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Fort Clatsop

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Inside Fort Clatsop (bobcat)
Candlemaking reenactment, Fort Clatsop (bobcat)


Fort Clatsop served as Lewis and Clark's winter camp from December 1805 to March 1806, almost four months. The Corps of Discovery spent a fairly mundane existence here as they waited out the damp, cold, dark months. There was trade with the local Chinook Indians, repair of equipment and clothing, food gathering and hunting, and a general impulse to reprovision for the long journey home. Some members of the Corps were deputed to work at boiling sea water to make salt on the beach in what is now Seaside.

There's a visitor center here, short interpretive trails, and a full replica of the fort as described in the two leaders' journals. Fort Clatsop is now part of the Lewis & Clark National Historical Park and the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail. During the summer months, reenactors portray the chores of that long, damp winter. The original reconstruction of the fort was completed in 1955, but this version burned down in 2005. The next model perhaps more faithfully recaptures the layout and roughness of the temporary settlement. When Lewis and Clark left in March 1806, they left the fort buildings to Chief Concomly. Some of the material was repurposed by the Chinooks, but the remainder served as a redoubt and storage facility. All traces of the fort had vanished by the mid-19th century, but it is believed the present reconstruction is close to the original site.

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