Note: This is a repost of a blog from our travels on the Oregon coast, one of our favorite places in the country.
We had made arrangements to tour Fort Clatsop, where the Lewis and Clark Expedition spent a cold, wet winter after arriving on the Oregon coast at the end of their epic journey across the country, so yesterday we took a break from the mailing chores to drive back across the Columbia River to the fort.
The fort is a part of Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, one of America’s newest national parks, and includes hiking trails, a very nice Visitor Center, and a replica of the crude log fort where the explorers lived from December, 1804 to March, 1805.
We watched two videos in the Visitor Center, one on the Voyage of Discovery, and another from the local Indians’ point of view, about these strange new arrivals to their traditional homelands. Then we toured the small museum, which had displays of beads and other goods the explorers brought along to trade with the Indians, as well as the many items the Indians made from cedar trees – everything from clothing, woven hats, baskets, and canoes.
It has been raining for a couple of days now, but we popped open umbrellas and walked a couple of hundred yards down a trail to the log fort, where a costumed interpreter named Tom told us about the extensive planning that went into the expedition, the hardships the explorers faced on their journey, and how Meriwether Lewis and William Clark had the perfect combination of skills and experience to lead the adventure.
Then Tom demonstrated loading and firing a flintlock musket like the ones the explorers used during their trip. Though slow to load and fire, the muskets served the adventurers well on their journey.
We have been to a lot of historic sites in our travels, and listened to a lot of docents and interpreters in our time, but I don’t think we’ve encountered many people who could compare to Tom when it comes to having such a broad knowledge of his subject, and the ability to share it so well. And no wonder, Tom spent part of his working life as a school teacher! I bet he was a favorite with his students!
When we left Fort Clatsop, we drove out to the beach at Fort Stevens State Park, and braved the cold wind and light rain to see the rusted hulk of the Peter Iredale, a four-masted steel sailing ship that wrecked in a squall on Clatsop Spit on October 25, 1906. Fortunately, the crew of 25, and two stowaways, survived, and today the rusted bow of the ship is all that remains, as a popular tourist attraction.
Fort Stevens served the United States from the Civil War until after World War II, protecting the coast and the Columbia River from enemy invasion. On June 21, 1942, a Japanese submarine shelled the fort’s Battery Russell, in what would be the only attack on a mainland American military installation during World War II. Nobody was injured in the attack, and only minor damage was done to the fort. Today, the fort has a few gun emplacements left, and a handful of concrete buildings, as well as a small museum.
By the time we left Fort Stevens, it was late in the afternoon and we were tired and hungry. We drove back to Astoria and had dinner at the Golden Luck, an excellent Chinese restaurant with a great view of the bridge over the Columbia River. Another great day spent making memories in a beautiful place
Thought For The Day – I’ll try being nicer if you’ll try being smarter.