Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Station Camp, Washington"
Includes ... Station Camp ... McGowan ... Campsite of November 15-24, 1805 ... Lewis and Clark National Park ... Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks ...
Image, 2004, Station Camp, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Station Camp, near McGowan, Washington. Image taken April 9, 2004.

Station Camp ...
Campsite of November 15-24, 1805 ...
"Station Camp" was located on the Washington shore of the Columbia River at approximately River Mile (RM) _____, just downstream of McGowan, Washington and upstream of Chinook Point, the location of Fort Columbia. Station Camp was established by Captain Clark and the majority of the men on November 15, 1805, and was located 4 miles downstream of their "Dismal Nitch" campsite near today's Megler Rest Area. To get to Station Camp the men first had to pass the "blustery point" of Point Ellice.

"... proceeded on passed the blustering point below which I found a butifull Sand beech thro which runs a Small     below the mouth of this Stream is a village of 36 houses uninhabited by anything except flees ...     as the tide was Comeing in and the Seas became verry high imediately from the Ocian (imediately faceing us) I landed and formed a camp on the highest Spot I could find between the hight of the tides, and the Slashers in a Small bottom     this I could plainly See would be the extent of our journey by water, as the waves were too high at any Stage for our Canoes to proceed any further down.     in full view of the Ocian from Point Adams to Cape Disapointment ..." [Clark, November 15, 1805]

Station Camp was located near the site of an abandoned Chinook Indian summer camp. The men used boards from the village for construction of shelters. Station Camp was to be the expedition's main camp for the next 10 days. On November 25 the men moved back to Pillar Rock in order to cross the river. Their goal was to spend the winter on the Oregon side of the Columbia.

In 2004 Station Camp became part of the Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks, a grouping of sites important in the Lewis and Clark story.

"End of our Voyage" ...
"This was a clear morning and the wind pretty high. We could see the waves, like small mountains, rolling out in the ocean, and pretty bad in the bay.

We are now at the end of our voyage, which has been completely accomplished according to the intention of the expedition, the object of which was to discover a passage by the way of the Missouri and Columbia rivers to the Pacifi oceanc; notwithstanding the difficulties, privations and dangers, which we had to encounter, endure and surmount."

Patrick Gass, November 16, 1805

Image, 2004, Station Camp Sign, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Station Camp, near McGowan, Washington. Image taken April 9, 2004.
Image, 2004, Station Camp Sign, click to enlarge
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Closeup of Sign, Station Camp, near McGowan, Washington. Image taken April 9, 2004.

Base Camp ...
While Captain Clark established "Station Camp", Captain Lewis was on his way to the Pacific Ocean. On November 14, 1805, Lewis and four of the men left the "Dismal Nitch" campsite near Megler to explore the rest of the way to the Pacific Ocean. They were hoping to find sea traders in Baker Bay.

"... Capt Lewis concluded to proceed on by land & find if possible the white people the Indians Say is below and examine if a Bay is Situated near the mouth of this river as laid down by Vancouver in which we expect, if there is white traders to find them &c. at 3 oClock he Set out with 4 men Drewyer Jos. & Reu. Fields & R. Frasure, in one of our large canoes and 5 men to Set them around the point on the Sand beech. this canoe returned nearly filled with water at Dark which it receved by the waves dashing into it on its return, haveing landed Capt. Lewis & his party Safe on the Sand beech. ..." [Clark, November 14, 1805]

Lewis and his group of men reached the Pacific on November 15, 1805, near modern-day Seaview, Washington. Meanwhile, Captain Clark and the rest of the men moved four miles from the camp at Megler to what is known today as "Station Camp". Captain Lewis returned to the new camp on November 17 and the next day Captain Clark and 11 men set out for their journey to the Pacific, traveling up the coast as far as Long Beach. They returned to Station Camp on November 20.

Station Camp, etc.

  • First Vote in the Pacific Northwest ...
  • St. Mary's Church ...
  • Views from Station Camp ...

First Vote in the Pacific Northwest ...
On November 24, while at Station Camp, the Corps of Discovery took a vote on where to spend the winter. The Oregon side of the Columbia River won the vote and the Lewis and Clark expedition left Station Camp on November 25th, and headed back towards Pillar Rock in order to cross the Columbia at a narrow stretch. The men would end up establishing the winter camp on the banks of the Lewis and Clark River. They would call their winter home Fort Clatsop.

"Sunday 24th Nov. 1805.    a clear pleasant morning.    a white frost    Several men went out a hunting we put out our baggage to air. The Calumbian River at this place is three miles 660 yards wide. Some of two nations of Indians came to our Encampment the Clatsop and Chinuck nations    they behave very well as yet. our officers conclude with the oppinion of the party to cross the River and look out a place for winters quarter    Some where as near the ocean as possable on the account of makeing Salt." [Ordway, November 24, 1805]

First Vote in the Pacific Northwest

"The Corps of Discovery reached the Pacific Ocean after 18 months of arduous travel. With winter rapidly approaching, the party faced a major decision: where to spend the winter. They could remain near the ocean to camp on either side of the Columbia River, or they could travel upstream seeking other sites.

On November 24, 1805, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark mustered the group and put the question to a vote. The majority decided to cross to the south side of the Columbia. In this first recorded election in the Pacific Northwest, Clark's slave, York, was allowed to vote -- nearly sixty years before American slaves were emancipated. Sacagawea, the Shoshoni wife of Toussaint Charbonneau, also voted -- more than a century before women or Indians were granted the full rights of citizenship."

Source:    Information sign, Tansy Point, Oregon, visited September 2009.

Image, 2009, Tansy Point, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
"The First Vote in the Pacific Northwest", Information sign, Tansy Point, Oregon. Image taken September 27, 2009.

St. Mary's Church ...
Immediately upstream of Station Camp is McGowan, Washington, where, in 1904 St. Mary's Catholic Church was built.

Image, 2004, McGowan Church from Station Camp, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
St. Mary's Catholic Church, McGowan, Washington. Church as seen from Station Camp. Image taken April 9, 2004.

Views from Station Camp ...

Image, 2004, Looking downstream from Station Camp, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia River looking downstream from Station Camp. Looking downstream towards Chinook Point. Cape Disappointment is on the skyline. Image taken April 9, 2004.
Image, 2004, Saddle Mountain from Station Camp, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Saddle Mountain, Oregon, from Station Camp, Washington. Astoria, Oregon, is along the shoreline, with the Astoria-Megler bridge just visible on the left. Image taken April 9, 2004.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 15, 1805 ...

Gass, November 15, 1805 ...
This morning the weather appeared to settle and clear off, but the river remained still rough. So we were obliged to continue here until about 1 o'clock, when the weather became more calm, and we loaded and set out from our disagreeable camp [Megler area]; went about 3 miles, when we came to the mouth of the river [Columbia River] , where it empties into a handsome bay [Baker Bay]. Here we halted on a sand beach, formed a comfortable camp [Station Camp], and remained in full view of the ocean, at this time more raging than pacific. One of the two men who first went out came to us here, the other had joined Captain Lewis's party. Last night the Indians had stolen their arms and accoutrements, but restored them on the arrival of Captain Lewis and his men in the morning.

Ordway, November 15, 1805 ...
a wet morning. about 10 oClock A. M cleared off the after part of the day calm and pleasant we loaded up the canoes and at low tide we Set out and went down about 5 miles passed an old Indian village a little below the clifts passd. Several Small creeks. the country below the clifts is lower and covred with Small timber. we Camped [Station Camp] in a verry large bay [Baker Bay] on a Sand beach on L. Side [right side ???] . one of the men who went down the River first joined us. Several Indians with him. he informed us that the Savages at the village Stole two of their guns when they were asleep last night, but when Capt. Lewis went to the village they Scared them So that they gave them up again. we took plank from the old village to make us Camps &C.

Whitehouse, November 15, 1805 ...
We had a considerable quantity of rain during last night, & this morning we had wet rainey weather. About 10 o'Clock A. M. the weather cleared off, & in the afternoon it became tolerable calm weather. We loaded our Canoes and went with the ebb tide down the River about 4 Miles, and passed a large Indian Village, which was evacuated & some springs, or small Creeks, which lay below Clifts of rocks on both sides of the River. The Country appeared to lay lower than it had been. We encamped at a sand beach [Station Camp] , at the head, or upper part of a large bay [Baker Bay]. One of the Men that had went down the River in the Canoe, joined us here. He informed us, that the Indians had stole several of their Guns last night; but they scared the Indians so much; that they gave them up to them this morning. He mentioned that Captain Lewis had gone on, to another Bay. We found plank to make up our Encampments with.

Clark, November 16, 1805 ...
S 80 W. 2 Miles to a point of a low bottom on the Stard. Side [Station Camp] (where we Encamped 10 days in a narrow bottom Slashey in full view of the Ocian) passed a Small Creek at 1 mile an old Chin nook Village of 36 houses at 1 miles a butifull Sand beech and narrow bottom below the Creek on Stard.

S. 86 W. 11 Miles Computed to Cape Disapointment [Cape Disappointment] the enterance of this great river [Columbia River] into the great Pacific Ocian [Pacific Ocean] a large Sand bar off Point Adams [Point Adams, Oregon]. a Deep bay to the Stard. [Baker Bay] with 2 Creeks falling into it [Chinook River and Wallacut River] and the Coast for a fiew Leagues to the N W Shall be discribed here after.

Journey to the PacificReturn to

*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

  • Hay, K.G., 2004, The Lewis and Clark Columbia River Water Trail, Timber Press, Portland;
  • U.S. National Park Service website, 2004, Fort Clatsop National Memorial;
  • Welcome to Wakiakum County website, 2004,

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.
November 2013