The Oregon town is marking the 30th anniversary in June of the filming of the hit Steven Spielberg movie ‘The Goonies.” See the Goonies house, join the party and see Astoria’s more standard tourist sights.
Children of the 1980s grew up wishing they, too, could be one of the “Goonies,” the treasure-hunting teens in the 1985 hit movie executive-produced by Steven Spielberg.
In sleepy Astoria, at Oregon’s northwest tip, grown-up “Goonies” wannabes can fulfill their dreams, at least a little, by visiting locations where the cult classic was filmed.
Astoria remains a hub for “Goonies” fandom, especially when the town celebrates the film’s 30th anniversary with a “Goonies” gathering June 4-7.
“Goonies” goings-on will include a concert; quote-along film screenings; visiting film locations; and appearances by Jeff Cohen, who portrayed the character Chunk in “The Goonies. ” (Info: travelastoria.com/trip-ideas or thegoondocks.org).
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Beyond the “Goonies” festival, visitors’ interest in the Astoria filming locations goes year-round.
Dylan Reel of Portland and David Zorob of Peoria, Ill., made a trek to Astoria for one primary reason: “We mostly came to check out the ‘Goonies’ house,” Reel said while standing in front of the home at 368 38th St., a neighborhood known in the movie as “The Goondocks.”
“ ‘Goonies’ is one of my favorite movies of all time, and the house looks just like it did in the movie,” said Reel.
Swamped with visitors
Sandi Preston bought the “Goonies” house in 2001 when it was in foreclosure. Knowing it was the “Goonies” house had sentimental value: Her children were teenagers when the movie was released, and it became a family favorite.
Initially, not many tourists came to see The Goondocks, but after the 20th anniversary “Goonies” reunion in 2005 that changed and the number of visitors steadily increased.
Sometimes as many as 1,000 people per day in the summer walk up the gravel drive, off a paved road, that serves as the entry to several homes, including Preston’s famous house.
“Though I enjoy meeting new people, it’s become very difficult to live here,” Preston said, citing the hassles of owning a piece of pop culture history. Her neighbors are frustrated with foot and vehicle traffic. “People walk up the driveway and stand in the middle of the access road or driveway and refuse to move when a resident needs to drive up or down.”
But there have been some enjoyable moments, too.
“Most endearing was a woman whose son had died, and ‘The Goonies’ was his favorite movie. She had brought his ashes to Oregon,” Preston recalled. “I asked if she wanted to scatter some in the garden, which was in full bloom, so she and her family did that. It was so sweet. I read online that another person did that, in the middle of the night, without asking for permission. Oh, well, part of owning this house, I guess.”
Astoria’s other roles
Astoria has played a role in movies beyond “The Goonies,” though that film seems to garner the most attention.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1990 comedy “Kindergarten Cop” filmed at Astor School (3550 Franklin St.). The home of the boy who sought to free the captive orca in “Free Willy” is located at 3392 Harrison Ave.
The Astoria Column has been seen in multiple movies, including 1992’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III.” The 164-step tower was a gift from a descendant of fur trader and investor John Jacob Astor, the town’s namesake, and was dedicated in 1926.
Tributes to these ’80s and ’90s films can be found at Astoria’s tiny Oregon Film Museum, housed on the first floor of the former Clatsop County Jail that was featured in the jail break scene at the beginning of “The Goonies.”
Artifacts from these movies — “The Goonies” dominates — can be found inside the three-gallery museum, which also gives visitors the opportunity to record themselves re-enacting scenes from filmed-in-Oregon productions “The Goonies,” “Kindergarten Cop” and “Twilight.” Scenes are recorded and emailed to you a few weeks later.
Astoria beyond movies
Of course, Astoria has plenty to offer beyond movie locations.
Street market: A farmers market takes over the streets of downtown, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. every Sunday May through October. astoriasundaymarket.com
Victorian history: The Flavel House Museum, at the corner of Eighth and Duane streets, offers a trip back in time to the Victorian period with a tour of this 1885 Queen Anne Victorian home that features an original, elegant woodwork interior. cumtux.org
Vintage trolley: A 1913 trolley carries visitors along the Astoria riverfront. “It’s the oldest operating trolley in the nation as far as we know,” said motorman Bob Westerberg during a trip between cannery buildings and past honking sea lions. old300.org
Westerberg is quick with a quip, commenting on the cost of upkeep for the 100-year-old Victorian homes perched on the Astoria hillside, looking down on the city center and the Columbia River: “Hear that swishing sound? It’s all the money being dumped into those Victorians.”
Maritime museum: The Columbia River Maritime Museum displays maritime artifacts from the Columbia River and the Pacific Northwest, including the lightship Columbia and the pilot boat Peacock. crmm.org
Fort Clatsop: Drive to the nearby Fort Clatsop, part of the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, where the Lewis and Clark Expedition camped near the mouth of the Columbia River during the winter of 1805-06. Visitors can see a replica of the fort that served as the winter home for the Corps of Discovery team before its return trip east. nps.gov/lewi (Across the Columbia River in Washington, Cape Disappointment State Park is home to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.)
Fort Stevens: At Fort Stevens State Park, at the northwest tip of the Oregon coast, are miles of beach and the rusting hull of the century-old shipwreck of the Peter Iredale, jutting out of the sand. The four-masted, steel baroque ship ran aground in 1906 and has been slowly disintegrating ever since. oregonstateparks.org