HISTORY OF THE ASTORIA RAILROAD DEPOT
Designed by Thomas D. McMahon, the Great Northern Railway architect famous for the Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park, the Astoria Railroad Depot is one of only two examples of McMahon’s “Prairie School” style of architecture remaining in the Pacific Northwest. Constructed in 1925 by the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railroad,
the Depot lies at the eastern edge of the Museum’s campus, 600 feet from the Museum’s main building and anchors the easternmost boundary of Astoria’s Downtown Historic District.
The Depot is divided into two sections separated by a covered breezeway: the east wing, where freight was stored, and the west wing, further divided into two beautiful coffered and paneled waiting rooms. The western-most, called the “Women’s Waiting Room” served as the ticket office and a waiting room for women and children. The other, called
the “Men’s Waiting Room” served as railroad staff offices, luggage storage, and as the men’s waiting area.
The Depot serviced up to eight passenger and freight trains a day from Portland until 1952. With the advent of better roads, passenger service was discontinued and thereafter the Depot was used only for freight handling. In 1987 Burlington Northern Railroad gave this historic landmark to the Museum. In 1989 the Depot was used by the Museum
as a boat shop to build the replica of a historic sailing gillnet boat now on display in the Museum’s Great Hall. Between 2002 and 2005 the Depot served excursion trains as part of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial. Otherwise, it has been used as a storage area for the
Museum. In 2005 the Museum acquired additional storage space, freeing up the Depot for other uses. Restoration, including seismic upgrading, began in 2011 and was completed in 2012.