The Hanthorn Cannery was opened by J.O. Hanthorn in 1875. It was not the first cannery, but has outlived all the earlier operations, and now holds the proud title of the oldest cannery pier on the entire Columbia River. Hanthorn had been a tinsmith in Portland before he entered the salmon packing field, which gave him an advantage in the new industry. Unfortunately, in 1891 his daughter Hazel fell through a trapdoor in the boatshop floor and drowned. Hanthorn was devastated by this loss and had great difficulty adjusting after her death. But the Hanthorn brand of salmon continued to grow and by 1894, the plant was producing 30,000 cases of canned salmon annually, much of it exported all over the world. The facility at one time had a copper shop, butchering room, fillet room, liver picking area, net wharf, and a Chinese mess house. By 1900, Hanthorn had laid the foundation for one of the strongest seafood marketing companies in the world. He sold the cannery to the Columbia River Packers Association (CRPA) and left Astoria, never to return.
This company eventually became Bumble Bee Seafoods.
By 1908 the facility had eight buildings on the pier, including cold storage units that currently house the Hanthorn Cannery Museum. In 1932, the cold storage units on the east side of the pier were constructed. In 1943 more buildings were constructed on the west side of the complex, and today this is the Rogue Public House. The company’s location on 39th St. continued to develop and has been known by many names: CRPA Cold Storage, Bumble Bee Cold Storage, Astoria Seafood, Astoria Cold Storage etc. These serve as storage for many of the artifacts the Foundation has collected.
While much of this industry has fragmented in the last 20 years, its thriving early years provided jobs, livelihood and a future for many generations of families on the West Coast. Today, the oldest building at Pier 39 dates to 1875 and is currently the second floor of the center building and was placed on top of a lower story in the early 1900s. Today it houses a variety of private offices.