Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Union Fishermen's Cooperative Packing Company, Astoria, Oregon"
Includes ... Union Fishermen's Cooperative Packing Company ... Cannery Pier Hotel ... Uppertown Net Loft ... National Register of Historic Places ... Golden Age of Postcards ...
Image, 2012, Columbia Pier Hotel, Astoria, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Cannery Pier Hotel, Astoria, Oregon. Photographed from moving car. Image taken January 27, 2012.


Union Fishermen's Cooperative Packing Company ...

"... The salmon canning industry was one of Astoria’s greatest early commercial successes. Introduced to Astoria in 1866, by 1884 there were thirty-nine packing plants on the Columbia River. Over two thousand boats would compete for the peak of the salmon harvest; most of these boats were owned by the canneries who set prices and rented bunkhouse space to fishermen. These canneries and their accessory buildings once dominated the waterfronts of towns up and down the Columbia. Now, very few of these buildings remain.

In 1897, Union Fishermen’s Cooperative Packing Company was founded, owned, and operated by primarily Finnish immigrant fishermen to engage in the salmon canning trade. As the cannery grew, the company built satellite stations where fishermen could drop fish to be packed out or processed. ..."

Source:    Historic Preservation League of Oregon website, 2012.

"... In the 1890s, Astoria fishermen warred with local canneries over prices paid for fish, hazardous conditions, and the use of fish traps. A disastrous fishermen’s strike in 1896 resulted in the formation by gillnet fishermen of the Union Fishermen’s Co-Operative Packing Company. ...   The company built its new cannery building in Astoria’s Uniontown district. Uniontown (named not for the cannery but for the real estate plat, the Union Addition) was also the principal Finnish community. ..."

Source:    Oregon Historical Society website, 2006


Uniontown, Uppertown, and Alderbrook ...
"... The Union Fishermen's Cooperative Packing Company was organized in 1896 by a group of gillnetters aiming to gain more control over market and working conditions. The stockholders commenced building a cannery at the west end of Astoria the year following their incorportaion. The Co-op built two stations on the east end of Astoria for the convenience of their members, the majority of whom were Finns and Scandinavians who had their homes in Uppertown and Alderbrook. At these stations, the gillnetters could unload their catches at receiving stations at the pierhead, find secure moorage close to their homes, and have ready access to storage and repair facilities.

Of the two satellite facilities developed by the Co-op, only the Alderbrook Station of 1903 remains. Its fish receiving station, however, no longer stands. Only the pilings remain to mark its location. The Cooperative's cannery in Uniontown, at the west end of Astoria, no longer stands. ..."

Source:    National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, 1991


"Fisherman's" or "Fishermen's" ??? ...
According to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the Union Fishermen's Cooperative Packing Company's Alderbrook Station Net Loft (#91000053), "An early variant spelling of the Cooperative's title was Union Fisherman's Cooperative Packing Company.".

Union Fishermen's Cannery ...
"... Elevated over the Columbia River on wooden pilings, the Union Fish cannery was built in 1897. The basic building, some 50 feet by 200 feet, contained equipment for gutting, filleting, packing, sealing, and cooking the fish, and labeling and storing the finished cans. ... Between the shore and the cannery were ranks of wooden racks for drying the gillnets, so called because the mesh of the net caught the migrating salmon behind their gills. Alongside the drying racks were some of the small gillnet boats, powered by two triangular sails. Under sail, the boats resembled butterflies, giving rise to the term “butterfly fleet” for the gillnet fishermen. Union Fish expanded over the years to become one of the largest packers in Astoria. The steep decline of the canned salmon industry led to the sale and dissolution of Union Fish in 1975. ..."

Source:    Oregon Historical Society website, 2006

Penny Postcard, Astoria Cannery, ca.1920, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Astoria Salmon Cannery, ca.1920. Penny Postcard, ca.1920, "Salmon Cannery, Columbia River, Astoria, Oregon." Published by Wesley Andrews Co., Baker, Oregon. Card #505. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


Cannery Pier Hotel ...
The Cannery Pier Hotel is located on the western end of Astoria, Oregon, downstream of the Astoria-Megler Bridge. The hotel, which opened in 2005, was built upon the 100-year-old pilings of the Union Fishermen's Cooperative Packing Company Cannery. The Hotel reflects both the architecture and heritage of the original 1900s Union Fishermen's Cannery building.

"The Cannery Pier Hotel rests on the 100 year-old pilings that formerly supported the Union Fishermen's Cooperative Packing Company. Formed in 1897, it was the result of a turbulent time that favored big business cannery owners instead of the fishermen. Disputes with cannery owners about prices per fish started in 1876, with fishermen going on strike, and in 1880 they formed the Columbia River Fishermen's Protective Union. Tensions came to a head in 1896 when the fishermen went on strike again. Two strike-breakers were shot and more violence threatened, and the Oregon National Guard was called in to break the strike. After this, about 200 fishermen (mostly Finnish) came together, pooled their resources, and formed the Union Fishermen's Cooperative Packing Company. By 1904, it had become the largest cannery in Astoria. It remained a fishermen-owned business until the late 1940s."

Source:    "CanneryPierHotel.com" website, 2012

Image, 2012, Columbia Pier Hotel, Astoria, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Cannery Pier Hotel, Astoria, Oregon, with the Astoria-Megler Bridge in the background. Photographed from moving car. Image taken January 27, 2012.
Image, 2012, Columbia Pier Hotel, Astoria, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Cannery Pier Hotel, Astoria, Oregon, as seen from the Astoria-Megler Bridge. Photographed from moving car. Image taken January 27, 2012.


"Alderbrook Station" ...
The Union Fishermen's Cooperative Packing Company Alderbrook Station was built in 1903. It was located at the foot of 49th Steet and was used to store and dry nets and boat repair. Natural fiber fishing nets needed to be dried between uses. The "Union Fishermen's Cooperative Packing Company Alderbrook Station" was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991 (Building #91000053).

"The structures consisted of a boat and net storage building with an adjacent boat lift building (added later), wood piers, and a boat repair shed.

The buildings were built in the early 1900s after a fire had destroyed earlier structures, on a location that the 1896 Sanborn map indicates was the former Christianson and Co. slaughterhouse and animal pen.

The 100' x 60' boat and net storage building consists of three floors built on a 10' x 20' piling grid out on the Columbia River. The northeast 60' x 20' section was rebuilt after reportedly being knocked down by the infamous Columbia Day storam. The rebuilt section did not attempt to replicate the original building above the first floor. ...

All that remains of the receiving station are some old pilings. Actually, most of these receiving stations consisted of nothing more than a wide place in the dock with a small shack for the fish weigher. Equipment would consist of a hoist, a pile of fish boxes, and a scale. FIshermen would tie their boats there and send up their fish in the boxes to be weighed. The weighmaster would weigh the fish and give the fisherman a receipt for his catch. Once a day, the cannery scow would pick up the day's catch and take it up to the main cannery at Uniontown. When the need for this weighing station disappeared, the useable equipment was removed and the rest allowed to deteriorate. ...

The Union Fishermen's Co-operative Packing Co.'s Alderbrook Station was built about 1903 to serve the company's fisherment who lived in Alderbrook, the easternmost section of Astoria, Oreogn. Because the company's principal cannery receiving station and storage area was located in Uniontown, the westernmost section of Astoria, the fishermen who lived at the other end of the town at first were forced to sail their fishing boats to the cannery to unload their catches, and then had to sail their boats an additional five miles to their homes in Alderbrook. If they needed supplies or repairs, they had to use the docks at the cannery, far from their homes. This system proved to be uneconomical and inconvenient so the Union Fishermen's Co-operative Packing Co. first built the Uppertown Station at 31st street, and then the Alderbrook Station at 5900 Ash street, both serving the Uppertown and Alderbrook fisherment. The Uppertown Station is no longer in existence.

Becaue the Alderbrook Station was built to serve the fishermen, it was constructed on pilings built out over the water. The docks surrounding it were used for net racks, and for walkways to the fish receiving station built out on the end of one of the docks, and to the boat moorages, set on the water below the docks. The main building is a huge wooden-three-storied structure which is today used in the same way it was used when the building was first constructed. ...

The new Union FIshermen's Co-operative Packing Co. was a success and gradually began expanding its operations. In addition to improving and enlarging the Uniontown cannery, the packing plant built other facilities including a warehouse and bunkhouse at Smith Point, a miles west of the main plant, a storage warehouse and receiving station at 31st street in Astoria, and the Alderbrook Station. A cold storage building was erected in 1903. Salmon receiving stations were built at Clatskanie, Mayger, Willow Grove and Rainier. ...

Today, almost all of those old fishing industry buildings which once lined the Astoria waterfront have disappeared. One of the few exceptions is the Union Fish's Alderbrook Station which still stands on its original site and is still used by local fishermen as a warehouse, storage building and repair facility even though it is now privately owned. Virtually unchanged, the Alderbrook Station is a visual historical reminder of an industry which once dominated the Lower Columbia area."

Source:    National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, 1991


Image, 2013, Astoria, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Alderbrook Station, Astoria, Oregon. Image taken July 30, 2013.
Image, 2013, Astoria, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Alderbrook Station, Astoria, Oregon. Image taken July 30, 2013.


"Uppertown Net Loft" ...
Located at the end of 31st Street, the Union Fishermen's Packing Company's Net Loft was constructed in 1910 after a fire destroyed an earlier structure. The building was used for net storage and boat repair. The building was once fronted by large docks on which fishermen could spread out their gillnets to dry.

On December 1, 2007, a violent winter storm tore the top story off the 20,000-square-foot building. Winds of a hundred and forty miles per hour destroyed windows on the north, south, and west sides, and ripped off half of the north wall. Currently (2012), a new flat roof has been installed, the wiring has been replaced, and work has commenced on securing the foundation of the building. The condition of the building is still dire. According to the Historic Preservation League of Oregon website (2012), the Astoria community "has formed a 501(c)3 nonprofit, WHARF (Waterfront Housing Arts Restoration Fund), to explore the adaptive reuse of the Net Loft as community-based artist space but significant preservation planning and rehabilitation dollars are needed to get the project off the ground."


Views in 2005 ...

Image, 2005, Net loft, Astoria, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Union Fishermen's Cooperative Packing Campany's Net Loft, Astoria, Oregon. Image taken February 19, 2005.
Image, 2004, Tongue Point, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Net Loft and Tongue Point, as seen from Astoria, Oregon. Image taken February 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Net loft, Astoria, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Net loft, Astoria, Oregon. Image taken February 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Detail, Net loft, Astoria, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Net loft, Astoria, Oregon. Image taken February 19, 2005.


"The Golden Age of Postcards" ...

The early 1900s was the "Golden Age of Postcards", with the "Penny Postcard" being a popular way to send greetings to family and friends. Today the Penny Postcard has become a snapshot of history.

Penny Postcard, Astoria Cannery, ca.1920, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Astoria Salmon Cannery, ca.1920. Penny Postcard, ca.1920, "Salmon Cannery, Columbia River, Astoria, Oregon." Published by Wesley Andrews Co., Baker, Oregon. Card #505. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Salmon waiting for Shipment, ca.1910, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Columbia River Salmon waiting for Shipment, ca.1910. Penny Postcard, ca.1910, "Columbia River Salmon waiting for Shipment." Published by M. Rieder, Los Angeles, California. Card #3950. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Interior, Salmon Cannery, ca.1930, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Interior, Salmon Cannery, ca.1930. Penny Postcard, ca.1930, "Interior Salmon Cannery, Daily Capacity 60 Tons, Columbia River." Published by Wesley Andrews Co., Portland, Oregon. Card #799. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, ...
 




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*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003

Sources:    City of Astoria, 2006, "Astoria's Historic Resources and Heritage"; National Register of Historic Places website, 2004, 2005; Oregon Historical Society website, 2006;

All Lewis and Clark quotations from Gary Moulton editions of the Lewis and Clark Journals, University of Nebraska Press, all attempts have been made to type the quotations exactly as in the Moulton editions, however typing errors introduced by this web author cannot be ruled out; location interpretation from variety of sources, including this website author.
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February 2013