This Oregon Museum Is Actually an Old Jail

The Oregon Film Museum in Astoria
The Oregon Film Museum in Astoria | © Another Believer / WikiCommons
Photo of Katrina Nattress
27 June 2018

The Oregon Film Museum in Astoria pays homage to movies made in the Beaver State, but it used to house inmates as the former Clatsop County Jail.

When you first arrive at The Oregon Film Museum, your surroundings may feel familiar to you. The “COUNTY JAIL” sign, the white-barred jail cells—it’s all something you’ve seen before. But where?

The answer is the opening scene of The Goonies. The Old Clatsop County Jail is the setting for the infamous Jake Fratelli jailbreak intro, and the whole movie was indeed filmed in the Oregon coastal town of Astoria. Now, the repurposed jail serves as a museum that pays homage to a wide range of movies that were made in the Beaver State, including classics like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Great Race, and Animal House.

Old Clatsop County jail cell | © Jeff Hitchcock / Flickr

The museum opened in 2010, the same year The Goonies celebrated its 25th anniversary. To commemorate the cult classic adventure comedy, it was only fitting to house the exhibits in one of its set locations. However, long before Fratelli was locked up in one of those claustrophobic cells, the Old Clatsop County Jail housed real inmates for over 50 years.

The small county institution, built in 1913, was a working jail where criminals were booked and processed. It served this purpose until 1976, and it has since been listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Now, movie buffs can wander through the cells while learning everything there is to know about The Goonies. The Oregon Film Museum also features the Hot Set and Post-Production experiences, giving visitors a behind-the-scenes look at how their favorite movies were made and an opportunity to make their own unique Oregon film. Before leaving, take a mug shot to add to the museum’s gallery of prisoners.

Oregon Film Museum Goonies gallery | © Constablequackers / WikiCommons

Oregon is a wonderful shooting locale because of its diverse terrain. The state’s variety of desert, mountains, rivers, and sea means that it can be the backdrop for just about anywhere, from the Deep South to a South Pacific island. And The Oregon Film Museum is a great place to brush up on Beaver State movie trivia, whether you’re a local or just passing through.

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