Ideas for experiential projects

1. Paths of Astoria
There are paths connecting streets all over Astoria, and there is an organization being formed to help the city fund maintenance of the trails and map them for both historical and utilitarian purposes. Students could do research on the trails and their history and then walk and/or check them out, maybe making suggestions to improve them or include educational aspects. In addition, students could create crude maps, and pay attention to landscape details like big trees, vegetation and slopes.

2. Canneries
Canneries are a big part of Astoria history. Students could research the history and then visit the Hanthorn Cannery Museum on Pier 39. Below is some history I found on the internet.

The first cannery in the lower Columbia River region was established in 1866 at Eagle Cliff, Washington. There, William Hume operated a cannery on a scow. In 1869, John West built a cannery at Westport, Oregon’s first cannery. Oregon’s second cannery was at Clifton, Oregon and operated by brothers J.W. and Vincent Cook. Astoria’s first cannery, the third in Oregon, was incorporated in 1873. It was called Badollet & Co. and was constructed on the wharf of Christian Leinenweber’s Hemlock Tannery. In 1875, Booth & Co. constructed Astoria’s second cannery. From then, canneries multiplied quickly; within two years, Astoria operated 11 canneries. Within 20 years, the number of canneries would double. In 1899, seven canneries combined their plants and equipment to form the Columbia River Packers Association. That same year, 200 fishermen organized their own co-op cannery. It was called the Union Fishermen’s Co-op Packing Co.

J. D. Hanthorn Cannery--Foot of 39th St. Constructed in 1877, the early cannery joined the Columbia River Packer’s Association in 1899. It was then used as a cold storage plant.

M. J. Kinney Cannery--16th Street. First constructed in 1876, it was one of several canneries in operation in Astoria. By 1894, Marshall J. Kinney’s cannery was nationally recognized and was marketed primarily in England and on the East Coast. In 1895, the cannery burned to its piles, but was reconstructed. In 1899, the cannery joined the Columbia River Packer’s Association (CRPA). The building operated as a cannery until 1920, when it was converted to a central machine shop and warehouse for the CRPA.

North Star Cannery Site--100 block of waterfront. In 1899, Schmidt & Co. constructed a cold storage plant on the site. The building was later converted to the White Star Cannery – also known as Anderson’s Cannery and Van Camp Cannery. The structure burned in 1973. An exposed boiler is all that remains.

Columbia River Packers Association Net Loft--100 31st St. Constructed in 1910 after a fire destroyed an earlier structure, the building was used for net storage and boat repair for the Columbia River Packers Association (CRPA). The building was once fronted by large docks on which fishermen could spread out their gillnets to dry. A concrete platform remains along the shoreline at the foot of 30th Street. It is the remains of a structure which once supported a brick furnace and chimney. It was used either by the CRPA in the operation of this net loft or is a part of the operations of the Occident Cannery which used the site prior to the CRPA.

Union Fisherman’s Cooperative Packing Co. Machine & Boat Shop--310 Industry. Designed by architect John E. Wicks in 1944, the structure was used as a machine and boat shop for the Union Fisherman’s Co-op cannery. It is representative of a contemporary structure designed in a traditional fashion.

Union Fishermen’s Cooperative Packing Co. Net Loft--Foot of 49th St. Constructed in 1903 for use as a net loft and boat repair for the Union Fishermen’s Cooperative Packing Co. The building is individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Horse Seining Barns, Bunkhouses, etc. sites. Wood pilings dot sand bars in the Columbia River where horse seining cookhouses, bunkhouses and barns once stood. Horse seining is a method of fishing. Men and horses pulled in the seine, or net, to shallow sandbars where fish could be gathered and loaded into boats. Horse seining was outlawed in 1950.

3. The Ship Report/Maritime Museum

Either pick a Ship Report podcast (i.e. The Case of the Mad Boat Thief)  or a maritime museum exhibit (my current favorites are shipwrecks, the twin palaces of the Pacific, science of storms, yosegaki hinomaru and mapping the Pacific Coast) and investigate using art, music, photos, text.

4. Film Museum/Astoria movies

Watch some movies made in Astoria or Oregon and find and visit the sites near or in Astoria. My personal favorite is Mr. Holland's Opus. It's long but so awesome and true and has an actual symphony at the end. I believe it was filmed in Portland.

5. Tapiola Park

I actually helped construct the playgrounds in this park 18 years ago when I was first moving here. Students could visit this playground and maybe others locally (including the ones at the Astoria schools) and judge them based on their own preferences, then maybe design a new playground that would be better!

6. Astoria Column

One of Astoria's iconic landmarks, and one of the main reasons I moved here (after seeing the view looking south!), the Column would be a great project-based learning experience. Students could learn about the Column's history, artwork and design and construction (see for more), and then visit the site (hiking there on the Cathedral Tree Trail would be best!) and check out the views, artwork, design and terrain and experience (the balsam planes!). They could also visit the Fort George Brewery and see some of the original spiral staircase! Another great activity would be researching other iconic towers (i.e. Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, etc., etc.) and comparing them with the Astoria Column.

7. Hatcheries

There are three fish hatcheries in the Astoria area -- Clatskanine, Big Creek and Gnat Creek. Students could go on tours of all three and prepare for this by researching the fishing industry in the area and the biology of the fish being raised, and finally the differences between farmed and natural fish. I would recommend drawing the fish and watching videos of the natural life cycle and hatchery operations. Of course, some tasting might be a good idea as well!

8. Forts

Students would research the history of the 4 forts in the area: Astoria, Clatsop, Stevens and Columbia, and then go visit them.

9. Coast Guard

Students would watch movies and videos about the local Coast Guard stations and personnel, research them, and then visit the air station (Warrenton) and boat rescue station (Cape Disappointment). Another possibility is to have some Coast Guard personnel visit the school, especially if they are parents of the students. The Coast Guard is such a big part of Astoria that the project could incorporate many different angles. It could also be incorporated into many of the above projects, which might be the best option.