Capt. John Meares attempted to enter an unknown harbor near the mouth of the Columbia River in 1788. After deciding the estuary was too shallow and treacherous to risk exploring, he named the harbor Shoalwater Bay. Today, the area is known as Willapa Bay, renowned for its oyster harvest. The Columbia River Maritime Museum offers a free program by author Doug Allen, "Shoalwater Willapa," at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18. Allen will be available after the program to sign his latest book.
Shoalwater Bay was a productive harbor welcoming ocean-going ships for more than 70 years. The bay was also the site for boat building, including sailing schooners, small gillnetters, crab boats and oystermen's dredges, bateauxs and plungers. Allen will describe the history of the oyster workboats using historic photos and information he has gained from many personal interviews. His presentation will include photos of various Astoria Regatta races in the early 1900s including canoes, oyster sloops and speedboats.
Allen was a high school history and government teacher for 26 years. He is the author of three books on local history.