Astoria-Megler Ferry Pictures and History

The Astoria-Megler Ferry ran near the mouth of the Columbia River between the towns of (now non-existent) McGowan Washington, and Astoria Oregon. It ran from 1921 until the opening of the Astoria-Megler Bridge on August 27, 1966. Until the paved highway between Astoria and Portland was completed in 1916, access to the Long Beach peninsula was only achieved via sternwheelers docking at Illwaco Washington.

Astoria Megler Ferry

Vintage photo from 1962 of one of the ferries

When the business for the sternwheelers died out, Captain Fritz S. Elfving saw a need to provide ferry passenger and cargo service to the north side of the river. He incorporated the Astoria-McGowan Ferry Company in April 1921 and raised $30,000 in capital. He then had the diesel motor ferry, Tourist, built in Astoria.

Astoria-Megler Ferry

Remains of the Megler Ferry Landing

Business between the two points was so popular that he built a second ferry, the Tourist II which was launched in 1924. By 1926, the ferry business had taken so much business from the Union Pacific Railroad that they started their own competing ferry business. The Union Pacific’s North Beach made it’s first run on July 6, 1927 between Astoria and Megler. The two ferries competed for three years, but the Union Pacific lost money so they sold to one of their employees, Captain Calvin E. Stewart.

Despite his best attempts, including purchasing all the land around Elfving’s Astoria docks and installing pilings to keep the ferry from docking, Stewart sold out to Elfving in 1932. Elfving closed the McGowan docks and started using the Megler dock which was apparently a better location. He ran the ferry business until his retirement in 1946, when the Oregon State Highway Department purchased the ferry. They added another ferry in 1948, the M.R. Chessman. And the Kitsap in 1962. All four ferries ran the route until construction of the Astoria-Kegler Bridge made the ferry service obsolete.

Megler Ferry Landing

Astoria-Megler Ferry

The bridge that put the ferry out of business has a great piece about what happened all to all the ferries.

Golden Gate Bridge at Night

Golden Gate Bridge at Night

On the off chance there is anybody in the world who doesn’t know this location, this is the Golden Gate Bridge in a small city known as San Francisco California.

Golden Gate Bridge at Night
Buy picture this as a print or poster now!

The need to get across Golden Gate Straight had been identified as early as 1820. A ferry service served the area for decades, but talk of a bridge across the straight was the main topic for years. Experts repeatedly said it could not be done, but despite that, construction started on January 5, 1933. Construction lasted for just over four years, and the bridge opened to traffic on May 28, 1937.

(From WikiPedia) “The bridge faced opposition – including litigation – from many sources. The Department of War was concerned that the bridge would interfere with ship traffic; the navy feared that a ship collision or sabotage to the bridge could block the entrance to one of its main harbors. Unions demanded guarantees that local workers would be favored for construction jobs. Southern Pacific Railroad, one of the most powerful business interests in California, opposed the bridge as competition to its ferry fleet and filed a lawsuit against the project, leading to a mass boycott of the ferry service.”

Despite all this, the bridge has become one of the most iconic piece of architecture in the world. Numerous websites are dedicated to just pictures of the bridge, and it’s celebrated as a “free” and “must see” destination.

I’m personally partial to this view from the North side of the bridge. I haven’t had a chance to spend much time in Golden Gate National Recreation Area yet, but every time I’ve been through I’ve enjoyed it. Except for the road construction last time that made it impossible to go out to Point Bonita Lighthouse.

This picture was taken about 3am in the morning, with a ten second shutter speed.

Sandy River Bridge History Sign

Sandy River Bridge History Sign

Located on the Sandy River just outside of Troutdale, Oregon, in addition to it’s historic location, the bridge itself is historic. Being the first link on the Historic Columbia River Highway, it was built in 1912 to cross the Sandy River.

Nearby, is Lewis and Clark State Recreation Site, named in honor of those two gentlemen who camped nearby while traveling to the Pacific Ocean. In their day the river was mostly quicksand, and quickly passed over. Today, the area is well known for swimming, rafting and fishing.

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The sign says:

“Sandy River Bridge”

“On October 30, 1792 off the point in the Columbia River where the Sandy empties it’s waters, the boat crew from the H.M.S. Chatham (Vancouver’s Voyages) were the first white men to sight the snowclad peak which Lt. WM. R. Broughton named Mt. Hood in honor of Vice Admiral Samuel Lord Hood of the British Navy. He called the stream Barings River. Later in November 1805 Lewis and Clark called it the The Quicksand River. Still later by common use it became known as the Sandy River.”

History still surprises us though. While constructing the new I-84 Sandy River Bridge, workers found a fairly well preserved wagon wheel while excavating.

More information about Vancouver’s Voyages and Broughton’s discoveries from Fort Vancouver and up the Columbia River can be found in this great book, Madness, Betrayal and the Lash: The Epic Voyage of Captain George Vancouver.

Burnside Bridge, Portland Oregon

Burnside Bridge, Portland Oregon

The Burnside Bridge in Portland is the only one of the Cities bridges built with input from an architect. It was completed in 1926 and replaced an earlier bridge that was built in 1894.

Until recently, the Burnside Bridge hosted Saturday Market under it’s East Side. The west side still has the Burnside Skate Park.

Burnside Bridge

The Italian Renaissance style towers on the south side control the bridge lift mechanism. The counter weights are suspended in the supporting piers.