Astoria in Clatsop County, Oregon — The American West (Northwest)
Harvesting River & Sea
For thousands of years, Native Americans thrived on salmon fishing on the Columbia River. They traded dried fish with other native people all over the west. In the 1870s, later settlers also made commercial fishing a way of life. It remains a strong part of the region's economy today.
While salmon were historically the most important catch, their declining numbers led fishermen to turn to other river and ocean fisheries during the 20th century. Tuna, groundfish, shrimp, shellfish, and crab are now significant harvests.
Fishing is one of the most dangerous of occupations. Captains and crew rely on hard-won skill and knowledge to navigate the Columbia River and North Pacific waters to bring in their catch. But however hard, fishers call theirs a rewarding way of life.
Erected by City of Astoria.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Native Americans • Waterways & Vessels.
Location. 46° 11.42′ N, 123° 49.864′ Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Astoria OR 97103, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. At Play on the River (a few steps from this marker); Pilots on the Columbia River (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Columbia River Tugs And Towboats (about 500 feet away); 14th Street Ferry Slip (about 600 feet away); Crossroads of Cultures (about 600 feet away); Gimre's Shoe Store (about 700 feet away); Clark Gable (approx. 0.2 miles away); Into the Unknown (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Astoria.
Also see . . .
1. Seine Fishing.
For much of their fishing history in Oregon, Native Americans used hand-operated haul seines. A fish seine is a horizontal net that has floats holding the top line of the net at the water's surface. The net extends down in the water due to weights placed on the net's bottom line. The weighted line can then be pulled, so that the net acts like a purse. Indian seines were made from wild grasses or fiber from spruce roots. The bottom line of the net's webbing had stones to weight the net, and cedar sticks served to float the top line. (Submitted on January 25, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
2. Commercial Fishing on the Oregon Coast.
The Oregon Coast has a long history of commercial fishing and processing. Commercial salmon fisheries developed in the 1860s, supporting early salmon-canning enterprises in Astoria, Tillamook Bay, Yaquina Bay, and Gold Beach. By the turn of the twentieth century commercial fishing was an important part of the coastal economy. Fishermen supplied crab, black cod, halibut, albacore, pink shrimp, and several varieties of rockfish to packers and fresh markets. By 1881 salmon canning was a major industry in the Pacific Northwest, and Astoria, by now the largest town on the Oregon coast, was its center. At the peak of the salmon canning industry there were 39 canneries along the Columbia, and many others on Oregon's coastal rivers. (Submitted on January 25, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
3. Columbia River Commercial Fishermen.
The Columbia River non-Indian commercial salmon fishery traces its roots back to the mid-19th century. Following the development of the salmon canning process, Columbia River salmon were introduced to a growing world market. The first Columbia River cannery was operated by the Hume family at Eagle Cliff, Wahkiakum County, Washington, in 1866. At the height of the salmon canning boom, there were 38 canneries on the lower Columbia River, 22 of which were in (Submitted on January 25, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
4. Columbia River Salmon Canning Labels.
Joseph Hume, whose brothers set up the first cannery on the Columbia River in 1866, operated a cannery in Astoria until 1881, when Samuel Elmore bought him out. He was known for the quality of his salmon. In 1896 Hume moved all of his operations to Alaska.Declining salmon runs, competition from other regions, the expansion of the ocean fishery, increased prices for canned salmon, and decreased worldwide demand all contributed to the decline of the Columbia River salmon canning industry during the twentieth century. By 1973 only 25 percent of the catch was being canned, down from 75 percent just ten years earlier. By the end of the 1970s most of the river's canneries had closed. (Submitted on January 25, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Credits. This page was last revised on January 26, 2018. It was originally submitted on January 24, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 102 times since then and 9 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on January 24, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on January 25, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.