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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Where the ferry docked

Remains of the Ferry Landing, Astoria, Oregon These disintegrating pilings, posts, and pulleys are all that's left of the Astoria's old ferry landing. Located between today's U.S. Customs building and the 14th Street Dock, you can also see the edges of the slip where the Ferry loaded and docked. The ferry service crossed from Astoria to Washington between 1921 and 1966. There was no bridge during those years, and it was left to modern steel technology to devise one. The first ferry boat, called The Tourist, was built locally and carried fifteen cars and, of course, passengers. Originally begun and operated by a colorful Swede (Captain Fritz Elfving), the business was purchased and run by the State of Oregon in 1946.

Captain Elfving had a rival in the Union Pacific Ferry, docked just across the river. The "Ferry Wars" included the Union Pacific driving pilings in the water to block Elfving's boats, and Elfving ramming those pilings apart with his third boat, Tourist 3, to get them out of his way. Oddly enough, these drifting logs floated back to cause serious damage to the Union Pacific's landing. Elfving finally bought out his competitors in 1934. After Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941, Tourist No. 2 was commandeered and used to lay mines in the Columbia River.

Interesting photos and information on the history of Astoria's ferry operation can be found on a plaque at the 14th Steet Dock; in the book, Astoria, by Karen L. Leedom; and in the Astoria Heritage Museum.

9 comments:

Vogon Poet said...

So there was a pioneer era, more recent, even for ferries and figures like Captain Elfving obviously stands out.
Less pictoresque ferry wars are still going on here, but you gave me the idea of researching their past.

Steffe said...

Interesting read. I wonder why they left the ferry landing to decay like this.

Don and Krise said...

I can just picture those two going at it. I wonder if any of the boats are still in existence.

cieldequimper said...

Actually I kind of like them decaying. Call it my destructive streak! Soooooo much more water than Versailles!! ;-)

Faye Pekas said...

Indeed, you did show the sea lions yesterday. I think I recognize some of them :)I always wonder how the people get to their boats. I wouldn't want to walk through that bunch to get to mine if I had one there.

This shot today is wonderful. Love that old rotting wood.

Jacob said...

Wow! That's a fascinating bit of history! I think I like Captain Elfving and not just 'cause he was a Swede!

Anyone who can do serious damage to Union Pacific in those days was probably a hero.

Beautiful photo, as usual, Tapirgal!

Creative Mish said...

Love the story that goes along with the photo!

belleviewdailyphoto said...

wow, that's pretty interesting. :) Great photo!

Sueso said...

Growing up in Long Beach, WA across the river, my mother and I road the ferries many times to shop in Astoria. You should have seen us during a storm with a deckhand on each side helping us jump onto and off of the ferry. (We didn't have a car.) You could get a yummy hamburger on board and see lovely views..sometimes getting stuck on a sandbar! (You had to wait for higher tide) My stepfather was a Norwegian gillnetter or gillnet fisherman, who usually was cursing the ferries because they would run over his nets and he would lose precious days mending his nets. Some of those pilings had buildings where they laid out their nets to dry and mend.

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