Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Sunset Beach, Oregon"
Includes ... Sunset Beach ... Sunset Beach State Recreation Area ... Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks ...
Image, 2003, Pacific Ocean at Sunset Beach, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Pacific Ocean, Sunset Beach, Oregon. Gene and Riley. Image taken August 2, 2003.


Sunset Beach, Oregon ...
Sunset Beach is located along the northern Oregon coast upstream from Seaside and downstream from Columbia Beach and Clatsop Spit. It is part of an 18-mile-long beach known as Clatsop Beach.

As Lewis and Clark journeyed to the Pacific Ocean they passed a "beautiful prairie", probably today's Sunset Beach, on their way to the "Salt Works" at Seaside.

"... We got into low ground, passed through a marsh about ½ a mile in breadth, where the water was knee-deep; then got into a beautiful prairie, about 5 miles wide, and which runs along the sea shore about 30 miles from Point Adams on the south side of Hayley's Bay, in nearly a southwest course and ends at a high point of a mountain, called Clarke's View on the sea shore. ..." [Gass, January 4, 1806]

"Point Adams" is still today called Point Adams, but "Haley's Bay" is today's Baker Bay. "Clarke's View" is today's Tillamook Head.


Sunset Beach State Recreation Area ...
The newly-developed Sunset Beach State Recreation Area is part of the Lewis and Clark National Park and is the western end of the Fort-to-Sea trail between the Pacific Ocean and Fort Clatsop. The recreation area is a 120-acre park with paved parking, restroom, information station, and an ADA accessible boardwalk leading to the beach, where visitors will have access to the ocean plus views from Cape Disappointment on the north to Ecola State Park on the south.


My "Corps of Discovery" at Sunset Beach ...

Image, 2003, Pacific Ocean, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Pacific Ocean, Sunset Beach, Oregon. Lissa gazing at the Pacific. Image taken August 2, 2003.
Image, 2003, Pacific Ocean, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Pacific Ocean, Sunset Beach, Oregon. Riley heading to the Pacific. Image taken August 2, 2003.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, January 3, 1806 ...
... Send Sarjt. Gass and G. Shannon to the Salt makers who are on the Sea Coast [Seaside, Oregon] to the S, W of us, to enquire after Willard & Wiser who have not yet returned. ...



Gass, January 3, 1806 ...
The weather is still cloudy and wet. I set out this morning with one of the men to go to the salt-works [Seaside, Oregon], to see what progress those engaged in that business had made; and why some of them had not returned, as they had been expected for some time. We proceeded along a dividing ridge, expecting to pass the heads of some creeks, which intervened. We travelled all day and could see no game; and the rain still continued. In the evening we arrived at a place where two of the men had killed an elk some time ago. Here we struck up a fire, supped upon the marrow-bones and remained all night.





Gass, January 4, 1806 ...
The morning was wet; but we proceeded on, and passed the head of a creek [possibly Cullaby Creek, Clatsop County] which we supposed was the last in our rout to the salt works. Immediately after passing the creek, the man with me killed an elk; when we halted and took breakfast off it, and then went on. We got into low ground, passed through a marsh about ½ a mile in breadth, where the water was knee-deep; then got into a beautiful prairie [vicinity of Sunset Beach], about 5 miles wide, and which runs along the sea shore about 30 miles from Point Adams [Point Adams, Oregon] on the south side of Hayley's Bay [Baker Bay, Washington], in nearly a southwest course and ends at a high point of a mountain, called Clarke's View {Tillamook Head] on the sea shore. Through this plain or prairie runs another creek [possibly Thompson Creek just north of Seaside, Oregon], or small river which we could not pass without some craft: so we encamped on the creek and supped on the elk's tongue, which we had brought with us.






Clark, January 5, 1806 ...
At 5 p. m. Willard and Wiser returned, they had not been lost as we expected. they informd us that it was not untill the 5th day after leaveing the fort, that they Could find a Convenient place for makeing Salt; that they had at length established themselves on the Sea Coast about 15 miles S. W. from this, near the houses of Some Clat Sop & Kil a mox families [Seaside, Oregon] ; that the Indians were very friendly and had given them a considerable quantity of the blubber of the whale which perished on the Coast Some distance S. E. of them, it was white and not unlike the fat of Pork, tho' the texture was more Spungey and Somewhat Coarser. we had part of it Cooked and found it very pallitable and tender, it resembles the beaver in flavour. those men also informed us that the Salt makers with their assistance had erected a Comfortable Camp, had killed an Elk and Several Deer and Secured a good Stock of Meat; they Commenced the makeing of Salt and found that they Could make from 3 quarts to a gallon a day; they brought with them a Specimen of the Salt, of about a gallon, we found it excellent white & fine, but not So Strong as the rock Salt or that made in Kentucky or the Western parts of the U, States— this Salt was a great treat to most of the party, haveing not had any Since the 20th ulto. as to my Self I care but little whether I have any with my meat or not; provided the meat fat, haveing from habit become entirely cearless about my diat, and I have learned to think that if the Cord be Sufficiently Strong which binds the Soul and boddy together, it does not So much matter about the materials which Compose it. ...     I determine to Set out early tomorrow with two canoes & 12 men in quest of the whale or at all events to purchase from the indians a parcel of the blubber, for this purpose I made up a Small assortment of merchindize, and directed the men to hold themselves in readiness &c.





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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: Oregon Parks and Recreation website, 2005.

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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May 2010