Tuesday, June 9, 2009
FORT CLATSOP, LEWIS AND CLARK
-Weather cooperated yesterday, the sun shone bright as we walked in the very footsteps of Lewis and Clark, from their landing on the riverbank to the place they built their fort. They named it to honor the friendly Clatsop Indians.
The Fort Clatsop Visitors Center reminds us that buying the Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of our country and forever changed the course of the world. Pretty heady stuff.
I'd forgotten so many details of the Lewis and Clark expeditions wonderful saga; the talent of the two men who literally measured their way across those thousands of miles of wild and exciting country. Half of the plant specimens they gathered and named still exist. They met hostile and friendly Indians but managed to communicate and befriend them. Not a shot was fired in anger. That, in itself, was an amazing accomplishment.
The two men served as biologists, scientists, hunters,doctors, explorers, builders, soldiers, navigators and leaders of men. I promised myself to reread the book that includes their journals of this marvelous journey.
Fort Clatsop was restored in the 1980's only to burn down and get rebuilt in 2007/08. The picture shows the newness of the wood sitting in an old growth forest.
From the Indians, they learned what plants were edible and medicinal. They learned to build dugouts from river tribes along the way. Dugouts weren't dependable ocean going vessels The Clatsop and Chinook used wider, lighter, high prow cedar canoes in the rough waters where river met ocean.
The party chose the Oregon side of the Columbia river to build their fort after being trapped by an horrific storm on rocky cliffs for six days on the opposite side of the river. That spot is named Dismal Niche. There are many hiking trails and sights to see at this wonderful National Park.
Nothing was named for Sacagawea, their indispensable guide, but, it was the way of things then, to disregard the accomplishments of women. Without her, they may not have survived the trip.