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The fallen Sitka spruce was hammered in the Dec. 2-3 storms that devastated the North Coast.

10 years ago this week — 2008

The remains of Clatsop County’s nationally famous Sitka spruce tree will be preserved as a “nurse log” to potentially spawn future Sitka giants. An estimated 1 million visitors saw the centuries-old tree each year at Klootchy Creek County park southeast of Seaside, off U.S. Highway 26.

On Dec. 2-3, hurricane-force winds snapped the tree about 80 feet above ground, along an old lightning scar. The top portion shattered as it hit the ground.

Aware of the tree’s significance, county officials will let the trunk stand and the pieces lie on the ground to rot and provide nutrients for new trees and other plants, parks supervisor Steve Meshke said.

The urban forests that adorn Astoria’s hillsides are part of the city’s unique character.

But during the big December windstorm, the trees suddenly changed from assets to liabilities, crashing down onto houses, powerlines, streets and streams.

What to do about the fallen timber and storm-damaged trees was the topic of a presentation by Mike Barnes, a consulting forester, at Monday’s Astoria City Council meeting. He said the city is required by the state to replant the forests that were blown down, but it will be an opportunity to mimic natural conditions with a mix of cedar, spruce and hemlock.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency assisted 2,600 individuals following the Dec. 2-3 storms, distributing more than $4 million in emergency aid.

Its next step is to help agencies affected by the storms.

Abby Kershaw, director of Oregon Emergency Management Financial and Recovery Section, told representatives from multiple local organizations gathered at the Judge Guy Boyington Building Friday it’s time to move on to giving assistance to public agencies.

50 years ago — 1968

Winds of 70 mph streaked across Clatsop County Monday night and Tuesday morning, downing utility lines, sucking out windows and playing havoc with shipping.

Accompanying rain brought muck and trees down on the Sunset Highway, forcing closure of that main artery about 9 a.m. Tuesday. Trees and mud were “coming down faster than crews can clean up,” a highway department spokesman in Astoria reported. Traffic was routed along Oregon Highway 202 through Jewell to Astoria to bypass the slide a few miles east of the Necanicum junction.

All equipment for the new Seafoods Laboratory building at 36th and Lief Erikson Drive has now arrived, some of it after long delays, Dr. David Crawford, laboratory director, reported Monday.

Some minor plumbing and other final chores remain to be done, so that the transfer of the laboratory staff to the new building will probably not start until next week.

Cargo handled over the Port of Astoria terminals in 1967 soared past a million tons, setting a new modern record.

The port management reported total cargo of 1.1 million tons, compared to 970,000 tons the prior year.

75 years ago — 1943

A new kind of wave for sea-minded Astorians came to the city yesterday — Ensign Ellamae Naylor, first young woman from this city or district to receive her commission in the WAVES, who returned to her home city on a brief leave before being assigned to duty someplace on the West Coast.

Her return created considerable interest among not only friends, but military personnel and civilians alike, to whom the first sight of a WAVE in uniform was something new and exciting.

Jaunty in her navy blue uniform and coat, perky hat with gold insignia, over-the-shoulder black bag and white gloves, Ensign Naylor drew admiring stares from everyone along Commercial Street.

All eight Columbia River bar pilots operating out of Astoria are being taken into the Coast Guard reserve with rank of lieutenant commanders, it was learned today from Clarence Ash, secretary of the pilots’ association and the first to be inducted.

Ash said state pilots all over the nation are being absorbed by the Coast Guard and pilots working out of San Francisco and San Pedro are already members of the Coast Guard reserve. Similar action among Puget Sound pilots is expected shortly.

Small craft in the Coast Guard auxiliary flotilla No. 57 at Svensen met successfully the surprise test mobilization called there this week and conquered a series of simulated emergencies with exceptional efficiency, it was learned today from Coast Guard sources.

Eighty percent of the flotilla membership reported at the mobilization signal, with no warning for it given. They then deployed their boats, stocked with first aid and signaling equipment, emergency rations and blankets, in attacks on problems. They hustled after landing paratroopers, maneuvered around and studied the problem of the staggering obstacle of a large vessel, theoretically sunk in the channel. They tackled mock incendiary fires, coped with blasted bridges and challenged unidentified craft.

Their flotilla was divided into several types of boats, including craft for carrying dispatches and doing hospital work and transportation of injured and dead victim of war.

Bob Duke is the author of the weekly Water Under the Bridge column in The Astorian. Contact him at

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