The Astoria Ferry Group’s efforts to get the Tourist No. 2 back operating on the Columbia River are solidifying behind a new homeport, grant funding and a project manager.

The vessel was brought to Astoria in 2016 by owner Christian Lint. But aside from some short stints at the Columbia River Maritime Museum, the vessel has largely languished in anonymity at North Tongue Point, an industrial dock on the eastern edge of the city. A year ago, the group considered giving up the restoration until a new infusion of interest and board members brought the project off the rocks.

Earlier this month, the ferry moved to Pier 39, a waterfront commercial complex along the Columbia where volunteers hope improved access and visibility will lead to more community interest.

“We have our own spot now,” said Cindy Price, a ferry board member and Astoria city councilor who is running for mayor. “It has been a challenge to get things really going until we got here.”

Despite essentially living out of a suitcase, the group has still gathered numerous donations from local businesses and secured grants to help with the ferry’s restoration, Price said. A $20,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation will help overhaul the vessel’s electrical system. Another grant from Restore Oregon paid for a preservation plan on the vessel by Sam Shogren, a maritime heritage consultant the ferry group is bringing on board to oversee the restoration.

“Having completed the preservation plan, it helped give the board a roadmap on where to go in the future,” Shogren said.

The group needs between $2 million and $3 million to fully restore the ferry to the Coast Guard’s satisfaction and build a sustainable operation, Shogren said. The process will have to be split into several phases over the coming years and require a capital campaign seeking out grants, private donations and corporate sponsorships.

The final cost for the restoration will require an inspection of the hull and will depend on how historically accurate the ferry group wants it to look, but the vessel has solid bones and a regional history that lends itself to seeking grants and donations, Shogren said.

Built in 1924, the Tourist No. 2 operated as a ferry between Astoria and Megler, Washington, until it was made obsolete by the opening of the Astoria Bridge in 1966. The ferry relocated to Pierce County, Washington, and continued running routes until 1995.

Argosy Cruises of Seattle later bought the ferry and operated it as the M.V. Kirkland in Puget Sound until 2010. After a fire below deck, the company determined the Kirkland would be too expensive to fix and decommissioned it.

Lint, a captain with an interest in salvaging old boats, purchased the Kirkland and began restoring it before putting the ferry up for sale in 2015. Robert Jacob, owner of the Cannery Pier Hotel, learned about the vessel and convinced Lint to bring it down the Pacific Coast to Astoria in 2016.

Boarding the ferry at North Tongue Point required descending a rickety ladder from an elevated pier. At Pier 39, the boat has a ramp and landing, with plans to add disabled access.

“I think it fits fantastic,” said Floyd Holcom, the owner of Pier 39. “We’ve had historical ships in that location before. This gives great exposure to the ferry, and I think they need all the exposure they can get.”

While Shogren seeks out grants and other sponsorships, members of the Astoria Ferry Group have been organizing events to raise the vessel’s public profile, such as participation in the Astoria Regatta this summer and a class reunion in the fall. The group is offering tours to people interested in the boat’s restoration and will eventually organize docents to facilitate more regular public access starting in the spring, Price said.

“We know that to make this project really sustainable, is it needs to get running on the river,” she said. “It needs to become part of Astoria’s transportation system, figure out how to work it in with the trolley and everything else that goes on, and have regularly scheduled service. Sort of informally, we have a six-year plan to have all that done by its 100th anniversary in 2024.”

Lint, who is also waiting for the group to gather the money to buy the Tourist No. 2, said he has fielded offers in Washington state from people wanting to turn the ferry into everything from a marijuana smoking lounge to a strip club.

“But I want it to be here,” he said. “As long as there is community interest, I’ll go along with this.”

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