9:30am to 5pm daily

1792 Marine Drive
Astoria, OR


Past to Present Lecture Series

Tuesdays, January 9 through February 20, 2018
10:30 a.m.

Columbia River Maritime Museum

Free with paid admission or Museum membership

Tuesday, January 9
John Jacob Astor and the Founding of Astoria
Mac Burns, Clatsop County Historical Society

Mac Burns has been the executive director of the Clatsop County Historical Society since 2003. Prior, he served in the same capacity at the Ethan Allen Homestead and Museum in Vermont and the Pony Express Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri. He has a master’s degree in public history from Wichita State University. 

The Clatsop County Historical Society was the lead organization in planning and orchestrating the Astoria Bicentennial Celebration in 2011. Mac has been spreading the word about John Jacob Astor, the fur trade, and the founding of Astoria since well before the celebration. During his talk, he will also touch on the relative merits of Peter Stark’s book Astoria and those of Washington Irving and James Ronda.

Tuesday, January 16
Early Japanese Maritime Expeditions
Jim Mockford, Friends of MacDonald

During travels to Tohoku Japan’s ravaged tsunami coast in 2012, the survival of the replica ship San Juan Batista inspired the author’s interest in early Japanese maritime history and the little-known story of the construction of the Japanese-built “Manila Galleon” that sailed in 1613 across the Pacific from Japan to Mexico. This Japanese expedition, following the Kuroshio current, arrived off the west coast without making landfall in Oregon, but demonstrated the possibility of trans-Pacific passages originating from Japan and  preceded by 80 years the ill-fated voyage of the Santo Cristo de Burgos thought to be the “Beeswax Wreck” at Manzanita. This voyage was a rare–but not the only–early Japanese maritime expedition that took place as Japan’s Tokugawa period was beginning to encapsulate Japan in isolationism that lasted until the arrival of Commodore Perry in 1853 and opening of Japan to the modern era. The lecture will conclude with a brief segue to the role of Astoria-born adventurer Ranald MacDonald (1824-1894) as the first native-speaking teacher of English in Japan in 1848-1849 as the country prepared to meet the English-speaking world.

Jim Mockford is a Portland-based author and past presenter at the Maritime Archeology and History of Hawaiian Islands (MAHHI) Symposium where a portion of this lecture was given in 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Oregon Honors College and was an exchange student at Waseda University in Tokyo. Jim was formerly executive director of the Japan-America Society of the State of Washington, and in 2006 he received the Consul General of Japan-Seattle Commendation for contributions to a better understanding of US-Japan relations. Jim was chairman of Friends of MacDonald (1998-2008), a friendship and educational organization that remembers the adventures and contributions of the first native-speaking teacher of English in Japan, legendary Oregon native Ranald MacDonald. Jim is the author of several publications on maritime history and early Japan-US relations.

Tuesday, January 23
A Kalapuya History
Ginny Maffitt, Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

Kalapuya is the language group for peoples of the Willamette, Tualatin and Yamhill Valley. Ginny is a retired educator, currently living in Sherwood. She has volunteered at the nearby refuge as a botanist, and at the newest refuge, Wapato Lake, the site of another Atfalati village at Gaston. Both have a herbarium cabinet holding specimens of plants she collected. Volunteering at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, Ginny learned that the Atfalati native people had a plank house and had lived in that area for ten thousand years, yet are now gone from area. Her fascination with their story, culture and lifestyles led to the research to prepare this program. Ginny will share rare photos of actual people, their tools, homes, clothing, and plants.

Tuesday, January 30
Pioneer: Built At Skipanon Landing and Sailed To California in 1849
Jerry Sutherland, Author

After gold was discovered in California in 1848, a few of Clatsop County’s first American settlers decided that, rather than leaving their families to head south with pack and pick, selling miners their farm produce was a better way to profit. But to do that they would have to build a ship and sail it to San Francisco themselves. Sutherland will illustrate their story using mostly primary-source material, including the earliest entries in Astoria’s first customs journal.

Twelve years ago, Sutherland’s father, Art, started researching Calvin Tibbets because his wife Elvira’s maiden name was Tibbetts. Though he soon determined she was not a descendant, Art was convinced he had stumbled upon a man whose contribution to Oregon history needed to be told. In 2012, Jerry caught the bug, eventually searching archives across the US and Canada and visiting Tibbets’ haunts on Clatsop Plains, gathering material for an article published across two issues of the Cumtux and, in 2016, as a standalone book. Building the Pioneer was just one of Tibbets’ many adventures, but it would be his last. Jerry Sutherland is the author of the book, Calvin Tibbets: Oregon’s First Pioneer.

Tuesday, February 6
Fish Tales: Traditions and Challenges of Seafood in Oregon
Jennifer Burns Bright, Food and Travel Writer

Oregonians love local food, but finding truly local fish can be hard, even on the coast. We’re now much more aware of ethically grown meat and vegetables, but seafood remains somewhat mysterious. How does that crab get from the ocean to our table, and what’s the true cost of cheap salmon at the grocery store? This conversation with food writer Jennifer Burns Bright engages with our complex relationship with American seafood. From cultural traditions to economic and ethical challenges, from the docks to the markets, we’ll explore ways to apply our food values to the products of the sea.

Jennifer Burns Bright is a food and travel writer based in Port Orford, Oregon. She moved to the coast to write about seafood after many years teaching food studies and literature at the University of Oregon, where she researched desire in twentieth-century literature, led a faculty research group in the emerging discipline of food studies, and won a national pedagogy award for a team-taught, interdisciplinary class on bread. She holds a PhD from the University of California at Irvine and a Master Food Preserver certification. As a community organizer linking local producers and consumers, Bright often speaks and teaches at events. When she's not out gathering seaweed or smoking black cod, she might be found judging culinary masterpieces or interviewing luminaries in the food world.

Tuesday, February 13
The Mini-boat Program: Creating a Transoceanic Classroom between Oregon and Japan
Nate Sandel, Columbia River Maritime Museum Education Director

During the 2017-2018 school year, students from the state of Oregon and Aomori prefecture of Japan are embarking on a scientific and cultural exchange without ever leaving their classrooms. Five classes in Oregon each constructed two mini-boats equipped with GPS transmitters—one to launch from the coast of North America and the other was delivered to their partner class in Hachinohe and was launched from the Japanese Coast on December 20, 2017. Using real-time data on ocean currents and weather, students on opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean are tracking movement of the mini-boats, and hopefully creating lasting friendships.

Since 2005 Nate Sandel has taught education programs to over 100,000 students in cities across the United States. Since returning to the Columbia River Maritime Museum in 2016 the department has been making connections in maritime science, history, and culture with new innovative educational programs.

Tuesday, February 20
Disaster at Sea: True Tales of Shipwrecks from the Perspectives of Survivors, Rescuers and Investigators
CAPT Bruce Jones, US Coast Guard (Retired), CRMM Deputy Director

The sinking of the U.S. freighter El Faro in October 2015, with the loss of 33 lives, was the worst U.S. maritime disaster in 30 years. CAPT Jones will explore how this and several other disasters, including the loss of the tall ship Bounty in October 2012, occurred despite the availability of technological advantages mariners of earlier generations could only dream of. He will also recount several dramatic Coast Guard rescues at sea. 

CAPT Bruce Jones retired from a 30-year Coast Guard career as Commander, Sector Columbia River in 2014. A career helicopter pilot and two-time Captain of the Port, he piloted the Columbia River Bar Pilot helicopter for two and a half years before taking a seat as Astoria City Councilor (Ward 4) in January 2017. He has been deputy director of the Columbia River Maritime Museum since November 2017


January 20 through February 18, 2018

U.S. Bank Main Stage
Portland Center Stage at the Armory, Portland, OR

Continuing the ambitious adventure of Part One, which told the stories of the Astor expeditions by land and sea to establish trade routes to the Pacific Northwest, Part Two is about the extraordinary endeavors that lead to the establishment of Astoria, the first permanent United States settlement on the West Coast.

Based on the book Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire, A Story of Wealth, Ambition and Survival by Peter Stark

Save $5 on adult tickets using the promo code CRMM