THE BARBEY LEGACY
The Barbey Maritime Center for Research and Industry is named in honor of the Barbey family, pioneers and leaders in the salmon packing industry of the Columbia River.
The history of the Barbey family’s involvement in the salmon industry of the Lower Columbia River began in the fall of 1912 when 29-year-old Henry Barbey, owner of the Barbey Fish Company of Portland, leased the Pillar Rock cannery from its owners Everding & Farrell. Immediately successful, Henry Barbey branched out with fish buying stations at Ilwaco, Chinook and Hammond, selling fresh and canned salmon throughout
the country and exporting to Europe. In 1918 the Barbey Fish Company leased the Hill Terminals located in Flavel (now Hammond), Oregon, from the Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Railroad, builders of the Astoria Railroad Depot that now bears the Barbey name. The Flavel Cannery began operating in 1919 under the name “The Barbey Packing Company.”
The Barbey Packing Company was an independent salmon packer. It owned no fishing boats and had none under contract, purchasing its salmon directly from independent fishermen. This brought it into direct conflict with the commercial packing companies like the Columbia River Packers Association and the Union Fishermens Cooperative
Packing Company over gillnetting, purse seining, fish traps, and horse seining grounds at the mouth of the Columbia River.
The Barbey Packing Company continued to grow during the 1920s, expanding its operation to include cold storage and packing facilities in Astoria, a canning and fish receiving station in Rainier, Oregon, and a fish wheel on Rabbit Island, just down river from Celilo Falls near The Dalles, Oregon. In 1925, Henry outbid the Columbia River
Packers Association for valuable rights to horse seining grounds on Sand Island and in 1929, the Barbey Packing Company moved its operations to Astoria, closing the Flavel facility. By 1930 it was one of the three top salmon packers on the Columbia River.
In 1948 Graham Barbey, Henry’s son, was elected president of the company with his wife, Anne Murray Barbey, as vice-president. Graham moved the Barbey Packing Company into canning tuna, then later refrigerator trucking frozen tuna down to Terminal Island, operating the company year 'round instead of just during the salmon season. He served on the City Planning Commission, dealt with the state legislature on issues affecting both his company and Astoria, and encouraged many of his young employees to further their education. While Graham concentrated on the business, his wife, Anne, represented
the company in the community, serving on many boards, including the Red Cross, the United Fund, and the League of Women Voters. Together Graham, with Anne’s counsel, ran a successful company in Astoria for nearly 30 years.
The Barbey Packing Company continued to be successfully operated until it was sold by the Barbey Family in 1974 to a group of local investors who renamed the company The Barbey Packing Corporation. This was sold in 1978 and all Barbey operations on the
Columbia River ceased in 1981.
In 1962 Graham Barbey was one of a small group of people, who, with his close friend Rolf Klep, helped found the Columbia River Maritime Museum. From 1962 until his death in 2002 he was an active supporter of the Museum, serving several times as a board member
and, along with other members of his family, helping secure financial support for the Museum.
The Columbia River Maritime Museum is proud to recognize the Barbey Family for their contributions to the maritime culture of Astoria and the Columbia River region, and for their support of the Columbia River Maritime Museum and its efforts to preserve the
culture of the Columbia River and the waters of the North Pacific.