Ear: Fourth

Tuesday, the Fourth of July was a daylong celebration in 1882, according to The Daily Astorian, starting with a national salute of 13 guns at sunrise.

From 7 to 10 a.m., a “grand reception of visiting firemen” was held, followed by the “grand procession” forming on Squemoqua Street (now Commercial Street) at 10 a.m.

The parade consisted of the “Grand Marshal, brass band of 16 pieces, Liberty car, Mayor and common council, Grand ship of state containing Uncle Sam and Columbia, military organizations.”

Also in the procession were “civil societies, citizens in carriages, citizens on horseback, etc., etc. Steam and hand engines, hose and hook and ladder companies in the state of Oregon and Washington territory.”

They weren’t kidding about the visiting firemen, either. There were companies from Portland, Salem and The Dalles, with visiting chiefs and assistants tagging along. Three divisions from Astoria also participated.

After the parade, there were several competitions between the various types of fire companies. Here’s a sample of one: “Hook and ladder companies to run 300 yards, limited to 30 men, and get man on top of 30-foot ladder.” The winner got $50 (about $1,255 now) in “U.S. gold coin.”

If that wasn’t enough excitement for one day, a grand boat race started at 4:30 p.m., followed at 5 p.m. by “The Ancient and Horrible Chinook Moonshiners of Salmon City,” who entered the city at the foot of Cass Street (10th Street now) to hold a carnival till 7 p.m.

There was another national salute at sunset, and to top off the day, a Grand Dress Ball, given by Astoria Engine Co. No. 1 at the Skating Rink. Tickets cost $1.50 per couple (about $38 now), and “no disreputable characters will be admitted.”

There was no mention of a public fireworks display, but Carl Adler had it covered by selling “torpedoes, fire crackers, sky rockets, bombs, pinwheels, roman candles, mines.” Undoubtedly, a good time was had by all.

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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