Sunday, June 19, 2016

Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks, 6/16/2016

This is one of America's newest national parks (established in 2004) and is comprised of multiple sites where the Corps of Discovery led by Lewis and Clark explored this region of northern Oregon/southern Washington. It is managed as a joint effort by the National Park Service and the states of Oregon and Washington. It includes the following sites and state parks:
  • Dismal Nitch: where the expedition was pinned down in a cove on the great Columbia River November 10-15, 1805 for six days during a fierce winter storm.
  • Station Camp: where the expedition got its first view of the Pacific Ocean during their stay at this location November 15-25
  • Netul Landing: An area near Fort Clatsop (winter encampment built along the Netul River). The Netul was renamed the Lewis and Clark River. 
  • Fort to Sea Trail: 6.5 mile hiking trail from Fort Clatsop to the Pacific Ocean that the Corps of Discovery took to the beach in 1805-1806.
  • Salt Works: a reconstructed site of the expeditions salt-making activities (located in the town of Seaside).
  • Cape Disappointment State Park: this western-most point of the US reached by Lewis and Clark.
  • Fort Columbia State Park: the Chinook Indians lived in this area for thousands of years. Fort Columbia (1896-1947) was a coastal defense site. 
  • Fort Stevens State Park: the Clatsop Indians lived in this area that is at the mouth of the Columbia River. Fort Stevens Military Reservation guarded the river entrance from the Civil War though World War II. 
  • Sunset Beach Recreation Area: This is the beach where the Fort to Sea Trail ends on the Pacific coast.
  • Ecola State Park: Clark and 12 members of the expedition hiked to this location to see a beached whale here. 
  • Fort Clatsop: This was the winter encampment for the Corps of Discovery from December 1805 to March 1806. This is the area we visited today.

There are two primary Visitor Centers for the park: Fort Clatsop (Astoria, OR) and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment (Ilwaco, WA). We began our visit at the Visitor Center (as always). 

Plan on spending some time enjoying the great exhibits here about William and Clark and the Corps of Discovery. Third president, Thomas Jefferson, was fascinated by the West. Congress supported an expedition to explore lands west of the Mississippi. The object of their mission was to "determine the most direct water route across the continent to the Pacific for purposes of commerce." 

Jefferson chose US Army Captain Meriwether Lewis (who was his private secretary at the time) to lead the expedition. Lewis, with the support of Jefferson, invited his friend and fellow army officer, William Clark to join the "Voyage of Discovery to the western ocean." There were 33 total military members in the group (only 1 died during the expedition...appendicitis). Four civilians became part of the group as well: Toussaint Charbonneau and his Shoshone wife, Sacagawea; George Drouillard, son of a French-Canadian and Shawness squaw, who was a skilled scout, woodsmen and interpreter; and York, Clark's manservant that was born into slavery. He carried a rifle and was a full member of the team. York received his freedom in 1811. 

This sculpture, "Arrival" by Stanley Wanlass commemorates the moment on November 7, 1805, when the expedition reached the Pacific Ocean. Clockwise from the top is Lewis, a Clatsop Indian, Clark, and Lewis' Newfoundland dog, Seaman

The expedition began May 14, 1804, in St. Louis, MO, and followed a northwest route to the Pacific in what is now Washington and Oregon. They journey ended back in MO September 23, 1806. Detailed journals were kept of the entire trip. The corps encountered at least two dozen indigenous Native American tribes in their travels. There's no question that these tribes helped the members of the expedition survive the journey. 

There are two videos shown at the Visitor Center. We saw the one that is narrated from the Clatsop people point of view, describing the strange visitors that arrived in the winter of 1805. 

The expedition built Fort Clatsop in December of 1805 and spent the winter there until March 1806. Below is a photo of the diagram Clark drew in his journal of the fort. Also shown is a bronze status of Sacagawea with her son, Jean Baptiste. 

This is a reproduction of Fort Clatsop on the location where the original one existed along the Netul River

The three rooms on the left had four bunks each and were the accommodations for the enlisted men (2 men per bunk). On the right were store rooms, the Captains quarters, and a room for the Charbonneau family. 

Each room had a fireplace. The gates to the fort were closed each night, although the expedition had no conflict with the local Native Americans. They traded with them for goods the expedition needed, including food.

 A Newfoundland, named Deacon, is a frequent visitor to Fort Clatsop. He is the same breed as Lewis's Newfoundland, Seaman. He is a total sweetheart and allows the kids that visit climb to all over him. Sadie was very interested in him; he had no interest in her, however!

We hiked the easy round-trip trail along the Netul (now called Lewis and Clark) River from the fort to the Netul Landing. This was a canoe landing used by the Native Americans and the expedition. This is a dog-friendly national park so Sadie was able to accompany us. 

The poles in the water of the Lewis and Clark River are remnants of a large logging operation. The trees were sorted, bundled, and pushed into rafts that were towed downriver to mills or ports along the Columbia River to be exported. 

There are pavilion with interpretive signs at the Netul Landing and a river overlook. When the logging operation shut down here, the National Park Service purchased this property to add to the Fort Clatsop park (2002). 

We made our way back to the Visitor Center enjoying the Sitka spruce forest along the river. We will definitely be visiting some of the other state parks that are part of the Lewis and Clark Historical Park while we are in the area. Admission fee is $5/person to the park for those that do not have a pass. For additional information about the park, check out their website. 

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