Astoria in Clatsop County, Oregon — The American West (Northwest)
Columbia River Tugs And Towboats
High Eﬃciency Transportation System with a Low Proﬁle
Towboats began working on the Columbia in the mid 19th century. Powerful steam tugs towed sailing vessels over the Columbia River bar. Sternwheel steamboats, many of which operated as tugs, plied the entire Columbia River system. During this period, river navigation was divided into upper, middle, and lower sections, due to the many rapids and falls on the Columbia River.
As the age of sail faded and steamships took over the high seas, tug and barge traffic rose to prominence on the river. Navigation improvements, including locks and canals, combined with the development of more efficient gas and diesel propeller boats to produce an extensive inland water transportation system during the 20th century. The biggest changes took place because of lock and dam-building beginning in the 1930s. Today, the Columbia – Snake River system affords slackwater navigation 465 miles inland to Lewiston, Idaho, on the Clearwater River, a major tributary of the Snake.
Wheat and forest products are the major commodities moving down the combined Columbia – Snake River system. Petroleum products are an important part of the traffic moving upriver. In addition to primary cargo handling capabilities, ship assist tugs attend large vessels at deep water ports up and down the river. Despite their low
The 14th Street Pier
The Brix Maritime pier at the foot of 14th Street was built for towboat moorage by Callender Navigation Co. around 1910. By 1920, Callender Navigation had merged with the Knappton Towboat Co.
The pier was abandoned during the 1940s and fell into disrepair. Around 1950 it was acquired by Arrow Tug and Barge. Arrow’s fleet was later purchased by Knappton Towboat Co. in 1961, and the pier became the site of Knappton's Astoria offices.
Knappton's towboat operations began as a means of supplying the Knappton lumber mill across the river in Knappton, Washington. After the Knappton mill burned in 1941, the company turned entirely to water transportation. The Knappton Corporation, founded by mill owner and towboat pioneer Peter John Brix, was reorganized as Brix Maritime Co. in 1990, reflecting continuing family management of the firm.
Erected by City of Astoria.
Location. 46° 11.425′ N, 123° 49.734′ W. Marker is in Astoria, Oregon, in Clatsop County. Marker can be reached from East Columbia River Highway (U.S. 30) north of 14th Street, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Pilots on the Columbia River (here, next to this marker); 14th Street Ferry Slip (within shouting distance of this marker); Gimre's Shoe Store (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); At Play on the River (about 500 feet away); Harvesting River & Sea (about 500 feet away); Into the Unknown (about 600 feet away); A Waterfront at Work (about 700 feet away); Fort Astoria (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Astoria.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker.
Also see . . .
1. Columbia River.
Since the late 19th century, public and private sectors have heavily developed the river. To aid ship and barge navigation, locks have been built along the lower Columbia and its tributaries, and dredging has opened, maintained, and enlarged shipping channels. Since the early 20th century, dams have been built across the river for power generation, navigation, irrigation, and flood control. (Submitted on January 24, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
2. The Tricky, Terrifying, Tedious Work On A Tug Boat.
Being a tugboat captain is a classic example of a job with long hours of tedium, punctuated with moments of terror. If the grueling schedule and minimal sleep weren’t enough, there’s also maneuvering through tricky locks, hidden navigation channels and unpredictable currents. (Submitted on January 24, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on January 25, 2018. This page originally submitted on January 24, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 85 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on January 24, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.