The Lewis and Clark National Historical Park
As I’m sure you remember, Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery departed in 1804 from St. Louis on a two year mission to map the United States’ newly acquired territory, find a route to the Pacific across the continental U.S. and establish an American presence to prevent Britain and other European powers from making claims.
Lewis and Clark National Historical Park is located at the site of the 1805-1806 winter camp of the expedition, known as Fort Clatsop.
In true Pacific Northwest fashion, it was a rainy winter. There were few dry days when the expedition was camped here. The group was able to prepare for the return trip the following spring, by creating a new stockpile of salt for preserving food, hunting and gathering other food, and trading with the tribes in the immediate vicinity. But the journals that exist from the period indicated that it was a claustrophobic, cramped, dreary time at Fort Clatsop. Many of the men came down with colds and the flu.
Interestingly, the winter camp was originally on the other side of the river, in what is now Washington. However, the food sources were minimal there, as the elk had moved higher into the mountains. Moving the camp was discussed, and each member of the expedition was able to vote on the move. It is widely believed to be the first time a slave and a woman were granted the vote in American history.
The expedition got on their way in March 1806 for the long trip back east. Fort Clatsop’s structures were given to one of the tribes and the fort was taken over again by nature. A replica was built when the site was designated as a National Historical Park in 1958. Sadly the replica burned in 2006; a replacement was built in 2007. The replica is thought to be historically accurate, having been built from sketches and descriptions that Lewis drew in his journals.
Although not one of the larger sites in the National Park System, it is unique in many respects. There are several sites that make up the historical park, which is a partnership between the federal government and both Washington and Oregon State parks. The original winter camp on the Washington side of the river is protected, as well as the site on the beach where the expedition made salt to preserve their food. Approximately 191,867 people visited the park in 2011.
This particular site can be seen in about an hour – it is pretty surprising to see how they crammed over 30 people into such a small space. I can’t imagine the cabin fever of a cold, dark winter in that environment!
Jon and I would have loved to hike there – there is a 12 mile hike between the fort site and the historic Salt Works on the beach. Unfortunately, we still had a long drive ahead of us so we needed to get on our way…
We had one more stop on our drive home though – a mid-afternoon meal that would qualify as a very late lunch, or very early dinner. We went to the Rogue Brewery!
I have never been to a brewery where they give you an appetizer sample of beer, but right after we sat down, our server brought out samples of their Morimoto Soba Ale. It was very unique, and delicious! When we ordered, I told our server what kinds of beer I like, and then let him pick the sampler I tried. I’d say he did pretty well. I tried the Mom’s O Mix, the Chipotle Amber Ale, the Dead Guy Ale, and the Double Dead Guy Ale. Jon of course had an IPA.
For our meal, we split a bowl of their clam chowder – it was delicious! It was super-creamy with lots of chunks of clam, potato and celery and served with yummy bread. We also each had a salad. I loved the salad, but found that the dressing, a balsamic vinaigrette, was too acidic for me – it made my tongue raw! This has happened several times, so I wonder if I’m not just becoming too sensitive to the acidity in salad dressing. Fortunately, I don’t have the same bad luck with wine!
Rogue Brewery is located out on the pier in Astoria, which means you drive across an old, one-vehicle-width bridge onto the pier. It was definitely a strange experience! The brewery itself is located in an old cannery building, which they have tried to maintain in its historic state. The restrooms are mostly original, and require a walk through an old warehouse area which gives you a great view of what this building once looked like!
I also was able to get a few good pics of a barn swallow perched on the railing of the pier outside the window. It was a great place to have lunch!
After our meal, we got back on the road for the long, and fortunately this time, relatively traffic free drive home…
Have you ever been to any of the Lewis and Clark expedition sites around the country?