On the 4th of July, we moved over to Fort Stevens State Park, along the northernmost shore of the Oregon coast. We remembered the beautiful rocky beaches from the last time we were there on our cross country bike trip 14 years ago. We were shocked to see the condition of the road along the way in some spots.
The jetty at Fort Stevens was set up to close the mouth of the Columbia River, allowing safer passage for ships. We enjoyed looking for wildlife in the lookout shelter and tower. The kids were amazed that it was built by train cars long ago, which dumped loads of rock.
We knew the highlight of this park would be the actual fort, built during the civil war to protect our waterway. The kids could not have been more excited to explore the Fort. They said it was soooo cool because it was a “huge army place” where they got to go in all the historical buildings.
This was a World War II battleship gun that was transported because it was similar to the actual guns used at Fort Stevens. No battles actually occurred at the Fort, aside from a Japanese submarine fired at the Fort. The soldiers were very disappointed that they did not get to return fire during that time, and some went AWOL and were sent to the fort prison.
The boys learned that there were other guns there that could shoot 15 miles. Many of the soldiers were unhappy to be stationed at Fort Stevens because of the rainy, cold weather, so many became expert sharp shooters, which would allow them to get transferred to a nicer base down south in the sun.
Their main defense was a bunch of mines built around the Columbia River.
Back at the campground, we had to take advantage of the site to site firewood delivery.
That evening, we headed off to Astoria to watch the fireworks. We found the perfect spot to see them, right on the Columbia, within view of Washington.
The next morning, Gavin was in heaven after a restock at the grocery store the day before, which included a box of donuts.
Laney, on the other hand, who had quickly adapted to Pacific time, had to be woken up almost every morning.
The boys were so intrigued by the Fort that we returned the next day to tour the museum more, and ride ‘the Beast,’ a Vietnam era truck used for transporting soldiers through the jungle.
It was quite a bumpy ride, which made it all that much more fun. Braden said, “I can’t believe it had 5 wheels on each side to help it on rough terrain. It could carry 6 tons (12,000 pounds).”
Everyone was all ears on the tour. Even though the guide was a “sub,” she made the whole Fort come to life with her knowledge and story telling.
After our tour on the beast, we moved over to the Guard House. Braden said it was for “army soldiers that were bad. I learned that no prisoner ever escaped there. There was a jail in the basement for soldiers who got in lots of fights. We got to go in one of the cells too.”
We learned that the guards slept head to toe in order to decrease germ spreading when sleeping next to one another.
Braden also said, “I loved getting to pick out cool pencil sharpeners from the gift shop thanks to Grandma. I chose one that looks like a furnace. I totally enjoyed looking and learning about the history of the fort. It is such a fun thing we do over the summer, and I will definitely want to come back here some day. Even though I think they got treated badly here by working so hard and not getting paid much, I think they kind of got lucky to get to go in the whole Fort, which is something I want to do. I hope to tour the underground next time. Fort Stevens is a fun place to go and play now.”
After our last time at the Fort, we went out for fish and chips, and were so pleased with the recommendation of the volunteers at the guard house. We will definitely be back to the Fishmonger! Ethan said, “it was an amazing meal…. definitely the best fish and chips I’ve ever had.”
Chuck found a great beach along the Columbia to eat our lunch. We enjoyed watching the big ships pass through.
Afterwards, we continued on to the Lewis and Clark National Park, which is small but beautiful. The kids made crafts and completed their junior ranger books there.
Outside, we were able to walk along the end path of Lewis and Clark. Ethan thinks it was a great way to honor Lewis and Clark.
The re-enactments allowed us to see how things were many years ago.
With only a few hours left at Fort Stevens, we opted to drive down the coast to return to Ecola State Park, a favorite beach from the bike trip many years ago.
Unfortunately, the erosion on the cliffs have forced the state park to close off the main part of the overlook, beautiful nontheless.
On the way out, we were greeted by several elk.
Canon Beach was also an amazing place to return to. This beach is just magical, as you can see from the happy faces on the kids faces.
We were baffled by all the dead birds on the beach, and of course we had to snap a pic of this one with a cigarette to send to our smoking relatives with a “smoking kills” message.
The houses along Canon Beach are gorgeous-we had to snap a pic of these gorgeous flowers on our way out!
While we didn’t like all the mosquitos up on this part of the coast, we love the shady sites at Fort Stevens State Park, as well as the many things this great park has to offer.
Before we left, Grandma spent the morning on the beach by the shipwreck while Chuck and I packed up the camper for our next destination. (The captain of this ship had been caught on a stormy night and crashed into the beach, but thankfully, everyone survived. They simply waited for low tide to get off the boat). There is so much history here… but just never enough time at any of these places!