By Elleda Wilson
Posted: January 6, 2012
CLAYTON R. JONES SR. of Seattle, a frequent visitor to Gearhart, wrote to the Ear, quite vexed about the proper name of the ASTOR/ASTORIA COLUMN, pictured in a photo courtesy of the Astoria Historical Society. He felt the original name was the Astor Column, and that somehow, over the years, Astoria had changed the name to the Astoria Column, thereby “diminishing its history by denigrating the original name of Astor for this important landmark.”
The Ear was buffaloed, and as always with historical questions, turned to LIISA PENNER of the Clatsop County Historical Society. “The original name was Astoria Column,” Liisa said, “and that is the one preferred today, as a reminder that the column memorializes not just John Jacob Astor, but Capt. Robert Gray, Lewis and Clark and others contributing to the development of the area.”
Yet the answer was not as clear-cut as one would think. In a sampling of 50 years worth of Astoria City Directories, Liisa found that the name fluctuated back and forth between Astor and Astoria Column.
“In the printed brochures and newspapers in the 1920s and 1930s,” Liisa reported, “it appears to have been Astoria Column. In one brochure from about the 1950s or so, it is Astor Column, and all the more recent ones say Astoria.” It seemed the written record wasn’t really clear just what the name was/is.
So the Ear emailed for information at the Astoria Column website (www.astoriacolumn.org), and got a reply from PAULA BUE at the Astoria Column Gift Store and Visitor’s Center.
“We get this question a lot,” Paula wrote. “Technically it’s always been the Astoria Column in Astor Park. The monument was never meant to slight one explorer over another. But many of us grew up calling the Column the Astor Column, and for many decades the signage around town was quite inconsistent. Some signs said The Column, some said Astoria Column and some said Astor’s Column.”
“But, nobody changed the name,” she maintained. “We’ve just made it all more official and consistent.” So now you know – it’s the Astoria Column.
Reprinted with the permission of The Daily Astorian of Astoria, Oregon.