The Astoria Railroad Preservation Association (ARPA), located in Astoria, Oregon, was formed in the early fall of 1990, and is comprised of dedicated individuals interested in promoting public appreciation of the historical importance of he railroads to our area. To further this goal, we have set as the initial objective the restoration of a steam locomotive to operate in the Astoria area. We incorporated in the March of 1991, and have since received 501c(3) status. Our membership is open to anyone with a sincere interest in our purpose and goals.

C I T Y   O F   A S T O R I A

Located near the mouth of America’s second largest river, Astoria, Oregon has long been recognized as possessing many tangible and potential assets. These assets include abundant natural resources (lumber and fish), proximity to Pacific Ocean shipping, and transportation connections to developed inland areas. In Addition, Astoria is also known for its recreational activities, cultural institutions, charming Victorian architecture, and rich historical past.

Astoria was the site of the quarters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition during the winters of 1805-1806. Founded in 1811, as an American fur trading post by a company owned by New York millionaire, John Jacob Astor. The city was named in his honor. At the time of Oregon statehood, it was one of the state’s two largest cities. Astoria’s outside rail connection was completed in 1898 by local industrialist, A.B. Hammond.

A S T O R I A   R A I L R O A D

Built as the Astoria and Columbia River Railroad, this line connected with the Northern Pacific Railroad’s mainline at Goble, Oregon, some fifty miles upstream. An earlier rail line built in 1890 by the Astoria and South Coast Railway connected Astoria to the coastal resort communities of Warrenton and Seaside.

In 1907 transcontinental railroad magnet, Jim Hill, builder and owner of the Great Northern Railroad, purchased the A&CRR along with Northern Pacific’s trackage from Goble to Portland, to complete his water level access to the Pacific Ocean. Dubbed the Spokane, Portland & Seattle, this line followed the Cascade Gorge and then switched sides to the south shore at Vancouver for the final leg to Astoria. Hill had two large, fast steam ships built to provide transpacific service. These steamers connected with the SP&S Railroad at Flavel (near present day Warrenton), just a few miles west of Astoria.

SP&S brochures extolled the scenic virtues of the line. Scenic sites included vistas of Mount St. Helens, solid rock tunnels and the coast beaches around Seaside. During the summertime, Portland families escaped the Willamette Valley heat by moving to the coast for the season. Working fathers commuted back and forth from Portland to the coast on weekends on so-called “Daddy Trains”.

Like many large cities, in 1922 Astoria was the site of a cataclysmic fire, destroying almost the entire downtown area. The town was rebuilt post haste in 1923, with the majority of the structures remaining much the same today, adding greatly to the personality and ambiance of the town.

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