Fort Columbia State Park Travel Guide

  • 6-inch gun standing silent guard at Ft Columbia
    6-inch gun standing silent guard at Ft...
    by mtncorg
  • Dismal Nitch and Washington end of Astoria bridge
    Dismal Nitch and Washington end of...
    by mtncorg
  • Astoria, typical day across from Dismal Nitch
    Astoria, typical day across from Dismal...
    by mtncorg

Fort Columbia State Park Things to Do

  • Fort Columbia Museums Closed Until...

    For various reasons, the two buildings that previously served as the museums at Fort Columbia State Park have been closed to the public until further notice. This announcement was posted to the Washington State Parks web site for this state park.Unfortunately I can't tell if this notice is still in effect as I stopped by the park during hours when...

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  • Fort Columbia Museums Closed Until...

    For various reasons, the two buildings that previously served as the museums at Fort Columbia State Park have been closed to the public until further notice. This announcement was posted to the Washington State Parks web site for this state park.Unfortunately I can't tell if this notice is still in effect as I stopped by the park during hours when...

    more
  • Hiking Trails through Forest with Views

    Other than the short trails that are scattered around the main grounds, there are approximately 3 miles of trails scattered through Fort Columbia State Park. The trails make several loops.Much of the area around the fort, except for the preserved cuts to maintain the fort grounds, are preserved second growth forest. Despite the thickness of the...

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  • BATTERY 246

    Each of the three Columbia River mouth forts received new 6-inch batteries during World War II. The 6-inch guns could reach out to 16 miles - farther than even Fort Stevens’ 10-inchers. The guns were mounted on barbette pedestals - the barbettes being the armored screens behind which the gun crews worked. The two 6-inch guns here are two of only...

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  • BATTERY CRENSHAW

    This battery consisted of three rapid-fire 3-inch guns that were protecting the Columbia River minefields from potential enemy minesweeping operations. These guns were declared obsolete after World War I and were removed … just about the time that control over the minefields was switched from Fort Stevens to here.Mines were stored and controlled...

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  • BATTERY MURPHY

    Battery Murphy was the supporting cast to Battery Jules Ord with its two 6-inch disappearing guns. You can wander beneath the revetments, looking through the old shell rooms with the tell-tail iron rails on the ceilings that were used to move shell and powder to the shell hoists and the guns above. Unlike the 8-inch guns of Battery Ord, these guns...

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  • BATTERY JULES ORD

    This was the initial heart of Fort Columbia. Three 8-inch disappearing guns which could pop up and blast away at enemy traffic in the river mouth. Earthen revetments in front made the guns almost impossible to spot - though the barracks housing behind may have given the enemy a clue. The guns here were removed during World War I when they and 77...

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  • COMMANDER’S HOUSE

    The commanding officer always got the big house and Fort Columbia was no exception. Washington State Parks has furnished the house as a period museum, giving you an idea of what life must have been like - for the commander’s family, at least, at the turn of the 19th century. This was the smallest of the three forts and the commander oversaw a few...

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  • MUSEUM

    This should be your first stop here at the fort as the exhibits will go a long way in explaining the history and purpose of the fort. The museum is housed within what was an enlisted men’s’ barracks and interposed with general exhibits on the history of the fort and the region are displays of what barracks life was for the soldiers: mess hall...

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Fort Columbia State Park Warnings and Dangers

  • glabah's Profile Photo

    by glabah Written Sep 16, 2012

    As seen in this photograph, the tunnel under the small rock outcropping on which the fort sits makes it exceptionally dangerous to exit the park while going west on highway 101, towards Cape Disappointment and Ilwaco. It is not possible to see traffic coming in the westbound lanes of the road until it has come out of the tunnel.

    The curve in the road also makes it difficult and dangerous to turn left off of Highway 101 going west into the park.

    Therefore, it is highly recommended that you access this park from highway 101 going east - towards the Astoria bridge.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip

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Fort Columbia State Park Off The Beaten Path

  • mtncorg's Profile Photo

    by mtncorg Written Jul 29, 2008

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    A mile or so east of the Astoria-Megler bridge is the Dismal Nitch site of the new Lewis and Clark National Historic Park. It is basically a Washington State Department of Transportation rest area that has been here for years. Location is everything though and it was here for a week in November 1805 the Corps of Discovery was waylaid by a storm. If you have been in Astoria anytime from October through March you probably have a better idea of what the team was up against - as well as a better appreciation of what the local Chinook and Clatsop Indians had to endure in return for the bountiful salmon harvests.

    Most Lewis and Clark campsites along the lower Columbia River are on the north side - Washington State. This was because they were working off old maps developed by the English Lieutenant George Broughton of Captain Vancouver’s 1798 venture. He had determine the north bank was the main channel of the river, a fact recognizable when you cross over any bridge between Portland and Astoria. The State boundary ran through the middle of the main channel which was but a short distance from the north bank. The river channel still adheres to the north side for the most part with a major exception being here where it has been relocated to the south side next to Astoria, thus avoiding the shoals of Baker Bay around Ilwaco. The fact that Lewis and Clark stuck to the north side on the way downriver led them to missing the confluence of the Willamette. It was only on their return trip that they learned about the Willamette and that was only after local Indians suggested a side trip up that river, which Clark subsequently undertook, going up the Willamette a few miles.

    The corps of Discovery was first waylaid by the storm in the small cove to the west of the rest area. They moved shortly after to the east of the rest area and found wet shelter in the rocks above the shore. Future plans call for a trail into the woods above though that is on hold for funding issues for now.

    Dismal Nitch and Washington end of Astoria bridge Astoria, typical day across from Dismal Nitch Fishing boats take advantage of weather and salmon
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Water Sports
    • National/State Park

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Fort Columbia State Park Travel Guide
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