Fort Clatsop
Lewis & Clark Nat'l Historic Park

Lewis & Clark and the Corps of Discovery reached the Pacific Ocean at Cape Disappointment in November 1805, but chose to spend the winter at Fort Clatsop. The wooden stockade-style fort wasn't all that comfy (blankets were itchy with fleas, everyone had terrible colds) and they had to spend a lot of time indoors, due to endless rainy weather. In March 1806, the expedition departed Fort Clatsop on their homeward journey. Tip: If you come in winter, kids will get a real first-hand experience of rain at Fort Clatsop

The fort is named after the Clatsop Indians living here. The Corps of Discovery were on good terms with the tribe, who came to the fort every day bringing food and other items to trade. The Clatsop Indians were incredible woodworkers, making beautiful dugout canoes and large wooden long houses. They wore intricate sea otter capes and cedar bark hats, beaded bracelets and seashell necklaces.

During the winter, the Corps spent their time preparing for the return journey. Lewis made extensive notes about the animals, plants and people of the area, while Clark worked on his maps. Everyone sewed moccasins and elk skin clothing, made candles, repaired weapons, and bartered dried fish and roots from the Clatsop. Salt was a necessity for preserving food, so they went to the coast to set up a salt works (visit the salt works in Seaside today).

Visitor Center - Check out the exhibits and movie about Lewis & Clark, and ask about the daily demonstration schedule. Learn about animals of the area, eagles, beavers, elk, raccoons, deer, at the touch table. With the Junior Ranger Program, kids can get a Lewis and Clark patch and captain badge.
Fort Clatsop - Step into an accurate replica of the wooden fort where the Corps (33 people) spent the winter. Sit in a bunk bed and imagine trying to sleep with fleas biting all night. Watch demonstrations of work done by the Corp, such as firing a rifle, quill pen writing, candle making, sewing clothing, and hear talks about the youngest member of the expedition, Sacajawea's baby boy, Jean Baptiste, nicknamed Pomp.
Netul River Trail - Walk down the Netul River Trail a short distance to the Historic Canoe Landing, the spot where Lewis and Clark arrived on Dec. 7, 1805 to establish Fort Clatsop. At the canoe landing are replicas of dugout canoes, and looking out over the river, it's easy to imagine what it was like in the early 19th century.
From the canoe landing, continue on the trail down along the river. From Fort Clatsop it's 1.5 miles to Netul Landing and then take the shuttle bus back to the visitor center. At Netul Landing are picnic tables and a covered shelter to wait for the shuttle bus.
Fort to the Sea Trail - This is a longer trail that goes from Fort Clatsop to Sunset Beach, 6.5 miles. Hike down the trail through the thick woods, grasslands and dunes as much as the kids feel like, going as far as Clatsop Ridge is an easy hike.
Fort Stevens State Park - A short distance from Fort Clatsop, in Fort Stevens Historic Site is a replica of a Clatsop long house, weathered gray wood on the outside, inside a fire ring and places to sleep. The long house is situated where the tribe lived along the Columbia River.
Tip: Down the Oregon coast, check out two other Lewis and Clark sites, the Salt Works at Seaside and Cannon Beach, where a large whale washed up on the sand, and the Corps brought back blubber. And go across the Astoria Bridge to Cape Disappointment in Washington state, the spot where the expedition reached the Pacific Ocean.
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