Photo above is taken from the Viewpoint Landing website and shows the building, which is located across from the northwest tip of Price Island, at dusk looking on to the Skamokawa Channel as it opens to the lower Columbia River at River Mile 33.7.
Viewpoint Landing was originally known as Silverman’s Emporium, a general store and steamboat landing built in 1910. It is now owned by Mary and Jarrod Hogue who offer fully furnished family-friendly vacation riverfront condos. Columbia River Kayaking celebrated 10 years doing business at this location with a ribbon cutting at the March Open House Event. Read on to learn more from Mary about this special place, a home to travelers and kayakers of the lower Columbia River.
Why is Viewpoint Landing a significant landmark in Skamokawa?
In 1910 Silverman’s Emporium operated as the general store. It’s a big open two-story space where my family lives now, but before you can imagine people wandering around looking for things like clothes, food and necessities much like a department store. Above the store’s warehouse space was a dance hall and stage theater now remodeled into three vacation rentals. It was a bustling place for locals to shop and attend regular events and gatherings, and for travelers heading to and from Astoria and Portland by steamship. That’s how people traveled here before the highway came in. Skamokawa was a popular and important stop. In fact, I’ve heard stories that Clark Gable performed here! Of course, if you want to know more about that, I would suggest reaching out to Irene Martin, our local historian. She knows everything.
(Clark Gable is known to have gotten his start with the “Astoria Players”, a vaudeville theater troupe that traveled between Portland and Astoria by steamboat in the early 1920’s).
How long have you owned and operated the property, and what drew you to the area?
My husband, Jarrod and I, our two girls and two dogs all live on-site. We moved from Portland in June 2019. Jarrod grew up in St. Helens Oregon and had always loved being on boats the entire length of the Columbia River. He knew this area well. We met in 2002 after I moved to Portland from Chicago where I earned my degree in architecture from the University of Illinois. I found that my passion is working on residential remodeling and I love old buildings. I say don’t tear it down, give it new life! I enjoy asking how can I make a house built 100 years ago work for how people live now, while retaining its character? Each house has its own history, life and identity, so it’s a wonderful process figuring out how to blend home owners’ current needs and an old house’s original identity together.
Before we moved here, we had a little boat and would visit Cathlamet with our little kids many times. We started taking longer trips, camping at Vista Park and staying at the Skamokawa Resort. In 2018, it became possible for Jarrod to work remotely so we engaged with the previous owners in the springtime. We fell in love with the building and decided to give it a go! We intend to retain the building’s charm and history, and maybe most importantly, keep life here. We always knew that we wanted to go somewhere small where our family could be outdoors and on the water. Some people thought we were crazy but we just got hooked!
What makes the Viewpoint Landing a great spot for kayakers?
CRK is a long-term tenant here operating both their retail and equipment shops from what used to be the warehouse for the old general store. We love having kayakers here! Kayaking is a good activity for the building and helps keep this place alive. Danny Silverman, the great grandson of the man who originally constructed the building, has told us how much he loves seeing smiling faces here, lots of lights on, hearing voices and seeing happy people on the water. Actually, one of the reasons we began updating and renting the condos upstairs during the pandemic was to help the kayakers so more groups of people could stay and visit. Their needs helped me to think about our next step with the building. It was a natural fit to help and promote each other’s businesses.
What makes the Viewpoint Landing a unique destination for travelers?
Scenic beauty and endless views, which is why we named it Viewpoint Landing. You can sit here and enjoy the view. You don’t need other stimulation. There are TV’s in each condo, but the place invites you just to be here and turn off the rest of the world. Especially if you’re coming from surrounding areas, it doesn’t take that long to get here, maybe an hour and half to find yourself somewhere you can feel completely different. This is why we don’t advertise on bigger platforms because we don’t want to blast this place out to the world. If you find us it’s probably because you want to be here. You get to be somewhere beautiful and different, calming and relaxing, and surrounded by the outdoors and water so you have everything at your fingertips. There are other buildings on pilings and boardwalks but it’s not the same. There’s nowhere else like it!
And the condos are really nice, comfortable and clean. I’m very particular about cleaning and always spend a lot of time getting rooms fully ready. I know that I’m done when I feel like I am the first person to have been here. You can’t fully chill if you’re not in a fresh environment. It’s all the tiny details that matter. I’m a remodeling architect, not an experienced host, so I didn’t anticipate how much I would enjoy accommodating visitors here. This is a really fun place to share. My favorite thing about hosting travelers is that when you talk to the guests they often say how relaxed they feel and how much they enjoy the space. A lot of our guests are repeat customers, so I get a chance to build a personal connection. I get to do something extra for them because I know them. It gives me joy to see our guest’s joy.
Readers may also be interested to know that NW Travel Magazine recently published an article about Viewpoint Landing. These are people who have been everywhere, so we feel very proud that they think this is a great place to stay.