For over 130 years, the Hanthorn Cannery has been a presence on the lower Columbia River. It has been known by many names, including Hanthorn Cold Storage, CRPA Cold Storage, Bumble Bee Cold Storage, Astoria Seafood, Astoria Cold Storage, and others. J.O. Hanthorn started the operation in 1875, processing salmon. Before entering the salmon packing field, he had been a tinsmith, which gave him an advantage in the industry. The Hanthorn brand of salmon was well known all over the world. By 1894 the plant was producing 30,000 cases of canned salmon annually. 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. A few years later he sold the cannery to the Columbia River Packers Association (CRPA) and left Astoria.
The oldest building at Pier 39 dates to 1875. It 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 offices. By 1908 the facility had eight buildings on the pier, including cold storage units that currently house the Cannery Museum. In 1932, the cold storage units on the east side of the pier were constructed. These serve as storage for many of the artifacts the Foundation has collected. In 1943 more buildings were constructed on the west side of the complex, and today these contain the Rogue Public House. The facility at one time also had a copper shop, butchering room, fillet room, liver picking area, net wharf, and a Chinese mess house.