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Of Lava and Lahars

The Journey Begins

Journey on the Great River


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Image, 2004, Grays Bay, Washington

    On November 7, 1805 Clark describes a joyful day in camp, they are in view of their goal, the Pacific Ocean. However, it is Gray's Bay (pictured left), an estuary of the Columbia Rver, in view. It wasn't until November 18th that the expedition reached the ocean. There is plaque near the spot where one of the most important misspellings in U.S. history was written.

                               "Ocian in view! O! The joy."

    In Late November they sought out a site to make their witner quarters. Thorugh a majority vote -in which Sacagewea and York were allowed to participate- they decided to set up camp on the south bank of the Columbia river near the coast. The chosen site had plentiful elk (which could be used for food and clothing- their current clothes were rotting due to the constant moisture), trees for building matieral and for making fire, and it was near ocena water which could br boiled for needed salt. Also,the nearby Clatsop Indians were friendlier than the Chinooks. Lewis wrote that their chief, Coboway, "has been much more kind an[d] hospitible to us than any other indian in this neigbourhood."

     After having finished Ft. Clatsop in 15 days, the men goot ot work making items that were needed for the journey home. 338 pairs of moccasins and other clothes were made from elk skin, salt was boiled otu of the ocean water, and candles were made from tallow. Clark worked on his map of the areas that they had traveled. Lewis wrote many pages in his journal describing previously unkown flora and fauna.

                                      "O! How horriable is the day." 

     When the miserable winter at Ft. Clatsop was finally over, it was time for the expedition to head back to St. Louis. March 23, 1806 Ft. Clatsop was given to the Clatsops, it was a shack compared to their own homes which were subterranean for good insulation as well as protection from enemies. One of the reasons for giving away Ft. Clatsop was to make up for stealing a canoe when denied one to be used for their trip.

Wonderful Weather

Out of the 106 days stayed at Ft. Clatsop, Only 12 were free of rain or snow and 6 had clear skies. There were also reports of frost bite.

Image, 2004, Campsites


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Oct 16: The Corps of Discovery reaches the Columbia River.


Oct 18: Clark spots Mt. Hood in the distance and knows they are near the ocean.


Nov 7: The Corps mistakes Gray's Bay for the Pacific Ocean.


Nov 18: The expedition reaches the Pacific Ocean.


Nov 24: The Corps vote on a site for their winter camp.


Winter at Ft. Clatsop: Out of 106 days, only 12 were free of precipitation and 6 were sunny.


Dec 24: Ft. Clatsop is finished.



March 23: Ft. Clatsop is given to the Clatsop Indians and the expedition heads back to St. Louis.