July 18, 1841: Peacock wrecks at the mouth of the Columbia River

Loss of the Peacock, Painting, Oil on Board; by Alfred T. Agate; C. 1840

Loss of the Peacock, Painting, Oil on Board; by Alfred T. Agate; C. 1840

Sent as part of the United States Exploring Expedition to explore the Pacific Northwest coast, the USS Peacock wrecked at the mouth of the Columbia River on July 18, 1841.

The Peacock, having sailed from Hawaii, approached the Columbia River in a dense fog on the morning of July 17, 1841. In the early morning on the eighteenth, the crew spotted Cape Disappointment on the northern side of the river’s mouth. Soon after noon, the ship’s captain, Lieutenant Hudson, called all hands to work ship into the river (Untold Story of the Peacock Wrecked in 1841, by Norman A. Howerton in the Oregon Historical Quarterly Vol. 43, No. 2 (Jun., 1942), pp. 129-134). Following directions through the channel he’d been given in Hawaii, Lieutenant Hudson brought the ship to bear northeast one-quarter east by compass, and was toward the cap to bring Chinook Point to bear east, northeast.

In a few minutes Lieutenant Hudson discovered the sea breaking ahead, and, believing the Peacock too far to the southward, he wore ship and ran a short distance until clear of the breakers, and to where the passage appeared smooth and clear of break, both from below and aloft.

Again the Peacock stood in. Then she struck.

By the morning of the 19th, it became clear the ship could not be saved and the captain ordered the crew evacuate. American missionaries at Point Adams and Hudson’s Bay Company officials at Fort George (now Astoria) provided aid. Not one member of the crew perished. Peacock Spit is the name given to the partially submerged sandspit by the expedition’s survey.

July 14, 1811: English-Canadian explorer David Thompson arrives at Fort Astoria

Map of the Columbia River watershed with the Columbia River highlighted

English-Canadian explorer David Thompson, representing the North West Company, navigated the entire length of the Columbia River from its source in Canada to the Pacific Ocean, arriving at the partially constructed Fort Astoria on July 14, 1811. He was the first European to travel the entire length of the Columbia.

Between 1784 and 1850, Thompson traveled more than 55,000 miles while exploring and mapping nearly 2 million square miles of North America.

The North American Exploration David Thompson Bicentennials were celebrated in 2011 to recognize the accomplishments of possibly the greatest land geographer of all time:

Thompson’s accomplishments helped define North America both geographically and imaginatively. His achievements include the surveying in many of the townships of Ontario and Quebec; the determination of large sections of the boundary between Canada and the United States; the establishment of the Columbia basin fur trade; exploration and mapping of a vast area of western North America and the documentation of the nature, history and culture of much of the continent.

Columbia River map with watershed highlighted was created by Wikimedia Commons user Kmusser, and is used here under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Astoria Dave and the boys at Gizmo’s Arcade & Eatery

Astoria Dave and the boys Gizmo's Arcade and Eatery

We are frequent visitors to Gizmo’s Arcade & Eatery (1084 Commercial), which opened during the summer of 2021. It’s a huge improvement over the Arc arcade in the same spot, which closed in 2017.

One of the ways we pry the boys off their computer games on the weekends is by taking them to Gizmo’s to play computer games somewhere else. The bribe also includes candy, fountain drinks, hot dogs, pretzels, and personal pizzas. Small steps.