Ear: Falls

Nowadays, if we want to go to Youngs River Falls, we just hop in the car and drive on over. In the 1880s, getting there was a good deal more complicated, although no less desirable. A writer named ”Rambler” described a trip to the falls in the Tuesday, July 25, 1882 edition of The Daily Astorian.

First, he boarded the “commodious and comfortable” steamer Clara Parker in Astoria. There were so many passengers eager to go to the falls, the captain had to tow a scow along to accommodate the surplus.

They rounded Smith Point (that little outcrop of land near the roundabout); headed south for Youngs Bay, passing an old mill and “delightful little farms”; then turned into Youngs River, “a fine sheet of water” with “old Saddle Mountain” as a backdrop.

When the steamer reached Etna Warnstaff’s ranch, the excited group of excursionists disembarked — carrying lunch baskets and fishing gear, with children in tow. Many rushed to board several small boats awaiting them for a mile-long trip into the woods.

The final phase of the journey was a quarter-mile walk (which Rambler said felt more like 2.25 miles) to the falls, where there was “mist that floats away like a dream.” A photo of the falls is shown, taken in the early 1870s by Joseph Buchtel, via oldoregonphotos.com

The “dining room” consisted of anywhere there was shade. “We began the onslaught, and such a demolishing of sandwiches and other luxuries had not been witnessed in those regions for many a day,” the writer declared.

After the meal, there were fishing and exploring parties, and some indulged in the sulphur spring water above the falls. At 4 p.m., it was time to begin the arduous journey home, which required “considerable time, patience and ability to get the crowd all safely aboard.”

“No serious accident occurred to mar the pleasure of the day,” Rambler concluded, “a day that will long be remembered by those who were fortunate enough to be there.”

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.

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