V20 N2 They Called It the Bridge to Nowhere

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Vol. 20 No. 2 Spring 1994 A

In 1967, the first full year following its completion, approximately 419,000 vehicles crossed the bridge. A few years later the annual total was well over a million. By 1990 it became clear that the construction bonds for the bridge would be retired ahead of schedule. As of December 1993, toll-payers had remitted $28.6 million, enough to retire the debt. On 24 December 1993, the bonds were paid off and the bridge toll was temporarily suspended. Four weeks later, free passage became permanent.

the UARTERDECK review from the Columbia River Maritime Museum at 1792 Marine Drive in Astoria, Oregon

"No more tolls! Let's burn the mortgage!" On Friday, 28 January 1994, a VIP reception was held at the Columbia River Maritime Museum to celebrate the early retirement of the construction bonds for the bridge from Astoria to Pt. Ellice, Washington. Once derisively labled "The Bridge to Nowhere," this feat of engineering has proven to be a vital transportation link for communities in the Columbia Pacific region formerly isolated by their location next to the broad expanse of the lower Columbia River.

Following the January 29th reception at the Museum, Oregon State Sen. Joan Dukes paid a ceremonial last toll. Then the Astoria Clowns "blew up" the toll booth and led a jubilant procession over the bridge. The bridge today is a physical embodiment of the belief by community leaders on both sides of the river thai: their fortunes are united rather than separated by the waterway between them. Whichever way you cross it, it is in fact a bridge to somewhere that is really quite special after all.

and newsletter

The Astoria-Megler bridge is pictured near the final phase of construction, but before the roadbed was completed.

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They Called it "The Bridge to Nowhere"

James H. Gilbaugh, Jr.

Great Republic Steams into Collections

Thomas R. Dyer

Jerry L. Ostermiller, Director

Peter Brix

Rose Palazzo

Lynne Leland

Carl Fisher

Ward V. Cook, President

Charles Shea

Rachel Wynne

Frank Warren

Ed Nelson, Jr.

Linda Cheuvront

Evelyn Georges

Anne Morden

Chris Bennett

Marietta Doney

Charlotte Jackson

Ted Natt, Vice President

Cris Ek

Barbara Minard

Robert G. Hemphill

John Davis

Mitch Boyce

Don M. Haskell

David M. Myers

Alan Green, Jr.

Our excitement over the arrival of this important piece of artwork is undoubtedly a mere shadow of the excitement created in 1867 by the arrival of the huge sidewheeler in the Orient. At the time, the 360 foot Great Republic was the largest ocean steamship ever built in the United States, along with her Pacific Mail sister ships America, China, and Japan. She crossed the Pacific from San Francisco to Yokohama, Japan, continuing to Hong Kong, on voyages lasting about two months round trip. Passengers enjoyed comfort and elegance, the mail and cargo got through, and the steamer developed a fine reputation. But her habit of burning huge amounts of coal meant a fueling stop each way.

Mark Tolonen

Trish Custard

John McGowan

Eric 'Skip' Hauke

Willis Van Dusen

Steve Kann

Anne Witty

Thus it was that the Great Republic routinely stopped in Yokohama harbor for coaling on her way to and from Hong Kong. Her first stop there may well have been the occasion for the commissioning of this ship's portrait. The artist added an unsual and intriguing feature: in the foreground, a brightly-clad group of Japanese dignitaries stands in a longboat, hailing the brand-new American steamer. Their presence signals that this was, indeed, an occasion to celebrate. The longboat scene also transforms the standard ship's portrait into a juxtaposition of old and new. The ancient Oriental world, newly opened to Western trade and symbolized by the traditional dress of the longboat passengers, hails the newest in Western maritime technology, trade, and transportation represented by the Great Republic.

In November, the Museum received a very significant donation to the collections from longtime Museum supporters Bill and Rachel Young of Lake Oswego. The Youngs' gift is a vivid and detailed Chinese oil painting of the Pacific Mail steamer Great Republic on her 1867 maiden voyage. It is a superb example of an Oriental ship portrait by an identified Chinese artist, Soy Sang.

Maurie D. Clark

Russ Bean

JackR. Dant

J. W. 'Bud' Forrester

W. Louis Larson

Lynn Gray


Richard T. Carruthers, Secretary

The Youngs' gift prompts some musing about the grand circle of maritime enterprise encompassing Orient and Occident. We think of our modern world as a "small world," in which we can communicate across vast distances in the space of a micro-second. But in some ways, the world has always been a small one. The human desire to explore, to travel, to trade and communicate across vast distances culminated in a time when ships (not chips) provided the bridges between countries and cultures . The Great Republic painting documents such a bridge being built. It adds beautifully to the Museum's story of how the Columbia River region fits into the wide world of maritime history.

Jim Nyberg

Board of Trustees:

-Anne Witty

Walter Gadsby, Jr.

Celerino Bebeloni

Alan C. Goudy, Immediate Past Pres.

Robley Mangold, Treasurer


Anita Decker


Allen V. Cellars

Museum Staff:

Roy Snell

Pat Longnecker

Darryl Bergerson

Jon Englund

W. Hampton Scudder

The sidewheeler Great Republic on her 1867 maiden voyage, in an oil painting by Soy Sang. Gift of Bill and Rachel Young. 1993.24

William T. C. Stevens

Justine Van Sickle

It is quite fitting that the portrait find a home here. The Great Republic met her end on Sand Island in 1879, just a few miles from our front door. The painting is displayed in the entrance to the Navigation and Marine Safety gallery, near the shipwrecks case which contains artifacts from the wreck of the Great Republic

Herbert Steinmeyer

Eugene Lowe

viewpoint of different visitor groups, such as, the mobility impaired, visually impaired, children and the elderly. The insightful comments and suggestions from these interpreters provided valuable feedback for the Museum to use in future planning and development.

Training at the Museum

April 30: PSU "Salmon Summit" at the Museum and sites in the Astoria area; final session of "Native Salmon: Science and Society" with Bill Bakke of Oregon Trout. Some spaces will be available on a first come first served basis. Charges may apply. Call the Hobe Kytr at the Museum for further details.

May 25: Annual Museum Auxiliary luncheon in the Kern Room. Don't miss it!

Notice to Mariners

Volume 20 No.2

May 16 21: ''The Taste of Astoria: A Seafood Celebration." Restaurant specials, Youngs Bay Spring Chinook promotion, Culinary Olympics, Seafood Industry Tours, Boat Tours and more. Package reservations will be available at the Greater Astoria CrabFest. Call the Chamber at 325- 6311 for further details.

Printed at Anchor Graphics, Astoria, Oregon

May 21: Armed Forces Day and "Maritime Day." Coast Guard Open House at the Air Station and maritime events on the Museum plaza. Tour Astoria's unique and varied fleet of working vessels at the 17th Street pier, the East Mooring basin and the Port docks. Stay tuned for further details.

Docent training began January 17th with over 30 participants, including Museum staff, docents and other volunteers taking part in the annual session. This year's training focused on developing and improving the interpretive skills of both new and experienced docents, as well as staff and volunteers who deal with visitors to the Museum on a regular basis, for instance in the Mu seum Store. Class topics included communication skills, thematic and informal interpretation, and interpreting for children. Additional enrichment sessions, including a special session with marine artist and maritime historian Hewitt Jackson, will be scheduled throughout the year.

May 8 -14: Historic Preservation Week. On Saturday, May 14, join John Goodenberger for walk to explore the old Astoria waterfront along the historic waterline as it was before the fill was put in. Further details pending.

Community Activities Planned During May

May 1 and 7: "Trestle Bay and Jetty Beach." Learn about the changing landform of the South jetty and the proposal to breach the jetty at Trestle Bay, Includes hike to examine site at Ft. Stevens. Call Hobe Kytr for further details.

The QUARTERDECK is published four times a year by the Columbia River Maritime Museum, 1792 Marine Dr, Astoria, OR 97103.

Editor, Hobe Kytr. Editorial Staff: Jerry Ostermiller, Anne Witty, Barbara Minard, Rachel Wynne, Mark Tolonen.


Maritime Museum News and Notes

Thursday Noon Riverfront Walks through May. Bring a sack lunch and explore the riverfront between the Museum and 6th Street with a variety of interpreters. See what the planned riverfront walkway will be about.

Quarterdeck, Vol. 20 No. 2

The beginning of the year has seen the Museum serve as a busy training place.




On February 24th, 60 professionals in the field of interpretation from throughout the Pacific Northwest spent the afternoon in the Museum as part of a training workshop. Sponsored by the National Association for Interpretation, the workshop examined universal accessibility; making interpretive programs, media, and facilities accessible to visitors of all abilities. Workshop participants were asked to critique the Museum from the

Visitor Services Coordinator Trish Custard leads a workshop in the principles of thematic interpretation for Museum staff and volunteers.

Photo and illustration credit s : Astoria bridge, pages 1 and 6, CRMM archives; Great Republic painting, page 2, photographed by Art Chan; interpretation workshop, page 3, Jerry Ostermiller; Rolf Klep cartoon, page 4, CRMM archives; War Shipping Administration poster, page 5, from A Careless Word ... A Needless Sinking, by Capt. Arthur R. Moore, 1983; troller photos, pages 8 and 9, Larry Johnson.

The Annual Lower Columbia Row-In will be held Sunday, August 28, 1994. This on-the-water event will be staged from the 17th Street pier, and a fine time is guaranteed for all! So fit out your sailboat, rowboat, canoe, kayak or other nonmotorized craft and plan to join us for a day of family fun on the water. For additional information, contact Rachel Wynne at the Museum.

provisioning, cargo loading and unloading. To sail this huge armada of merchant ships, a massive push for more manpower was required. In 1940, the entire labor force of the Merchant Marine, from ocean liners to towboats, was about 55,000 men and a few women who served as stew-

better pay, police records the list is endless. Regardless of the reason for joining the Merchant Marine, these were heroic people. Liberty and Victory ships were not equipped with heavy armament for defense purposes. Some of them carried a Navy Armed Guard to provide light protection, but not all ships had this luxury. Convoy escorts were largely responsible for the safety of the helpless cargo ships. Usually large, convoys ranged anywhere from 40 to 100 or more ships. Often, in the later years of the war and depending on the locality of the run, a solitary cargo ship would take its chances on making a successful trip by becoming a "sitting duck."

As part of an ongoing oral history project to document the experiences of surviving veterans of the Merchant Marine during World War II, the author interviewed two volunteers at the Columbia River Maritime Museum who served aboard Liberty ships during WWII. The interview questions focused on how the men dealt with the overriding element of uncertainty that was present whenever they sailed. There was uncertainty about the stability of their hastily built ship and its equipment (would it stay together?), and uncertainty caused by the knowledge that at any time a German U-boat or Japanese submarine could send a deadly torpedo into the side. Another concern came from the air, where enemy aircraft could drop a bomb or riddle the ship with strafing gunfire. Then there was also the worry of carrying a few thousand tons of hazardous cargo, such as gasoline or ammunition. That was a gamble even if the enemy wasn't sighted.

Rolf Klep cartoon in Merchant Ship Shapes, Division of Naval Intelligence, 1944.

As the 50th anniversary marking the end of World War II draws near, it is perhaps a good time to focus our attention on a group of civilians who answered their country's call for help and who, in the performance of their daily labors, often paid the ultimate sacrifice. Without the help of these civilian patriots, the United States could not have sustained a two front war, or have come to the aid of her war-torn and exhausted allies. That group of civilians is the United States Merchant Marine.

One tragic incident involving dangerous cargo occurred in 1944 within the relative safety of a San Francisco Bay loading dock. The and in 1940 it doubled again. Early in 1941, an emergency cargo ship building program was put into effect and more than 2,700 wartime Liberty ships were produced. The government built the ships, but most of them were contracted to the private sector, where shipping agents with experience and training in handling cargo to ship carried the responsibility of providing insurance,

Quinault Victory and the Liberty ship E. A. Bryan were loading ammunition at the Port of Chicago located on Mare Island. There was an estimated 10,000 tons in both ships. Suddenly, a blinding flash shook buildings as far away as San Jose A plane 7,000 feet above was struck by shrapnel and forced to land. The town of Port Chicago nearly a mile away was almost leveled. In a few seconds the two

ardesses. By June of 1943, that number had increased to 85,000, and by a year later it jumped to 175,000 When the war was over in August of 1945, the numbers of Merchant Marine had reached a high of 250,000.

The reasons for joining the Merchant Marine were as many as those who signed up, i.e. military status 4-F, too old, too young, disabled in some respect,

The Merchant Marine Act of 1936, which had established a Maritime Commission, envisioned a construction rate of fifty ships a year for ten years. This quota fell short as the country drifted further into the European conflict. By 1939, this schedule had doubled,


The Call Was Answered

The Merchant Marine Cadet Corps was established in 1938 with the purpose of training officers to serve aboard U.S. merchant ships. As the war in Europe escalated and began to pull the United States deeper into involvement, the corps was expanded under the direction of the United States Coast Guard, and later under the War Shipping Administration. There were three basic training schools: Kings Point, New York; Pass Christian, Mississippi; and San Mateo, California. There were, however, many smaller schools that handled the expanded numbers of merchant seamen trainees. Most dealt with basic seamanship and lifeboat emergency procedures. In response to the urgency of need, the wartime course was condensed into eight weeks of basic training with six months of sea time, during which all cadets signed ships' articles as Cadet Deck Hand or Cadet Engineer. They would then return to one of the academies for nine more months of advanced officer train ing if they so chose.

For further information contact: Oral History Project : Merchant Marine of World War II, Columbia River Maritime Museum, 1792 Marine Drive, Astor i a, Oregon 97103

Bob Chopping, volunteer docent at the Columbia River Maritime Museum, joined the Merchant Marine after high school graduation. Pearl Harbor had been hit shortly before this and Bob wanted to get into the war, but he had been in an accident that had severely cut his left hand, handicapping him to the point of being unable to grasp objects or even to tie his own shoes. The military refused him. Undaunted, he joined the Merchant Marine Midshipman's Corps. His first ship after basic training was the Liberty ship Kit Carson. On his first trip the cargo was 500 soldiers with trucks and jeeps headed for Australia. The crossing of the equator ceremony was monumental! On the second trip the Kit Carson was commandeered in Hawaii by the U.S. Navy and sent to transfer munitions and heavy equipment from one South Pacific island to another. Traveling in submarine infested waters, these convoys were always "lively." The Kit Carson was to remain in the South Pacific for the next eighteen months, during which the ship's stores grew thin and the ship's crew were nearly always hungry. When the ship entered a protected harbor, the captain took a lifeboat around to all the Navy ships at anchor there and begged food for his crew. During the eighteen months that the Kit Carson was out, Bob Chopping lost forty-five pounds. Bob and his shipmates were more concerned about starvation than about being an expendable resource of the war effort. Everyone just wanted to go home to their families.

ships, the dock, an ammunition train , a locomotive and two Coast Guard ships vanished along with 327 men.

Ben Cadman, volunteer lightship keeper at the Columbia River Maritime Museum, had always wanted to go to sea, just as his father had done and his grandfather before him. He joined the Merchant Marine instead of the Navy because the pay was better and he had plans to continue his college education later. Ben spent his wartime tour of duty in the North Atlantic during 1944 and 1945, carrying munitions and much needed relief supplies to England. The war in the Atlantic had begun to wind down by 1945, but Ger man U-boats still plagued the shipping lanes , and convoys of from 50 to 100 ships were heavily escorted by U.S des t royer escor t s and Canadian co rvettes . Be n was l u cky , he n e v er encou n t ere d a U-boa t. O t h ers who m a de that N or th Atlanti c run w e r en't a s lucky.

in t he war effort. An estimated 600 merchant seamen plus one stewardess, 55 year old Clara Main, wer e captured by the enemy and placed in prison camps; 64 of them died. Their stories will never be heard, but the stories of those who su r vived may be. The Co lumbia Rive r Maritime Museum would like to help document these stories for future study If any of our members who served their country in the Merchant Marine during World War II would care to be interviewed, please let us know. Write down your story, or set up a time for an interview. Setting up an appointment for a taped interview is encouraged and preferred, since we are not generally able to take life histories over the telephone. If you are planning to make a trip to Astoria, please contact us so we can set up a session . We would be honored to hear your story. The taped interview would become part of our archival library and oral history collection

More th an 6,300 mer c h an t sea m en di e d while do in g th e ir job

By the fall of 1944, the shipping agents working for the U.S. War Shipping Administration were supervising the use of more than 3,500 ships, some 20 million tons of shipping. Ships were dispatched from United States ports on an average of one every 30 minutes. These ships and the men who served on them have only recently been awarded the status of veterans by the United States government. The men and women who served in the U.S Mer c ha n t Marine have w a ited a long 46 y ea rs to b e r ecogni zed as v e tera n s of gl obal confli ct.


Forty co nvoys, wi th a total of more tha n 800 ship s, 350 of which carri ed th e U .S. fla g, s ta rt ed out on the Mur m an sk ru n betw een 1941 a n d 1945 . Of these, 97 shi p s

didn't make it, su n k by b ombs, torpedoes, mines or t he fu r y of the North Atlantic Ocean The loss of life in the North Atlantic as a result of enemy action was staggering, but many of the men who survived such attacks later died from exposure in crowded life boats and rafts, or worse, from the icy cold waters in which they floated helplessly. The life-saving equipment aboard Liberty ships was not adequate enough to ensure a high survival rate. The life-saving gear found aboard most of today's fishing boats is far superior to the best equipped Liberty ship of WWII.

s Refji'.fter rtl !IOllr 11er1resl lUll!,11plo!l,ne11t Serrice Qffiee U.. S.MERCHANT MARI NE flirr ,S'ltippil~f/ .Mmiltislratioll World War II War Shipping Admini s tration po s t e r. 5

Rachel Wynne

Quarterdeck, Vol. 20 No. 2

Ben Cadman, however, trusted his ship and its equipment. When asked if he ever felt any concern about the structural integrity of the ship and its equipment his answer was, "No, not really. We were never aware of any risks we had a job to do and we did it." Once though, he went to have a look at his next ship, which was laid up in the shipyard undergoing repairs. It had just returned from Murmansk, where it had run into one of the huge storms for which the North Atlantic is infamous. The ship had developed some very large cracks in the deck when the locomotives it had been carrying broke loose and rolled around the deck like proverbial loose cannon. Eventually the locomotives rolled over the side, but not without taking the ship's gun turret with them.

Both tales begin in the 1920s. A 6-car ferry began shuttling passengers and vehicles across the Columbia between Kelso, Washington, and Rainier, Oregon in 1922. That same year, believing that shoppers could be drawn across the river to spend their money in Oregon, the Oregon legislature approved building a bridge between the two points. However, with the following year, the rapid development of the planned industrial community of Longview across the river caused Oregon backers to reverse their position. The Port of Portland and Portland's daily Oregon Journal were most vocal in the-ir opposition. Chief among proponents of the bridge was Long Bell's chief engineer Wesley Vandercook.

At the time of its construction, it was the longest cantilever span in the United States and the highest such structure over a shipping lane anywhere in the world.

A short time before the construction bonds for the Astoria bridge were retired, Astoria Librarian Bruce Berney passed along an article published by the Cowlitz County Historical Society in 1984 on the construction of the Longview, or Lewis and Clark, bridge in the 1920s. The two stories behind building these big bridges on the lower Columbia are in some ways interrelated, making an interesting study in comparison and contrast.

Reuben Jensen photo of Astoria's "Bridge to Nowhere," ca. 1963. 1983.85 .32

Original plans for the bridge called for a span with a height of 175 feet over mean low water, and piers 1000 feet apart. When Secretary of War Davis approved these plans, Portlanders demanded at least three cabinet level officers pass on the specifications. That was done, with President Coolidge signing the bill authorizing construction on 28 January 1927. Bridge opponents then insisted that the vertical lift be raised to a minimum of 185 feet and the horizontal span increased to 1,120 feet. The effect of these design changes would, in effect, be almost to double construction costs. Undaunted, Vandercook returned to Longview on 5 November 1927 with full approval to begin construction. Jubilant, the banner headline in The Daily News shouted in triumph, "IS COMPLETE VICTORY OVER PORTLAND."

The Lewis and Clark bridge was designed by Strauss Engineering of Chicago, who ten years later designed the Golden Gate bridge between San Francisco and Marin, California. It is said that Joseph Strauss loved cantilevers, originally submitting a design for the Golden Gate that looked very much like his earlier bridge at Longview . Comparisons to its more famous sibling aside, the Lewis and Clark bridge was an impressive achievement in its own right.

Going Somewhere: A Tale of Two Bridges

On 29 March 1930, the new bridge was dedicated. President Hoover pushed a telegraph button in the White House to cut the ribbon. On hand for the cere-

The Longview Columbia Bridge Company and its principal contractor, Bethlehem Steel Corporation, completed the span in 1930 at a cost of $5,300,000. Among the many innovations that went into the design of the bridge was using crushed lava rock in the concrete of the road bed, which decreased the load weight by approximately 23% without affecting the structural strength.

mony were Governor Roland Hartley of Washington and the Governor of Oregon, Alvin Norblad of Astoria. It seemed a new era of progress was about to unfold on the lower Columbia Unfortunately, like the rest of the nation, the Pacific Northwest in 1930 was in the grip of the Great Depression. The $1 toll, calculated to keep the company afloat, was out of reach for many potential bridge-crossers A year after the dedication, the company was renamed the Longview Bridge Company and coni:rol was passed over to Bethlehem Steel as principal stockholder. Following World War II, the State of Washington stepped in to take over the bridge after several years of haphazard maintenance.


"Courage on the Columbia: The Lewis and Clark Bridge," Cowliz Historical Quarterly, Vol. XXVI, No. 1, Spring 1984.

Suggested Further Reading


The completed study estimated construction cost at $25,000,000. In 1957, the state legislatures of Oregon and Washington each appropriated $100,000 to finance construction plans.

During the 1950s, the movement for building a bridge at Astoria started gaining ground with action taken by officials in Oregon and Washington. In 1953, the Oregon State Highway Department, the Washington Toll Bridge Authority, Pacific County and the Port of Astoria established a $50,000 fund to conduct a feasibility study for building such a bridge.

What did happen in 1946 was the takeover of Capt. Fritz Elving's Astoria North Beach Ferry Company by the State of Oregon. Beginning operations in 1921, Elving's ferry business for many years ran a profitable operation with a reputation for sailing on schedule. Financial difficulties following World War II im. pelled Merle Chessman, editor of the Astorian Evening Budget and chairman of the Oregon State Highway Commission to urge the state to take action. The ferry fleet expanded with the addition of the new all-steel, 46-car ferry M. R. Chessman. But, as some local wags noted, the state's ferries ran in the red and seldom sailed on time. Increasing traffic during the prosperous decade of the 1950s did little to help matters. During the busy summer season, ferry passengers often had to wait for hours to make the crossing. Others simply drove to Longview to cross the bridge.

The contract for the bridge originally went to Delong Corporation of New York. However, in 1963, serious flaws were discovered in two concrete piers poured under 70 feet of water. Litigation over the matter took the next 13 years to resolve, eventually resulting in a judgment in favor of the State of Oregon. Building the bridge substructure was turned over to Raymond International, Inc., of New York. The superstructure contract went to U.S Steel, with other contracting work provided by a number of other firms. As in the case of building the Longview bridge some 30 years before, prodigious efforts and immense quantities of materials were necessary to complete the job. The center span over the shipping channel is 1,232 feet long, which together with its adjoining 616foot end spans constitutes the longest continuous truss in the United States. Clearance above mean low water is a minimum of 193 feet adjacent to the concrete supporting piers, rising to 206 feet at center span. The shipping channel is 1,070 feet between the timber piling fenders surrounding the piers. The viaduct section north of the shipping channel is 11,200 feet long, riding 25 feet above the often dry Desdemona Sands. Approaching the north channel, the span rises to 49 feet over mean low water, with a channel width of 335 feet. At this location the concrete piers are the deepest of the entire structure, extending 85 feet

The bridge was dedicated Saturday, 26 August 1966, as a climax for the annual Astoria Regatta. Governor Hatfield and Washington Governor Dan Evans presided, along with the chairmen of their state highway departments, Glenn Jackson of Oregon and Elmer Huntley of Washington. The M. R. Chessman returned to duty for the day, carrying 2659 pedestrians out for a view from the river. The old Astoria railway depot, closed since 1952, hosted a 15-car excursion train from Portland. Some 9,400 cars crossed the bridge that day before the $1,50 toll went into effect at midnight.

Now the toll is gone and traffic over the bridge in either direction is literally free to pass. Pessimistic predictions in the 1950s that it would take 45 years and heavy state subsidies to pay off construction costs for a bridge at Astoria were, to say the least, somewhat in error.

Completion of the Astoria-Megler bridge in 1966 closed the last gap in U.S. Highway 101 between Tijuana, Mexico, and Olympia, Washington. Quietly, on the 29th of July, the bridge was openedto one-way traffic. Also that day, ferry service was discontinued after 45 years of plying the Columbia's waters. First to cross the new bridge were two Astoria Clown Cars, leading a cavalcade of twenty vehicles, sirens blaring. (Maybe not so quiet, after all.) Next to cross was Astoria Mayor Harry Steinbock, long an ardent supporter of building the bridge. Many of those first-comers later experienced a letdown of sorts. Scrap metal from construction flattened tires, and bridge-green spraypaint drifted onto crossing vehicles, but a sweep with an electromagnet and a bit of wiping up in the days that followed seem to have solved these difficulties.

The year 1930, which saw the completion of the Longview bridge, also marked a watershed in the effort to build a bridge across the Columbia at Astoria. In April of that year, the U.S. Senate passed, and in June, President Hoover signed a bill permitting construction of a proposed toll bridge at Astoria. In 1934, Congress even approved building the bridge as a Public Works Administration project, but funding for the estimated $6,000,000 project never was allocated. Decades of repeated efforts to get the project under way yielded little but frustration. A private offer to finance the bridge in 1941 brought protests from the Port of Portland and expressions of concern from the Navy Department that the bridge might interfere with aviation from the newly established Naval Air Station Tongue Point. Following World War II, passage of a bill pei:mitting construction of a bridge at Astoria in 1946 marked the 10th time Congress had authorized such a structure since 1930. All to no avail.

Quarterdeck, Vol 20 No. 2

''The Astoria-Megler Bridge ... A Dream Come True," by former Washington State Senator Robert C. Bradley, in The Sou'wester, the quarterly of the Pacific County Historical Society, Vo!. XXVI, Nos. 2-3, Summer-Autumn 1991.

Traffic increased in the decades that followed and the dreams of the backers of the Longview bridge were more than fulfilled. The bridge became an integral link in interstate commerce. On 22 October 1965, the 50¢ toll was removed. By 1970, nearly 3-1/2 million vehicles rolled over the bridge each year.

"Bridge Testimony to Dedication" and "Astorians Rejoiced Over Span," by Vera Gault, weekly columns published in The Daily Astorian on July 17 and 24, 1987

below mean sea level. The piers are supported by piling driven another 51 feet into the river bed, for a total of 136 feet. The bridge is a total of 21,800 feet long, spanning 4.1 miles of the Columbia River between Astoria and Pt. Ellice.

Finally, the moment residents on both sides of the lower Columbia had been waiting for came to pass. Sponsored by state Representative Bill Holmstrom and shepherded through the Oregon Senate by President of the Senate Dan Thiel, House Bill No. 1457 authorizing sale of $24,000,000 in construction bonds for the bridge was signed by Governor Mark Hatfield on 27 April 1961. Washington officials also had long sought to build a bridge between Astoria and Pacific County, Washington. With strong support from Governor Rosselini, the state legislature passed Chapter 209 of Washington's Session Laws for 1961, authorizing participation in the project. On 15 September 1961, the Highway Departments of the two states entered into a cooperative agreement for construction. On the 9th of August the following year, Governor Hatfield presided over the formal groundbreaking. "The Bridge to Nowhere" was about to go somewhere.

I have to tell you a tuna story. This is true. I don't know if it' s happened to anybody else We were off from San Francisco It w as real n ice weather I woke up in the mo rni n g, I w ent ov er side There w as tu n a all a round the boat. It wa s s till d a rk, kind of jus t before d a ylight. I sai d, w h a t the heck am I go ing to do now? Do I have to sta r t up an d s ta rt circl ing ? I said, no I can't do that, they'll di sappear. So I went into the ste rn and start throwing over foe tuna line with a jig on the e nd Fis h too k it ri g ht away. I pulled in 21 fish without moving. T h ey were all bi g lunker s, too, and they w e r e kind of hard to la nd. Whe n yo u ' re moving it 's eas ie r to lan d a fi s h. If the boat is s till it's hard e r. Bu t I got 21 fi sh, big fi sh. I never h ea rd of any one el se doing t hat.

ermen who remember the heyday of the fishery in the Twenties. Current fishing practices will be videotaped and old photos will be reproduced to show the continuity of the industry over time. Stories of breakdowns at sea and other adventures will be combined with dialogue about the evolution of the boats and gear, about friendships and family relationships within running groups, about wild port towns, superstitions, food and the fishing way of life. The Wandering Fleet will bring to its audience a sense of the community among troll fishers, both men and women, and will serve as an important cultural document for the future.

In a half-hour documentary video, entitled The Wandering Fleet, we hope to explore the history of the West Coast troll fishery. Oral history interviews are being conducted with a number of fish-

I like the ocean. I enjoyed it It was never really work to me . Even if long days and long hours., I just love the sea Then you come in, blowing In a day you're all ready to take off again. I like the ocean. ·

John Hill = Astoria

Individuals and organizations interested in contributing to the production of this documentary can do so through the Oregon State University Foundation. For further information, please contact Jim Bergeron at the Marine Extension office in Astoria, (503) 325-8027.

I don't know names, but I can remember one kid real well. I used to hear h e was a good fisherman, a good boat puller. He got a boat, h e bought a boat. But he couldn't make it. He'd go in port. he'd say, oh, there's nothing out there, no use going out. But you can't do that. You got to look.

The Wandering Fleet: The West Coast Troll Fishery

Salmon trolling, by recreational anglers off Monterey, California, began as early as 1893. Commercial trolling came into being around 1913 after the invention of the sea-going gasoline engine. Many of the first salmon trollers were gillnetters avoiding the closed season on the Columbia River. In 1916, The Chinook Observer noted that a troller "with small capital can make his way and his living outside, free from blustering elements and tax-eating enactments of our refined but predatory civilization."

The Wandering Fleet will be produced by the Lower Columbia Oral Heritage Project through the support of Oregon State University Extension/Sea Grant under the direction of Jim Bergeron. The project follows upon the award-winning documentary Work Is Our Joy: The Story of the Columbia River Gillnetter, which recently was aired on Oregon Public Broadcasting. An advisory panel of fishermen and scholars will assure the accuracy of our portrayal of the troll fishery. The Wandering Fleet will be distributed to schools, libraries and community groups, and will be available to the public for home viewing.

The one thing i;,, too when you're fishing, big thing is you r own boss Nobody tells you what to do. You do as you please, bu t you know you're going to have to do it, but you do it as you want to do it. I love the ocean.

The Hill brothers are long-tim e A s toria trollers of almost leg endary standing.

Today salmon trollers range from Alaska to central California, working out of several ports along the coast. Small troll fleets of three to ten boats form close-knit communities, maintaining close ties that go beyond their professional concerns. These fleets, or "running groups," even have their own coded language, so they can exchange information on the radio without giving anything away to competing fleets. Using "clean" fishing methods that have changed little since the early 1900s, trollers fish selectively, carrying on a proud heritage that is less than a century old.


Larry Johnson is the award winning producer of Work Is Our Joy, as well as Remembering Uniontown and Steam Whistle Logging for the Clatsop County Historical Society. His recent work has taken him to Montana and Idaho to produce the audio/v isual components of Sacred Encounters, an exhibit about the impact of Jesuit missionaries on the Salish-speaking peoples of the Northern Rockies and the Plateau

Trollers interviewed to date include : Ingvald Ask, Seattle; Roger Bailey, Seattle; Alfred Berthelson, Cannon Beach; Robert Engbloom , Astoria; Keane and Helen Gau, Port Angeles; David Grauberger, Port Angeles; Roy Gunnari, Coos Bay; Jake Harper, Coos Bay; John Hill, Astoria; Arnold Hockema, Coos Bay; James Kindred, Astoria; Ralph Lammi, Astoria; Rudy Lovvold, Astoria; Art Mather, Astoria; Hugh McNeil, Bandon; Kay and David Peters, Port Angeles; James Suomela, Astoria

by Larry Johnson

A good fisherman, he's a highliner. You had to fish hard and you had to go out there. You can't listen to news and hear that, oh, some says there's no fish, no use going out there. You got to go out there anyhow.

Quarterdeck, Vol. 20 No. 2

Alfred Berthelson - Cannon Beach

Keane and Helen Gau left other careers to raise a family on a trolling boat.


My dad came over on a sailing ship He jumped ship in Astoria in 1903. He got into the fishing business, so he was one of the pioneers in it.

In those days the fishing was a lot different than it is now They had open boats and you didn't have much shelter. You had to wear clothes to keep warm. They had sheepskin coats with raw sheepskin inside and a big sheepskin collar. When my dad started, he was into all the fisheries. He trolled and he was one of the pioneers in the crab fishing area. His first experiences trolling were in those open boats that's all they had.

It was a lot of fun in those days I don't know, it was different. In later years, you had everything to do for you, all the electronics gear. You've got power gurdies to pull them in. About all you do now is go out and run the boat, but in those days, why, you had to run the boat

I think my dad, if I remember right he told me the first day he ever went trolling on the North spit in August they had around 1200 pounds of big salmon. There was a lot of fish around in those days and big August runs They had a river trolling season for the commercials in August on the big tules.

Keane and Helen Gau - Port Angeles

The first time my dad Jet me go trolling alone was when I was 14 years old, in the river, though. You get three big tules on the line, why, you've got something to pull in, I'll tell you. One going one way and one going the other way. But you

Helen: All the youngsters were raised on the boat. Bob was five weeks old when he started. Lorraine was 5 and Gracie was 8 when we started. They were all part of our crew. We just never considered it a job. We've always considered it a lifestyle and a wonderful style of life for our family.

Alfred Berthelson is a second generation Columbia River troller.

They went out around the bar where they'd fish. The lures that they used were just a piece of brass they hit with a hammer on the end to bend it over so it would flop a little in the water and put a hook on it and a line. They had one line, that's all, and one spoon tied to the oars.

and do everything. There was no automatic pilots. They had kind of a stick put into the tiller and you stood with that in between your knees. When you stood there for many days at a time with that, your knees would get sore. And they'd put sponge rubber or wrap them with rags in your knees so you could stand there all day in those double-end boats and steer with your knees, because that's the only way with no automatic pilots.

Keane: Our first boat was a 40-foot wooden sailboat, adequate quarters for the family, minimal quarters for fish, but at that time we day-fished and sold our product every night, and the family had plenty of room on board. All the kids say it was a wonderful way to grow up. We progressed from there and our expertise became better, to the point where we needed a better boat, so we got our second boat, ·the Bluejacket, a SO-foot steel ketch, and fished it for a number of years, and then took off and went cruising in the South Pacific.

seemed to get them. Of course, some get away. They don't all stay on the hooks. You lose lots of fish, but I'm sure they swim on and go on up the river.

We stayed on the sands, in a bunkhouse built on pilings, from Sunday night until Saturday. At the end of that first week I would have quit I was so exhausted but I didn't because I needed the money for my sophomore year at college.

In the summer of 1938 I worked on what I recall was the Taylor Sands seining ground, east of Tongue Point. I worked for a fellow named Chet Smith who was a friend of my parents.

Mr. & Mrs. C. H. Skinner, Jr. Charles J. Thompson

Edward W. Smith

Peter & Bridget Kolb Arthur & Dorothy McLain

Clatsop I?roperties, Inc.

Captain Alf P. Hammon

Johnson Oil Company

Mr. & Mrs. James A. Reiger & Family

Congratulations on an outstanding review of the Columbia River seine fishing in your Fall-Winter issue of the Quarterdeck. It brought back great memories of my days working at the CRP A Elmore cannery; Ollie Strand the plant superintendent, Harold Heaton the oil plant foreman, and a great crew. I was night shift foreman in the oil plant in 1936, but had opportunities to visit the seine operations on Desdemona Sands and also upriver near Altoona where there was a small cannery and receiving station. Another cannery was located at Ellsworth, Washington, east of Vancouver, from which we received tips for oil making. We also used eggs, backbones/heads to produce a food grade oil added to the pack to offset the color changes; i.e., spring red oil was used to color the pale fall fish and pale fall oil put in the spring pack to level out the oil content and color of the pack.

Don Goodall Dunedin, Florida

Randy & Linda Flodquist

P.S I made a bet of $10.00 with Hans Pqasma (spelling?) that we would never see a bridge across the Columbia River in our lifetime! I still owe it to him and will pay, but where is he? Hopefully, he doesn't want interest at 6% for the 58 years, that would come to (10)(1.06) to the 58th power or $295 compounded. He would probably get $285 worth of satisfaction in knowing his projection was correct!

Captain William P. Connolly ~ob Finzer

Mr. & Mrs. Leroy W. Steinmann Gary & Bernadine Thurman


Mr. & Mrs. G. E. Wright


Lowell & Sue Marsh

Mr. & Mrs. Fred W. Fields

James Jensen San Mateo Califronia

Captain & Mrs. Paul Jackson

But, back to seining, sorry I didn't meet Cecil Moberg (those men were busy!). It is great he was able to record the history and preserve the heritage. I've made several copies of your article to give to my old friends to support my tall tales of the industry. Happily, other parts are preserved in the Museum, as those days are long gone.

Robert D. Ross

I noted, too, with great interest the photo by Rolf Klep. Rolf was with us in what we called the Astoria Volunteers and in your files are Rolf's photographs of our efforts to recover the bodies from the SS Iowa that sank off the end of the North jetty in the big storm of 1936, with the loss of all hands.



Marie McLauclan

Molly Elliott

John & Micky Keiter

Tilzer W. Hargreaves

Floyd Hansen

Mr. & Mrs. Wallace Preble Robert W. Roehm Lonn & Edith Taylor

Best wishes for continued success in all your efforts.

While I worked in the chest-high waders referred to in Cecil Moberg's story, I did not work in the water as he did. If you look at the photo on page 5, you will note a large skiff holding the seine. In order to get the net from the water into the skiff, three men stood at the skiff's stern and pulled the net in my hand. One man pulled in the corkline, one the leadline, and one the net itself or the web as we referred to it.

Frank Bauman Clean Services

Captain Robert W. Johnson

Bud Clark

Mr. & Mrs. Ward Paldanius Constance Paulitz

Don & Grace Goodall


Fred & Susan Borg Earl Hansen

Daniel S Hawken


Muriel Bruning

Steve & Suzi Gerttula

Bart Oja

Ilse D. Spang

FAMILY HaejungAn Sy! Behrman

Janet N. & Thomas E. Wright John Wubben

John & Marilyn Ducich Chris & Mimo Ecker & Family

Increased Memberships - October 1 - December 31, 1993

By the end of the second week I was in better shape and before long I could pull that web all day.

Jane L. Worley

Eugene & Pat Roach

Dennis & Kris McElroy Weber

R. Jonathan Meigs

Dr. & Mrs. David I. Williams

Correspondence: The Seining Grounds Revisited

Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the seine operations, but always wished I'd had a movie of that most interesting and exciting method of fishing. Sometimes they would get five tons, then only five steelhead 2 feet long! Luck of the game! I recall it said that some nets were 750 fathoms, or 4500 feet long set out by good sized tugs, but the horse activities set the pace.

Richard L. Bergeron

Mr. & Mrs. Floyd A. Crouch, Jr. Patricia & Buddy Custard

Robert Gannaway

Michael Yourkowski

Mel Wachs

Mr. & Mrs. Herman M. Haggren Horace Harrison, Jr. Richard F. Hudson

New Members - October 1- December 31, 1993

Doing this job called for almost superhuman effort, at least when you first started and weren't in the best physical shape. Pulling in that water-soaked web was particularly hard.

Doris & Joseph Brant Michael & Pat Capper

Curt Schneider

Mr. & Mrs. William R. Kales Leslie A. Sandberg Ron & Gayle Timmerman Leslie B. Wheeler Bill & Rachel Young

John & Bonnie Capper


MABLE E. OLSON DonationsELSENSOHN Marva Jean Frisbie Captain & Mrs. Joseph Bruneau Mr. & Mrs. Arthur E. Johanson

Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Carlstrom

Mr & Mrs. Richard K. Jackson

LORRAINE M. LEAHY Herman & MaryLou Haggren HAROLD N. CHRISTENSEN Mr. & Mrs. Glenn Larson Clara E. MarthaMiles Johanson

Frank M Warren Greg & Nellie Johanson

Mr. & Mrs. Nicholas D. SamH. Lee

CAPTAIN ROBERT 0 . Mr. & Mrs. Jack Brunner

David & Pat SvenHallin & Viola Lund Marva Jean Frisbie Toivo & Shirley Mustonen Mabel Herold Paul & Rena Reimers


PAULINE MCCALLUM Don & Joan Webb Bob & Bernice Paschall HONEYMAN FAMILY Dorothy G. Butler MEMORIAL

Alan Green Mr. & Mrs. Melvin Hjorten

Mr. & Mrs. W.B. Montgomery

Mr. & Mrs. John R. Warila


WILLIAM C. PALMBERG, SR. Richard & Geraldine Fettig David & Pat Hallin

Emmy Oren

Wheeler Foundation

J. W. Forrester



Walt Larson

LAJ.JREL E. UNDERHILL LUCY CORKILL Ernest & Lorna Kairala BURTON ARTHUR MILLER Bill & Madonna Pitman Charles & Nellie Hansen Georgia Maki & Hank Ramvick Nellie Hansen


ALDEN PEDAR MILLER Special Memorials & lTOL DART HEATH Paul & Rena Reimers Sandra Ramsdell

Mr & Mrs. Peter G Wascher Marilyn J. Anderson

Mr. & Mrs. Heinz J Fick Mr. & Mrs Roland E. Larson

Toivo & Shirley Mustonen


LLOYD J. WILLIAMROWLEY MARTIN BAISLEY Mr. & Mrs. Norman Saarheim Marie Sarampaa Hope Moberg & Family Max & Roma Bigby

CHRISTMAS DONATION Graham Mr . & Mrs. Ed NormanBeall & Idamae Forney Mr. & Mrs. Arvi W. Ostrom

Ida E Lundgren

Richard & Ellen Skipper Marion & Arnold Swanson Helen Sorkki Althea Peterson Harold Strasser

Mr . & Mrs. Don Fisher

Arnold & Mary Tolonen Bill & Madonna Pitman Arthur & Helen Stromsness Mr. & Mrs. Wayne Tolonen Dick & M. E. Olsen Roy & Gertrude Kinnunen

FRANK BAKER Ellen K. Sanford


GORDON G. LARSON Merrill & Rita Ginn Robert & Bernice Cordiner Sylvia Nelson

ADALINE SVENSON Trygve & Aini Duoos Ruth Maki Mr. & Mrs. Ernest Brown Ernest & Lorna Kairala Sylvia Mowrey

Peter Koerner

Mr. & Mrs . Ken Lampi Herman & MaryLou Haggren Adelma Saari Mr. & Mrs. Fred L. Bacigalupi Wade & Karen Larson

Margaret Farley

Mr. & Mrs Palmer Henningsen Ernest & Lorna Kairala


CAMERON ALLEN LARSON Gil Kamara Arlee Huhtala Florence Wrenn Alf & Randi PETEROlsen F. BUTLER Gib & Linda Williamson Armas & Thelma Niskanen Dorothy G. Butler Margaret Morrison

Mr. & Mrs Robert Roeser

Evelyn H. Hill

Vera Pearson Howard & Mary Lovvold


BEWERSOORFF P. L. & Bonnie Barnet


Mr. & Mrs. Richard Carruthers Mr. & Mrs. Nicholas D. Zafiratos Armas & Thelma Niskanen Ward Cook


PAULINE S. MARINCOVICH Mr.BETTYTAKKO & Mrs. Arthur E. Johanson Al & Verna Davis Howard Jollie Ethel M. Berry Donald & Patricia Bauer

Mr. & Mrs. James A. Doig Florence Wrenn

Quarterdeck, Vol 20 No. 2 11

Alan Goudy

Rob Mr.Mangold & Mrs. Ernest E. Brown

Mr. & Mrs. Andrew D. Mr. & Mrs. William R. King Trudy M. Glein

David M. Mr.Myers & Mrs Arthur E Johanson G. John Haglund

Memorial Donations - October 1 - December 31, 1993

CHARLES M. GUSTAFSON 0. W. & Louise Beasley

Dewey & Janet Maxson

Helen Sorkki Mr. & Mrs. Robert M. Fletcher John & Elfi Nordgren

Ola F. Labiske

MONTE C. Mr.RODIN & Mrs. Arthur E . Johanson Elsa Simonsen

LEILA SVENSON Gladys Haglund Duncan Selma Peterson ~arry & Jean Petersen Grace & Kelly Larson Mr. & Mrs. Harold C. I Linda K. Niemelin

J. Dan Webster

EDWARD L. PELDO Patricia North Robert & Mary Oja

MR. & MRS. PETER J. BRIX Theodore & Leonora Dart CARL LABISKE

Mr & Mrs. A. C. Manners

Mr. & Mrs. Ernest Brown Yergen & Meyer, CPA's Mr. & Mrs. William R. King

Larry & Jean Petersen

Mr. & Mrs. Eugene Knutsen

Walter & Dolores Schade D. E. & Doris Link

Gladys Haglund Duncan Carlson Mr. & Mrs. Arthur E. Johanson Grace & Kelly Larson Albin & Janice !hander MRS. JOSEPH T. BISHOP Dorothy A. Teinson Mr. & Mrs. Clarence 0. Dreyer John & Alice Codd Mr. & Mrs. Robert M. Fletcher ImpiAspen

Paula T. Morrow

William T. C. Stevens Mr. & Mrs. Richard C. Paulsen

LEONARD THOMPSON JOHN COLLINS Mrs. A. Alan Honeyman CAPTAIN w. G. McCALLlJ1v1 George & Helen Blinco Donald V. Riswick ARTHUR C. JOHNSON Dorothy G. Cutler

SADA E. THOMSEN LENTS Hendriksen Eleanor A. Kaser Paul & Rena Reimers

The Darrell Standages Donald V. Riswick

Museum Trustee,Bill Stevens, himself an accomplished marin·e artist, is the current President of the American Society of Marine Artists. He is organizing the show with the help of Curator Anne Witty, and has invited over 80 artist members of the A.S.M.A. from Oregon, Washington, California and Alaska to submit works for consideration. The show will be juried. Plan to join us this summer for a special reception to honor the participating artists. Details will be published in the next Quarterdeck.



Astoria, Oregon Permit No. 328

On June 25th, the Museum will open what promises to be a splendid show by West Coast members of the American Society of Marine Artists some of the finest marine painters in the country. Selected works will be exhibited through October 23rd in the Great Hall and the Kern Room.


Museum members and visitors are cordially invited to come and enjoy Mr. Spakowsky's wide variety of works. He portrays working waterfronts, tugboats, historic vessels, fishing boats, and simple skiffs in an easy, flowing style born of a lifelong familiarity with the ways of the water. Michael Spakowsky has lived and painted on Vashon Island for most of his life. He has sailed, fished commercially, and built boats on and around Puget Sound, lending a deep knowledge of all things nautical to his watercolors of the area.

Anyone who has ever longed to capture the elusive appearance of a ship silhouetted against the shore, anyone who has ever set brush to canvas, can well appreciate all it takes to bring marine subjects to life as works of art. Technical skill and creativity help, but above all, marine art involves a feeling for ships, the sea, and the shoreside environment. The sense of neverending motion, the light on the water, the textures of wood and steel, the sweeping lines of boats all come together in the time honored tradition of marine art. And some of the best contemporary West Coast marine works are coming to the Museum this summer.

Non-profit Organization

The twenty-seven original works on display were loaned by private collectors Lorelei and Manfred Scharig of Seattle. Although the original watercolors are not for sale, the Museum Store has four selected prints of Mr. Spakowsky's work available for purchase. His work has been featured on the Foss calendar and in several Northwest galleries.

Artist's Work Shows the Variety of Puget Sound

Marine Art Sails Into View June 25th


Marine watercolors by Vashon Island artist Michael Spakowsky are currently on display in the Museum's Kern Room, providing a colorful view of the maritime scene around Puget Sound. The show will run through June 15th.


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