Luinil - Traveling with the Blue Star

April 2016 — Fort Stevens State Park
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Was looking at the different for sale postings on the Sportsmobile Forum and came across a Fiamma F45 awning that would fit on the side of our van. The awning was located in Astoria, Oregon. We made arrangements to pick it up and a few days later Ann, McKenzie and I headed for the coast.

Astoria has a rich Scandinavian history. Ann parents immigrated from Finland and she remembers going to Astoria as a child to visit friends. Neither of us had been to Astoria for years so we stopped in town for lunch and to wander around looking at the imported and locally made Scandinavian items displayed in the different shops and antique stores.

Fort Stevens State Park

Fort Stevens — Photo Galley

After lunch we picked up the awning and strapped it to the van. We then headed for Fort Stevens State Park on the very northwest tip of Oregon. When we got there a sign said that the campground was full. We got the nudge to go in anyway and check with the park rangers. While Ann was inside checking for a campground I was readjusting the straps we used to tie the awning to the van and keeping McKenzie, our shelty company. Ann came out a few minutes latter with an assigned camping space. The space we were assigned is actually used as a host site during the regular camping season. Since we were there in early April all of the hosts had not shown up yet. Apparently the park rangers hold the host sites open for people, like us, that show up at the last minute.

Fort Stevens, built in 1863-64 at the end of the Civil War, was a military installation that, along with Fort Canby and Fort Columbia in Washington, guarded the entrance to the Columbia River. The fort was named for the Washington Territory governor Isaac Stevens. It was decommissioned in 1947.

Fort Stevens State Park is 790 acres with a very large campground, hiking trails, equestrian area, access to several miles of drivable ocean beach, a museum dedicated to the time it was a military installation and relics from when it was in use as a military fort. The relics include nine gun batteries (emplacements for cannon or heavy artillery), bunkers, and barracks. A historic area that can be explored is also at the park.

Battery Russell

Battery Russell — Photo Galley

We visited the southern most, Battery Russell. Constructed in 1903/04 Battery Russell housed two ten-inch heavy artillery pieces and their support equipment. The two guns faced the ocean and could fire one 600 pound shell every 60 seconds. In this age of robotic automation, It is amazing to me that a crew of 35 men could load 360 pounds of gunpowder and a six hundred pound shell into the gun breach every 60 seconds using only dollies, chain hoists and brute strength. They were obviously well trained and organized.

On June 21, 1942 a Japanese Navy submarine opened fire with its 5.5-inch deck gun on Battery Russell. It fired 17 shells towards the fort, most of which landed in the nearby swamp or on the beach. This was the only wartime action that the fort saw. The shelling is historically significant in that it was the first time that a mainland U.S. military installation was fired upon by a foreign power since the War of 1812.

After visiting Battery Russell we headed for the beach to see the wreck of the Peter Iredale. I have never seen it and Ann and not seen it for a long time. Built in 1890 the Peter Iredale ran aground south of the Columbia River channel on October 25, 1906. The PI was an iron sailing ship during the time period when wooden sailing ships were bring phased out and steel steam ships were just being built. It was 287 feet long, 30 feet wide and 23 feet deep.

Peter Iredale

Peter Iredale — Photo Galley

The ship had enjoyed perfect sailing conditions up until it reached the area of the Columbia River where it encountered a strong southwest storm. A few hours past midnight a strong gust pushed the ship into the breakers south of the river where it grounded. Masts and rigging fell to the deck as the storm surge hammered the ship. Luckily no lives were lost. The ship was declared a total loss and was sold for salvage. Today what remains of the Peter Iredale is a well know landmark on the Oregon Coast and a popular tourist attraction.

Having enjoyed being on the beach and seeing the wreck we came back to the van and spent the rest of the day enjoying the view from of the ocean from the bluff, reading and napping before the ride home.

This trip turned out to be that last that we would take in our 1989 Sportsmobile. Shortly after we got home I saw an add for a newer camper van. After some discussion we agreed to purchase it and I flew to Atlanta, Georgia to pick it up. But that is another story.

Till next time.


Past Travels
Singing Canyon

Burr Trail

Beach at Conception Bay

Baja California Mexico



282 feet below sea level

Barrancas del Cobre

282 feet below sea level

282 feet below sea level

Summer Lake Hot Springs

Summer Lake Hot Springs

Twin Rocks

Twin Rocks