Ear: Harpers

In September 1883, Charles Graham (1852-1911), an artist for the distinguished Harper's Weekly in New York, visited Astoria.

In the Aug. 2, 1884 edition of Harper's (bit.ly/hw1884), his illustrations (shown) of Pillar Rock, Tillamook Rock Lighthouse and a bird's eye view of Astoria graced the pages of the popular journal to accompany a story, "The Mouth of the Columbia River." An enlarged version of the illustrations is at bit.ly/HW1884

Inexplicably calling Pillar Rock a "resort" for fishermen, the writer noted that "from here they pursue their prey down to the mouth of the river, where it sometimes happens that they cast their nets so near the bar that the outgoing tide, rushing like a mill-race, sweeps them into the remorseless breakers." 

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse was no less thrilling to the writer. "It is built on a rock so precipitous, and rising from the midst of a tideway so terrible, that no boat may approach it closely without being dashed in pieces."

He was also intrigued by the "huge derrick with a far-reaching arm (that) raises and lowers an iron cage in which are contained the visitors or supplies that reach the lighthouse from the mainland."

On a calmer note, Astoria was described as a "flourishing city" with an "immense salmon-canning business" whose products "have found their way into every market in the world, and today Columbia River canned salmon commands a higher price than any other."

"The canning establishments are huge unsightly structures of wood, built out over the river on piles. … But if these establishments are blemishes on the landscape, the fishing fleet which sails out from Astoria every evening during the season presents a most picturesque sight."

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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