Dedicated in 1926, the Astoria Column has stood for the last century as one of the town's most iconic and visited landmarks. Situated on Coxcomb Hill, the tower rises an additional 125 feet (164 steps) to provide an incredible 360-degree view over Astoria and the adjacent landscape. From the column you'll enjoy views of the Columbia River's impressive termination in the Pacific Ocean, Washington's Cape Disappointment, Oregon's northwestern-most point in Fort Stevens State Park, Youngs Bay, Tillamook Head and Saddle Mountain, the region's highest point.
The column itself was the brainchild of Ralph Budd, then president of the Great Northern Railroad Company based in St. Paul, Minnesota. The column was actually the last of 12 such historical markers that Budd spearheaded between St. Paul and Astoria, and it was specifically erected to salute Astoria's early settlers and the pivotal role they played in the U.S. expansion to the Pacific Coast.
Along with the citizens of Astoria, Vincent Astor (great-grandson of the city's namesake) provided the capital to fulfill Budd's vision for the column, a nearly identical replica of Trajan's Column in Rome. Architect Electus Litchfield designed the structure itself, while Attilo Pusterla,* an Italian immigrant and an expert in sgraffito,** created the historically-based mural that wraps the entire length of the circular column.
Note: The Astoria Column can also be reached by hiking 1.5 miles from the Cathedral Tree Hike trailhead.
* Pusterla was an influential leader in the 'sunlight painters' movement who believed "works painted outdoors had more integrity and life than those done in the studio."
** Sgraffito is the Italian-based mural technique that uses material relief to sharpen an illustration.