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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Fort Clatsop, Oregon"
Includes ... Fort Clatsop ... Fort Clatsop National Memorial ... Netul Landing ... Canoe Landing ... Fort to Sea Trail ... Lewis and Clark National Park ... Lewis and Clark National Historical Park ... Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks ... "Winter 1805" ... National Register of Historic Places ...
Image, 2004, Fort Clatsop, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Fort Clatsop, Oregon. Image taken May 25, 2004.


Fort Clatsop ...
Fort Clatsop lies on the banks of the Lewis and Clark River, which enters Youngs Bay downstream of Astoria, Oregon. The Lewis and Clark expedition occupied the Fort Clatsop site from December 7, 1805, until March 23, 1806, when they left Fort Clatsop to begin their journey back home. In 1955 a replica fort was built to mark the 150-year anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition. In 1958 the Oregon Historical Society donated the site of the fort to the Federal Government and it became part of the National Park System as the Fort Clatsop National Memorial. In 1966 Fort Clatsop National Memorial was added to the National Register of Historic Places (Building #66000640). In 2004 Fort Clatsop National Memorial became part of the Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks, a grouping of sites important in the Lewis and Clark story.

Image, 2005, Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks, click to enlarge
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Sign, Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks, Washington/Oregon. Image taken November 15, 2005.


Winter Quarters ...
The Lewis and Clark expedition began building their winter quarters, which they named "Fort Clatsop", on December 10, 1805.

"... the Indians left us this morning. all hands wen[t] at clearing away the ground for the huts. ..." [Ordway, December 10, 1805]

"... Captain Clark and the party that went with him to the Ocean did not return this morning and the Indians that staid with us during the last night, left us this morning. The party that was at Camp all turned out & were employed in cutting of Pickets & carrying them to the place where our Officers intend erecting a fort. ..." [Whitehouse, December 10, 1805]

"... I proceeded on through a heavy rain to the Camp at our intended fort, Saw a bears track & the tracks of 2 Elk in the thick woods— found Capt Lewis with all the men out Cutting down trees for our huts &c. ..." [Clark, December 10, 1805]

The 33-member expedition moved in on Christmas day, where they would remain until March 23, 1806. They named their seven-cabin 50 x 50 foot home "Fort Clatsop" to honor the friendly Indian tribe that occupied the southern bank of the Columbia River at its mouth.

"Wednesday 25th Decr. 1805. rainy & wet. disagreeable weather. we all moved in to our new Fort, which our officers name Fort Clotsop after the name of the Clotsop nation of Indians who live nearest to us. the party Saluted our officers by each man firing a gun at their quarters at day break this morning. they divided out the last of their tobacco among the men that used and the rest they gave each a Silk hankerchief, as a Christmast gift, to keep us in remembrence of it as we have no ardent Spirits, but are all in good health which we esteem more than all the ardent Spirits in the world. we have nothing to eat but poore Elk meat and no Salt to Season that with but Still keep in good Spirits as we expect this to be the last winter that we will have to pass in this way." [Ordway, December 25, 1805]

On March 23, 1806, the men left Fort Clatsop to begin their journey back home. That first day they journeyed as far as Mill Creek, on the upstream side of Tongue Point.


Image, 2004, Fort Clatsop, click to enlarge
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Fort Clatsop, Fort Clatsop National Memorial. Image taken May 25, 2004.
Image, 2004, Fort Clatsop Information Sign, click to enlarge
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Fort Clatsop Information Sign. Image taken May 25, 2004.


Lewis and Clark River ...
Fort Clatsop is located on the Lewis and Clark River, two miles upstream from the junction of the Lewis and Clark with the Columbia River.
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Image, 2004, Lewis and Clark River from Fort Clatsop, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Lewis and Clark River at Canoe Landing, Fort Clatsop, Oregon. Image taken May 25, 2004.


Canoe Landing ...
Approximately 200 yards from Fort Clatsop on the Lewis and Clark River is Lewis and Clark's "Canoe Landing" site. Now called Netul Landing, this site continued to be used long after Lewis and Clark had departed.
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Image, 2005, Fort Clatsop, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Viewpoint at Canoe Landing, with Lewis and Clark River, Fort Clatsop, Oregon. Image taken November 15, 2005.
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Viewpoint on the Lewis and Clark River, Canoe Landing, Fort Clatsop, Oregon. Image taken November 15, 2005.
Image, 2004, Fort Clatsop, Oregon, canoe, click to enlarge
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Fort Clatsop, Oregon, canoe, near Canoe Landing. Image taken May 25, 2004.
Image, 2004, Fort Clatsop, Oregon, canoe, click to enlarge
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Canoe, Canoe Landing, Fort Clatsop. Image taken May 25, 2004.


Trails ...
Two-hundred yards from Fort Clatsop to Canoe Landing, a boardwalk from Canoe Landing to Netul Landing, and the 6-mile "Fort to Sea" trail connecting Fort Clatsop with Sunset Beach on the Oregon coast.

Image, 2005, Fort Clatsop, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Trail to Canoe Landing, Fort Clatsop, Oregon. The 200 yards trail leads from the fort to the waters of the Lewis and Clark River. Image taken November 15, 2005.
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Boardwalk at Canoe Landing, Fort Clatsop, Oregon. Image taken November 15, 2005.
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Boardwalk under construction, Canoe Landing to Netul Landing, Fort Clatsop, Oregon. Image taken November 15, 2005.


Description of the Fort ...
Excerpt from the U.S. National Park Service, Fort Clatsop National Memorial, Administrative History, Chapter 2:

"... When the Corps of Discovery arrived at the Pacific, the expedition consisted of thirty-three people and one dog. Of the thirty-three, most were American frontiersmen or furtraders. A few were French-Canadian or other European descent. Toussaint Charbonneau and his American Indian wife, Sacagawea, were hired as interpreters for the expedition and were accompanied by their infant child. William Clark's African-American slave York was also a member of the expedition.

After reaching the Pacific Ocean, the Corps voted to move up the Netul River (the present day Lewis and Clark River) to a camp site selected by Captain Lewis in early December, 1805. Work clearing the site for a fort began immediately. By December 10, the foundations for their rooms were laid and by December 14, they had finished the room walls and had begun roofing the meat house room. All roofing was completed by December 24 and the walls were daubed with mud. The captains moved into their room on December 23, the rest of the expedition moving in on Christmas Eve and Day. The rooms had bunks and puncheon floors. After Christmas, they installed interior chimneys in the living quarters and installed pickets and gates. On December 31, they built a sentinel box and dug two "sinks."

The journals do not give a detailed description of the fort. Expedition journals offer two floor plans, one drawn by Sergeant John Ordway and one by Captain William Clark. The two floor plans differ. Precedence has traditionally been given to Clark's documentation due to his rank and role in directing construction. By Clark's description, the fort was fifty feet square with two parallel cabins. One cabin contained 3 rooms, each with a central firepit, which were the enlisted men's quarters. The opposite cabin contained four rooms, two with firepits and one with a fireplace and exterior chimney. The orderly room, which had a firepit; the store room, which had a locking door; the room shared by the captains, which had a fireplace and exterior chimney; and the Charbonneau family room were all located on this side. Two gates were installed, one at each end of the parade ground. One was the main gate, which was locked at night. At the opposite end, the second gate was used to access the spring for water or other necessary trips outside the fort.

The expedition party stayed at Fort Clatsop until March 23, 1806, when they set out on their return journey. ..."


Lewis and Clark leaving Fort Clatsop ...
On March 23, 1806, the men left Fort Clatsop to begin their journey back home. That first day they journeyed as far as Mill Creek, on the upstream side of Tongue Point.

"... This morning proved So raney and uncertain that we were undeturmined for Some time whether we had best Set out & risque the     which appeared to be riseing or not. Jo. Colter returned haveing killed an Elk about 3 miles towards Point Adams. the rained Seased and it became fair about Meridean, at which time we loaded our Canoes & at 1 P. M. left Fort Clatsop on our homeward bound journey. at this place we had wintered and remained from the 7th of Decr. 1805 to this day and have lived as well as we had any right to expect, and we can Say that we were never one day without 3 meals of Some kind a day either pore Elk meat or roots, not withstanding the repeeted fall of rain which has fallen almost Constantly Since we passed the long narrows on the [blank] of Novr. last indeed w[e] have had only [blank] days fair weather since that time. Soon after we had Set out from Fort Clatsop we were met by De lash el wilt & 8 men of the Chinnooks, and Delashelwilts wife the old boud and his Six Girls, they had, a Canoe, a Sea otter Skin, Dried fish and hats for Sale, we purchased a Sea otter Skin, and proceeded on, thro' Meriwethers Bay, there was a Stiff breese from the S. W. which raised Considerable Swells around Meriwethers point which was as much as our Canoes Could ride. above point William we came too at the Camp of Drewyer & the 2 Field's. they had killed 2 Elk which was about 1˝ miles distant. here we Encampd. for the night having made 16 miles. ..." [Clark, March 23, 1806]

Fort Clatsop National Memorial ...
In 1955 a replica fort was built to mark the 150-year anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition. In reconstructing the fort, the floor plan dimensions drawn by Clark on the elk hide cover of his field book were followed. In 1958 the Oregon Historical Society donated the site of the fort to the Federal Government and it became part of the National Park System as the Fort Clatsop National Memorial. Fort Clatsop is located along the Lewis and Clark River, on the southwest end of Youngs Bay. The site is 6 miles south of Astoria and 4 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Fort Clatsop National Memorial contains the replica of the Fort, a historic Canoe Landing site, and the "Salt Works", located 15 miles south in Seaside, Oregon. The Salt Works site was added to the memorial in 1979. In 2005 for the Bicentennial, the Fort Clatsop National Memorial became part of the newly formed Lewis & Clark National Park, a grouping of historic Lewis and Clark areas on both sides of the Columbia River.

Image, 2005, Bicentennial, Fort Clatsop National Memorial, click to enlarge
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Bicentennial sign, Visitor Center, Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark National Park. Image taken November 15, 2005.
Image, 2005, Bicentennial, Fort Clatsop National Memorial, click to enlarge
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Bicentennial welcome sign, Visitor Center, Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark National Park. Image taken November 15, 2005.


Fort Clatsop Visitor Center ...

Image, 2005, Fort Clatsop National Memorial, click to enlarge
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Visitor Center, Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark National Park. Image taken November 15, 2005.
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Visitor Center, Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark National Park. Image taken November 15, 2005.
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Back Entrance, Visitor Center, Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark National Park. Image taken November 15, 2005.


Fort Clatsop Archaeology Dig ...
On October 3, 2005, the 50-year-old Fort Clatsop replica burnt to the ground. National Park archaeologists used this tragedy to spend 3 weeks digging beneath the foundations of the replica, looking for evidence of whether this was the true location of Fort Clatsop. A new "Fort Clatsop" will be built on the same spot, with designs for construction to begin on December 10, 2005, exactly 200 years from the day men of the Corps of Discovery began building their Fort Clatsop.

Image, 2005, Fort Clatsop Archaeology Dig, click to enlarge
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Archaeology Dig, Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark National Park. Image taken November 15, 2005.
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Archaeology Dig, Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark National Park. Image taken November 15, 2005.
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Archaeology Dig, Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark National Park. Image taken November 15, 2005.
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Archaeology Dig, Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark National Park. Image taken November 15, 2005.
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Archaeology Dig, Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark National Park. Image taken November 15, 2005.


"Welcome to Winter 1805" ...
"Welcome to Winter 1805", a "Living History" event. Up and down the Columbia River in 2005 and 2006 Bicentennial Events were held, many of them with "reenactors" to bring the Lewis and Clark story to life. One such event was at Fort Clatsop, with a "Winter 1805" camp set up in the woods.
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Image, 2005, Destination: The Pacific, click to enlarge
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"Welcome to Winter 1805", Fort Clatsop. Image taken November 15, 2005.
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Seaman with the men, "Welcome to Winter 1805", Fort Clatsop. A buffalo hide tepee is in the background. Image taken November 15, 2005.


Fort Clatsop after Lewis and Clark


Summary ...
"... On March 22, 1806, Lewis recorded in his journal the visit of Chief Comowool and three Clatsops. He states "to this Chief we left our houses and furniture." According to descendants of Comowool, he used the fort during hunting season for several years after the Expedition left. Beginning in 1811 with the arrival of John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Company and the establishment of the fur post at Fort Astoria, there is a record of visitation to the site by American and European traders, explorers, and settlers. On October 2, 1811, Gabriel Franchere, a member of the Pacific Fur Company, reported visiting the ruins of the fort and seeing only a pile of rough unhewn logs. A second trip was made by Ross Cox in May or June 1812. He noted that logs from the fort were still standing and marked with the names of several of the party.

In 1813, after the outbreak of the War of 1812 and the loss of their annual trade ship, the Pacific Fur Company sold out to the North West Company. Fort Astoria was taken over by the British and renamed Fort George. In 1813, Alexander Henry of the North West Company and a captain of the British Royal Navy made a canoe trip to the site. At that time they found two Clatsop houses at the site, saw the remains of the fort and reported willows growing up inside the remains. They reported that the Clatsops had cut down and used a good portion of the wood from the fort walls. An 1821 Congressional report on settlement of the Oregon Country stated the fort remains could still be seen. Various other travelers and settlers took the time to visit the site and their documentation gives a record of the site's condition over time.

In 1849, S.M. Henell of Astoria attempted to claim land containing the site of Fort Clatsop through a donation under an Oregon Provisional Government land claim law. The next year, however, Thomas Scott jumped Henell's claim under the federal 1850 Donation Act and shortly thereafter traded the property to Carlos Shane. Shane built a house a few feet from the remains of the fort. In 1852 or 1853, Carlos Shane's brother, Franklin Shane, moved to the site. Carlos Shane moved up river and transferred the site to Franklin. The claim consisted of approximately 320 acres along the west bank of the Lewis and Clark River, and included the fort site and the site along the river bank believed to be the Corps' canoe landing. In 1852, Richard Moore wanted to build a mill at the canoe landing site. An agreement was reached between Shane and Moore resulting in the movement of Shane's boundary slightly north so that Moore could claim the landing. Moore built a mill and from 1852 to 1854 the area around the mill was logged and lumber sent by boat from the canoe landing site to San Francisco. ..."

Source:   U.S. National Park Service, Fort Clatsop National Memorial, 1995, Administrative History, Chapter 2.



From the Journals


Gabriel Franchere, Fort Clatsop, 1811 ...
Excerpt from Gabriel Franchere's "Narrative of a Voyage to the Northwest Coast of America in the Years 1811, 1812, 1813, and 1814, or the First American Settlement on the Pacific", translated and edited by J.V. Huntington, published in 1854:

"... The schooner, the construction of which had necessarily languished for want of an adequate force at the ship-yard, was finally luanched on the 2d of October, and named the Dolly, with the formalities usual on such occasions. I was on that day at Young's Bay, where I saw the ruins of the quarters erected by Captains Lewis and Clarke, in 1805-'06: they were but piles of rough, unhewn logs, overgrown with parasite creepers. ..." [Gabriel Franchere, October 2, 1811]


Ross Cox, Fort Clatsop, 1812 ...
Excerpt from Ross Cox, "Adventures on the Columbia River", published in 1832, about his adventures on the Columbia River, including a stay in Astoria (Fort George) in May and June 1812.

"... We remained upwards of six weeks at the fort [Fort George/Astoria], preparing for our grand expedition into the interior. During this period I went on several short excursions to the villages of various tribes up the river and about the bay. ... We also visited Fort Clatsop, the place where Captains Lewis and Clarke spent the winter of 1805-6; an accurate description of which is given in the journal of those enterprising travellers. The logs of the house were still standing, and marked with the names of several of their party. ... On the 29th of June, 1812, all the necessary arrangements having been perfected, we took our departure from Astoria for the interior. ..." [Ross Cox, 1812]

Alexander Henry, Fort Clatsop, 1813 ...
Excerpt from "New light on the early history of the greater Northwest: the manuscript journals of Alexander Henry, fur trader of the Northwest Company and of David Thompson, official geographer of the same company 1799-1814 : exploration and adventure among the Indians on the Red, Saskatchewan, Missouri and Columbia rivers", Henry and Thompson journals, volume II, edited by Elliott Coues, published 1897:

"... Walked to Point George [today's Smith Point, Astoria], which took half an hour; there is a good view of the sea, Cape Disappointment, Young's bay and river, and even up toward Captain Lewis' winter quarters, 1805-06. ..." [Alexander Henry, November 25, 1813]

"... At 11 a.m. I embarked in a canoe with Captain Black and Mr. McDonald for Young's river. Saw great numbers of ducks, swans, and geese. At noon we entered the river and continued up to Fort Clatsop. There we found two houses of Clatsops, busily emplyed making mats and straw hats; they had an extraordinary number of children. ... We walked up to see the old American winter quarters of Captains Lewis and Clark in 1805-06, which are in total ruins, the wood having been cut down and destroyed by the Indians; but the remains are still visible. In the fort are already grown up shoots of willows 25 feet high. Thie situation is the most pleasant I have seen hereabouts, and by far the most eligible, both as to security from the natives and for hunting. The place is deeply shaded with spruce, pine, sapin, etc.; the woods seemed gloomy and dark, the beams of the sun being prevented from reaching the ground through so thick a foliage. Having examined this spot, we returned to our horses, which are left in care of the Indians; there being no grass near the fort, we allow them to graze on the salt marsh along the bay and river. ..." [Alexander Henry, December 14, 1813]

Fort Clatsop, 1821 ...
Excerpt from John A. Hussey, April 10, 1957, Fort Clatsop National Memorial Suggested Historical Area Report, information from Ore. Hist. Quart., VII (March 1907), p.60:

"... A Congressional committee, reporting on the occupation of the Oregon Country in 1821, noted that according to information then available in Washington, the remains of Fort Clatsop were "yet to be seen". ..."

John Kirk Townsend, Fort Clatsop, 1836 ...
Naturalist John Kirk Townsend wrote about Fort Clatsop in his journal in 1836. He also makes mention of one of the Jefferson Peace Medals.

"October 14th. --   I walked to-day around the beach to the foot of Young's bay, a distance of about ten miles, to see the remains of the house in which Lewis and Clark's party resided during the winter which they spent here. The logs of which it is composed, are still perfect, but the roof of bark has disappeared, and the whole vicinity is overgrown with thorn and wild currant bushes.

One of Mr. Birnie's children found, a few days since, a large silver medal, which had been brought here by Lewis and Clark, and had probably been presented to some chief, who lost it. On one side was a head, with the name "Th. Jefferson, President of the United States, 1801". On the other, two hands interlocked, surmounted by a pipe and tomahawk; and above the words, "Peace and Friendship". ..."

[John Kirk Townsend, October 14, 1836]


Charles Wilkes, Fort Clatsop, 1841 ...
In 1841, Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Exploring Expedtion wrote:

"... The Columbia, opposite to Astoria, is four miles wide, but in the middle of the river is an extensive sand-bar, with only a few feet water on it, and at extreme low tides it is bare: the channel is very narrow on each side and difficult to navigate. At Astoria there is only space for a dozen vessels to lie at anchor, and it would therefore be difficult to accommodate any extensive trade. The point of land extends about half a mile below its site, where Young's river joins the Columbia, and forms a bay, on the banks of which Lewis and Clarke wintered. The position of their hut is still pointed out, but the building has long since gone to decay. ..."

Lee and Frost, Fort Clatsop, 1842 ...
Excerpt from John A. Hussey, April 10, 1957, Fort Clatsop National Memorial Suggested Historical Area Report, information from D. Lee and J. H. Frost, Ten Years in Oregon (New York, 1844):

"... An American missionary who saw the site in 1842 reported that Lewis and Clark's "hut had entirely disappeared," but Indians pointed out to him the trail used by the explorers during their journeys from the fort to the seacoast. ..."

James Harrell, Fort Clatsop, 1848 ...
Excerpt from John A. Hussey, April 10, 1957, Fort Clatsop National Memorial Suggested Historical Area Report, information from J. Q. A. Bowlby to F. G. Young, Astoria, April 21, 1904, MS, in Oregon Historical Society:

"... Another settler, James Harrell, who visited the scene of the encampment in 1848 later recalled that he saw the foundations of a single building, about 16 feet by 16 feet and 4 logs high. ..."

Fort Clatsop, 1851 ...
From a University of Oregon Press release, 2003:

"A newly discovered map may help solve one of the great mysteries associated with the Lewis and Clark expedition--the exact location of their west-coast encampment, Fort Clatsop. The map was drawn by an unknown member of the 1851 U.S. Coast Survey that mapped the lower Columbia River near Astoria, Ore. ... "Yet within the boundaries of the memorial park, the exact location of the fort is not known," Byram explains. Why? No maps of the fort exist that were drawn by members of the Lewis and Clark expedition. In fact, before Byram's map, historic records reported the location of the encampment somewhere between one-and-one-half and four miles from the mouth of the Lewis and Clark River. Homesteader recollections of the fort ruins recorded at the turn of the century by the Oregon Historical Society point to a general location, but provide conflicting information about the specific site. Compounding the problem is uncertainty about river changes in the past 200 years. Archaeological excavations in 1948, 1956, 1957 and 1961, as well as the present Fort Clatsop Project, failed to find a definitive location. Byram's map, which remains well preserved after nearly 150 years in the U.S. Coast Survey archives, will provide researchers with valuable new information. For example, the fort (or "hut" as it is labeled on the map) is shown at the very edge of a slope, which descends toward the river's flood plain. The fort's shape and orientation are also suggested by the small square used to mark the structure. ..."

The map shows the "Lewis and Clark River" entering "Young's Bay" (both named). A small long island is in the center of the river, approximately half way between the mouth of the Lewis and Clark River and the "Log Hut Lewis and Clark wintered in 1805". The island is across and downstream of a tributary entering the Lewis and Clark River. Words on the left of the map are: "Breadth of River at its mouth from 4 to 500 yards - Distance from mouth of River to Hut, where Lewis & Clark wintered, about 2 miles." Words at the bottom of the map are "Tidewater, 7 miles from mouth".


Shane and Gillette, Fort Clatsop, 1850 and 1853 ...
Excerpt from John A. Hussey, April 10, 1957, Fort Clatsop National Memorial Suggested Historical Area Report, information from "In the Footsteps of Lewis and Clark," in Sunday Oregonian (Portland), June 17, 1900, p.8:

"... Late in 1899 the Oregon Historical Society resolved to identify the site of Fort Clatsop for the purpose of erecting a monument thereon. As a result, two members of the Society's Committee on Memorials, L. B. Cox and William Galloway, visited the traditional locations on June 8, 1900. With them was a small group of early settlers who knew the vicinity well. They were Silas B. Smith of Warrenton, who had assisted Wheeler the previous year; Preston W. Gillette, a "well-known pioneer," formerly of Clatsop County; and Carlos W. Shane of Vancouver, who once had lived on the fort site. Reaching the old Seaside landing by boat, the party, guided by Shane and Gillette, climbed up to the benchland above--where Wheeler had marked out his conjectural fort outline--and began to look for familiar landmarks. Although Gillette later claimed the larger the credit for identifying the site, Carlos W. Shane probably gave the most telling evidence. In a deposition made a week later, Shane recounted the facts he must have presented on the ground: ..."

Carlos W. Shane account, given in June 1900:

"... I came to Oregon in 1846, and in 1850 I located a donation land claim on a tract of land which included the site of Fort Clatsop; I built a house on the land in 1851 and occupied it until 1853. A few feet from where I built my house there were at that time the remains of two of the Lewis and Clark cabins . They lay east and west, parallel with each other; and ten or fifteen feet apart. Each cabin was sixteen by thirty feet; Three rounds of the south cabin and two rounds of the north cabin were then standing. In the south cabin stood the remains of a large stump. The location of the old stockade was indicated by second growth timber, while all around it was the original growth, or the stumps of trees which had been cut. In clearing away for my house I set fire to the remains of the old cabins and endeavored to burn them. ..."

Preston W. Gillette account presented June 16, 1900:

"... In October, 1853, . . . I visited the site of Fort Clatsop and saw a section of two logs, each eight or ten feet long, crossed at right angles, which had manifestly been the foundation logs of one of the Lewis and Clark cabins. The ends of the logs were charred, showing that they had been burned. The extent of the stockade was shown by the fact that its site was covered with second growth timber, while all around it stood the trees of the original growth, or the stumps of such as had been cut. Carlos W. Shane sold his place to his brother, Frankland Shane, in 1853, and the latter was occupying it at the time of my visit. I sold Frank Shane some fruit trees, which he planted in the rear of his house. Three of those trees are now standing. Richard M. Moore had in the year 1852 located a donation land claim just south of Carlos W. Shane's and built a house a few feet south of the division line, almost on a line with and but a short distance from the Shane house. This house has since disappeared, but it stood immediately at the head of a little draw in the hill leading down to the river, which draw is now plainly to be seen . . . . When I first knew this spot the trail cut by Lewis and Clark through the timber to the ocean was plainly visible, it having been kept open by the Indians and elk, and it continued as a traveled passage for some fifteen years after my arrival in the county. ..."

George Gibbs, Fort Clatsop, 1853 ...
Excerpt from John A. Hussey, April 10, 1957, Fort Clatsop National Memorial Suggested Historical Area Report, information from George Gibbs, "Tribes of Western Washington and Northwestern Oregon," in U. S. Geographical and Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region, Contributions to North American Ethnology (2 vols. in 3, Washington, 1877-1890), Vol. I, p.238, and Vernon Carstensen (ed.), "Pacific Northwest Letters of George Gibbs," in Ore. Hist. Quart., LIV(September 1953), p.230:

"... The prevailing attitude of visitors toward the site is well reflected by a letter written by George Gibbs, a temporary resident of Astoria, to his mother on April 13, 1853. Speaking of Fort Clatsop, Gibbs wrote: "I took a run the other day up the Lewis & Clark's river as it is called to the place of the w[inter] encampment, which long as I have been here I never visited before. The site of their log hut is still visible, the foundation logs rotting where they lay. Their old trail to the coast is just visible being much overgrown with brush . . . Indians are still living who knew them." ..."

"... Several years later Gibbs again described his visit to Fort Clatsop. He wrote that the remains were "about" 2 miles from the mouth of the Lewis and Clark River. This remark by a trained and accurate observer tends to confirm the conclusion that the site was at or very near the present historic monument property. ..."

Purchase of the property, 1901 ...
Excerpt from John A. Hussey, April 10, 1957, Fort Clatsop National Memorial Suggested Historical Area Report:

"... After much negotiation, which involved the determination and then one or more re-determinations of the most desirable boundaries, the Oregon Historical Society on September 24, 1901 purchased for $250 a 3-acre tract which contained the site of the Lewis and Clark cabins as pointed out by the pioneer settlers, ..."

Hussey's report continues:

"... An analysis of such clues to the location of Fort Clatsop as are given in the original records of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, a study of the long local tradition as to the location of the fort site, and an examination of the available reminiscences and testimony of pioneer settlers who saw the traditional ruins of the fort and pointed out their location--all these lead to the conclusion that in all probability Fort Clatsop stood somewhere within the 3-acre tract purchased by the Oregon Historical Society in 1901. ..."

"... However, since 1901 knowledge of the exact location pointed out by Shane and Gillette seems to have been lost. As far as anyone can prove today, the 50-foot square of the fort could have been located almost anywhere on the approximately 1-1/4 acres of benchland within the tract boundaries.

Apparently the only way that the exact site of Fort Clatsop will be determined is by finding some physical remains of the structure. Although the ground on the top of the bluff has been much disturbed by long years of land clearing, agriculture, and domestic habitation, experience at many other frontier post sites has proved that the buried ends of stockade pickets will nearly always survive such treatment. There is hope, therefore, that the actual remains of Fort Clatsop may yet be discovered. ..."



From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, December 5, 1805 ...
Some hard Showers of rain last night, this morning Cloudy and drisley at Some little distanc above the isthmus [the men are camped on the west side of the Tongue Point isthmus] the rain is much harder. high water to day at 12 this tide is 2 inches higher than that of yesterday. all our Stores and bedding are again wet by the hard rain of last night. Capt. Lewis's long delay below, has been the Sorce of no little uneasness on my part of his probable Situation and Safty [Captain Lewis has been out searching for their winter camp - Fort Clatsop], the repeeted rains and hard winds which blows from the S, W. renders it impossible for me to move with loaded Canoes along an unknown Coast we are all wet & disagreeable; the party much better of indispositions-. Capt. Lewis returned with 3 men in the Canoe and informs me that he thinks that a Sufficient number of Elk may be prcured Convenient to a Situation on a Small river [Lewis and Clark River] which falls into a Small bay [Youngs Bay] a Short distance below, that his party had Killed 6 Elk & 5 Deer in his rout, two men of his party left behind to Secure the Elk

this was verry Satisfactory information to all the party. we accordingly deturmined to proceed on to the Situation which Capt. Lewis had Viewed as Soon as the wind and weather Should permit and Comence building huts &c.



Gass, December 5, 1805 ...
Again we had a wet stormy day, so that the men were unable to proceed with the canoes. About 11 o'clock Capt. Lewis and three of his party came back to camp; the other two were left to take care of some meat they had killed. They have found a place about 15 miles from this camp, up a small river [Lewis and Clark River] which puts into a large bay [Youngs Bay] on the south side of the Columbia, that will answer very well for winter quarters [Fort Clatsop], as game is very plenty, which is the main object with us; and we intend to move there as soon as circumstances will admit. There is more wet weather on this coast, than I ever knew in any other place; during a month, we have had three fair days; and there is no prospect of a change.


Ordway, December 5, 1805 ...
. rainy dissagreeable weather. about noon Capt. Lewis and three men returned and informed us that they had found a tollarable good place for our winters quarters [Fort Clatsop] about 15 miles down the South Shore, a Short distance up a Small River [Lewis and Clark River]. they had killed 7 Elk and five Deer. 2 men stayed to take care of the meat-


Whitehouse, December 5, 1805 ...
We had hard rain & stormy weather; which was very disagreeable. About 12 o'Clock A. M. Captain Lewis & 3 Men who were part of those that went with him returned to Camp with the Canoe. They informed us, that they had found a tolerable good place, to build our Winter quarters at [Fort Clatsop]. The place they said lay up a small river [Lewis and Clark River], about 4 Miles on the South side; & about 15 Miles from this place [Tongue Point]. They had killed seven Elk; and had left 2 of the Men to take care of the meat hides & had also killed 5 deer. They brought some of the Meat with them. It continued raining the whole of this day.-





Clark, December 7, 1805, first draft ...
Some rain from 10 to 12 last night this morning fair, we Set out at 8 oClock down to the place Capt Lewis pitched on for winter quarters [Fort Clatsop], when he was down proceeded on against the tide at the point No. 2 we met our men Sent down after meet

To point Adams [Point Adams] is West

To pt. Disapointment [Cape Disappointment] N 75 W

They informed me that they found the Elk after being lost in the woods for one Day and part of another, the most of the meat was Spoiled, they distance was So great and uncertain and the way bad, they brought only the Skins, york was left behind by Some accident which detained us Some time eer he Came up after passing round the pt. No. 2 in verry high swells, we Stopd & Dined in the commencement of a bay, [Youngs Bay] after which proceeded on around the bay to S E. & assended a Creek [Lewis and Clark River] 8 miles to a high pt. & Camped [near Fort Clatsop] haveing passed arm [Youngs River] makeing up to our left into the countrey

Mt. St. Helens [Mount St. Helens] is the mountain we mistook for Mt. Reeaneer [Mount Rainier, Clark mis-identified the peak on November 25, 1805, as viewed "from the mouth of this river"] ...



receved 2 Small Brooks on the East [Youngs River and the Lewis and Clark River], extencive marshes at this place of Encampment [Fort Clatsop] We propose to build & pass the winter, The situation is in the Center of as we conceve a hunting Countrey— This day is fair except about 12 oClock at which time Some rain and a hard wind imedeately after we passed the point [Smith Point, location of Astoria, Oregon] from the N. E which Continued for a about 2 hours and Cleared up. no meat ...


Clark, December 7, 1805 ...
Some rain from 10 to 12 last night, this morning fair, have every thing put on board the Canoes and Set out to the place Capt Lewis had viewed and thought well Situated for winter quarters [Fort Clatsop] - we proceeded on against the tide to a point [Smith Point, Astoria] about [blank] miles here we met Sergt Pryor and his party returning to the Camp we had left without any meat, the waves verry verry high, as much as our Canoes Could bear rendered it impossible to land for the party, we proceeded on around the point [Smith Point, Astoria] into the bay [Youngs Bay] and landed to take brackfast on 2 Deer which had been killed & hung up, one of which we found the other had been taken off by [s]ome wild animal probably Panthors or the Wild [cat?] of this Countrey ... I delayed about half an hour before York Came up, and then proceeded around this Bay which I have taken the liberty of calling Meriwethers Bay [Youngs Bay] the Cristian name of Capt. Lewis who no doubt was the 1st white man who ever Surveyed this Bay, we assended a river [Lewis and Clark River] which falls in on the South Side of this Bay [Youngs Bay] 3 miles to the first point of high land on the West Side, the place Capt. Lewis had viewed and formed in a thick groth of pine about 200 yards from the river [Fort Clatsop], this situation is on a rise about 30 feet higher than the high tides leavel and thickly Covered with lofty pine. this is certainly the most eligable Situation for our purposes of any in its neighbourhood.

Meriwethers Bay [Youngs Bay] is about 4 miles across deep & receves 2 rivers the Kil how-â-nah-kle [Youngs River] and the Ne tul [Lewis and Clark River] and Several Small Creeks - we had a hard wind from the N. E. and Some rain about 12 oClock to day which lasted 2 hours and Cleared away. From the Point above Meriwethers Bay [Smith Point, Astoria, above Youngs Bay] to Point Adams [Point Adams, Oregon] is West

to point Disapointment [Cape Disappointment] is N. 75° W."



Ordway, December 7, 1805 ...
the morning clear we put our canoes in the water loaded up and set out and proceeded on down the River. the Shore is covred thick with pine and under brush. passd. Several Spring runs. the waves ran verry high. we could not land untill we turned a point [Smith Point, Astoria] in a bay [Youngs Bay] where we halted and cooked a young Deer which the hunters had killed the other day. ... we proceed. on round a bay [Youngs Bay] then went up a River [Lewis and Clark River] abt. 3 miles and landed at the place appointed for winters quarters. [Fort Clatsop] this River [Lewis and Clark River] is about 100 yds wide at this place but the tide water extends further up. we unloaded the canoes and carried all our baggage about 2 hundred yards on a rise of ground and thicket of handsom tall Strait pine and balsom fir timber and Camped here we intend to build a fort [Fort Clatsop] and Stay if game is to be found thro. this winter Season.


Gass, December 7, 1805 ...
About 12 last night the rain ceased and we had a fine clear morning. We put our canoes into the water, loaded them, and started for our intended wintering place. We coasted down the south side about a mile, and then met with the six men, who had gone for meat. They had brought four of the skins but no meat, the distance being great and the weather very bad. The swells being too high here to land we went two miles further and took the men in. We then proceeded round the bay [Youngs Bay] until we came to the mouth of a river [Lewis and Clark River] about 100 yards broad, which we went up about 2 miles to the place fixed upon for winter quarters, [Fort Clatsop] unloaded our canoes, and carried our baggage about 200 yards to a spring, where we encamped.


Whitehouse, December 7, 1805 ...
This morning clear & cold, We put our Canoes into the River & loaded them. We set off to go to the place appointed for our Winter Quarters & proceeded down along the Coast. We passed a number of fine Springs or Spring runs, which came in along the Shore. The Country was covered with pine Trees & under brush.-

The wind rose, & the wind caused the Waves to rise also. We saw our 6 Men, who had been for the Elk meat, on the Shore. The Waves ran so high, that we could not land where they were, and had to turn a point of land [Smith Point, Astoria], to make a harbour; the 6 Men joined us at this place. ... We proceeded on to a deep bay [Youngs Bay] about 8 Miles, & went up a River, [Lewis and Clark River] which was about 100 yards wide. We then unloaded our Canoes & carried all our baggage, about 200 yards to piece a rising ground in a thicket of tall pine Trees; [Fort Clatsop] where we intend building Cabbins, & stay if Game is to be had through the Winter season.






Ordway, December 10, 1805 ...
the Indians left us this morning. all hands wen[t] at clearing away the ground for the huts. rained hard the most of the day, towards evening Capt. Clark and 3 of his party returned from the ocean and informed us that it was about 7 miles to the ocean the way they blazed a road. they was at a Small village [location of today's Seaside, Oregon] of the Clatsop nation of Indians on the Coast. they treated them in a friendly manner. considerable of prarie land on the Coast &C. Some low marshes also.—





Clark, December 12, 1805 ...
All hands that are well employ'd in Cutting logs and raising our winter Cabins [building of Fort Clatsop], detached two men to Split boards— Some rain at intervales all last night and to day— The flees were So troublesom last night that I made but a broken nights rest, we find great dificuelty in getting those trouble insects out of our robes and blankets— in the evening two Canoes of Clât Sops Visit us they brought with them Wap pa to, a black Swet root they Call Sha-na toe qua, and a Small Sea Otter Skin, all of which we purchased for a fiew fishing hooks and a Small Sack of Indian tobacco which was given by the Snake Inds. Those Indians appear well disposed we gave a Medal to the principal Chief named Con-ny-au or Com mo-wol [Chief Coboway] and treated those with him with as much attention as we could— I can readily discover that they are Close deelers, & Stickle for a verry little, never close a bargin except they think they have the advantage Value Blue beeds highly, white they also prise but no other Colour do they Value in the least— the Wap pa to they Sell high, this root the purchase at a high price from the nativs above.






Clark, December 25, 1805 ...
at day light this morning we we[re] awoke by the discharge of the fire arm of all our party & a Selute, Shoute and a Song which the whole party joined in under our windows, after which they retired to their rooms were Chearfull all the morning— after brackfast we divided our Tobacco which amounted to 12 carrots one half of which we gave to the men of the party who used tobacco, and to those who doe not use it we make a present of a handkerchief, The Indians leave us in the evening all the party Snugly fixed in their huts — I recved a presnt of Capt L. of a fleece hosrie Shirt Draws and Socks—, a pr. mockersons of Whitehouse a Small Indian basket of Gutherich, two Dozen white weazils tails of the Indian woman, & Some black root of the Indians before their departure— Drewyer informs me that he Saw a Snake pass across the parth to day. The day proved Showerey wet and disagreeable.

we would have Spent this day the nativity of Christ in feasting, had we any thing either to raise our Sperits or even gratify our appetites, our Diner concisted of pore Elk, So much Spoiled that we eate it thro' mear necessity, Some Spoiled pounded fish and a fiew roots.



Ordway, December 25, 1805 ...
rainy & wet. disagreeable weather. we all moved in to our new Fort, which our officers name Fort Clotsop after the name of the Clotsop nation of Indians who live nearest to us. the party Saluted our officers by each man firing a gun at their quarters at day break this morning. they divided out the last of their tobacco among the men that used and the rest they gave each a Silk hankerchief, as a Christmast gift, to keep us in remembrence of it as we have no ardent Spirits, but are all in good health which we esteem more than all the ardent Spirits in the world. we have nothing to eat but poore Elk meat and no Salt to Season that with but Still keep in good Spirits as we expect this to be the last winter that we will have to pass in this way.


Gass, December 25, 1805 ...
Was another cloudy wet day.— This morning we left our camp and moved into our huts. At daybreak all the men paraded and fired a round of small arms, wishing the Commanding Officers a merry Christmas. In the course of the day Capt. Lewis and Capt. Clarke collected what tobacco remained, and divided it amongst those who used tobacco, as Christmas-gift; to the others they gave handkerchiefs in lieu of it. We had no spirituous liquors to elevate our spirits this Christmas; but of this we had but little need, as we were all in very good health. Our living is not very good; meat is in plenty, but of an ordinary quality, as the elk are poor in this part of the country. We have no kind of provisions but meat, and we are without salt to season that.





Clark, March 23, 1806 ...
This morning proved So raney and uncertain that we were undeturmined for Some time whether we had best Set out & risque the [river?] which appeared to be riseing or not. ...     at 1 P. M. left Fort Clatsop [Fort Clatsop, Oregon, location where the men wintered over] on our homeward bound journey. at this place we had wintered and remained from the 7th of Decr. 1805 to this day and have lived as well as we had any right to expect, and we can Say that we were never one day without 3 meals of Some kind a day either pore Elk meat or roots, not withstanding the repeeted fall of rain which has fallen almost Constantly Since we passed the long narrows on the [blank] of Novr. last indeed w[e] have had only [blank] days fair weather since that time. Soon after we had Set out from Fort Clatsop we were met by De lash el wilt & 8 men of the Chinnooks ...     proceeded on, thro' Meriwethers Bay [Youngs Bay], there was a Stiff breese from the S. W. which raised Considerable Swells around Meriwethers point [Smith Point, Astoria, Oregon] which was as much as our Canoes Could ride. above point William [Tongue Point] we came too at the Camp of Drewyer & the 2 Field's. they had killed 2 Elk which was about 1˝ miles distant. here we Encampd. for the night [near Mill Creek, just downstream of the John Day River] having made 16 miles.





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*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003

Sources: Early Canadian Online website, 2005; National Register of Historic Places website, 2005; Townsend, J.K., 1839, Narrative of a Journey across the Rocky Mountains, to the Columbia River, and a Visit to the Sandwich Islands, Chili, &c. with a Scientific Appendix: Reprinted in: Thwaites, R.G., LL.D. (editor), 1905, Early Western Travels 1748-1846, Vol.XXI , The Arthur H. Clark Company, Cleveland, Ohio; University of Oregon website, 2004; U.S. National Park Service website, 2004, Fort Clatsop National Memorial.

All Lewis and Clark quotations from Gary Moulton editions of the Lewis and Clark Journals, University of Nebraska Press, all attempts have been made to type the quotations exactly as in the Moulton editions, however typing errors introduced by this web author cannot be ruled out; location interpretation from variety of sources, including this website author.
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November 2011