Restore Oregon has named the ferry Tourist No. 2 one of its 12 most endangered places in 2018.
The nonprofit Astoria Ferry Group is restoring the 93-year-old vessel to be used for river excursions and other events.
Restore Oregon’s endangered list names properties in imminent danger of being lost. Inclusion on the list makes the project eligible for technical assistance and educational resources to develop strategies for long-term viability and preservation.
Built in 1924, the ferry worked the Columbia River under Capt. Fritz Elfving. The Navy commandeered the vessel in 1941 to lay mines at the mouth of the Columbia after the attack on Pearl Harbor. After the war, the Army used the ferry between Fort Stevens and Fort Canby, Washington. In 1946, Elfving bought the ferry back and used it until 1966, when the Astoria Bridge opened.
The ferry was sold and used in the Puget Sound region by Pierce County, Washington, until 1996. It was later used for summer cruises and purchased in 2010 by Christian Lint for dockside events in Bremerton, Washington. Local hotelier Robert Jacobs learned of the ferry’s existence and started negotiating with Lint for its return to Astoria.
The Astoria Ferry Group raised more than $50,000 to have Lint bring the vessel in August 2016 from Bremerton, Washington, to North Tongue Point. A year after the ferry’s arrival, the group issued an ultimatum for $100,000 and a fresh influx of volunteers, warning that the restoration effort had plateaued and could stop.
But new volunteers, including Lint and seamanship students from federal training site Tongue Point Job Corps Center, have taken over restoring the vessel at North Tongue Point.
“While it provides protection from the weather, it is a primitive facility, with dilapidated pilings, and provides power sufficient only to keep the generator battery charged,” Restore Oregon said in its explanation of threats to the vessel.
The ferry faces issues with deterioration, water damage, utilities and antiquated equipment. The Astoria Ferry Group hopes to move the vessel to the waterfront commercial complex at Pier 39 for more public exposure while volunteers continue to prepare it for the Coast Guard certification needed to carry groups on the water.