Aahhhh, the 80’s, before homes had computers (let alone personal computers), the age of pegged jeans and big bangs, before the internet connected individuals to the outside world while disconnecting them from themselves, before cell phones replaced face-to-face communication, when the big gaming jump was from Atari to Nintendo. Why does nostalgia so easily paint the past with rosy, warm colors?
Anyway, we were glad to have a chance to revisit those simpler days of the 80s with a visit to Astoria, Oregon which quickly had us recollecting the million times we watched The Goonies as kids and recalling all the lines we still remembered, and the music too. Is it possible to relive childhood memories? Well, we can certainly give it a try in Astoria.
Let’s take a look at what we can easily find in Astoria to relive The Goonies experience. We begin with the jail break at the beginning of the movie. Here is the county jail building now turned Oregon Film Museum.
Now, the Walsh family home. Yes, it is still there and looks pretty close to what it did in the movie. To respect the privacy of the current owners and their neighborhood, we chose to view the home from the Pier 30 parking lot area. See if you can pick it out…
It’s the one above Geno’s, on the left with a skylight. Now you can envision the boys tying up Brand in his exercise equipment and racing out the door.
Do you remember where Mr. Walsh worked? And where all the items in the Walsh attic came from, including the treasure map and doubloon? The Flavel House Museum, still open today.
And for a little drive down the coast, we are rewarded with a view of Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, also featured in the film. The picture below shows the rocks from the opposite direction as viewed in the film.
There are several other Goonies sites to be seen if interested and for the truly dedicated there are shirts and paraphernalia to be had in town.
Now that we got The Goonies out of our system (not quite, our next trip to WalMart, we bought a copy and rushed home to watch it again – we were not disappointed); let’s take a look at what the town of Astoria is actually like, so we can better understand why it was chosen for the film.
My first impression of Astoria is that it looks a lot like Western Pennsylvania. The town is set on a hill, making some of the roads steep. The buildings show that at one time it was a prosperous area, but has since fallen on harder times. The majority of modest homes give a blue collar feel, and there is a persistent cloud layer hovering above the wooded surroundings. All characteristics that reminded me of visits to my Grandmother in Butler, PA as a kid. The major difference being that Astoria sits near the edge of a peninsula, leaving it surrounded by water on three sides. All of these elements are present in The Goonies and add to the authenticity of the plot.
It is Astoria’s neighbor the Columbia River however, that truly defines the area. The mouth of the Columbia River is known to be one of the most hazardous crossings in the world. The Columbia River bar is where the largest river entering the Pacific Ocean in the western hemisphere meets the broadest reach of open ocean in the entire world. Storms and swells off the Pacific create enormous seas here. Astoria marks the spot where bar pilots specifically trained to bring ocean-going vessels in and out of the Columbia River, pick up and drop off their wards. Directions or maps will not suffice to guide the boats in and out; an actual bar pilot is necessary to control the boat and see it through this part of the journey. Fascinating.
During our visit to Astoria, we stayed at Fort Stevens State Park, so that we could enjoy the beauty of the Oregon coast. Unlike Florence, this area held up to the Northwest’s reputation for gloom. It was cloudy and rained off and on during our visit. I leave you with a taste of the beaches, so that you may surround yourself with the tranquility of the setting, while pondering the tranquility of the 80s…
Fun Facts & Tips:
- Fort Steven State Park had very nice RV spots with trails through the forest and to the beach (you can drive on the beach here too). We had electric and water, but no sewer here. There were also elk here!
- If you make it to Astoria, visit the Astoria Column too. There is a small fee, but the view from the top overlooking Astoria and the Peninsula is worth it.