“The broad and beautiful Columbia lay before them, smooth and unruffled as a mirror … .
“About thirty miles above Point Vancouver the mountains again approach on both sides of the river, which is bordered by stupendous precipices, covered with the fir and the white cedar, and enlivened occasionally by beautiful cascades leaping from a great height, and sending up wreaths of vapor.” —Astoria
Last summer on a visit to the Hudson River Valley, I took a morning to explore Washington Irving’s home. Wandering through the property in the sticky humidity so particular to the East Coast I peered into Irving’s vine-covered house, Sunnyside, and pictured the author at his desk honing his iconic New England stories like the “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle.” Never did I imagine the prolific writer also sat there crafting one of the first descriptions of the West Coast for a nation of readers.
Astoria, published in 1836, traces the efforts of John Jacob Astor, the nation’s first multi-millionaire, to … » More …