Every time I am asked what to see in Oregon beyond Portland, the Golden Coast and the wonderful National, State Parks and Monuments framing it, I cannot help to think about Astoria and its suggestive neighborhoods.
About that amazing promontory linking the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean, about the Astoria Megler Bridge linking Oregon to the State of Washington.
About the several Victorian Age dwellings located in an ups and downs of hills and winding roads – like in a perfect San Francisco’s miniature – and about the beaches, almost endless: from Astoria they develop along all the Golden Coast for hundreds of miles, in traits alternating with rocks straight to the sea and monoliths literally suspended among water, sky and earth.
A surprising and very beautiful land, the perfect natural background of really many movies and TV series.
Not by chance, this particular area of the Northern Pacific was rightly renamed “the Hollywood of the North”.
For me – and for the people of my generation and probably for many of the following ones – visit Astoria it means to have the chance to go over and in a certain way “relive” the adventures of Mickey, Chunk, Data, Mouth, Brian and the “girls” Andy and Stef. Without mention the Brothers Gang and the Mythical, very nice “super” Sloth.
What am I talking about?
Who among you has ever seen at least once The Goonies – the movie by Richard Donner and Steven Spielberg with the unforgettable theme song by Cindy Lauper – and followed with quite a lot of anxiety and emotion the vicissitudes of the “Goon Docks” boys looking for the pirate ship and One-Eyed Willy’s treasure?
“Hi Will (One-Eyed). I’m Mickey Walsh. Were you waiting for me, were you? (…)
You and I have a lot of things in common, do you know? You’re the first Goonie.”
(Sean Astin – The Goonies)
Visit Astoria – the small town and its neighborhoods – it means to find oneself physically in many of The Goonies locations.
A good part of the movie’s outsides – together with some scenes of the “insides” – were shot here between the Summer and the Autumn of 1984 in places, buildings and houses that exist still today and that it’s possible to visit for a good part.
Down here there’s the complete itinerary with description and addresses.
It’s the white wooden house in the Good Docks district (The Goonies nickname comes from here) where Mickey and Brian live and where the first scenes of the movie are set: the presentation of the several characters, Chunk’s dance – the Truffle Shuffle – as far as the discovery of the treasure map in the attic.
The house is located right in front of the Data’s one at 368, 38th Street in Astoria.
Until 2015 it was possible to get close and take some photos. Successively the last owner, exasperated by the movie’s fans non-stop coming and going – still really many despite over
30 years are passed – closed the entrance alley to the property and posted up a notice: it’s strictly forbidden to go past.
My tip for taking a beautiful memory photo is going to Duane Street short before the crossroads with the 38th, where you see perfectly the house in the middle of the hill.
Going down towards Leif Erikson Drive you run into the Columbia Fields on the right (in the movie the field of the High School where Stef and Andy train as cheerleaders).
The County Jail, the prison from where at the beginning of the movie a member of the Brothers Gang escapes.
Today turned into the Oregon Film Museum, a downright museum hosting – besides a good deal of emotions if you have loved The Goonies – really many relics of the movie, included the gang’s car (on the left of the entrance) with bullet holes and a series of reconstructed sets where it’s possible to relive and film the most famous movies shot in Oregon.
What about some example?
Shining, Twilight, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Free Willy, Strand by Me, Short Circuit, Animals House and many others.
The Oregon Film Museum is located at 732, Duane Street.
The Flavel House Museum is a wonderful dwelling dating back to middle 1800s – today is included in the National Register of Historic Places in the United States – belonged to captain George Flavel, owner of a fleet on the Columbia River and first millionaire of the area. In the movie it’s the building where Mickey and Brian’s father works.
The Riverwalk and the Astoria Megler Bridge’s background appear in several initial sequences of the movie, from the Brothers Gang’s escape by car to the chasing et cetera.
Nothing more than a bowling room with fast food, as in reality as in the fiction.
The Lower Columbia Bowl is the place where Chunk – unforgettable scene – crashes shake and sandwich against the window trying to follow closely the Brothers Gang’s chasing.
It is located at 826, Marine Drive. Inside you can find many references to the movie.
The Ecola State Park is the Oregon in its purest and most real essence, that one of a generous and uncontaminated nature.
Imagine promontories, lighthouses, huge waves breaking along indented coasts, endless beaches, monoliths and in the immediate inland forests and valleys.
The perfect location where to set several sequences of the movie.
From The Goonies’ leaving by bicycle to follow the first indications of the map, to the promontory overlooking directly the Haystack Rock – the monolith marked on One-Eyed Willy doubloon – to the crumbling restaurant housing the Brothers Gang and from where the underground path to reach Willy’s galleon start.
About two km far there’s Cannon Beach.
One of the most famous and suggestive beaches in the world, above all thanks to the presence of the Haystack Rock, a 90meters monolith raising almost at the limit between beach and Ocean.
Cannon Beach is the background of several scenes of the movie, included the initial one with the car racing and those ones related to the beginning of the Goonies’ “expedition” to find the pirates’ treasure.
The famous final scene where the Goonies escape and see One-Eyed Willy’s pirate ship go away among the waves and the monoliths had to be filmed in Cannon Beach with Haystack Rock on the background.
Unfortunately the persisting of the bad weather conditions forced the troupe to film the whole sequence in Boat Rock Beach on the Sonoma Coast in California, about 1300km southwards and only – it’s only in a manner of speaking – 150km far from San Francisco.
The paths and the places indicated can be reached and can be visited extremely easily, no particular physical conditions are required. Maybe, if possible, wear a comfortable layer clothing (wind is a constant in every season) and trainers.
Reckon a couple of hours for Astoria and at least 3 hours for Cannon Beach and the near Ecola State Park.
Astoria is indissolubly tied to “The Goonies” movie – everywhere you’ll find cues or references recalling immediately the Goon Docks guys – so that it celebrates every year , on June 7th, the Goonies Day.
A day completely dedicated to the movie and its fans (literally in their favourite characters’ shoes) with tours and special projections.
The map used for the filming was strained voluntarily with coffee grounds and drops of blood of one among the scriptwriters so that it seemed more realistic and sufficiently “lived”.
At the end of the filming it was given to Sean Astin (Mickey)as a present. Some years later his mother found it rolled up inside an old box in his room, she thought it was a simple waste paper and threw it away.
The One-Eyed Galleon was built secretly.
The director arranged the actors saw it only in the filming day so that he could get the more spontaneous “wow” effect ever.
But the guys were so surprised to see it so big and real that they said embarrassing exclamations, a sting of abuse and curses forcing the troupe to shoot again the whole scene.
Several parts of the pirate vessel were then used again for the attraction “The Pirates of the Caribbean” in Disneyland.
The scene related to the Goonies’ oath was cut.
Down here there’s the original oath.
“I’ll never betray my Goon Dock friends. We will stick together until the whole world ends.
Through heaven and hell and nuclear war, good pals like us will stick like tar.
In the city or in the country, or the forests or the boonies. I am proudly declared a fellow Goonie.”