Ear: Tourist

Fun rerun from Oct. 2, 2015: Did you know that the Tourist II ferry was recorded in the National Register of Historic Places in 1997? Yup, it was added to the list by Kirkland Ferry LLC when the vessel was known as the MV Kirkland (tinyurl.com/T2NRHP). A photo of the Tourist II is shown, courtesy of the Clatsop County Historical Society.

Here are some tidbits from the NRHP application:

Fritz Elfving, a Swede, arrived in Astoria in 1907 and worked as a carpenter and ship builder. He began operating boats on the Columbia River in 1910. In 1921, he built a ferry landing at the foot of 14th Street. His first Astoria auto ferry, Tourist I, started in service the same year.

In 1924, Elfving commissioned Tourist II, which was constructed by the Wilson Shipbuilding Co. in Astoria, under the general supervision of Alfred Niemi, master carpenter. Joseph M. Dyer, who designed Tourist III (1931), may also have designed Tourist II. All three vessels had wooden hulls.

Elfving’s success inspired rivals. "… The North Beach Transportation Company in 1931 erected pilings in the water in front of Elfving's 14th Street dock," the application says."Elfving responded with a legendary action … now known as the defining moment in the 'Astoria ferry wars.'

“As he motored toward the dock, Elfving spotted the pilings from afar. He responded by backing up the fully loaded ferry, and then powering forward to splinter the barrier with the bow of the boat. It was reported that the shattered pilings floated towards the competitor's ferry landing and temporarily disabled a vessel."

Sadly, there was no mention of which Tourist ferry did the honors that day.

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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