As a former host on the riverboat SS Legacy between Lewiston, Idaho, and Astoria, Bob Vinatieri remembers local historians coming aboard to lecture about the region’s history.
“It was easy to get people interested in Lewis and Clark … but there was not that much information about the city of Astoria,” he said.
When he moved to Astoria in the spring, Vinatieri started his own company, Astoria Tours, offering guided educational tours around the city.
Vinatieri takes groups for walking tours through downtown, bicycle rides to historic filming locations and hikes from the Cathedral Tree Trail to the Astoria Column.
“I’m doing this all as tours for tips,” Vinatieri said.
The downtown walking tours, his favorite, often start near a large anchor in front of the Columbia River Maritime Museum. Vinatieri focuses his talks on people who lived in the area, from Native Americans before European colonization and early settlers to the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s and how people came together after a devastating fire in 1922 to rebuild.
He studies books and visits museums to learn more about Astoria, regularly consulting local historians such as Liisa Penner at the Clatsop County Heritage Museum.
“I’ve been selling Astoria as a tour operator out of Portland since 1993,” Vinatieri said.
He helped operate the Lewis and Clark Explorer, a subsidized passenger rail service that operated around Astoria’s bicentennial celebrations, and worked for several years on the SS Legacy.
Vinatieri advertises his tour company at local hotels and on incoming cruise ships. He still runs a company, GroupActive, connecting seniors with local tours.