Uploaded 29-Jun-08
Taken 29-Jun-08
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Date modified29-Jun-08 23:15
Net Barn No. 1, Along the Lower Columbia, Oregon

Net Barn No. 1, Along the Lower Columbia, Oregon

Gillnet fishermen of the late 1800s spent their winters in net barns like this one at Brownsmead, mending and tending to their nets, which typically measured 20 feet wide and up to 1,800 feet long. During the spring and summer salmon runs, they took to the river at night so the fish couldn’t see their nets. Drifting downstream with the ebb tide, the nets snagged fifteen-to-fifty-pound fish by the gills as they headed upriver to spawn. Two men in a boat could catch over a hundred fish a night, and over a thousand gillnetters fished the river most seasons. A writer for the Weekly Astorian put it poetically on March 23, 1878:
“It is a pretty sight, in the early twilight of a pleasant day, to see the boats, with sails all spread, skimming along the water on their way to the fishing grounds.”