A large crowd gathered Friday afternoon to see the remodeled Astoria Railroad Depot rededicated as the Barbey Maritime Center for Research and Industry, the newest addition to the Columbia River Maritime Museum. The brick building was originally constructed in 1925 by the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railroad after the first wooden depot was destroyed in the great Astoria fire of 1922.
Until 1952 The depot served up to eight passenger trains a day from Portland. The 6,000 square foot depot is divided into two sections separated by a covered breezeway. The main building has two big rooms - a women's waiting room and a men's waiting room. The rear portion of the building will serve as a shop area. Dave Person, the museum Deputy Director told KAST News that with the the addition of the new center the Maritime Museum will be able to offer people the opportunity to learn more about objects in the collection and then go out and learn for themselves about the experience of building a boat or doing bronze foundry work which are the historical maritime trades. Person said the restoration of the depot retains the original character of the station by keeping the windows and items like the grill work for the old ticket booths while making the facility usable for museum functions. Astoria Mayor Willis Van Dusen says the Depot looks better today than the day it opened in 1925. He says " it's beautiful" and he says the restoration adds much to the culture of the town. State senator Betsy Johnson took advantage of the opportunity to point out the irony of naming the facility for a family that made it's fortune in the salmon canning industry in Astoria at a time when commercial fishing is under fire by forces that threaten the industry. State representative Debbie Boone told KAST news she felt the Senator's comments were appropriate under the circumstances. Recently the States of Oregon and Washington passed new rules that will see commercial gill net harvesting for salmon phased out of the main stem Columbia. Reportedly the majority of the funding came from a generous donantion by the Barbey family but there were over 400 donors making up the $2.7 million dollars necessary to complete the project. Much of the money went into earhquake upgrades and other details necessary to bring the building safely up to code.
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