"A City still Finding its Place on the Coast" Warrenton by glabah

Warrenton Travel Guide: 5 reviews and 18 photos

Above: A winter sunset touches the summits of the Coast Range in the distance as daylight fades on the mouth of the Lewis and Clark River, where it empties into Young's Bay. This derelict boat has been sitting next to this building since I was a child.

Years ago, Warrenton was a reasonably important community. The mouth of the Columbia River had become a fortress for protecting the mouth of the Columbia River from invading forces. The railroad into the community served sawmills, boat maintenance facilities and fish packing plants.

With the invention of Radar and the Air Force, the concept of having a huge force at the mouth of the Columbia River became an anachronism. The remains of the fortress became Fort Stevens State Park.

Throughout the decades after World War II, Warrenton still seemed to be trying to find its place. In many ways it became the unknown community on the coast that people would drive through on their way to Seaside or Fort Stevens State Park to Astoria. The railroad bridge was declared a hazard to navigation (as if large ships regularly plied the waters of Youngs Bay to get to the swamp at the end of the Skipanon River!) and was removed, taking Warrenton's railroad service with it. With the elimination of an economical transportation link to the rest of the country, many businesses in Warrenton experienced difficulty, but a few hung on to life.

More and more, Warrenton became a suburb between Astoria and Fort Stevens State Park where only a few select people would want to live, due to the high winds and rain blowing in off of the Pacific Ocean with even less protection than provided in Astoria. Few even noticed it on their way between Astoria and Fort Stevens State Park ("Oh, there's another city there? Where?")

Today, Warrenton is slowly waking up to the idea of becoming an attraction in its own right. The creation of the Warrenton Trail system is a huge step in the right direction, with an eventual plan to connect Astoria, Warrenton and Fort Stevens State Park with trails. Officially speaking there already exists some 25 miles of trails linking the three locations, but as I note in my Warrenton Waterfront Trail there are significant challenges to completing this trail on foot.

Most of the attractions that you see listed in tourist books (or even here on VirtualTourist) are actually either in Astoria or Fort Stevens State Park, or the Fort Clatsop National Monument.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Small Community.
  • Cons:Not much here for the tourist, except a few parks and trails, and a few small stores and restaurants for those passing through on their way to Fort Stevens State Park. Few sidewalks or other pedestrian amenities, with some roads being extremely busy.
  • Last visit to Warrenton: Nov 2011
  • Intro Updated Nov 22, 2011
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