When Lewis and Clark reached the Pacific coast in November, 1805 they had achieved an incredible feat and accomplished Thomas Jefferson’s dream of finding a path across the continent. They and the brave explorers with them (including Sacagawea and her infant son) had faced many perils, not the least of which was navigating the last few miles of the Columbia River estuary.
The Interpretive center located at the State Park was really excellent and well worth the visit. Displays and a film recounted the journey to the Pacific and back to St. Louis, Mo.
As we traveled around the area, along the beaches and coast and appreciated the difficulty in dealing with the weather and the landscape, we could not help but feel a sense of awe at their accomplishment.
They explored for miles up and down the coast and made it to Seaside to see a large beached whale that the Indians had told them about. I bet they were really surprised to see this nice sign right there on the beach!
They knew that they would need to winter in the area before starting their journey back the next spring so they debated where they should build an encampment. After discussing the options, they all voted (including Sacagawea and Clark’s slave York) and it was decided to move to the South side of the Columbia and build a Fort at what became known as Fort Clatsop. The area below was their canoe landing.
They quickly constructed a fort with room enough for all of the group. They spent the winter making repairs, gathering supplies and trading with the local Indians for what they needed. After being on the road for such an extended period of time, you can imagine how good it must have felt to have a roof over their heads!
It took them about 15 days to build this place and the replica we toured was constructed based on drawings from their journals.
The Fort was named in honor of the friendly Clatsop Indians who lived in the area.