the view goes on to Washington and beyond. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were understandably haggard by the time they reached Oregon, and recorded rather bleak first impressions–the kind visitors hear from locals who go on about the drizzle and fog. But one likes to think the intrepid explorers caught a couple of good days at the midpoint of their trip; one can imagine them even hiking to the top of Coxcomb Hill, where the skies would clear and they could take in a bit of the grandeur. Two rivers converge in the harbor below, and flow out to the Pacific; Lewis & Clark would have appreciated those rivers. And had they come two centuries later, they would have been impressed by the bridges over these waters, too.
As we climbed back into our air-conditioned car, I had a new respect for these two guys and the Corps of Discovery they led. I was also glad for the interstate.