Astoria, Oregon (1904)
After a nauseating night on rough sea sailing from Vancouver, I was relieved to plant my feet on solid ground the next day in historic Astoria, the oldest city in Oregon. Lewis and Clark explored this area by the mouth of the Columbia River in 1805, and were impressed by the pristine river valley. Six years later Fort Astoria was set up by the first American millionaire John Jacob Astor. Since then, Astoria has been known for its rich fishery resources. By the late 1800’s, it was basking in the fame of the “salmon-canning capital of the world”. Today, this town of 10,000 lures tourists from land and sea to its serene setting, unique antiques and arts and crafts stores, character Victorian homes and rolling hills.
So, what does Asotria has to do with movies? Lots. Just as its link to the history of the Pacific Northwest and the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Astoria has a long history with Hollywood. In 1908, the first movie made in Oregon, The Fisherman’s Bride, was shot in Astoria. Well, that may not ring a bell, but since then, other more well known productions have also selected Asotria as location for filming. These include:
The Great Race (1965), The Black Stallion (1978), The Goonies (1984), Kindergarten Cop (1990), Free Willy (1992) & Free Willy II (1994), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1992), Ring II (2004), and most recently, Into the Wild (2007)…just to name a few.
But what really caught my attention was the concert that I missed. During a week in July of this year, there was the Astoria Festival of Music, held in the town’s Liberty Theater. One of the highlights was the virtuoso violinist Elizabeth Pitcairn, performing John Corigliano’s Red Violin Chaconne, and yes, playing on her 1720 Mendelssohn Stradivarius, the very instrument that inspired the 1999 Academy Award winning film The Red Violin.
Indeed, lots are happening in this small, serene town of 10,000.