Summer 2013 A Step Back in Time at Astoria Marine Construction Company

Page 1

From the Wheelhouse

One of the most overlooked and yet, for me, most interesting exhibits in the Museum is Kroll's Cannery Map. Located in the fishing exhibit area, this map covers the fishing grounds of the North Pacific from Alaska to the Oregon Coast, showing the location of 243 canneries that were operating in 1953: 152 canneries were operating in Alaska, 32 in Canada, and 59 in Washington and Oregon. Tucked away at the far southern boundary of the map, on the Columbia River, are Astoria and Warrenton. What captures my imagination is the fact that nearly all the fishing boats and most of the service boats used in Alaska for many years were made in boat shops on the shores of the Columbia River and Youngs Bay. During that time Astoria and its environs was the boat building capital of the Pacific Northwest.

Between the late 1880s and 1950 Oregon boat builders produced thousands of boats for the Oregon and Alaska fisheries. In 1900, the Federal Fish Commission counted 2,596 double-ended sailing gillnet boats on the lower Columbia. All of these were made in local shops. Almost all the Bristol Bay sailing gillnet boats used until 1953 were made in and around Astoria as were most of the transom-stem power boats that succeeded them.

Columbia River boat shops ranged from many small one and two man operations to large production-oriented shops such as those operated by the Columbia River Packers Association/ Bumble Bee Packing, the Union Fishermen's Cooperative Packing Company, McEachem Shipbuilding Company, Wilson Shipbuilding Company, and the Astoria Marine Construction Company.

This issue of the Quarterdeck celebrates the Astoria Marine Construction Company. Established in 1924 by Joe Dyer, this remarkable company is the only remaining operating example of the boat shops that for nearly a century made

Astoria and the Columbia River region so famous for its boats. It is the mission of the Museum to preserve the maritime culture of the Pacific Northwest. Preserving boats is relatively easy. Preserving canneries and shipyards is much more difficult. For this we have to rely on company records, photographs, architectural drawings, and oral histories. Over the past few years Astoria Marine Construction Company has been documented as part of the process for nomination as a National Historic Site. Michael Mathers' fine photographs of the Astoria Marine Construction Company in this Quarterdeck are an important part of the process. Worth far more than the proverbial thousand words per picture, Michael's photographic essay captures the nature and feel of AMCCO as nothing else can.

The Museum is now working with Joe's son, Tom Dyer andAMCCO's present owner, Don Fastabcnd, to produce a company history. Together, this history, Michael's photographs, and the nomination document will go a long way to preserving the legacy of this important company as part of the maritime culture of our region.

Executive Committee

H. Roger Qualman, Chairman

Helena Lankton, Vice Chainnan

Bruce Buckmaster, Treasurer

Capt. Thron Riggs, Secretary

Thomas V. Dulcich, Immediate Past Chainnan

Ward Cook, Advisor

George Beall. Advisor

Donald Magnusen , Advisor

Sam Johnson, Executive Director


Rick Anderson

Dale Farr

Cheri Folk

Jerry Gustafson

Michael Haglund

Dennis Hall

Ted Halton, Jr.

Don Haskell

Bill Henningsgaard

David Hill

Senator Betsy Johnson

Dr. Russell Keizer

S. Kenneth Kirn

Pamela Lum

Irene Martin

James McClaskey

David Myers

Larry Perkins

Capt. Jim Richards

Jeanyse Snow

Mike Sorkki

June Spence

Guy Stephenson

Bill Stevens

Charles J. Swindells

Shawn Teevin

Bill Wyatt

Trustee Emeritus

Peter Brix

Richard Carruthers

On the Cover:

Professional photographer Michael Mathers captures Ernie Larson as he lines up the stem of Fate Hunter so the vessel is perfectly aligned for the ways at the Astoria Marine Construction Company.

Walter Gadsby, Jr.

Alan Goudy

Louis Larson

Advisory Trustees

Dr. Tuba Ozkan-Haller

Dr. James Lerczak

Honorary Trustees

Victor G. Atiyeh

Gloria R. Linkcy

Mayor Willis Van Dusen

The QuarterDeck Summer 2013

A Step Back in Time at the Astoria Marine Construction Company

Astoria Marine Construction Company was built in 1922 as a small boatyard to produce fishing vessels and yachts. Joseph Dyer, Acme Mansker, and Clair Mansker established Astoria Marine Construction Company (AMCCO), originally called Astoria Shipbuilding. In the early 1920s Joseph Dyer borrowed $5000 from his mother and purchased a piece of property on the banks of the Lewis and Clark River.

Astoria Shipbuilding's first offir.ial contract came in 1924 for 10 Bristol Bay Gillnetters. During the late 1920s there was a growing demand among gillnetters for a high-speed boat. Joseph Dyer designed and built a tunnel-stem bowpicker, which became the standard design on the Columbia River.

In 1931 Astoria Marine was awarded their largest contract to date. Captain Fritz Elfving hired them to design and build a ferry for him, Tourist Ill, which was to transport cars and passengers across the Columbia River between Astoria, Oregon and Megler, Washington.

The yard was transformed during 1941-1942 for the wartime production expansion of World War II. The yard

was designed and built according to the assembly-line philosophy associated with this period of American industry when efficiency in production was the main priority. \Vhile constructing vessels for the U.S. Navy, this shipyard pioneered new techniques in minesweeper manufacturing.

For their efforts, AMCCO was awarded the Army-Navy "E" flag for outstanding production in 1944. Astoria Marine Construction Company followed the pattern of many shipyards in the country during World War II. They increased production by training multitudes of unskilled

Continued on page 15

Professional photographer and Astoria resident Michael Mathers was given access to the shipyard last winter to capture and document the incredible work these men and women perform.

We are honored that Don Fastabend and Michael Mathers have allowed us to share these incredible images with you. The following pages show this legacy as it continues today.

Astoria Marine Construction Company is located in Astoria, Oregon where the Lewis & Clark River meets Jeffers Slough. The property is situated in a relatively rural area called Jeffers Gardens, separated from the City of Astoria by Youngs Bay.

The QuarterDeck Summer 2013

recruits, introducing female workers into the shipyard, and increasing work shifts until the shipyard was operating almost around the clock.

Astoria Marine Construction Company was again producing ships for a wartime effort from 1950-1955, during the Korean War. With the completion of AM-428 in 1952 AMCCO became the first shipyard in the country to build a Type I mmesweeper.

Don Fastabend, who started working at the shipyard in 1950, currently owns Astoria Marine Construction Company. The shipyard continues to work on wood and steel vessels to this day, preserving this technology and way of life.

The yaH.l was just dlJl.HOved for listing in the National Register of Historic Places considering its significance as an example of a small-size shipyard that produced minesweepers during World War II and the Korean War. It is one of the very few remaining small shipyards in Oregon

representative of the support facilities generated by the nation's expanding war production during World War II. The shipyard is also one of the best examples of any site in the state for preserving shipbuilding technology because of its continued use as a ship construction and repair facility. This shipyard serves as a reminder of how our country worked and fought together during World War II and the Korean War, and how the incredible effort and fortitude of workers in a small community on the Columbia River played a major role in history.

Don Fastabend and the AMCCO Crew

A special thanks to Don Fastbend anct all the employees of Astoria Marine Construction, all true professionals, for allowing Michael Mathers to document the hard and difficult work they do. Their skill and understanding of marine construction is without equal.

In 1950, AMCCO_received a contract to build five MSO non-magnetic minesweepers, the most sophisticated wooden vessels built at the time This class of minesweeper was constructed of non-magnetic materials , including a wooden hull and aluminum engines, in order to protect the ship itself from magnetic mines Astoria Marine was chosen to be the west coast lead yard for the building program, and soon would become the national lead yard for the Navy.

The QuarlerDeck Summer _'O 13

Jim Campbell expertly guides the Lightship back to her berth with inches to spare. The move was timed for slack water high tide for the most water possihl~

Lightship Columbia Returns Home

Almost a year ago the Lightship Columbia was towed away from her berth so that a new dock could be constructed. The City of Astoria, through great efforts, had found a way to fund a new Dock at 17th Street off of the Museum Pluzu. Over the years the dock had suffered from severe rot and was no longer able to support the needs of the Coast Guard Cutters , the primary tenants.

During the planning of the project the contractors and the City of Astoria made every effort to accommodate the Lightship and the Museum. Astoria's own Bergerson Construction built the dock , including driving 109 steel piles into the river bed; each piling had to be driven down 20 to 30 feet, requiring 1,000 to 3,000 strikes per pile. They worked throughout the winter months to complete the project.

City of Astoria Project Manager Al Jaques ensured they finished $200 ,000

under the $4.5 million budget. A Connect Oregon III grant funded $3.8 million; the city paid the rest.

While the lightship was away at Tongue Point the Astoria Railroad Preservutiun Association did some much needed repairs, replacing steel work on the decks and welding the Pilot House base.

After almost a year of construction, we are pleased to report that the Lightship Columbia has returned to her berth at the new 17th Street Dock (which looks amazing). Everything went very smooth and it was a safe trip home for the historic ship, thanks to the expert handling by Jim Campbell of Campbell Towing & Marine Construction Company with the assistance of the staff and students from the Tongue Point Seamanship program.

Bravo Zulu to all involved!

The Quarter/Jeck Summer 2013

Special Thanks to:

Jim Campbell and Campbell Towing donated the entire move, including two tugs and crew. Jim Campbell and his crew took 600 tons of steel, at the exact slack water high tide, and gently moved the Lightship back to her berth. They made it look easy, true pros.

The Seamanship Students from the Tongue Point Job Corps sent 16 able crew and two instructors to handle all the lines. All aspiring seamen, they received the ultimate compliment from the tugboat crew for a job well done. They did an excellent job.

Bergerson Construction has been a key supporter of the Museum for decades, we would not be where we are without their continued support and generosity throughout the years. For the Lightship move they installed a new fendering system for the Lightship and reconnected the chains to hold the Lightship in the worst of winter storms.

Beecher Carlson of Portland handled all the insurance for the move. Working with short deadlines and the unusual situation of a Museum jumping in the transportation business for 24 hours they handled all the details.

The City of Astoria's spectacular new Dock at 17th Street was completed in early June The Dock , all concrete and steel, will last for decades to come

The QuarterDeck Summer 2013
Photo courtesy of Bergerson Construction

The QuarterDeck

Summer 2013

The Qua1terDeck is published by the Columbia River

.\1aritime Museum, 1792 Marine Drive, Astoria, Oregon 97103.

Tel: (503)325-2323

Fax: (503 )325-2331

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Ediwrial Staff: Blue Anderson

l limw Arroyo

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Sign up for Woodworking Courses at the Barbey Maritime Center

Northwest Native American Halibut Hooks

Use traditional materials to make the halibut hooks used by Northwest Native Americans in the coastal waters of the Pacific Northwest. These hooks are functional tools and truly beautiful works of art.

Instructor: Tony Johnson

Duration: Two days

Dates: Sept 14-15

$110 ($104 for Members)

Northw est Native Ame ri can Canoe Models

Using traditional NW Native American carving tools, learn to make models of one or more of the canoe types used by the Chinook auJ ulhe1 NW Nalive Americans in Lhe inland and coastal waters of the Pacific Northwest.

Instructor: Tony Johnson

Duration: Three days, non-consecutive

Dates: Sept 21-22 and Oct 5

$225 ($207 for Members)

Needle and Palm Work

Students will make a sail maker's "palm" and use it to make a canvas ditty bag to hold sewing tools, fids and other things used in canvas, leather, and rope work

Instructor: Misty O'Brien

Duration: Two days, non-consecutive

Dates: Oct 5 and Oct 12

$165 ($153 for Members)

Wire & Canvas Decoys

Build a simple decoy made with wire and canvas. Students will learn how to make a simple but elegant Black Brant decoy under the expert tutelage of boat builder and decoy maker Sam lJevlm.

Instructor: Sam Devlin

Duration : Two days

Dates: Oct 5-6

$165 ($153 for Members)

C all 503 325 2323 for classes or visit

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Summer 20 I 3
The QuarlerDeck

News and Notes

• The Museum has taken over the sides of 18 buses in the Portland Metro area in a new marketing push for the summer. The new 3D Theater has proven to be a great success for the Museum, bringing in families to visit the entire Museum.

• The Museum was part of a GMC Trucks photoshoot for their website. Keep an eye out in the next few months for the Museum building in the background of some truck ads.

• Upcoming Science on Tap presentations at Fort George's Lovell Building:

October 3rd - Scott Williams, archaeologist with Washington State Department of Transportation, will talk about the latest research regarding the "Beeswax Wrerk" on the bead1 of the Nehalem River spit. Scott is the Principal Investigator for this project. CRMM has a wood pulley and beeswax from this wreck and is extremely interested in this research.

November 7th - Join us to discover more about wapato as an important food

source for the Native Americans of the Lower Columbia River as Melissa Darby shares her knowledge regarding this plant. Melissa is affiliated with Lower Columbia Research and Archaeology.

See the Museum website at cmm org for more information. The Museum also has a Facebook page. The page features daily updates and announcements of events .


It is with great sadness that we note the passing of former Museum employee Linda Bowen . Linda was the voice of the Museum for anyone calling the office; she worked as administrative support for many years. Linda was a great friend to all and will be missed

Longtime Museum volunteer Ben Cadman has passed away. Ben will be remembered for his dedication to the Lightship, his post for many years. Serving in the Merchant Marines as a young man Ben had countless stories from adventures across the world. His friendship and sense of humor will be sorely missed.

Museum Staff:

Blue Anderson

1/icma Arroyo

Elaine Bauer

Ce!erino Beheloni

Ann Bronson

linny DeKofl

Betsey El!erhroek

Julie Flues

Helen Hon!

Eileen Houchin

Jim Grey

Kathy Johnson

Sam Johnson

Karen Sexton-Josephs

Arline LaMear

Meeri Nauha

Dee O'Brien

Misty O'Brien

David Pearson

Blaine Phelps

Hampton Scudcler

Carol Shepherd


Aaron Stinnelf

Patric Valade

The QuarterDeck Summer 2013

Earl Reynolds demonstrates how to measure the hull of a small boat in the wood shop at the Barbey Maritime Center.


We have such a wonderful crew of volunteers. Our Museum could not function without them! Our volunteers interact with the public and work behind the scenes. From lightship keepers, to curatorial volunteers, tour guides, Barbey Maritime Center (BMC) workshop enthusiasts, and store volunteers these gracious community members are the face of the Museum .

The Lightship Columbia left the 17th Street dock in September so many ship volunteers took on other responsibilities to remain active members of our Museum family. Not only did the curatorial department and the store benefit from the ship leaving, but so did the workshop at the BMC. Work benches needed to be built, tools cleaned, and many other chores completed to create a desirable space for classes.

April 30th Museum staff and volunteers gathered in the Barbey Maritime Center to honor and recognize the people

that give so willingly of their valuable time. Tongue Point Job Corps culinary students provided our meal.

Five new volunteers joined our ranks in 2012. Twenty-three volunteers assisted us in a variety of ways earning more than 100 hours for the year. Special recognition was given to Doug Rich and Terry Shumaker for reaching the 300 hour mark. Rosalie Ramsey, Peggy Dawson, and Steve Dawson received their 500 cumulative hour pin. Three volunteers added their names to our 1,000 hour plaque: Ed Steve, Chris Bennett, and Pat McDonald . Ben Cadman-lightship, Bob Chamberlinlightship, Kenny Ginn-rope making, and Bill Williams-curatorial, have generously supported the Museum and have contributed over 3,000 hours each . No matter the task, our volunteers assist us when asked. A total of 6,669.75 hours were volunteered in 2012. We look forward to another productive year and thank every volunteer for their efforts.

The QuarterDeck Summer 2013

New Members

Aaron and Connie Adams

Dennis Adams

Larry Allen

Steven R. and Geri-Ellen Baer

Stephen Barendrick

Byron D. and Judy Barton

Todd and Tess Beauchamp

Michael Grant

John Powell

Scott Griffin and David and Stephanie Ramsey

Dana Sullivan

Kelli and Monte Hansen

Ken Harding

Jeff and Ronda Hazen

Deanna Hogan

Anthony Benjamin and Chris and Genny Inman

Pauline Perez

Allen Bennett

Kelli Irwin and Daleane

Ramon and Lynette Isaac


Jessica Biros and Eric and Christina Jacobsen

Shawn Kinsley

Chris and Gerri Boitano

James and Jill Bond

Heather Boyd and Matt Healy

Terra Sue and David Brittell

Paul Eric Bromm and Angela

Marie Gorton

Harold and Barbara Brown

Tonya and Kurt Jilbert

Carol and Ben Johnson

Karl and Brandy Johnson

Steven and Cheryl Johnson

Jonathan and Angela Johnston

Stuart Jordan and

Kathryn Schultz

Irene S. Jue

Nadine Campbell-Davis and Jillian Kaltner and Lee Crusius

Donna Davis

Kara and Roger Cecil

Kathleen Chadwell

Galen and Dorothy Church

Andy and Maggie Cobb

Linda Cole and Sloan


Nancy and Elizabeth Cole

Thor and Melodie Conley

Pat Corkill

Christopher Crone

Ron and Amy Curtis

Jonathan and Amy Curzon

Leslie Daniel

Kevin Daw

Laura De Simone and

Bill R. Roulette

Helen Dessen

Lcoann and Katherine Douma

Nancy and Dave Drummond

Renee and Tim Dugan

Bill and Georgette Eastland

Jonathan and Julie Edwards

Philip and Jenifer Katon

Melvin Kawasoe

Melissa and Lance Keck

Tracy and Eldon Reade

Scott and Jackie Rebiger

Kristen and Keith Rimell

Nicole Rittenberg and

Jason Korinek

Tim and Kathy Robertson

Wendi Robinson

Stephanie Roley

Kyler and Dan Ronner-Bland

Mark and Robin Rose

Albert Ruhmann

Luke and Jackie Schaap

Eric Schuck and

Calanthe Turner

Melissa and Mark Slotemaker

Laurel and Errin Smalley

Gregory P. and Nicole Smith

Ryan and Krista Smith

Amy and Michael Sniezak

Gary and Diane Snyder

Sarah Spalding and

Janet I. Keim and Suzy Roehr


M Keim

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Cory and Nancy Kornicki

Jon and Patricia Krager

Becky Krom

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Scott and Georgia Still

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Martha C. and

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Linda and Don Matthews

Steven L. Maxwell

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Cullen Pearcy

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Kelli and Will Ewing

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Richard A. Cook

Roberta and Paul Meunier

Chris and Rob Williamson

Leslie and Glenn Williamson

Francis and Priscilla Fabela

Ralph and Sandi Miller

April Williamson-Stach and Capt f'hris Fam~ll

Robert Miller

Terry Finlayson and Veronica and Larry Montoya

Gabe Kieffer

Theron and Suzanne Fisher

Mary and Josh Ford

Katie Murray and Bill Colwill

Nathan and Tricia Needham

Chuck Overton

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George Sims

Michael and Barbara Goertz

Christy Pesch I

Joe and Helen Phillips

Lani Williamson

Harold Wise

John R. Yates and

Mark Waldman

Jane Zafiratos and

Drew Augustin

LeeOni W. Pinkley The

Meredith and Moloy Good

QuarterDeck Summer JO 13


F. Warren Lovell

George C. Fulton

Spring Quarterdeck 201 3 print

Colin McKay

Shirley P. Mustonen

Frankye Thom11son

Paul & Helen Curtis

Betsey Ellerbroek & not in memory of

correction , This was in honor of


Margaret Thompson

Beverly Cadman

Betsey Ellerbroek

Ardie Coleman

Melissa Yowell

Larry Meyers

James W. Davis

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George Frances Crandall & Jane t Daugherty

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Shirley P. Mustonen

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Robert Frame

Kim & Dan Supples

Natalie Cellars

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Ted and Pat Bugas

Ernest & Virginia Barrows

Ron & Gayle Timmerman

Robert Kearney

John Hubbell

Myron and Bonnie Salo

Esther Jerrell

Capt. Fred B. Jerrell

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Mark & Barbara Rabin

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Allan Maki

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Allan Maki

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Ocean Beauty Seafoods LLC

Arthur L. Smith

Evelyn M. Leqve-Smith

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Tony Guadagno

Frank and Carla Wilson

Ole Lilleoren

Mr. & Mrs. Donald Kessler

Shelby Sullivan

Shirley P. Mustonen

Denny Thom11son

Jerry Ostermiller & Ann McGowan

Natalie Cellars

John McGowan

Natalie Cellars

Lynne Johnson

Peggy Olson

The QuarterDeck Summer 2013
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