The Goonies of Astoria Oregon – Filming Locations
In 1985 the most culturally significant movie of my generation came out. Weirdly titled “The Goonies,” the movie was filmed in and around lovely Astoria Oregon and had a profound effect on imaginative children across the United States. It also contains some great lines that can be invoked at opportune moments, perhaps in a board meeting where the proper answer to “Mr. Smith, can you make this happen?” is “Goonies never say die. Sir.”
The movie plot is straight forward enough. The opening scene is an escape from the local county jail that becomes a police chase where both cars of the Astoria City Police Department participate. The bad guys get away by jumping on the beach and getting loss in a four wheeler race. One of the characters sees the chase and runs to tell it to his “friends,” The Goonies.
We get to their house and have a few memorable scenes. Including the Truffle Shuffle, Data’s Zip Line entrance from the house next door, and the broken penis off “Mom’s favorite statue,” (a small replica of Michelangelo’s “David.” That was some risqué humor in 1985 and I’m pretty sure my mother didn’t approve of it.
Through the magic of plot advancement and foreshadowing we find the entire town, (Astoria is actually mentioned in the film,) or maybe just the “goondocks” is getting purchased by a rich real estate developer. The character’s houses are all getting torn down “tomorrow” to make way for a country club. Because I think County Club when I think Astoria.
But let’s be frank, in 1985 Astoria probably should have been torn down. It was only the timely intervention of an arsonist who methodically burned down almost all of the old cannery buildings along the waterfront that really saved the town and allowed it to morph into the tourist destination it is today. A country club would probably have been an improvement in 1985.
So, the father of two of our main characters is the head curator at the local museum. Luckily a real museum was available to stand in for this important role in the form of the Flavel House Museum.
For some reason, likely because not only is he the head curator of the museum, he was the only employee, he has a bunch of artifacts stashed in their attic. Never mind the fact that the Flavel House is a huge two (and a half) story Queen Anne style Victorian house of 11,600 square feet. With an unattached carriage house that is roughly the same size as The Goonies’ House. They were obviously hurting for storage space in the museum, likely because of the cannons stored there.
So the kids find a map to the “buried” treasure of One Eye Willy, a thinly disguised nod towards local-ish legends about buried treasure at Neahkahnie Mountain. They track down the location to the treasure, plausibly buried in an old lighthouse now restaurant about forty miles away. That’s 40 miles in the real world, in the movie world it was only one scene.
In a building that is about typical for Oregon Coast construction in 1985, they find a way into the basement and a hidden passage in the fireplace to start following the clues on the map. There are a few “Home Alone” moments with clever traps set by the Pirate One-Eyed Willie, and more with the clever thinking of Data and his “James Bond” gadgets.
They eventually get to the end, find the pirate ship loaded with jewels, gems, gold coins, an anatomically impossible “One-eyed Willie” skeleton, have a fight with the bad guys, get robbed, get thrown off the ship into a pool of water, and barely escape a cave in. Yeah, the ship was in a cave. Just… go with it. They get found by the police, the maid finds one of the kids was not robbed, his marble bag (seriously who played marbles in 1985?) is full of the same type of gems you can get for $5.99 per a bag at any National Park in the United States. The museum curator heroically tells the real estate developer to shove it because they can pay off their bills now. Which tells you something about inflation, or the state of the town – it was worth $5.99 in 1985.
Thirty years later, this movie is still one of the biggest events in Astoria History. Forget about Lewis and Clark staying nearby in 1805-1806. Or the location very closely becoming a catalyst for war between the United States and Great Britain. Or that time when an advanced prototype military robot gained sentience and became self aware.
The Goonies house is not actually where you think it is. It’s up on a hill, and has a pretty dang nice view that is only alluded to in the movie.
Head east out of town. When you get to the Safeway turn right. You’ll see the school where Arnold Swartznegger had a tumor, take a left there, then another left after to get around the school. Then take a right and head straight up. When you can’t go any further you’ll see The Goonies sign just to your left.
Park here, but don’t block any drives ways! And walk up to the house as quietly and respectfully as such a shrine to childhood fantasies should be treated.
The County Jail and Flavel House Museum (441 8th St, Astoria, OR 97103) are next to each other. Other film locations, including the abandoned restaurant, and the beach scenes were at Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach.