Ken Mittelbuscher, aka Clatsop Ken, owner of the Crosby House Bed and Breakfast on Bond Street, has a new all-consuming project: Painting a painstakingly detailed 4-foot by 4-foot map (pictured) of what Astoria’s waterfront looked like in 1900. “I forgot how to shoot pool, it sat on my pool table for so long,” he noted.
“What really did it for me was realizing there are only two ways to build in Astoria: cutting into the hillside or over the tidelands.” In 1900, a good portion of the business district was built on pilings over the river; several areas that are filled in now were once small bays. You can see the painting in more detail at https://tinyurl.com/Ast1900
Not only does the map show the old street names in red next to the new street names in white, various sections of the town are different colors. The painting even shows the paths of both the 1883 and 1922 fires. As detailed as it is, the project is incomplete — he has yet to put in the trolley lines, and there are 2-foot panels that will be added on each side.
To make the street numbers as accurate as possible, and on the right side of the street, he said the book “Astoria: An Oregon History” by Karen L. Leedom was “very instrumental.” Liisa Penner at the Clatsop County Historical Society also lent a hand. If you have any information to volunteer, or spot something wrong, you can contact Ken at firstname.lastname@example.org. “Anyone who knows anything to contribute,” he said, “I’m definitely interested.”
Ken is a volunteer Astoria Riverfront Trolley driver, and he plans to put the painting up in the office at the Trolley Barn. However, he’d be happy to loan it out if any local business or nonprofit would like to display it. He’s also available as a speaker about Astoria’s history.
“I love to demonstrate what Astoria was at one time,” he said. “It’s better to share it than lose it.”