Thursday, April 13, 2017

Visiting Fort Clatsop with Kids

Fort Clatsop was the winter encampment for the Corps of Discovery from December 1805 to March 1806.
Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and their men crossed the south shore of the Columbia River and built a small for that would be their winter home.
They absolutely needed the rest.  Over the past year, they had made the difficult journey upstream of the Missouri River and somehow crossed the Rocky Mountains.  They had faced wild grizzly bears, bloodthirsty Indians, horrible bouts of sickness, plaguing mosquitoes, endless miles of wilderness, and total uncertainty
The fort sits just a few miles up from Netual Creek which is now called the Lewis and Clark River.  It has an ample supply of elk and deep and beaver. 
The fort was completed on Christmas Eve and was named in honor of the local Indian tribes who were tough negotiators.  The winter months proved brutal.  The constant Oregon rain soaked their fur pelts causing lice and vermin to run wild. They attempted to use this time for journaling, but the papers were soaked.  Despite this, Clark was able to create scaled maps of their arduous journey that are incredibly accurate to this day.
My daughters hit Fort Clatsop ready for some awesome Lewis and Clark adventure... we were not disappointed.
The expedition departed on March 23, 1806 and planned alternative routes back home, even planning on separating to better map the area.  
Although this fort is a recreation, visiting here is a very emotional and profound experience for anyone.  While on the Oregon Coast, after scratching their names into trees, the participants of the Corps of Discovery all voted on what to do:  Return over the Rocky Mountains or Winter Along the Coast.  Everyone had a vote, including their shoshone guide, Sacagawea and York, Clark's slave. There's an intimacy in this kind of history, retracing the footsteps, reading the inner most thoughts through journals and letters.  It's a very special and moving place, laying still in the forest... but bursting with history come alive. 

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