History of Astoria, OR

The Clatsop and Chinook Indians lived in this area for thousands of years before the European explorers ventured to cross into the mouth of the Columbia River. In 1792, Capt. Robert Gray found the mouth of the River and sailed in with his ship. He named the river after his ship, the Columbia Rediviva. In 1805, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led their expedition here and spent the winter at Fort Clatsop, just south of Astoria, but they did not claim any land for the U.S. at that time.

Astoria was established in 1811 when the crew aboard John Jacob Astor’s ship, the Tonquin, staked the first U.S. claim to the west coast of the continent. The party established a fur-trading outpost at the mouth of the Columbia and Astoria became the first permanent U.S. settlement west of the Rocky Mountains.

The United States and England went to war in 1812. In 1813, a British warship sailed into the Columbia River to capture the post and take control of the fur trade. Astor’s fur traders beat them to it by selling the post to the British Northwest Company. From 1813 to 1818, the British owned Astoria, or Fort George as it was referred to at the time. In 1818, a treaty with England established joint occupation of the Oregon Country, as it was called then. The boundary was set at the 49th Parallel. The British did not completely abandon Astoria until 1846.