Oysterville to Astoria, Ho!

Apr 29, 2011 | 5 comments

"Tourist No, 3"

     I well remember the old ferry days.  I don’t remember the Tourist I which began in 1930, a few years before my time.  But I do remember her jovial Captain, Fritz Elwing, and his second ferry, the Tourist II which was running when I first came to the peninsula in 1939.  To my three-year-old eyes, Captain Fritz was HUGE.  And he was.  He weighed 300 pounds and was as strong as an ox.  If a car wasn’t parked on the ferry just the way he wanted it, he’d lift it by one end of the bumper and move it over a little. 
     I also remember several occasions when it was so stormy that the ferry could barely dock.  Adults and ‘big kids’ had to very carefully time the transfer from the pitching deck to the pier.  On those trips, Captain Fritz would pick me up and literally toss me into the arms of a waiting crew member on the dock.  (My mother must have been close to heart failure.)  I think those trips were “passengers only.”   If it was really bad, the ferry didn’t run and we probably didn’t leave Oysterville in the first place.
     No matter what the weather, getting to the ferry from Oysterville was an adventure in itself.  I especially remember the times we went with my grandfather driving “hell bent for election” to make it in time.  My grandfather was infamous for never being early, but never being late, either.  We always made it, but often, we were the last car aboard, just rolling onto the car deck as the hawsers were about to be slipped from the capstans on the pier.
     When my mom or dad was driving, we arrived in a more leisurely fashion and took our place in the long line snaking around the curve from Megler.  From the time we exited the tunnel and caught a glimpse of how far the ferry had progressed in its journey across the river, there was much speculation as to how long we’d have to wait.  And, if it was summer and the line of cars was especially long, we stewed about whether or not we’d get on board at all.  If we weren’t going farther than Astoria, we consoled ourselves with the thought that we could always abandon the car at roadside and make the trip afoot.
     Once on board, we always headed for the snack bar ‘upstairs.’  There were inevitably other travelers we knew and, between swapping the news and eating a piece of homemade pie, the trip always went by too fast for me.  In fact, the whole adventure of getting to and from Astoria in those days seems, in retrospect, much faster than the long drive there and back of now. 


  1. Susan Windham

    Loved this post. Brings back memories. It wasn’t until I had children of my own that I appreciated my mother’s efforts taking three children(very young) to Astoria. She always went wearing a nice dress and high heels and all of us dressed properly. We’d park the car at Megler, walk into town and shop for school clothes. This included lunch at the drugstore lunch counter(Owl Drug?). We’d always hit the shoe store last as it was closest to the landing. There was a big duck that would lay an egg with a treat in it for the kids. I remember more than once hearing the ferryboat horn and Mom grabbing the three of us and running to catch it(in high heels mind you). Back on the boat I’d go upstairs and throw popcorn or something to the seagulls make believe I was someone arriving at a ‘new land.’ Loved the ferryboat trips. Thanks Mom for all your hard work!

  2. Jim Sayce

    I so remember those ferry trips, though in the mind of a young boy, they were awesome voyages.

  3. Pat Krager

    I remember. I am so glad I have those memories.

  4. Judy Anderson McNeal

    I too remember the Goose with the Golden Egg and how we saved that store for last so we were near the ferry!! It was an exciting trip! I would sneak upstairs of the ferry and secretly put on lipstick!! Light pink of course!

  5. Stephanie Frieze

    My children and especially my grandchildren are impressed that I remember riding the ferry. Of course it didn’t end until I was in junior high, but when I was little going to Astoria was an adventure. We went for the whole day. I remember on trip I made with my grandfather and he bought me a little stuffed kitten that I had for the longest time. It reminded me of that adventure just the two of us went on.

    Some Peninsula citizens were most upset by the building of the bridge and wanted to blow it up. Change is hard for everyone.

    My friend Christopher’s mother, Edna Gray, told me that a couple of weeks before her due dates with her babies Nonie would take her to Astoria and check her into a hotel in Astoria. I believe that the hospital on the Peninsula had ceased delivering babies or else they just wanted a “big city” hospital.

    Thank you for sharing your memories.


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