April 16, 2006
Week ending April 22: The Dalles and John
Day Dam area
Highlights: While Capt. Clark scouts ahead
to trade for horses, and other men make packsaddles for their
cross-country shortcut to the Bitterroots, Lewis spends time
at their “rock fort” campsite describing local
plants (like the golden currant and wild hyacinth) and animals
(like the western gray squirrel). While visiting villages
on the river, Clark enjoys steamed onions but can’t
sleep because of mice in his host’s bed mats. Noticing
buffalo hides from the Missouri plains, seeing stacks of
stored dried salmon from last fall, and experiencing tough
bargaining, the captains soon realize they are in a major
commodity exchange center of the West. While waiting for
the spring salmon run, tribes engage in complex gambling
games using bones and sticks. Lewis notes distinct climate
and vegetation differences in the Columbia Gorge region,
particularly the scarcity of wood for their fires on the
east side. The party moves slowly upriver and portages around
today’s Celilo Falls using ropes to maneuver their
last two canoes. Along the riverbanks, Indians watch all
these activities with interest, sometimes helping themselves
to Expedition equipment if left exposed. A soldier still
suffering from a bad back since leaving Fort Clatsop rides
in a canoe and then gets a horse of his own. After several
days of trading away clothing and most of their kettles,
the Corps ends up with ten horses to carry equipment overland.
Words from the Journals: Clark lists one
of his unsuccessful bids for horses: “a blue robe,
Callico Shirt, a handkercef, 5 parcels of paint, a knife,
jewelry, 4 braces of ribin, a pice of Brass and about 6 braces
of yellow beeds plus my large blue blanket, my Coat, Sword & Plume
none of which Seem to entice those people…” Upset
by what they believe to be inhospitable treatment by local
residents, Lewis decides not to leave anything of value behind: “we
Cut up two of our Canoes for fire wood verry much to the
Sagreen (chagrin) of the natives notwithstanding they would
give us nothing for them.”
Today’s connections: Capt. Lewis
mentions trading his “irons” for horses in this
area. The Lewis branding iron owned by Oregon Historical
Society was found along the mid- Columbia River in the 1890s.
Tribes still gather at Celilo Falls 200 years later, for
the traditional “first salmon” ceremony. This
year, however, only one salmon was caught as the 2006 fish
counts at the dams are drastically reduced.
Bicentennial events in the Pacific Northwest: The
National Park Service traveling Bicentennial exhibit and
related displays are open to visitors at Warm Springs, Oregon
April 22-25. Presentations will include contemporary Indian
culture and how Columbia River tribes viewed the Corps of
Discovery. Friends of the Plankhouse at Ridgefield Wildlife
Refuge have a full afternoon of family activities Saturday,
April 22 followed by a native food tasting and raffle for
Chinook Indian art at Ridgefield Community Center. See details
April 9, 2006
Week ending April 15: Beacon Rock to The
Highlights: It takes three days to cover
seven miles in some of the most beautiful parts of the Gorge.
Fierce rapids force the men use elkskin ropes to pull the
canoes upstream. They must portage three miles around the
roughest water in some of the most beautiful parts of the
Gorge. After losing one canoe in the battle, and damaging
the others, Capt. Lewis sends a group ahead to barter for
a replacement and gather pitch from trees to seal the cracks.
Friendly Indians trade them two small canoes for some skins.
Encounters with other natives are not as cordial, and security
becomes a concern. Someone tries to steal Seaman, Lewis’s
Newfoundland dog, and the Captain sends three men with orders
to retrieve the dog at any cost (and Seaman is turned over).
The captains notice the housing, hairstyles and clothing
of tribes of the mid-Columbia are different from those living
downriver. Particularly noteworthy are skins of the mountain
goat and big horn sheep, and the price goes up when they
express interest. The captains know horses will speed their
return journey to the Bitterroots, so they try to buy as
many as they can.
Words from the Journals: Despite nasty
weather and heavy spring run-off in the Columbia, Lewis briefly
mentions Multnomah Falls and other legendary falls we enjoy
today: “we passed several beautiful cascades which
fell from a great hight over the stupendious rocks which
close the river on both sides.” Worried about security,
Lewis writes “we informed the nativ’s by Signs
that if the indians insulted our men or Stold our property
we Should Certainly put them to death.” After buying
several dogs for camp food, Lewis writes “the dog now
constitutes a considerable part of our subsistence…I
prefer it to lean venison or Elk, and is very far superior
to the horse...”
Today’s connections: Tribal burial
sites the explorers describe at Lower and Upper Memaloose
Islands are interpreted at Memaloose Wayside on I-84. The
expedition’s Rock Fort campsite is in a light industrial
area of The Dalles and remains an important historic site
with good signage.
Bicentennial events in the Pacific Northwest: Re-enactors
are continuing their journey upstream in authentic dugouts
and spending each night in real campsites. National Guard
members provide backup assistance. For a schedule, see www.lewisandclark.net.
Visit the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center in Stevenson,
Washington and the visitors center at Bonneville Dam to appreciate
more about the Expedition’s experience through the
Gorge and the tribes whose descendants are still here today.
April 2, 2006
Week ending April 8: Washougal and into
Highlights: Reports from upriver tribes
verify the lack of game and salmon ahead, so hunters bring
in meat to dry over low-burning campfires for six days. Capt.
Lewis astonishes some visitors with his air gun. Local residents
point out the Corps missed a large river the captains will
later name Multnomah (now the Willamette). Hired for a magnifying
glass, a guide leads Clark’s small party back downstream
overnight to explore the Willamette, going as far up the
river as today’s St. Johns Bridge area. Journals for
this week add descriptions of several tribes and villages
(including one at today’s Portland Airport), dogwood
trees, salmonberries, mountain quail, as well as insects
such as ticks, long-legged spiders and butterflies. The captains
draw the layout of a typical Upper Chinookan-style plankhouse,
a long multi-family dwelling with separate apartments. Hunters
capture three black bear cubs which they exchange with local
Indians for wapato (popular potato-like bulbs growing in
Words from the Journals: Seeking wapato
from reluctant sellers at one local villages, Clark throws
a piece of “portfire” (a fire starter—its
neither crude nor a match, but more of a flash and a pop
fire starter) into their fire and it immediately flashes
brightly. He then uses a magnet to twirl the needle on his
compass. The families are so alarmed they drop several parcels
of wapato at the captain’s feet and “begged me
to take out the bad fire” while “a very old blind
man implored his god for protection.” Clark quickly
regrets this deception, smokes a pipe with them, and pays
the women the “full amount” for the wapato.
Today’s connections: Clark’s
forecast of the region’s agriculture potential: “Soil
of the richest quality.” His prediction about the Willamette
River will also come true: the water is “Sufficiently
deep for a Man of War or Ship of any burthen”(near
the Port of Portland’s Terminal 4). Home of Clark’s
guide is a village known as Nichaqwli (nee CHALK lee) near
today’s Blue Lake Park in Fairview. A monument to this
village has been created in a secluded area at the west end
of the lake, coordinated by the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage
Foundation, the Confederated Tribes of G rand Ronde, and
Metro. Native-designed art pieces suggest village life of
the time. Funding sources included Spirit Mountain Community
Fund, Regional Arts and Culture Council, Oregon Heritage
Commission and the National Park Service among others.
Book of the Week: A fine historical travelogue
of the Expedition’s journey along the Columbia is Stephen
Dow Beckham’s Lewis & Clark: From the Rockies to
the Pacific, with photography by Robert M. Reynolds.
Bicentennial events in the Pacific Northwest: Re-enactors
are continuing their journey upstream in authentic dugouts.
You will find they staying at the new Capt. William Clark
Park at Cottonwood Beach [Washougal]. Stop by for a visit!
For a schedule, see www.lewisandclark.net. Watch www.lcbo.net
for other events this spring. Corps II will be in Stevenson
March 26, 2006
Week ending April 1: Longview area to Washougal/Sandy
Highlights: As they make their way up
the Columbia, visitors in canoes from several riverbank villages
greet the Corps of Discovery daily to trade. On shore, hunters
watch a condor drag a large deer about 30 yards, skin it
and break the back bone. Remembering the Cathlapotle village
they passed on the downriver trip in November (present-day
Ridgefield, Washington Wildlife Refuge), the captains now
pull in for a closer look at the 14 plankhouses and residents.
They present a medal to the “first chief,” which
he immediately turns over to his wife. They also buy 12 dogs
to add to their food supply. Learning the spring salmon run
is stalled and remembering that game on the Columbia Plateau
is scarce, they camp at today’s Washougal and begin
to lay in provisions. Believing the Quicksand (Sandy) River
might drain California, they send two men to explore the
stream. After venturing up six miles, the men confirm what
local informants had told them: this stream is fed by the
Mt. Hood region and is not the mythical river that drains
California as they thought.
Words from the Journals: At one point
the captains see familiar chives that “form a perfect
turf and are quite as agreeably flavoured” as the ones
back home. At Cathlapotle, “the frogs are croaking
in the swamps and marshes; their notes do not differ from
those of the Atlantic states.” They describe how women
collect wapato by “getting into water up to their necks”,
loosening the small tubers with their toes, and “throwing
them into small canoes.” In the Portland/Vancouver
area, the captains accurately predict why settlers will soon
come: “this valley would maintain 40 or 50 thousands
souls if properly cultivated and is indeed the only desirable
situation for a settlement which I have seen on the west
side of the Rocky mountains.” Lewis provides a familiar
word picture of Mt. St. Helens before the 1980 eruption: “the
most noble looking object of its kind in nature..its figure
is a regular cone.”
Today’s connections: One of the
Expedition’s layovers for hunting and canoe repair
is on Deer Island in Columbia County, one of the few geographic
features named by the captains still on maps today. At today’s
Sauvie Island, abundant stands of wapato still grow in waterways
as a reminder of why the captains originally named this island
for that valuable staple 200 years ago.
Bicentennial events in the Pacific Northwest: Learn
about the Corps of Discovery in the Portland/Vancouver area
at several locations this weekend: the Cathlapotle replica
plankhouse at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge (www.plankhouse.org),
a day-long exhibition at Troutdale Historical Society April
1; and a re-enactment of the Corps’ tour of the Willamette
River at 3:00 p.m. Sunday, April 2 at Cathedral Park at St.
Johns Bridge. The National Park Service traveling exhibit
at Grand Ronde closes April 2 and then opens again April
22 at Warm Springs.
March 19, 2006
Week ending March 25: Fort Clatsop to Clatskanie,
Highlights: Rain, hail and wind continue
to keep the explorers penned up inside as they prepare to
leave Fort Clatsop earlier than originally planned. The captains
issue certificates of good conduct to visiting chiefs along
with lists of the explorers in the Corps of Discovery and
their mission. They turn over their winter “huts and
furniture” to friendly Clatsop chief Coboway. Two rifles
are repaired by their gunsmith and the captains praise themselves
for bringing extra parts that guaranteed their firearms were
always in working order over the past two years. At 1 p.m.
on March 23, the Corps says farewell to Fort Clatsop and
push up river. Over the next two and a half days they travel
over 45 miles through islands along the south shore of the
Columbia to the Clatskanie River area, occasionally hunting
and trading with native villagers along the way.
Words from the Journals: Final physical
descriptions of local Clatsop Indians include the process
for flattening the heads of infants, customary clothing,
jewelry (beads and bracelets of copper and iron), and even
how men and women wear their hair (“loosly flowing
on the back and sholders, divided in center and behind the
ear on each side”). They also record the words used
by local tribes to describe white visitors like the Corps
(“cloth men” or blanket people). Regarding family
life in the region, the captains notice more equality in
male and female roles: “The men of these nations partake
of much more of the domestic drudgery than I had first supposed…they
collect and prepare all the fuel, make the fires, assist
in cleansing and preparing the fish and always cook for feasts
and the strangers who visit them.” Other men’s
chores apparently include building homes, canoes and wooden
utensils. However, men and women share responsibilities for
taking care of the canoes. On an optimistic note after months
of gray days, Capt. Lewis writes “Altho’ we have
not fared sumptuously this winter and spring at Fort Clatsop,
we have lived quite as comfortably as we had any reason to
expect we should...” Despite the rough weather, Lewis
notes: “the leafing of the hucklebury riminds us of
Today’s connections: According to
Lewis, body piercings were also the fashion 200 years ago
on the lower Columbia, particularly dentalium shells through
the nose with shells suspended by string. Dentalium shells,
then an extremely valuable trade item, were harvested off
the shores of today’s Vancouver Island.
Bicentennial events in the Pacific Northwest: Mike
Carrick, expert on firearms carried by the Expedition, will
make two free public presentations over the next week: 11
a.m. Saturday, March 25 at Tualatin Heritage Center, 8700
SW Sweek Drive, and again at Troutdale Historical Society,
Saturday April 1 as part of a day-long commemoration of the
Corps’ visit to the Sandy River area. For a schedule
of re-enactors following the return route, including several
descendants of original Corps of Discovery members, see www.lewisandclark.net They
welcome visitor questions about what it’s like to travel
the river in dugout canoes today following 1800 Army camp
routines (with a few modern touches). The National Park Service
traveling exhibit moves on to Grand Ronde March 25-April
2 hosted by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. See http://www.lewisclarkandbeyond.com/schedule for
a daily schedule of performances.
March 12, 2006
Week ending March 18: Fort Clatsop.
Highlights: Winter sea life along the
coast and estuary take several pages of the journals as the
captains list shellfish (clams, mussels, periwinkles), seaweed
(kelp), mammals (porpoises, whales) and more descriptions
of birds, trout, steelhead and salmon. Of particular interest
to the easterners is how local tribes dry salmon roe for
later eating and how all parts of a whale are used. While
local residents also relish eating fresh porpoise, the captains
find the taste “disagreeable.” Worries about
weather and rough river travel to reach the more protected
Cathlamet area prompt the captains to leave Fort Clatsop
earlier than April 1. They send men to kill more elk and
buy two more canoes. Their inventory of trade goods is now
extremely low (smaller articles would fill one handkerchief)
plus used clothing and several robes, including five made
from their large U.S. flag. Leather work during their many
days of confinement resulted in 358 pairs of moccasins for
the return trip. A local “old baud” sets up camp
nearby offering several women for sexual favors, but after
treating several cases of venereal disease all winter, and
with their impending departure, the captains warn the men
to refrain. A Quinault Indian visitor from the northern coast
(Willapa Bay) tells of trade ships visiting his area at this
Words from the Journals: Looking ahead,
the captains worry about their slim stock of trade goods
for horses and food they will need for the return trip: “a
scant dependence indeed for the tour distance before us.” The
sharp Chinookan traders squeeze Lewis’s barely-used
uniform and “half-carrot” of tobacco for one
cedar canoe “which is equal in value to a wife and
generally given in exchange to the daughter for a daughter.” Watching
to see if the men ignore temptation by the “old baud”,
Capt. Lewis writes “I believe notwithstanding every
effort of their winning graces, the men have preserved their
constancy to the vow of celibacy.”
Today’s connections: When is it
OK to break a code of conduct? The captains authorize stealing
of a second Chinookan canoe on the pretense it was payback
for elk carcasses taken earlier in the winter by local residents
(even though the offenders had already tried to make recompense).
The cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki) is one of many
plant and animal species today that bear the name of Lewis
Books of the Week: Popular Naselle, Washington speaker and writer Rex Ziak
has a new book Lewis and Clark: Down and Up the Columbia River (Moffitt House
Press) featuring an eight-foot fold out map with commentary.
Bicentennial events in the Pacific Northwest: The
free exhibit and hourly performances at the traveling National
Park Service Corps of Discovery II and Tent of Many Voices
runs March 13-20 in St. Helens, then travels to Grand Ronde
for two weeks. See www.lcbo.net for
details. Presentations in the tent alternate between tribal
stories and Lewis and Clark history, natural science and
implications for today. Re-enactors and exhibits from other
state and federal agencies will be stationed nearby.
March 5, 2006
Week ending March 11: Fort Clatsop.
Highlights: Friendly Clatsop Indian chief
Coboway brings along two of his children with gifts of dried
smelt which the captains deem “excellent..and very
acceptable particularly at this moment.” Of the several
men in the party who are convalescing, their soldier Bratton
continues to suffer severe pain in his lower back. The captains
wish they could supply a better diet for those suffering
from various illnesses and injuries. Often using comparisons
to species back home, they continue describing herons, fishing
hawks, kingfishers, gulls, cormorants, loons, geese, swans,
mallards and several other ducks, divers, and teal. The golden
eagle rates several paragraphs along with commentary on how
tribes across the country revere its tail feathers for ceremonies
and regalia. Snakes and lizards are added to their wildlife
lists. Hunters report several elk killed, but some meat must
be hauled five miles. Hunters also say they measured one “pine
tree” (sitka spruce) 300 feet tall and 42 feet around.
Words from the Journals: Entries about
bird life also involved a taste test. Of the cormorant, Capt.
Clark says “we found this bird fat and tolerably flavoured
as we decended the Columbia.” Of one duck, Lewis says
it is “equally delicious” as those in the United
States but two others are “unfit for uce.” After
one man returns from trading with the Cathlamet Indians for
smelt, fresh sturgeon and wapato, this welcome food prompts
Lewis to write “we once more live in clover.”
Today’s connections: During the
dreary winter at Fort Clatsop, the captains dutifully followed
Jefferson’s instructions to make copies of their journals
in case one set were lost, even reproducing several fine
drawings of fish and the heads of birds. How they needed
a photocopy machine! Clark, the map maker, typically rewrites
Lewis’s entries word for word, but still adds his own
Books of the Week: How the several journalists kept their records and how editors
over the years have published various versions is an interesting story itself.
Bernard DeVoto produced an early history of the journals. Gary Moulton, editor
of the most recent comprehensive collection, provides good background as well.
James Holmberg’s 2005 edition of the Sgt. Floyd journal is the most recent
addition to the journal bookshelf. The Lewis & Clark College library holds
many of these rare editions available for viewing by special appointment.
Bicentennial events in the Pacific Northwest: Sunday,
March 11 is the last day of the National Lewis and Clark
Exhibition at Oregon Historical Society. Crowds have been
growing the last month. For a look at the Lewis and Clark
story from the view of tribes, visit Clark County Historical
Society’s “Native Perspectives on the Trail:
A Contemporary American Indian Art Portfolio.” The
museum is located at 1511 Main St. in Vancouver. Plan ahead
for the return of the National Park Service Corps of Discovery
II and Tent of Many Voices free exhibition in St. Helens
February 26, 2006
Week ending March 4: Fort Clatsop.
Highlights: Hunters search far afield
for the prized elk as food supplies begin to run low. In
the meantime, the Corps feasts on smelt, sturgeon and wapato
(their “potato”) purchased from visiting Clatsop
Indians. They learn how local residents cook sturgeon in
a pit lined with hot stones interspersing cuts of fish between
layers of bush branches topped by a cover of woven mats.
Water poured through the mesh vaporizes when hitting the
hot stones, thus steaming the sturgeon filets. The captains
continue their careful scientific descriptions of animal
life from the Montana plains to the Pacific, often comparing
their new discoveries to familiar species back in the United
States. This week they focus on smaller four-legged creatures:
mountain beaver, badger, wood rat, mouse, mole, skunk, hare,
and rabbit. These birds rate their attention: grouse, pheasant,
crow, blackbird, hawks, turtle dove, robin, woodpecker, wren,
snipe, sparrow, lark, crane and dozens of aquatic birds.
Visiting Tillamook Indians offer to sell Clark a 10-year
old boy captured from another tribe. The captains learn these “slaves” are
adopted into families as if they were their own children.
Words from the Journals: Constant cold,
rain, sick men, and the routines of camp life are beginning
to have a psychological impact on the captains: “..we
are counting the days which seperate us from the 1st of April
and which bind us to fort Clatsop.” The captains observe
how local tribes eat the root of cattail which they believe
would be an “excellent starch.”
Today’s connections: Northwesterners
can sympathize with the Corps of Discovery waiting for the
long, wet days to end. Winter 1806 seems to be more snowy
at the coast than usual. The captains say “a high mountain” 18
miles from Fort Clatsop (likely today’s Saddle Mountain)
is covered in snow most of the winter.
Book of the Week: Mike Lapinski’s
The Elk Mystique, published by Stoneydale Press Publishing
Co. and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, provides a good overview
of why the “wapiti” has been an important part
of American life for centuries.
Website of the Week: Keep checking www.lewis-clark.org for
new entries. This remains the premier site for background
on the Corps of Discovery. Excellent graphics and sound bites
include the call of an elk.
Bicentennial events in the Pacific Northwest: Plan
ahead to attend the next national bicentennial event sponsored
by the Nez Perce Tribe June 14-17 in Lewiston, Idaho and
nearby historic areas. Go to www.thesummerofpeace.org for
February 19, 2006
Week ending February 25: Fort Clatsop.
Highlights: With time to review and revise their notes,
the captains continue their descriptions of animal
species over the past months. This time they focus on
deer, elk, foxes, raccoons, sheep, squirrels and wolves.
One of the men brings cranberries for the sick. Lewis
that the Corps is becoming too comfortable with neighboring
tribes and visitors and are letting down their guard.
Rain continues to disrupt hunting and other daily activities.
Using head measurements taken earlier, several Clatsop
Indian visitors bring custom-made woven cedar bark
hats that are popular items. Capt. Lewis describes why
otter pelt is “the most delightfull fur in the world”,
pointing to its silky sheen interspersed with “fine
black Shining hairs.” Smelt (thought to be herring
and anchovies by the captains) are starting to run in the
Columbia and are “skimmed or scooped” with
nets by native fishermen about 40 miles upriver. “I
think them superior to any fish I ever tasted,” says
Words from the Journals: Once again the journal keepers
rave about the artistry of local tribes: “the woodwork and
sculpture of these people as well as these hats and their waterproof
baskets evince an ingenuity by no means common among the Aborigines
of America.” On the men’s health: “we have
not had as many sick at any one time since we left Wood River…the
general complaint seams to be bad colds and fevers, something
I believe of the influenza.” Too many clouds at the coast
keep the explorers from gathering mapmaking and weather data: “I
am mortfyed at not having it in my power to make more celestial
observations since we have been at Fort Clatsop, but such has
been the state of the weather that I have found it utterly
Today’s connections: Smelt dippers are on the lookout
this month for the mysterious “eulachon” running
up the Sandy and Cowlitz Rivers. In recent years the migrations
have been sporadic. Lewis and Clark quickly learned to love
this tasty fish known also as candlefish because their oily
bodies burned when dried and lighted.
Book of the Week: A finely-detailed smelt drawing from
the journals is the cover art for Paul Cutright’s comprehensive
guide to flora and fauna documented by the explorers titled
Lewis and Clark: Pioneering Naturalists.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Times to
IMAX film “Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West” are
posted at www.omsi.edu. Only three more weeks left to visit
the National Lewis and Clark Exhibition at Oregon
February 12, 2006
Week ending February 18: Fort Clatsop.
Highlights: Three Northwest icons rate
several paragraphs and drawings in the captains’ journals
this week: lush ferns, an “evergreen shrub” we
will later know as Oregon grape, and a condor. Saltmakers
at today’s Seaside report they have made three bushels
in all, so the captains decide this is enough for the return
trip. They order the cairn closed and equipment hauled back
to the fort. One of the party purchases a robe made from
the three “tiger cat” skins. Later we know this
to be the Oregon bobcat, another new discovery for scientists.
Capt. Lewis takes time to list all the four-legged mammals
they’ve seen on the trip, noting particularly the horses
used by tribes between the Rockies and Cascades. Two men
continue to be very sick with various treatments given, including
sage tea. The Corps learns one of the trade ships that sometimes
visits the Columbia River mouth usually has three cows on
board, prompting the captains to believe there must be a
white settlement on the north coast.
Words from the Journals: Hunters wound
a condor with a wingspan of over nine feet. They report it
made a “loud noise very much like the barking of a
dog.” The captains provide three pages of details about
this legendary “thunderbird”. “I believe
this to be the largest Bird of North America” says
Clark. Finishing much of his map work, he finally declares: “we
now discover we have found the most practicable and navigable
passage across the Continent of North America.” They
believe the tribes’ “abundance and cheapness
of horses will be extremely advantageous” to future
Today’s connections: Oregon grape
is just one botanical find by Capt. Lewis that will later
become a Northwest state flower; Washington’s rhododendron
is another. The captains write glowingly of the Appaloosa
horses used by the Nez Perce Tribe. Youth and adults in that
tribe are again breeding, training and working with these
unique horses to keep Appaloosa traditions alive.
Book of the Week: An Oregon National Guard
officer/writer Timothy X. Merritt has teamed with photographer
Craig C. Harmel to publish Our Destiny Entwined: A Tale of
the Corps of Discovery’s Winter at the Pacific Coast
featuring photos of re-enactors who perform at Fort Clatsop.
Ordering information at www.thelewisandclarkexpedition.com.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Saltmakers
will recreate their camp February 17-19 at Seaside’s
Turnaround. Only four weeks left to visit the National Lewis
and Clark Exhibition at Oregon Historical Society. See www.ohs.org for
details. Volunteers can help move 400 logs for the new Fort
Clatsop by contacting Park Ranger Bob Conway at (253) 569-4193
or (503) 861-4400. Help is needed each afternoon and evening
from February 22 through March 21.
February 5, 2006
Week ending February 11: Fort Clatsop.
Highlights: The weather is unusually cold
in January and early February with several days of snow.
Ice greets the men on the river banks. Good news arrives
when a hunting party finds their lost native-made canoe in
a small inlet. It was earlier carried away by the tides and
winds. Capt. Lewis still puzzles over the various species
of conifers in the area, finally just numbering them 1,2,3,4,5.
Pressed leaves and stems from salal and vine maple will later
become new discoveries for botanists around the world. A
black bear surprises some of the men, but Clatsop Indian
neighbors assure them the bears are usually “in their
holes” now. Hunters finally retrieve several elk killed
days earlier, but some of the meat is missing and the captains
blame local residents. Several men suffer injuries and illness
while others stay busy jerking their elk meat which is hard
to do in their “huts” with continuous rain outside
keeping humidity high.
Words from the Journals: Probably glad
for a change in the menu, elk brisket, tongue and marrow
bones are a special treat for both dinner (lunch) and supper: “this
for Fort Clatsop is living in high Stile, and in fact fiesting...” The
captains learn that many years ago smallpox spread through
Indian villages along the Columbia and Pacific coast. Apparently
it took only four or five years for the disease to reduce
the population drastically.
Today’s connections: Berries from
salal, a familiar shrub in Pacific Northwest coastal areas,
were brought back by the Expedition and successfully propagated
by President Jefferson’s friends back home. Lewis writes
again about the pacific blackberry which grows thickly in
Columbia River country. This is one of the parent stocks
of our well-known Marionberry, but it was also a popular
fresh food (not dried) for local tribes. This berry is different
from the Himalayan blackberry now considered a nuisance.
Book of the Week: Two newer books on medical
aspects of the Lewis and Clark story are David Peck’s
Or Perish in the Attempt and Bruce Paton’s Lewis and
Clark: Doctors in the Wilderness.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Clark
County Historical Museum presents Native Perspectives on
the Trail: A Contemporary American Indian Art Portfolio,
an exhibition of contemporary prints by 15 American Indian
artists responding to the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial.
Call (360) 993-5679 or visit www.cchmuseum.org
January 29, 2006
Week ending February 4: Fort Clatsop.
Highlights: Details about life along the
lower Columbia fill many journal pages as the captains write
about and sketch canoes, canoe paddles, an unusual knife,
a typical Clatsop hat, a brown thrush, and games of chance
played by Clatsop Indians and other tribes they’ve
met on the trip. The work party 16 miles away at the coast
sends back its first bushel of salt scraped from pots kept
boiling night and day. Checking through their gunpowder supplies,
the captains are proud of their ingenious system for protecting
it in lead canisters sealed with a cork and wax. Despite
several spills in rivers, most containers are airtight and
intact. The men would melt the canisters to make bullets.
Words from the Journals: After telling
us how the Corps bought dozens of dogs to eat as they descended
the Columbia River, Capt. Lewis finally explains (in one
line) why local tribes value them: “the nativs of this
neighbourhood have a Small Dog which they make usefull in
hunting the elk.” In a reference to the Bible about
carvings on Chinookan Indian canoes, Lewis says: “their
images are representations of a great variety of grotesque
figures, any of which might be safely worshiped without committing
a breach of the commandments.” The captain notes “some
of the large canoes are upwards of 50 feet long and will
carry from 8 to 10 thousand lbs. or from 20 to thirty persons…”
Today’s connections: Straining his
botanical skills, Lewis admits difficulty distinguishing
between the various conifers of the Pacific Northwest. He
often calls them “pine.” Just as we marvel at
the world’s largest Sitka spruce not far from Seaside,
Lewis is particularly impressed by that species at the coast.
To see a building inspired by the Clatsop hat drawn by Lewis,
visit the chapel at Lewis & Clark College. The high stakes
Indian games described by the captains may be a precursor
of wagering at casinos today. However, 200 years ago these
games of risk were accompanied by singing.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Oregon
Historical Society offers several programs free with regular
museum admission: Tuesday, February 7: Landon Jones on “William
Clark: The Necessary American”, 7 p.m.; Wednesday,
February 8: Black Heritage Month program on York with Darrell
Millner, 7-9 pm.; Saturday, February 11: Lewis and Clark
Children's Theatre, 2-4 p.m. Players from Seattle's Theater
Troupe "Playback Theater," will interview children
about their connection to Lewis and Clark and then will "act
out" the children's responses. The Saltmakers return
to Seaside on President’s Day weekend near the turnaround.
Re-enactors will keep their pots boiling and answer questions
as if you were on the beach with them 200 years ago. Children
might want to bring something to trade. What would these
workers really want?
January 22, 2006
Week ending January 28: Fort Clatsop.
Highlights: Food is on the minds of the
Corps, both for their written record and their stomachs.
Two hunting teams are sent out from the Fort. One group recruits
some Clatsop Indian helpers to haul back their three elk
kills, but snow hides carcasses in the coastal range when
searchers go to retrieve the other team’s meat. The
explorers work hard to tan elk skins for moccasins and clothes.
Meanwhile at today’s Seaside, the saltmakers are also
trying to stay fed as they replenish the Fort’s salt
supply. One of the new roots the men learn to like tastes
like wheat dough. They observe local residents eat it “voraciously.” Another
root is too tough to chew easily, but reminds them of sweet
potato. Roots of the thistle taste better when eaten with
whale oil or beaten in cold water to resemble mush. The men’s
favorite is still the wapato, a starchy bulb which they note
grows only in waterways, ponds and lakes for 70 miles downstream
from today’s Sandy River. This is also one of the valuable
items of trade for upriver Chinook Indians who sell basketsfull
to Columbia estuary tribes and white visitors. Local berries
and fruit such as salal, huckleberries and Oregon crabapple
also receive detailed botanical analysis in the journals.
Wood from the crabapple is shaped into axe handles and wedges,
becoming “excessively hard when seasoned”.
Words from the Journals: Neighboring Clatsop Indians go along with some of
the hunters. Lewis says the visitors have “a very exalted opinion of
us as marksmen and the superior excellence of our rifles…my Air-gun also
astonishes them..(they) think it is great medicine.”
Today’s connection: Sexually-transmitted
disease is readily apparent to the captains who observe evidence
in local tribes and are treating their own men with mercury-laden
medicine. This is the evidence some archeologists were seeking
as they tried to pinpoint Fort Clatsop’s location.
Military code specified latrines should be 50 paces away.
No mercury traces were located at the present site during
several years of probes.
Book of the Week: Several cookbooks using
the Lewis and Clark theme have been published during the
Bicentennial period. Mary Gunderson has written two: Cooking
on the Lewis and Clark Expedition and The Food Journal of
Lewis and Clark.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Student
Conservation Association members from several states are
leading efforts to rebuild Fort Clatsop. Visitors are invited
to the Clatsop County Fairgrounds to see the construction
underway, talk with park staff and help with the work. The
Clatsop County Fairgrounds are located approximately 4 miles
south of Astoria on Hwy 202. For information, call Pete Field
(503) 861-4402. Log work should be completed in March with
re-assembly scheduled for spring at the original site.
January 15, 2006
Week ending January 21: Fort Clatsop.
Highlights: Camp routines for the Corps
of Discovery now begin to focus on President Jefferson’s
original instructions and less on basic shelter. Hunting
squads are dispatched to acquire food since bartering with
visiting tribes is depleting scarce trade goods. The captains
give up tools for making moccasins in return for edible roots
of ferns, thistles and the popular wapato. However, their
visitors will not exchange sea otter skins for anything but
the Expedition’s last six fathoms of blue beads. Lewis
writes several pages of valuable ethnographic descriptions
still used by researchers today. A main topic is hunting
techniques: bows and arrows (meatcutters find several elk
with old arrow points still lodged inside), snares, camouflaged
pits, deadfalls (a weight tripped and falling on the victim),
and spears (for beaver and otter), and guns (seldom effective,
using old American and British muskets, not rifles). Arrows
used for hunting waterfowl rate two separate drawings because
of their unique design. Lewis describes each step of construction
and how materials are applied (using elk sinew for thread
and sturgeon “gleue” for attaching feathers).
The arrow point end comes apart so the main shaft floats
in the water for retrieval and re-use. He also provides details
of bone fish hooks, keying a description to each part of
the drawing. On local housing, Clatsop-area plankhouses seem
shorter and more rectangular to the captains than the larger
style they saw upriver.
Words from the Journals: Lewis is fascinated
by hats and “baskets formed of cedar bark and beargrass
so closely interwoven that they are watertight without the
aid of gum or rosin; some of these are highly ornamented
with strans of beargrass which they dye of several colours
and interweave in a variety of figures.” Some are small
as a cup, writes Lewis, while others are up to five or six
gallons in size. Non-water-tight baskets sometimes carried
on their heads for holding berries, roots and fish are often
conical shaped. Cooking baskets apparently stand up well
to boiling water heated by hot rocks.
Today’s connection: Things always
work out in the end. Looking back on the decision about where
to spend the winter, Lewis expresses satisfaction with adequate
food supply, “houses dry and comfortable,” and
each man “content with his situation and fare.” Involving
the whole group in an important decision like where to build
the fort seems to be paying off. Describing Chinookan-style
hats “with a high crown rather larger at the top than
where it joins the brim,” Lewis sees similarities with
fashions in the US and Britain in the years 1800 and 1801.
Local traders know these are hot items for white men, much
needed gear for a rainy winter at the coast 200 years before
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Clark
County Museum in Vancouver offers a spectacular collection
of Northwest Indian baskets, complete with a color guidebook.
Many Chinook Indian artifacts are also on display. The museum
lists a number of public programs with a Lewis and Clark
connection at http://cchmuseum.org/.
The Vancouver Sympohony is also continuing its series of
Bicentennial offerings, one this weekend. Go to www.vancouversymphony.org/.
January 8, 2006
Week ending January 14: Fort Clatsop and
Highlights: Capt. Lewis stays at Fort
Clatsop to handle paperwork, and track down canoes that float
way, while Clark leads a group of men and Sacagawea to investigate
the beached whale and describe tribes and terrain. How the
native people boil down the blubber in cedar troughs using
hot stones draws their attention. Whale oil is highly valued
and not easily obtained by the explorers. Tribal informants
at the mouth of the Columbia easily name the captains or
names of ships which cross the bar from April till early
fall, buying hides and furs for eventual transport to Canton,
China. The captains also hear words they recognize (like
musket, powder, “damned rascal” and “sun
of a bitch”). They wonder if local tribes have been
talking with American or British seafarers. Lewis is impressed
with how tribal visitors inhale when smoking, but apparently
have had no exposure to alcohol from traders.
Words from the Journals: Clark recalls
the Bible story of Jonah, writing “I thank providence
for directing the whale to us; and think him much more kind
to us than he was to jonah, having Sent this monster to be
Swallowed by us in Sted of swallowing of us as jonah’s
did.” Clark is also a real promoter for Cannon Beach: “rocks
of emence Sise out at a great distance from the Shore and
against which the Seas brak with great force gives this Coast
a most romantic appearance.”
Today’s connection: Clark measures
the whale beached near Ecola State Park at 105’ long.
The gray whales traveling along the Oregon coast this time
of the year would rarely be much longer than 50 ft. Some
experts believe this particular specimen must have been a
blue whale whose range today is further out to sea. On the
other hand, local tribes would say Creator once again provides
these gifts when needed.
Website of the week: Find out more on
whales, and visit what might have been “Clark’s
Point of View” at Tillamook Head at www.lewis-clark.org.
This website adds new features monthly and continues to be
the best overall reference for the Lewis and Clark story.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: On
Thursday, January 19, Oregon Historical Society offers Sacagawea,
Bird Woman: An Indian Historian's View with Dr. Jeanne Eder.
Cocktails 6-9 p.m. Program starts at 7 p.m. See www.ohs.org for
details. Looking ahead, see costumed re-enactors make salt
authentically at Seaside’s Avenue U, February 17-19.
January 1, 2006
Week ending January 7: Fort Clatsop.
Highlights: New Years Day, like Christmas
morning, begins with rifle volleys to celebrate the holiday.
The captains agree the men are dreaming of being home a year
from now. The operating rules for Fort Clatsop require two
pages, including a command that each night guard will bring
two loads of wood to the commanding officers’ quarters
every morning. There is now time to begin writing up earlier
notes and describing the natural world around them, particularly
birds and a skate (fish). Clark finally accepts the fact
that “intolerably troublesom flees” will not
disappear. Hunting parties once again go out and local visitors
drop in with items for trade. First results from the saltmakers
at the coast arrive, along with blubber from the whale that
washed up near today’s Cannon Beach. Lewis says it
is “pallitable and tender” not unlike pork fat,
but “more spongey and somewhat coarser.” The
salt is “excellent white & fine” and the
men are glad to have it again. Clark leads a team to visit
the saltmakers and see the beached whale. Sacagawea goes
along after insisting “she had traveled a long way
with us to see the great waters” and also the “monstrous
fish.” Clark describes their climb up today’s
Tillamook Head as the “Steepest worst and highest mountain
I ever ascended.”
Words from the Journals: Lewis, whose
journal entries begin after weeks of silence, says the best
thing about their 1806 New Year is knowing they will be able “to
participate in the mirth and hilarity of the day” on
January 1, 1807. With all hard spirits used up at Great Falls,
Montana, they are content with “solacing our thirst
with our only beverage pure water.” Comparing his men’s
like of dog meat to the native preference for whale blubber,
he notes “our party is perfectly reconciled to subsist
on dogs and have now become extremely fond of their flesh,” preferring
it to venison or elk. When Lewis is writing, Clark’s
copies most of his partner’s entries for safekeeping.
On eating dogs, Clark adds this: “I have not become
reconsiled to the taste of this animal as yet.” Without
a dictionary, Lewis still often gets his spelling right.
Describing trade with local Chinook Indians, he complains
about their “avaricious all grasping disposition.”
Today’s connection: As an early health educator, Clark takes issue with
Lewis and the other men on constant use of salt on what they eat. He says he
can do without it, preferring the natural flavors of his food.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: For
a post-holiday workout, try the Saturday, January 7, “A
Whale of a Hike” over Tillamook Head to Ecola State
Park. For more details or to register, visitwww.cannonbeach.org or
call (503) 436-2623. Attend a free lecture at Fort Clatop,
Sunday, January 15, 1 p.m. with Julie Stein discussing "Lewis
and Clark: Where exactly were they?" On Thursday, January
19, Oregon Historical Society offers Sacagawea, Bird Woman:
An Indian Historian's View with Dr. Jeanne Eder. Cocktails
6-9 p.m. Program starts at 7 p.m. See www.ohs.org for
Week ending December 31: Fort Clatsop.
Highlights: Barely settled in their new
home, the men wake the captains outside their windows on
Christmas morning with volleys of gunfire, cheerful shouts
and songs. After breakfast, it’s time for a gift exchange:
the captains distribute half the remaining tobacco to those
who use it and give handkerchiefs to the others. Capt. Clark
receives fleece clothing from Meriwether Lewis, a pair of
moccasins and basket from two men, 24 white weasel tails
from Sacagawea, and roots from visiting Clatsop Indians.
The men work all week building furniture and the outside
security fence and gates. A team lugs several iron pots to
the ocean so salt making can begin. Hunters replenish their
elk meat supply which spoils quickly in the moist and moderate
weather. Fleas torment the men night and day, both in their
clothing and in their beds. “Musquetors” also
bug the men. Clark notes “my man York” suffers
from a bad cold and aches from lifting heavy logs. Indian
visitors bring valuable roots and berries to sell and others
tell about a whale that foundered on the coast to the southwest
(today’s Cannon Beach). Clark gives a visiting chief
a razor. Concerned about disappearing items, the captains
impose new rules for visitors: the gates will be shut at
sunset and no one can spend the night. Posting a guard is
also a new procedure, but after minor grumbling, tribal visitors
and traders quickly adjust.
Words from the Journals: Clark writes: “We
would have Spent this day the nativity of Christ in feasting,
had we any thing either to raise our Sperits or even gratify
our appetites, our Diner concisted of pore Elk, So much Spoiled
that we eate it thro’ mear necessity…” On
New Year’s Eve, Clark observes evidence of prior European
visitors: “With the party of Clat Sops who visited
us was a man much lighter Coloured than the natives are generally,
he was freckled with long duskey red hair, about 25 years
of age, and must Certainly be half white at least, this man
appeared to understand more of the English language than
the others of his party, but did not Speak a word of English..”
Today’s connection: Famous Pacific
Northwest slugs rate this description in Clark’s journal: “Snales
without Cover is Common and large.” As the year closes,
Clark tries to put a positive spin on coastal weather: “this
day proved the best we have had Since at this place, only
3 Showers of rain to day.”
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Volunteers
can help prepare logs for the new Fort Clatsop replica by
checking with Pete Field, Project Manager, at (503) 861-4402.
Clark’s elk skin journal containing the floor plan
for Fort Clatsop is on display until March 11 at Oregon Historical
Society in Portland. Go to www.ohs.org for
Week ending December 24: Fort Clatsop.
Highlights: The Corps spends the week before Christmas
working on their new quarters and trying to lay in a
Rain turns to hail and snow at times. Capt. Lewis describes
a gray jay and Steller’s jay in careful detail, often
comparing features to birds back home. The elk meat they
worked so hard to get is spoiling before they can completely
dry it. Pounded (powdered) salmon purchased near today’s
Celilo Falls gets wet and molds. Local Clatsop Indians
bring roots, mats and berries to sell, but continue to
demand high prices (blue and white beads, fish hooks, tobacco,
files for sharpening and even some of the pounded fish
from upriver). A chief offers women to the men, and when
the captains say no, the chief is displeased. One of the
men builds writing desks for the captains so their paperwork
will be easier to spread out. Two men are dispatched to
flatlands near the ocean to gather a plant that mixes well
with their tobacco. Capt. Clark sends a small stick of
cinnamon to a sick man in a Clatsop village who had displayed
friendship. On a rainy Christmas Eve day, the men start
moving into their “huts.”
Words from the Journals: Alternating gusts of rain and
snow halt construction one day because of inadequate
men being thinly Dressed and mockersons without Socks is
the reason that but little can be done at the Houses to day…”
Today’s connection: While the captains had vowed to
maintain high standards of conduct in their relations with
tribes, they sometimes break their code. To speed up construction
of Fort Clatsop, for example, they take two canoe loads of
planks from what they say is an abandoned house across the
bay. This is likely a seasonal home (fishing grounds) for
Chinookan people of the lower Columbia who retreat inland
during the winter. At the same time, Capt. Clark complains
of petty theft by visitors to their camp.
Website of the Week: How schools are approaching
the Lewis and Clark story? See a resource designed for
Vancouver, Washington: www.vansd.org/lewisandclark
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: During
the holiday period, Fort Clatsop will offer a variety
in” activities for all ages. Schedule for lectures,
ranger talks, and hikes are best found by searching for Lewis
and Clark National and State Historical Parks, then click
Week ending December 18: Fort Clatsop area.
Highlights: Preparing logs and framing
their winter huts is now the top priority for the wet and
ailing Corps of Discovery. In addition to fleas flourishing
in their fur clothing and bedrolls, complaints include a
dislocated shoulder, “biles” on the skin, a sprained
knee and “disentary.” Elk are indeed more plentiful
on the south side of the Columbia, and hunters kill 17 of
the large animals. It takes two-days for Capt. Clark and
several men to retrieve the carcasses and back sprains occur
from carrying the heavy meat. Top priority is building a
smokehouse. Jerking (drying) the elk is hard to do in the
stormy weather and the meat spoils quickly if not preserved.
A Clatsop chief named Coboway visits the construction site
with food and pelts to trade.
Words from the Journals: Trying to buy
wapato and skins for clothing from the local Clatsop Indians
is increasingly difficult: “they never close a bargin
except they think they have the advantage. They value the
blue and white beeds highly.” Meantime, framers of
the first Fort Clatsop are busy: “all the men at work
about the house, chinking, dobbing and cutting out doors.”
Today’s connection: This week volunteers
are stripping donated logs as Fort Clatsop III is being recreated
at the Clatsop County Fairgrounds in Astoria. It will be
reassembled later in 2006 on the same foundation used for
the 1955 replica. Did the Chinook and Clatsop Indians have
trouble with fleas? Perhaps not since their clothing and
other household goods were typically made from cedar. Pet
beds today are often stuffed with cedar shavings, said to
be a natural insect repellant. For a free pamphlet titled
Lewis and Clark and Oregon Forests, call Oregon Forest Resources
Institute, 503-229-6718. The carpenters were amazed at how
well some of the logs split into planks, a common technique
used by native peoples in the region.
Website of the Week: To learn about the tribe whose ancestors greeted the Expedition
in the Fort Clatsop area, go to http://www.clatsop-nehalem.com/
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: A
rough blueprint of Fort Clatsop is found in the elk skin
journal kept by Capt. Clark, one of the many artifacts now
on display at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland.
See www.ohs.org for
hours and costs. The Lewis branding iron used to mark trees
is among the items owned by OHS.
Week ending December 10: Astoria and Seaside,
Highlights: Separated into two and sometimes
three groups for a week, Lewis probes the lower Columbia
estuary to find a suitable winter campsite while Clark continues
to battle high waves, winds and driving rain around today’s
Tongue Point. Finally, Lewis returns with two men to describe
an ideal location close to game, a fresh water spring, and
access to the river with some protection from storms. After
more weather delays, the men pack their canoes for the final
time this winter and follow Lewis to the chosen spot. While
Lewis immediately sets the men to work on clearing timber,
Clark now becomes the scout and leads a small team on a three-day
trek to the beach, ending up at today’s Seaside. Here
they spend one night with friendly villagers where Clark
demonstrates his marksmanship by shooting brants (geese)
at 40 yards. The natives provide a feast of fish, boiled
roots and a compote of salal and other berries. Clark describes
two hand games played by his adult hosts: one for gambling
and another comparable to backgammon. The men also discover
how tough shopping with local tribes will be during their
winter stay: to trade for some roots, red beads are refused,
but small fish hooks are acceptable currency.
Words from the Journals: “1000 conjectures
has crowded into my mind respecting his probable Situation & Safty,” writes
Clark, as he worries over the fate of Lewis who is long overdue
trying to find a suitable spot to spend the winter. Leading
the first tour group to visit Seaside, Clark gives this report
on his lodging: “I had not long been on my mat when
I was attacked most violently by the flees and they kept
up a close Siege duering the night.”
Today’s connection: Hunting for a
spot suitable for saltmaking is one of the first tasks after
arriving at their future Fort Clatsop site. Rather than heading
directly west to present-day Fort Stevens, the men hike 16
miles to today’s Seaside. Why? Billions of gallons
of fresh water pouring out of the Columbia dilute the salinity
for several miles up and down the coast, impacting the time
needed to boil down the salt.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: The
traveling National Park Service exhibit and Tent of Many
Voices wraps up its 2005 schedule December 11 near the O.O.
Howard House at the Fort Vancouver Historic Preserve. Hourly
presenters between 9 and 4 cover a wide range of topics.
Exhibits by the National Guard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
are accompanied by a replica keelboat, dugout, Chinook canoe
and a self-guided interpretive tour of Lewis and Clark’s
journey and tribes they met. Schedule is accessible at www.lcbo.net.
For a unique perspective on the Lewis and Clark journey from
the eyes of tribes they met west of the Rockies, attend the
public launch of a new radio series December 11 between 1-5
p.m. at the Portland State University Native American Student
and Community Center. Details at www.wisdomoftheelders.org
Week ending December 3: Astoria, Oregon
Highlights: Determined to see if the Clatsop
Indians were right about more elk being on the south side
of the river, the Corps makes its way around today’s
Tongue Point and is once again pinned down by the weather,
resulting in a two-foot crack in one canoe. Capt. Lewis takes
a small group on ahead in their native-built canoe to see
if they can find a suitable spot for winter camp. What the
captains thought would be a short scouting trip turns into
a week of frustration as the men probe the dense shoreline
underbrush and small inlets. The hunters finally succeed,
but getting the meat hauled out proves difficult. Back at
base camp on the exposed shoreline, the worried Clark tries
to overcome rotting tents and wet clothes while he and others
suffer from diarrhea they attribute to eating powdered salmon.
Sacagawea apparently tries to comfort Clark by giving him
a piece of hard bread she’s been saving until her baby
could start eating hard food. Even though the bread has gotten
wet and is slightly sour, Clark says it gives him “great
Satisfaction, it being the only mouthful I had tasted for
Several months past.” These weather delays give the
journal keepers time to list some of the rich plant and wildlife
resources of the area, particularly roses and bird life.
We also read first details of what we know now as the Pacific
blackberry, salmonberry, Oregon crabapple and Pacific madrone.
Clark also describes how lower Columbia tribes often bury
their dead with paddles and utensils inside canoes raised
on scaffolds, apparently to speed their journey to another
Words from the Journals: “O! how
disagreeable is our Situation during this dreadfull weather,” laments
Clark. One night the wind “blew with such violence
that I expected every moment to See trees taken up by the
roots, maney were blown down.” Clark laments it’s
been 24 days since they arrived at the “Great Western
(for I cannot say Pacific) Ocian as I have not Seen one pacific
day since my arrival…”
Today’s connection: The Pacific
blackberry the explorers describe along the Columbia River
is part of the genetic pool for the famous Marionberry grown
widely in the region. This plant is not the same as the Himalayan
blackberry regarded as a non-native, invasive species.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Fort
Vancouver National Historic Reserve hosts the Corps of Discovery
II through December 11. This free National Park Service exhibit
offers an audio tour of the Journey of Discovery and a separate
Tent of Many Voices features hourly presentations by Lewis
and Clark and tribal presenters and entertainers. Other state
and federal agencies also have displays. For information,
see www.lewisandclark-clark.org. The four-month long National
Exhibition at Oregon Historical Society in downtown Portland
requires two hours for a thorough visit. Look for the icon
on many artifacts indicating items brought back by the Expedition
or related documents written about it. Timed entry tickets
help keep the numbers of visitors small for easy viewing.
Plan for extended time see other exhibits at the Museum,
such as Oregon My Oregon and art by Warm Springs native artist
Week ending November 26: Lower Columbia
Highlights: Returning from his hike north
on today’s Long Beach Peninsula, Capt. Clark rejoins
Lewis at the base camp west of the Astoria Bridge where they
brand their names on trees. Visiting Clatsop Indians from
the Oregon side offer to sell two sleek, valuable sea otter
pelts. Clark really wants these two skins, but the traders
demand high prices. Finally, the visitors point to Sacagawea’s
blue-beaded belt. The deal is made and the next day Clark
gives Sacagawea a cloth coat as payback. Knowing they’ve
accomplished Jefferson’s goal to reach the Pacific
via the Columbia, the men prepare to head back upriver until
another fierce storm pins them down. Two days later when
the sun reappears, they decide not to act hastily and conduct
a poll to gather everyone’s opinion (including Sacagawea
and York). Hearing from the Clatsop Indians that abundant
elk are available, and still hoping that a trading ship will
pull into the bay, the Corps votes to check out the other
side of the river as possible winter quarters. Sacagawea’s
opinion: stay close to a supply of wapato. Making the rough
four-mile crossing in their clumsy dugouts near today’s
Astoria is still impossible, so they retreat upriver near
Pillar Rock where the channel is narrower and protected by
Words from the Journals: The familiar
refrain “O how miserable is the day” continues
as Pacific storms regularly pound the Northwest coast. On
the other hand, Capt. Clark indicates the temperate climate
is a factor in the decision to stay at the coast for the
Today’s connection: Re-enactors
will commemorate the “vote” November 24 at Station
Camp west of the Astoria Bridge in Washington state. Historians
debate whether this was truly a vote as we understand elections
today; most believe this was another good example of the
co-captains’ leadership as they built group consensus.
Other choices for spending the winter were up near The Dalles
or in the Sandy River area where they remembered an ample
food supply and friendly natives. The explorers also enjoy
cranberries in the Long Beach region, a crop that will make
the area famous someday.
Website of the Week: The US Geodetic Survey’s
website provides daily views of the geography encountered
by the Expedition using old and contemporary pictures and
maps. The website also features volcanoes (Mts. Rainier and
St. Helens) the explorers saw from their lower Columbia vantage
point. See http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov
Book of the week: Oregonian editorial
page writer David Sarasohn’s new book Waiting for Lewis
and Clark (Oregon Historical Society Press) provides an inside
look at how the three-year Bicentennial commemoration was
developed nationally and its legacies for the changing West.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: The
free National Park Service traveling exhibit nicknamed Corps
of Discovery II opens its two-week Portland-area run at historic
Fort Vancouver on November 28. The Fort Clatsop Visitors
Center, centerpiece for the new Lewis and Clark National
and State Historical Parks, still provides informative exhibits
while archeologists wrap up their work where the old replica
stood. Fort Clatsop III will be reassembled in March.
Week ending November 19: Between the Astoria
Bridge and Long Beach, Washington.
Highlights: Still pinned down on the north
side of the Columbia by rough water, high tides and nasty
weather, the captains worry about the men’s exposure
and little hot food. Three men use their lighter Indian-made
canoe to move around an exposed point. At another time, the
Expedition separates into three different groups as they
seek a sheltered campsite and any sign of European traders
who might be in the area. Their buckskin clothes literally
melts after a week of constant moisture. Some of their equipment
mysteriously disappears; confrontations with native passersby
follow. Their own trade goods now very low, they discover
the Chinook Indians are tough traders. Finally a break in
the weather and a sandy beach mean hot meals and a chance
to dry some of their gear. bring a good view of the ocean.
Each captain leads scouting parties to the north side of
the Columbia’s mouth around Cape Disappointment where
they carve names in trees where seafarers have done the same.
Clark leads a group up today’s Long Beach. Along the
way, they shoot a condor with a nine-foot wingspan.
Words from the Journals: Sergeant Patrick
Gass, whose journal was the first published and can be seen
at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment
(Ilwaco), summarizes the men’s elation: “We are
now at the end of our voyage, which has been completely accomplished
according to the intention of the expedition, the object
of which was to discover a passage by the way of the Missouri
and Columbia rivers to the Pacific ocean.
Today’s connection: The California
condor may once again roam the Columbia drainage if efforts
by the Oregon Zoo are successful. In an isolated Clackamas
County sanctuary, Zoo experts run a captive breeding program
which has already produced eggs sent to San Diego for hatching.
Book-of-the week: The Corps of Discovery
could have avoided lots of troubles with Keith G. Hay’s
Lewis and Clark Columbia River Water Trail: A Guide for Paddlers,
Hikers, other Explorers published by Timber Press, Portland.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Maya
Lin will dedicate her first creation in a series of public
art projects inspired by the Lewis and Clark story at Ilwaco,
Washington Friday, November 18. While in the area, visit
Ilwaco Heritage Museum with its Chinook Indian exhibit and
amazing Lewis and Clark in Popular Culture collection. The
National Park Service Corps of Discovery II traveling exhibit
is free in Seaside November 19-22. Visitors review highlights
of the Trail with audiophones then visit the Tent of Many
Voices for half-hour presentations and entertainment. A replica
keelboat and tipi are also on display.
Week ending November 12: From the Cowlitz
River to the Megler, Washington area east of the Astoria
Highlights: The five canoes cover 30 miles
a day as the explorers anticipate the successful end of their
voyage. But with victory in reach, they run into major trouble.
Fierce rain and wind, pounding waves, and high tides keep
them pinned on the north side of the Columbia. They marvel
at how well the light Chinookan cedar canoes easily ride
the waves (“they are the best navigators I ever Saw”)
while their own sluggish dugouts must wait for brief breaks
in the weather and current to inch from cove to cove. The
men spend one night camping on boulders and driftwood while
trying to protect their canoes from being crushed by massive
logs rolling onto shore and rocks falling from cliffs above.
Their buckskin clothing is rotting from constant moisture.
Dense underbrush makes hunting impossible. Fresh water is
difficult to get because of the salty river water. Still,
the journal keepers take time to describe the lifestyle of
their Chinook Indian visitors who stop by to trade fresh
salmon and wapato—some wearing sailors’ coats
Words from the Journals: While fleas picked
up at abandoned villages continue to infest their clothing
and blankets, it’s the “Wet and disagreeable” weather
that now dominates daily life. “It would be distressing
for a feeling person to See our Situation,”says Capt.
Today’s connection: Hearing and
seeing breakers in the distance, Clark’s journal entry
for November 7 reflects the explorers’ excitement: “Great
joy in camp we are in View of the Ocian…which we been
So long anxious to See..” They were actually nearly
20 miles and several days away from the Pacific sands.
Book-of-the week: Rex Ziak’s engaging book In Full View is a well-illustrated
daily summary of the Expedition’s difficulties in the Columbia estuary.
Ziak grew up in that area and uses journal references to back up his theories
on where the explorers paddled, hiked and camped.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: “Days
of Struggle and Discovery” is the headline piece for
a Nov. 12-13 concert by the Vancouver Symphony at Skyview
High School. Seewww.vancouversympony.org for
details. Dedication of a new 6-mile Fort-to-Sea Trail from
Fort Clatsop to the ocean is scheduled Tuesday, November
14 as part of the week-long Destination: The Pacific national
Bicentennial activities stretching from Long Beach, Washington
to Seaside/Cannon Beach, Oregon. See www.forttosea.org andwww.destinationthepacific.com for
details. Maya Lin will describe her designs for several public
art projects commemorating the Corps of Discovery and tribes
they met during three Portland, Vancouver and Ilwaco appearances
Nov. 16-18. See www.confluenceproject.org for
her lecture and groundbreaking schedule. Oregon Historical
Society plans several activities in conjunction with its
national exhibit of artifacts that begins a four-month run
November 11. Timed entry ticket information is at www.ohs.org.
Week ending November 5: From Bonneville
Dam past Portland, Vancouver, and St. Helens.
Highlights: Rain and waterfalls welcome
the Corps of Discovery to the west Columbia Gorge where tribal
villages lie on both sides of the river and native boat traffic
increases. One last hurdle remains: the “Great Shute” (narrow,
rocky rapids near today’s Cascade Locks) requires a
difficult 2.5 mile portage. After sliding the boats over
rocks on poles, three canoes require repairs. The men see
California condors and at Beacon Rock measure a 9-inch tidal
effect from the ocean. Visited by a growing number of Chinookan
people, Clark discovers his pipe tomahawk missing. Now anxious
to get to the Pacific, the explorers push ahead. The men
also welcome a new food to their diet called wapato which
they compare to a “Small Irish potato.” Native
women wade into waterways, pluck the “bulb” from
the muck with their toes, then gather the valuable floating
harvest into small canoes built for that purpose.
Words from the Journals: Leaving the Gorge
and approaching today’s Sandy River, Clark writes the
first tourism slogan for the region: “The Countrey
has a handsom appearance…” The men call it Quick
Sand River because not much earlier in geologic time Mt.
Hood erupted. Debris altered the Columbia channel leaving
the Sandy River with two mouths and a large delta. Bountiful
geese, ducks and other birds greet the explorers and provide
several meals along this stretch of the Columbia. One night
Clark says he cannot sleep because of “emensely noumerous” waterfowl
and their “horid” noise.
Today’s connection: Changes in the
types of trees, plants and geology through the Gorge still
impress visitors today. Coincidentally, on what we call Halloween
Day now, Clark describes eight burial vaults built with planks,
filled with bodies tied in skins with carved totem-like figures
nearby. In 1938, Bonneville Dam eliminated the treacherous
rapids to make river travel easier. Near today’s Crown
Point and Rooster Rock, Clark says: “We encamped under
a high projecting rock,” an area where “mountains
leave the river on each Side.” From today’s airport
region to the Ridgefield and St. Helens area, the explorers
describe several multi-family housing developments and at
one village count 52 canoes of all sizes and purposes pulled
up on shore. Hidden by islands, the men miss today’s
Willamette River and won’t describe it till their return
trip in April.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Re-enactors
appear Nov. 1-2 at Capt. William Clark Park in Washougal
and Nov. 3-4 at Frenchman’s Bar county park in Vancouver.
On Saturday, Nov. 5, St. Helens is sponsoring a one-day waterfront
commemoration of the Expedition’s passage through their
area. Also on Nov. 5, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge
sponsors “A View from Cathlapotle”, a large village
described by Lewis and Clark. Short native and Lewis and
Clark interpretations of the 1805-1806 period are scheduled
in a newly-built Chinookan-style plankhouse during the day.
Re-enactors will also visit. On Friday, Nov. 11 opening ceremonies
for our region’s five-day Signature Event for the Bicentennial
kick off at 10 a.m. (see www.destinationthepacific.org).
Events are scheduled from Long Beach to Cannon Beach through
Nov. 15. Oregon Historical Society also opens its four-month
exhibition on Lewis and Clark on November 11 (see www.ohs.org).
Week ending October 29: From Celilo, Oregon
to White Salmon, Washington.
Highlights: Near present-day Celilo, the
men use elkskin ropes to lower empty canoes down 20-foot
falls and steep rapids. For other whitewater stretches, the
captains order the non-swimmers to portage the gear along
the Columbia’s basalt ledges while daredevil Corps
members maneuver their canoes through the river’s “whorling” waters.
Onlookers from one village tell the captains they are astonished
the men survived. Their two volunteer Nez Perce guides say
farewell, warning of dangers from tribes ahead. More evidence
of European trade is seen: a British musket, a cutlass, brass
tea kettles, and a mixed-race child. The men are impressed
with the sleek and light cedar canoes of the lower Columbia
tribes, some with elaborate carved figures. They count 17
adults in one craft.
Words from the Journals: As the captains
negotiate with new chiefs who speak a different language
at this cultural divide, they also renew their diplomatic
efforts (including fiddling and dancing). Says Clark: “we
thought it necessary to treat these people verry friendly & ingratiate
our Selves with them to insure us a kind & friendly reception
on our return.”
Today’s connection: Lewis and Clark
never mention the age-old rock art of the Columbia Gorge,
particularly the legendary “She Who Watches” petroglyph
at Horse Thief (now Columbia Hills) State Park. Dozens of
rock art examples rescued before Columbia dam flooding were
installed this year along a park roadway. The Corps of Discovery
just missed the popular trade mart at Celilo where tribes
came annually from all directions to trade their wares for
the abundant salmon products offered by the Columbia fishing
families. The Expedition’s Rock Fort campsite in The
Dalles is still accessible near an industrial area. It is
one of the few pinpointed campsites along the Trail where
journal descriptions match today’s geography. As the
fleet moves downstream, they notice the famed thermal winds
that now attract windsurfers and parasailers. The men receive
gifts of “philburts,” little knowing Oregon would
someday be the nation’s largest producer. Clark may
be the first Northwest visitor to pronounce steelhead “the
finest fish I ever tasted.”
Book of the Week: Ruth and Emory Strong’s
classic book titled Seeking Western Waters: The Lewis and
Clark Trail from the Rockies to the Pacific, published by
Oregon Historical Society, provides an interpreted daily
summary of the Corps’ trip down the Columbia. It focuses
on tribal and natural history.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Re-enactors
in dugouts will meet the public at several locations along
the Columbia for the next several weeks. For an approximate
schedule, check www.lewisandclark.net. A locally-produced
13-part radio series offering new perspectives on the Expedition
is now airing on Oregon public radio (OPB). See www.thejourneycontinues.org/radioseries.
Week ending October 22: Leaving Pasco,
Washington and approaching Celilo Falls east of The Dalles,
Highlights: Amazed at the stacks of salmon
drying on scaffolds in the windy and barren country, the
men believe the native people use the dried filets for fuel
as well as food. They continue to buy dogs, believing the
spawning fish are unfit to eat. Crowds of villagers meet
and greet the Expedition all along this stretch of the river.
At one point, Capt. Clark says “they came down and
formed a ring and danced for Some time around us.” More
portages and rough rapids face the fleet daily. Diplomacy
with tribes includes giving of medals and other gifts. The
captains notice distinct changes in language and cultural
practices between upriver and downriver tribes. They observe
flattened heads, a mark of distinction separating the lower
and upper classes, and a sailor’s jacket that has been
traded upriver from the mouth of the Columbia. Burial practices
fascinate Clark, particularly a site where horses were apparently
sacrificed with the deceased.
Words from the Journals: From the riverbanks,
growing numbers of people watch the strange white visitors,
prompting this familiar “space alien” remark
by Clark: “They said we came from the clouds…and
were not men.” Describing a 100-year old woman in one
village, Capt. Clark notes she occupies “the best position
in the house, and when She Spoke, great attention was paid
to what She Said.” Their hospitable new friend Chief
Yellepit, of the Walla Walla Indians, wants them to stay
and meet his people, but the captains want to push on to
the Pacific and “promise to Stay with him one or two
days on our return.”
Today’s connection: Tribes along
this section of the Columbia created the first protein powder.
Pulverized dried salmon, a valuable commodity for exchange,
would last for years when packed into tightly woven baskets.
The Corps of Discovery buys a large supply. As the men leave
the Walla Walla River area and enter today’s Oregon
near Hat Rock, they also begin to see Mt. Hood’s “Conocal
form Covered with Snow” See www.lcbo.net for details.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Our
closest official Bicentennial signature event opens Friday,
November 11 at Fort Stevens State Park. See www.destinationthepacific.org for
a comprehensive schedule of free and ticketed events. The
Corps ran out of hard alcohol early, but Jack Daniels is
launching a new bottling for the Bicentennial on Wednesday,
October 26 at Blue Lake Regional Park in Fairview, Oregon.
Watch lcbo.net for the schedule
of the National Park Service free traveling exhibit that
will stop in Umatilla County and The Dalles this month.
Week ending October 15: Leaving the Idaho/Washington
border on the Snake River, heading toward Tri-Cities.
Highlights: Rapids and canoe spills continue
to plague the explorers. One major accident dumps much of
their valuable gear in the river. Men downstream catch some
of the floating bundles, forcing delays to dry food, clothing
and bedding. Their Shoshone guides suddenly depart without
pay for leading the Corps over the Bitterroots, but two Nez
Perce Indian leaders offer to accompany the Corps on the
next leg of the journey to The Dalles area. Capt. Clark makes
notes on Nez Perce dress, amusements, health, and burial
practices. Even though he doesn’t like it himself,
on one day Capt. Clark notes the men buy 15 dogs to supplement
their diet of dried salmon. As firewood becomes scarce, the
men break their rule about respecting tribes: they burn valuable
planks hidden on an island by local fishermen.
Words from the Journals: Though she was
originally brought along as an interpreter, Clark observes
how Sacagawea plays another key role among the tribes they
meet: “The wife of Shabono our interpreter we find
reconciles all the Indians, as to our friendly intentions…a
woman with a party of men is a token of peace.”
Today’s connection: This section
of the Snake River is now calmed by four dams (Lower Granite,
Little Goose, Lower Monumental and Ice Harbor) which facilitate
boat traffic to Lewiston/Clarkston. The same stretch is also
the focus of salmon restoration debates.
Websites of the week: For seven self-guided
hikes with Lewis and Clark themes, go to www.opb.org/lewisandclark.
For free interpreted hikes starting October 22 in the Columbia
Gorge, see www.gorgefriends.org.
Friends of the Columbia Gorge also plan public presentations,
such as one on the California condor, first documented by
the explorers in the Gorge and again in the lower Columbia
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: The annual Birdfest at Ridgefield
National Refuge October 15-16 includes walks at the new Cathlapotle Plankhouse.
The journals list 14 plankhouses there when the Corps passed by in 1805. The
Expedition visited Cathlapotle in spring 1806. Re-enactors following the Lewis
and Clark Trail this year make their first Oregon stop October 19 at Irrigon.
Called the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles, the 33-member group will set
up camp nightly along the Columbia using the journals as their guide. Their
itinerary to Fort Clatsop is available at www.lewisandclark.net. Members include
local volunteers who want to re-live the adventure. Visitors to their encampments
Week ending October 8: Downstream from
Orofino, Idaho in Clearwater River country.
Highlights: After a week of gastro-intestinal
problems, boiled horsemeat finally revives most of the sick
men. Capt. Lewis, however, continues to suffer several more
days and Clark has a rough 24-hour siege as well. “Swelled
bowels” are blamed on eating so much camas (roots)
and dried fish. As most men finish building the five canoes
that will carry them downstream trip to the Pacific, others
cut the manes and brand their horses with a “U.S. Capt.
M. Lewis” logo. Saddles and two canisters of gunpowder
are buried for safekeeping. Nez Perce tribal members volunteer
to keep the herd until the expedition’s return. Loading
all the party in canoes, the dugouts encounter rough rapids
with minor repairs needed after one crackup. Another accident
the next day dumps all gear and passengers into the swift,
cold water leaving one man injured and the boat stranded
Words from the Journals: Clark’s
words speak for themselves about camping with men in close
quarters: “Capt Lewis & my Self eate a Supper of
roots boiled, which filled us So full of wind, that we were
Scercely able to Breathe all night…”
Today’s connection: Oregon Historical
Society owns the branding iron apparently used by the captains
to identify horses and mark trees to claim territory. The
tool was found in the early 1890s around Memaloose Island
near The Dalles. One of the few artifacts from the Corps
of Discovery that still exists, it will be part of the national
exhibition at OHS beginning November 11. Tickets are being
sold on a timed entry basis. See www.ohs.org for
Websites of the week: For a look at how
modern-day Lewis and Clark buffs still try to navigate the
Clearwater River in dugouts, go to http://idahoptv.org/lc/canoes.html.
Book of the week: Stephen Dow Beckham
and Robert M. Reynolds have compiled an impressive photo/narrative
summary titled Lewis & Clark: From the Rockies to the
Pacific that gives an explorer’s eye view from the
Continental Divide west.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Rare
book collector and popular speaker Roger Wendlick of Portland
will describe his passion for tracking down old Corps of
Discovery books and maps at 1 p.m. October 16 at Fort Clatsop.
Title: “Shotgun on My Chest: Stories of an Obsessed
Lewis and Clark Book Collector.” Also on October 16,
up the Columbia Gorge in Irrigon, enjoy an afternoon of tribal
and Lewis and Clark family-oriented activities from 1-6 p.m.
in the community park.
Week ending October 1: Near Highway 12
in the Orofino, Idaho area.
Highlights: With fresh game scarce, the
men are still having great difficulty coping with their new
diet of roots and salmon. Apparently Sacagawea and her baby
are unaffected. Capt. Lewis suffers the entire week; indeed
most of the men are treated for severe stomach cramps and
diarrhea. Visitors from villages up and down the river pass
by with dried and fresh food to trade. Beads seem to be the
preferred medium of exchange. The Expedition’s major
goal now is to find trees large enough to build five dugout
canoes. Cutting them down with small axes, however, proves
to be difficult. Then carving out the knotty pines is even
harder. Once again their native friends provide help; Nez
Perce canoe builders show them how to use hot coals to speed
Words from the Journals: Learning a new
construction technique, Sgt. Patrick Gass, the Expedition’s
master carpenter, writes: “All the men are now able
to work, but the greater number are very weak. To save them
from hard labor, we have adopted the Indian method of burning
out the canoes.”
Today’s connection: Go to www.lewis-clark.org,
then dig into Discovery Paths/Technology/Dugouts at to see how a modern-day
researcher is learning about dugouts and their performance on rivers.
Websites of the week: Link to more information on the Nez Perce Tribe by visiting www.L3-lewisandclark.com.
Book of the week: Salmon and His People:
Fish and Fishing in Nez Perce Culture by Dan Landeen and
Allen Pinkham is a comprehensive look at how salmon have
been a central part of life for interior Pacific Northwest
Native Americans for centuries.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Master
storyteller and author William Kittredge kicks off Lewis & Clark
College's two-day Bicentennial symposium with a lecture September
29 at 7:30 p.m. at PSU’s Native American Student and
Community Center, 710 S.W. Jackson Avenue in Portland. See www.thejourneycontinues for
registration details. Next week, The Oregonian's David Sarasohn
presents a reading and book signing for his new book, Waiting
for Lewis and Clark at Oregon Historical Society, 6 p.m.
Free of charge and open to all.
Week ending September 24: Finally emerging
from Idaho’s Bitterroots into today’s Weippe
and Orofino area.
Highlights: With Capt. Clark and hunters
two days ahead, the main party struggles through steep and
rocky ravines. Packhorse problems continue to plague travel,
though a lost Indian horse killed by Clark provides welcome
food for the malnourished, starving men who follow. One horse
carrying heavy ammunition miraculously survives a 100-foot
fall and resumes travel 20 minutes later. Time is lost hunting
another animal carrying Capt. Lewis’s winter clothing.
Finally, Clark stumbles into warmer flat country where Nez
Perce Indian women are harvesting camas root, a small starchy
bulb. Exchanging gifts for provisions, and describing the
pits used to steam the vegetables, he overeats and gets sick
that evening. While most of the Nez Perce men are off protecting
the villages from hostile tribes, Clark holds a midnight
parley with Chief Twisted Hair who is overseeing salmon fishing
and other food gathering. Clark sends a care package of salmon
and roots back into the mountains for the main party. We
later learn from Nez Perce oral history about the role of
an old Nez Perce woman named Watkuweis who saves the Corps
of Discovery from likely massacre. Like Sacagawea, she had
been captured years earlier, but remembered being helped
by white people. Now an elder in the tribe, she admonishes
young warriors to let the Corps of Discovery proceed.
Words from the Journals: In some of his
last journal entries until January at Fort Clatsop, Lewis
provides detailed word pictures of birds, one whose notes
resemble the mewing of a cat, and three varieties of grouse
new to science. After the difficult last two weeks, we can
empathize with his “pleasure I now felt in having tryumphed
over the rocky Mountains and decending once more to a level
and fertile country…”
Today’s connection: Travel guides
warn of eating too much strange food, but the men in the
Corps of Discovery ignore Capt. Clark’s warning about
eating too much too quickly: “I cautioned them of the
Consequences of eateing too much..” Most get violently
ill, with some lying by the trail in misery and then barely
able to ride horseback. The famous Dr. Rush “thunderbolts” are
again the medicine of choice. Some ribbons said to be given
by the captains to Nez Perce children are on display at the
Nez Perce National Historic Trail museum in Spalding, Idaho
along with a peace medal presented to one of the chiefs.
Websites of the week: Watch the Oregon
Historical Society website (www.ohs.org)
for background on lectures that start this week on the national
exhibition opening November 11 and continuing into March,
Book of the week: Do Them No Harm by Zoa
L. Swayne traces the Bitterroot saga and reviews Nez Perce
Indian oral tradition about the role of Watkuweis in saving
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: The
third Bicentennial symposium sponsored by Lewis & Clark
College in Portland begins Thursday, September 29 and continues
through Saturday, October 1. See www.thejourneycontinues.com for
registration details. Theme is the rivers of Lewis and Clark
and meanings today.
Week ending September 18: Pushing over
the Lolo Trail in Western Montana in the area of Highway
Highlights: Scarce game and weather of all extremes lie ahead as the Expedition
faces the most difficult part of their journey yet. Trying to follow well-worn
paths used for centuries by the Nez Perce Indians to reach buffalo country, their
guide Toby makes several false turns. Early-falling snow is a new enemy, often
hiding signs of the trail which usually follows high ridges where there are more
open spaces. Steep and rocky slopes are dangerous for the horses. More than one
loses footing and tumbles as much as 60 feet down ravines, but each time the
horse escapes without serious harm. In one accident, Capt. Clark’s writing
desk is smashed. When fatigued horses falter, they are left behind; if they stray,
time is lost retrieving them. Fresh meat and water are a major concern, so the
men kill one colt, then another, sometimes melting snow for water. They notice
travelers before them have eaten the inner bark of Ponderosa pine. Finally the
captains decide they should temporarily split the party with Clark going on ahead
Words from the Journals: “I have
been wet and as cold in every part as I ever was in my life…fearful
my feet would freeze in the thin mockersons which I wore” writes
Clark. Even with concerns about personal survival, the journal
keepers make note of birds and geography of the area. On
a high peak with a break in the clouds, Clark can see open
prairies in the distance, but high mountains still surround
Today’s connection: Boiling water added to dry soup mix is today’s
quick lunch. The early version carried by the Corps of Discovery was apparently
distasteful and a last resort. In addition to canisters of portable soup, Lewis
lists their food inventory as horses, some bear oil, and 20 pounds of tallow
Websites of the week: Start planning ahead for Oregon and nearby Washington
events this fall at www.lcbo.net and www.lewisandclark-clark.org.
Book of the week: Feasting and Fasting
with Lewis and Clark by Leander Holland includes a recipe
for making portable soup from the 1800s. After hours of boiling
and straining a brew of calves’ feet, veal, mutton
and beef, the cook winds up with a gelatinous slab like bouillon.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Make
reservations now for Destination the Pacific, a series of
public events and lectures (some free) beginning November
11 at the mouth of the Columbia. This is our region’s
official event as part of the national Bicentennial. See www.destinationthepacific.org.
Week ending September 10: In the Bitterroot
Valley of Western Montana.
Highlights: Stumbling out of the first
rugged range of mountains, the Corps of Discovery follows
today’s Bitterroot River for a few days of flat travel
and better access to meat and berries. However, cold nights
and snowy crags to their left are a constant reminder of
what’s still to come. In this beautiful valley, the
Expedition meets the Flathead Indians who, like the Shoshone
Indians, are preparing to send hunters east for buffalo.
Actually these Salish people do not flatten their heads at
all, a tradition the explorers will see later along the lower
Columbia. The captains eagerly barter for “elegant” horses
to increase the Expedition’s train to 40. When handing
medals to four men they believe to be chiefs, the English-speaking
captains rely on one of their bilingual men who knows French
to pass the message to Sacagawea’s husband Charbonneau.
He translates French phrases to Hidatsa, Sacagawea’s
second language. She converts Hidatsa to a Shoshone boy with
the Flathead tribe who passes the message along to the Salish
leaders. In other times, sign language is also used. During
this week the captains learn about a shortcut through the
mountains that would have saved them over 50 days. They make
note of this for the return trip.
Words from the Journals: Thinking about
all their struggles, journal keeper Joseph Whitehouse writes
about the past few days: “in all the hardship that
they had yet undergone they never once complained, trusting
to Providence & the conduct of our officers in all our
Today’s connection: In his largest-ever
painting, a 12 ft. by 26 ft. panorama which still hangs in
Montana’s state capitol, Western artist Charles Russell
imagines the meeting between the Corps of Discovery and the
Flathead Indians in the Bitterroot Valley. Many experts wish
Jefferson would have sent a sketch artist with Meriwether
Lewis to record such moments.
Website of the week: Before heading west
over today’s Lolo Pass, the captains decide to give
the men an extra day to rest and dry their wet gear before
the ordeal ahead. See how Montanans are preserving this famous
spot at www.travelersrest.org.
Travelers Rest is also a key terminus on the return trip
Videos of the week: Two DVDs offer particularly
good insights on Lewis and Clark among the Indians: “Native
Homelands along the Lewis & Clark Trail” and “Contemporary
Voices along the Lewis & Clark Trail.” See www.trailtribes.org for
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: A
national traveling exhibit, “Discovering the Rivers
of Lewis & Clark” opens September 9 and closes
October 28 at Vancouver’s Water Resources Education
Center. See www.cityofvancouver.us/watercenter.
Week ending September 3: Near today’s
Salmon, Idaho climbing slowly into rugged mountain country.
Highlights: With 29 packhorses, many not
in good shape, the Corps of Discovery says farewell to Sacagawea’s
brother Cameahwait. They also leave the Lemhi Shoshone villages
where fresh salmon was the only reliable protein (and not
very satisfying to these red meat- loving European Americans).
In the distance they see smoke from wildfires set to alert
friendly tribes it’s time to head east for buffalo
hunting on the Missouri. Their native guide Old Toby, a volunteer
who says he knows the way to bigger Columbia River tributaries,
leads the party across steep and treacherous ridges where
they must often cut their own trail. Experts today still
can’t agree on exactly where the Expedition camped
during part of this period or why they chose this difficult
route with a 2500 foot rise in elevation at one point. Horses
suffer serious falls and somehow their weather thermometer
breaks. Journal entries by Capt. Lewis stop for several days
and Clark’s notes are short and cryptic: “with
the greatest dificuelty and risque we made five miles today.” Rain
and sleet fall on top of a two-inch layer of snow.
Words from the Journals: Joseph Whitehouse,
another journal keeper, names one bad six-mile stretch the “dismal
swamp”, a term that will appear again in November when
the party is pinned down on the north shore of the Columbia
at “dismal nitch.”
Today’s connection: Despite their
best efforts in bartering, the captains do not succeed in
getting a good horse for every person plus others to carry
baggage. Horses brought many changes to the native populations
of North America. Tribes of this region are still known for
fine steeds. Lemhi Shoshone horse traders likely saw a way
to weed out their lesser-quality stock in return for items
like muskets, a pistol, a knife, powder and balls.
Website of the week: Search for “Lemhi
Pass” and you’ll find photos and background on
this section of the Trail thanks to agencies like the U.
S. Forest Service.
Book of the week: Carolyn Gilman’s “Lewis
and Clark Across the Divide” is one of the best keepsake
volumes from the Bicentennial and is a preview of the blockbuster
exhibit coming to the Oregon Historical Society in November.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Now
is the time to order tickets for the only national Bicentennial
signature event in our region beginning November 11 at the
mouth of the Columbia. Go to www.destinationthepacific.org
for the full schedule of activities, speakers and exhibits—many
requiring paid admissions, but some free. Maps to places
like Dismal Nitch will be available.
Week ending August 27: Capt. Lewis oversees
equipment transport toward Lemhi Pass while Clark probes
a fork of the Salmon River in today’s Idaho.
Highlights: Fast-talking Lewis stalls Sacagawea’s
brother and other hunters from leaving for buffalo country
until he can barter for 25 horses, load them up, and hire
extra help to move baggage across the Rockies. Ink freezes
in his quill pen at night and local forecasters warn snow
is coming. Still, Lewis makes time to describe how moccasins
are made by his hosts, native dress, bear claw necklaces,
sweet grass, an elaborate fishing weir, the equal voice of
women in conversations, flint knapping, arrow making, shield
construction, steelhead trout, bitterroot, and fennel. The
Corps shares its food supply with local villagers who particularly
like the dried winter squash brought from the Mandan-Hidatsa
villages. Lewis tells Cameahwait they, too, could learn to
farm squash and beans when more white men come in the future.
In turn, the Lemhi Shoshone Indians share berries and salmon.
Clark confirms what his guide warned: canoes will not survive
the dangerous rapids. Finally trading for enough horses and
mules to begin the trek, the men sink their canoes in the
river with rocks, pack the horses and mules, and start moving
their gear over today’s Lemhi Pass. One baggage carrier
pulls out of the caravan for an hour. Lewis learns she gives
birth, then continues the journey!
Words from the Journals: Clothing of the Lemhi Shoshone
Indians is as “decent and convenient” as any he’s
encountered so far. An ermine tippet he receives is “the most
eligant peice of Indian dress I ever saw.” Lewis also likes their
values, noting “they do not disturb any article they see lying
about” and always return what’s borrowed.
Today’s connection: Gun safety once again rates mention
in the journals. When demonstrating his air gun near St.
Louis, Lewis grazes the head of a woman bystander. This week
a hunter across a pond fires at some ducks. The lead ball
ricochets off the water and lands a few feet from Lewis.
Just six weeks from the end of the journey in 1806, Lewis
actually gets shot in the buttocks and must ride horizontally
in a canoe until the wound heals.
Website of the week: To learn more about
the Lemhi Shoshone people, go to http://www.shoshonebannocktribes.com/lemhi_shoshone.html.
Book of the week: Idaho native James R. Fazio’s Across the Snowy Ranges
is a well-researched summary of the Expedition’s trials crossing the
Rockies with photos of the geography as it looks today.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Visit
Bonneville Dam August 26-28 for an impressive lineup of speakers,
demonstrations, films, and exhibits commemorating the Expedition’s
travels down the Columbia River. See http://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/op/b/lc_Bonn_Taste.asp for
Week ending August 20: Preparing to cross
the Continental Divide at Lemhi Pass near the Montana/Idaho
Highlights: Waiting for Capt. Clark to
come up with the boats and gear, Lewis delays his new Lemhi
Shoshone friends from their annual buffalo hunting trek.
He mentions a woman from their nation is traveling in the
main party. From principal chief Cameahwait, who Sacagawea
later recognizes as her brother, he learns more about the
rugged mountains they face and the “great or stinking
and illy tasting lake they call the Ocean.” Mulling
over what lies ahead, Lewis writes” if women and children
can pass these mountains, we can do it too!” Hunger
is now a major concern for everyone. Using the last flour,
Lewis makes a pudding of flour and berries enjoyed by all.
When Corps of Discovery hunters finally kill three deer,
their native companions quickly devour all organs and entrails
on the spot, even sucking soft matter from the hoofs! Lewis
keeps one quarter of the meat for his men and gives away
the rest. Trying hard to win friendship, extra hands and
horses, the captain promises guns and merchandise for Cameahwait’s
people whose poverty is real and who constantly fear better-armed
enemies. Finally Clark arrives as promised by Lewis. In a “really
affecting meeting,” Sacagawea meets her brother and
a childhood friend who was captured at the same time several
years earlier. As this week ends, the men barter for horses
(many with Spanish brands) and begin the process of making
pack saddles to carry their goods over to the Lemhi Shoshone
villages near present-day Salmon, Idaho. With a native guide,
Clark takes several men to see if the Columbia tributary
will be navigable and if trees for dugouts can be found.
Other men build a cache to store items for the return trip.
Words from the Journals: Lewis is very
impressed by the resilience of the Lemhi Shoshone people: “notwithstanding
the extreem poverty of those poor people they are very meery
they danced again this evening until midnight.” He
points out they are extremely honest, frank in communication,
fair in trading, generous in sharing, and enjoy games of
risk and storytelling. After months on the trail, Lewis is
also learning more about leadership in tribes. “Every
man is a chief,” he writes, based on competencies needed
at the time. “The one who enjoys the greatest share
of confidence is the principal Chief.”
Today’s connection: Lewis marks his
31st birthday August 18 with poignant reflections on his
life so far and personal goals for the future. Guessing he’s
reached the halfway point of life expectancy, he regrets
having “done but little, very little indeed, to further
the happiness of the human race.” Admitting he can’t
recall those many hours he wasted, he “dashes those
gloomy thoughts” and promises “to live for mankind
as I have heretofore lived for myself.” (Note: Meriwether
Lewis dies October 11, 1809 apparently of self-inflicted
Book of the week: Reality TV cannot match
the activities described during this period of the journey.
Go to any version of the journals to read how Meriwether
Lewis makes on the spot decisions and describes Sacagawea’s
people. His August 1805 passages are long and detailed.
Week ending August 13: Reaching the Continental
Divide at Lemhi Pass near the Montana/Idaho border.
Highlights: Sacagawea recognizes a hill
well known to her people as the Beaverhead. Capt. Clark,
pained by a serious boil on his ankle, leads the weary main
party through rough and shallow waters: “they are getting
weak soar and much fortiegued” he writes. Shannon gets
lost again, this time for more than two days. Capt. Lewis
continues ahead to find the Shoshone Indians whose horses
they need to cross the Rockies. Finally, with his spyglass,
Lewis sees a lone native man on horseback. He waves a blanket
in the air and places it on the ground thinking it a gesture
of goodwill, adding some gifts and pointing to his white
skin. The man rides off, perhaps spooked by the other men
with their guns. As they follow his trail, the men attach
a U.S. flag to a pole to attract attention. At last they
see two women, a man and some dogs in the distance. When
one of the dogs approaches, Lewis thinks of tying some beads
and trinkets to its neck as a messenger. After this encounter
fails, and after hiking across more ravines, they suddenly
stumble on a girl and two women. He showers them with gifts
and paints their cheeks with vermillion. The women lead Lewis
and his men two miles ahead where they find 60 Lemhi Shoshone
riding “excellent horses.” After hearing the
women’s story, the Shoshone men “caress and besmear” Lewis
and his scouting party with what Lewis calls “the national
hug.” With their shoes off as a sign of peace, leaders
of both groups sit closely in a makeshift shelter for ceremonial
smoking. Long talks begin. Lewis gives Cameahwait (the “principal
chief”) a U.S. flag. Later he distributes trinkets
to women and children. The chief offers to share a meager
supply of food. Music and dancing continue after Lewis goes
to bed at midnight.
Words from the Journals: On August 12,
after so many months of hard work, Lewis and a handpicked
group finally reach “the most distant fountain of the
waters of the mighty Missouri in surch of which we have spent
so many toilsome days and wristless nights.” They then
climb to the crest of the Continental Divide and see “immence
ranges of high mountains still to the West of us with their
tops partially covered with snow.” Descending the steeper
west side, Lewis finds another creek: “here I tasted
the water of the great Columbia River.” Later, when
celebrating with the Lemhi Shoshone, he tastes his first
salmon which convinces him “we are on the headwaters
of the Pacific Ocean.”
Today’s connection: Misinterpretations
of a foreign language may lead to unforeseen consequences.
Lewis learned this lesson after apparently asking Sacagawea
how to introduce himself as a “friendly white man,” likely
not words in her language. When meeting the Lemhi Shoshone
people, Lewis shouts “tab ba bone” while pointing
to his skin. Experts believe the word might have been interpreted
as alien, stranger or “from
Website of the week: To follow progress
of the new “Fort to Sea Trail” now underway between
Fort Clatsop and the ocean, go to http://www.forttosea.org/.
Another example of strong partnerships, the Trail was inspired
by the trek made by members of the Corps of Discovery to
their Salt Works in January 1806.
Week ending August 6: Seeking the Missouri’s
headwaters through the Twin Bridges region of western Montana.
Highlights: Capt. Clark reaches his 35th
birthday August 1, but there is no pause to celebrate. Taking
three men with him, Capt. Lewis hikes some 25 miles daily
in a last-ditch effort to find the Snake (Lemi Shoshoni)
Indians. Behind him, despite the worsening “tumor” (boil)
on his ankle, Clark and his team struggle to pull the heavy
boats through riffles and rapids. One canoe overturns in
the current, nearly pinning Joseph Whitehouse underneath.
Another is swamped, requiring a day to dry their goods. The
men wish they could travel by land instead. Despite illness
and injuries that beg for rest, the Corps keeps pushing ahead,
always making note of birds, mammals, plants, weather and
surroundings. Berries are a treat at meals and they observe
a bear also enjoying the “currants.” Colder weather
at night requires two blankets now. Shannon, lost earlier
in the spring for two weeks, fails to return from a hunting
trip. Firing guns and “sounding” their signal
horn bring no response.
Words from the Journals: Satellite phones
would have helped the separate parties communicate! Lewis
writes a note to Clark telling which channel to take and
ties it on a green tree branch leaning over the river. A
beaver cuts the pole down and Clark misses this crucial information!
He detours his men up a difficult fork in the river where
the boat accident occurs.
Today’s connection: Even if his iron
boat experiment failed earlier, Lewis describes an invention
that worked extremely well: lead canisters filled with gunpowder,
then corked and waxed tightly. Each heavy cylinder held enough
powder to fire shot melted from its lead.
Website of the week: The latest nickel
in a series of new coins for the Bicentennial will be released
Friday morning near Ilwaco and in the Portland area on Saturday
afternoon at Blue Lake Regional Park in Fairview. Rolls of
the “Ocean in View” nickels will be exchanged
for $2 cash by West Coast Bank between 1-4 p.m. The artist
who designed the Pacific coast image will be available to
sign the rolls at no additional charge. Learn more about
the United States Mint commemorative coins at www.usmint.gov.
Bicentennial activities in Oregon and Washington: This
Saturday, August 6, 1-8 p.m., Grand Ronde Confederated Tribe
members and Lewis and Clark re-enactors offer an experience
of life on the Trail 200 years ago. Nichaqwli (nee chalk
lee) was the name of a village at today’s Blue Lake
whose native son guided Capt. Clark downstream to find the
Willamette River. Food, exhibits, and period music will be
available. Two unofficial members of the Corps of Discovery
whose graves are in Oregon will also be recognized during
the afternoon: Jean Baptiste Charbonneau (Sacagawea’s
son) died in eastern Oregon in 1866 and Francois Rivet, a
boatman hired to help the Expedition up the Missouri, later
settled in the Willamette Valley. Rivet, noted in the journals
because he danced on his head at Fort Mandan, will “return” in
the person of Alex Garibay, a 23-old world-class breakdancer
from Los Angeles. His performances to fiddle tunes will occur
hourly. For information, contact [email protected].
Week ending July 30: Reaching and resting
in the Three Forks area of western Montana.
Highlights: Capt. Clark continues to scout
ahead of the main party in hopes of finding Sacagawea’s
people, the Snake Indians, and their horses. He sees hoof
prints now and then, and continues on despite “akeing
in all my bones.” At one point, Sacagawea’s husband
Charbonneau, a non-swimmer, is nearly swept away until rescued
by Clark Meanwhile, Capt. Lewis even pitches in to help move
the canoes up the Missouri, increasingly difficult with more
rapids and a narrowing channel. Stickers get caught in their
skin and clothing (not just from prickly pear) and blisters
erupt on their feet. Clark returns with no news, and his
fever worsens, so the Expedition halts to rest. Five of the
famous “thunderbolt” pills, a strong laxative
recommended by Dr. Barton in Philadelphia, seem to help Clark
recover. Ahead, they still get glimpses now and then of the
snow-clad Rocky Mountains—constant reminders of what’s
Words from the Journals: Sacagawea recognizes
the countryside around Three Forks. She tells the Corps this
is the place where she was captured five years earlier by
Hidatsa Indians who killed several adults and boys in the
process. Lewis writes, “…I cannot discover that
she shews any immotion or sorrow in recollecting this event,
or of joy in being again restored to her native country…”
Today’s connection: This Three Forks
area of Montana is one of the few places along the Trail
where geographic names given by the captains still apply
today: the Jefferson, Gallatin and Madison Rivers. Gallatin
was Secretary of the Treasury and Madison, Secretary of State
and later president.
Website of the week: An important river campsite in our local area will be
opened to the public August 5-7. See www.ci.washougal.wa.us/ for
more details. The new Captain William Clark Park at Cottonwood Beach (at Washougal)
will be formally dedicated Sunday, August 7 with re-enactors arriving to cut
an elkskin rope. Lewis and Clark Journals editor Dr. Gary Moulton will review
the days spent here in early spring 1806.
Book of the week: To follow the maps mainly
drawn by Clark, see if your local library can obtain the
Atlas of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Volume 1 of the
13-book set edited by Moulton.
Bicentennial activities in Oregon and Washington: A
free special train through the Columbia Gorge this Thursday,
July 28 features stops at significant Lewis and Clark sites.
Sponsored by Oregon Operation Lifesaver and emphasizing rail
safety, the tour leaves Vancouver Amtrak Station at 7:30
a.m. Visitors can board or debark at stations along the way
to Wishram, returning on the Oregon side. Call 503-363-6587
or visit [email protected].
Week ending July 23: Pushing up the Missouri
River through the Gates of the Mountain region of Montana
Highlights: “Almost suffocated” by
heat in the valley, glimpses of snow-covered Rocky Mountains
to the west remind the men why they need help to make it
over. Capt. Clark agrees to take a scouting party ahead to
locate Sacagawea’s people known for their fine horses.
They observe smoke thought to be signals, so the men leave
ribbon and cloth as symbols of friendship. Though progress
is often “slow and tedious,” Lewis stays with
the boats and keeps records of big-horned sheep bouncing
from rock to rock 500 feet high and a flax plant that will
eventually be named for him. Passing through “the most
remarkable cliffs that we have yet seen” he names the
area Gates of the Mountains, still a popular scenic wonder
today. Wood is scarce at one point, so buffalo dung serves
as fuel for cooking fires. Despite making two-layered deer
skin moccasins, prickly pear cactus and sharp flint rocks
cut and bruise their feet. One evening Clark pulls 17 spines
from his feet and Lewis can “scarcely find a place
to lye” another night because the prickly pears are
so abundant. Sacagawea recognizes part of this area which
cheers the men knowing they are drawing closer to the Missouri’s
Words from the Journals: Mosquitoes not
only drive the men crazy, but they seldom spell the word
the same: misquetors, musquetoes, musquitors, musqutors are
a few of the attempts.
Today’s connection: The Corps of
Discovery sees one phenomenon that distinguishes the Pacific
Northwest from their green summer hills of Appalachia, “hill
sides and high open grounds is perfectly dry and appears
to be scorched by the heat of the sun.”
Book of the week: “Ocian in view!
Oh! the joy: Lewis & Clark in Washington State,” by
Roger Cooke and Robert C. Carriker is a new book on the Corps
of Discovery’s time in the Evergreen State. Order through
Washington State Historical Society, 253-798-5902.
Bicentennial activities in Oregon and Washington: A
family event Saturday August 6 at Blue Lake Regional Park
features Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde members and Lewis
and Clark re-enactors demonstrating life on the Columbia
200 years ago. Hours are 1-8 p.m. Park entry is $4 per car.
Free cake in honor of Sacagawea’s son, whose first
birthday was at Fort Clatsop, will be provided by West Columbia
Gorge Chamber of Commerce members. Indian Fry Bread and Indian
Tacos also available.
Week ending July 16: Leaving Great Falls,
Montana up the Missouri River.
Highlights: Putting the failed iron boat
experiment behind them, work teams now must increase their
dugout canoe fleet to 8 for the next leg of the journey.
Locating large cottonwood trees is difficult. Then, axe handles
keep breaking and finding wood to make 13 new ones is also
hard. Mosquitoes and black gnats swarm around their faces.
Vowing never to be so negligent again, sleepless Capt. Lewis
sends a man to retrieve his protective net at their base
camp. Seaman proves his skills by chasing a wounded deer
into the river, drowning it, and bringing it to the hunters.
Signs of recent tribal activity increase, but they have seen
no native people for many weeks. They find the framework
of a huge tipi made from 13 cottonwood logs 50’ tall
set into the earth, 60’ in diameter and 216 foot circumference
at the base. Lewis believes this to be a “council house
for some great national concern.” It was likely a medicine
lodge used for ceremonies. Lewis gets serious again with
his scientific duties and describes several plants he’s
not seen before, pressing many for future reference.
Words from the Journals: Not afraid to
try new things, Lewis describes one evening treat: “Here
for the first time I ate of the small guts of the buffaloe
cooked over the blazing fire in the Indian stile without
any preparations of washing or other clensing and found them
Today’s connection: Sounding like
trip organizers today, Lewis complains as they load the boats: “we
find it extremely difficult to keep the baggage of many of
our men within reasonable bounds. They will be adding bulky
articles but of little use or value to them.”
Website of the week: Sierra Club offers
daily journal entries and a “then/now” look at
the natural world at www.sierraclub.org/lewisandclark
Book of the week: Smithsonian Magazine’s
July edition features the Cathlapotle Plankhouse at Ridgefield
Wildlife Refuge north of Vancouver. The magazine has offered
a continuing series on the Lewis & Clark expedition.
Bicentennial activities in Oregon and Washington: The
Albany, Oregon Regional Museum celebrates its 25th anniversary
July 29 by inviting Meriwether Lewis (Tim McNeil) to share
highlights of the Corps of Discovery. Call (541) 967-7122
Week ending July 9: Near Great Falls, Montana
where a 17-mile portage ends and the men prepare to push
Highlights: Unexplained booms mark the
4th of July as the Corps of Discovery still wonders what
causes the mysterious cannon-like sounds in broad daylight.
The captains give some of the men a day off to go visit the “grand
and interesting scene” at the falls. Using up the last
of their alcohol, the celebration continues late into the
night with “songs and festive jokes.” Still working
to distill “tar” (pitch) from green wood as sealant
for skins covering the iron boat, Capt. Lewis pushes forward
with his experimental craft. Failing at that, the men concoct
a mixture of beeswax, tallow and powdered charcoal to cover
the skins. After drying, the huge boat looks perfectly fine
for carrying 4 tons of equipment. But, his fears soon come
true. When launched, the hide hull leaks badly. “Mortifyed”,
he orders the boat sunk, skins retrieved and the iron frame
buried. Meanwhile, the men observe buffalo herds are dwindling
and they will soon miss their favorite “white pudding” (sausage)
as they make their way to the “shining mountains.” One
hot afternoon, musket-ball size hail covers the ground during
a thunderstorm, so the crew makes ice drinks.
Words from the Journals: In a July 4 musing
about his men, Lewis says: “all appear perfectly to
have made up their minds to succeed in the expedition or
perish in the attempt. We all believe that we are now about
to enter on the most perilous and difficult part of our voyage,
yet I see no one repining; all appear ready to meet those
difficulties which wait us with resolution and becoming fortitude.”
Today’s connection: Capt. Lewis looks
for alternative solutions to an unexpected problem and wishes
he’d made other decisions in the process. Research
and development for new products today is also a continuous
process of learning from mistakes.
Website of the week: For an interesting
site built by California news reporter as he traveled the
trail in 2003, see http://www.voyageofrediscovery.com
Book of the week: For a good overview of
this section of the Trail, see Ella Mae Howard’s “Lewis & Clark:
Exploration of Central Montana.”
Bicentennial activities in Oregon and Washington: Experience
life before Lewis and Clark, and hear re-enactors describe
what it was like being part of the Corps of Discovery at
Blue Lake Park in Fairview, Oregon on Saturday afternoon,
August 6. A monument to the Nichaqwli (nee chalk lee) village
whose native son led Capt. Clark to the Willamette River
will be dedicated that afternoon.
Week ending July 2: Near Great Falls, Montana
where a 17-mile portage moves dugouts and baggage around
five waterfalls in the Missouri River
Highlights: Grizzly bears roam close to
the upper camp, as Capt. Lewis’s dog Seaman barks them
away both night and day. Lewis orders his small work party
to travel in pairs and sleep with their guns as they continue
to prepare hides and wood for the experimental iron frame
boat. He takes over cooking duties so others can continue
fabrication of this “novel peice of machinism” which
now has required preparing 28 elk and 4 buffalo hides. One
work party tries to steam tar (pitch) from wood in a pit
for eventually sealing the seams. Meanwhile, Capt. Clark
and the other men struggle with their makeshift carts that
often break down as they cross the rolling prairie and deep
ravines. A severe rain and hail storm hits one day with near
disaster. Taking shelter under a rock shelf in a ravine,
Clark, Charbonneau and Sacagawea and baby Pomp barely escape
a torrent of water, rocks and mud that suddenly rushes down
the canyon and rises to 15 feet. Sacagawea holds Jean Baptiste
safely, but loses his cradleboard and clothes. Other valuable
items are lost, but their best compass is finally found buried
in muck. The delays force Lewis to realize there is no way
they can get to the Pacific and back before winter as they
Words from the Journals: Out on more exposed
ground, the men shed their shirts because of the heat as
they hauled their “trucks” of gear. Clark reports
the fierce hail and wind storm leaves “most of them
bleeding freely and complaining of being much bruised.” Gathered
safely in camp that evening to find dry clothes, Clark once
again issues some grog (whisky or rum diluted with water) “to
console them in some measure for their general defeat.” Returning
to the flood spot, Clark finds their temporary shelter filled
with “hugh Rocks.”
Today’s connection: Sudden thunderstorms
anywhere in the West can cause dry creek beds to become violent.
And even in Oregon, stories of hail damaging cars, houses
and crops are not unusual.
Website of the week: To begin planning
summer visits to the mouth of the Columbia portion of the
Trail, start with www.destinationthepacific.com.
Book of the week: Art of the Lewis & Clark
Trail edited by Jeff Evenson is a remarkable collection of
paintings by well-known artists who created impressions of
the journey: Charles M. Russell, Robert Bateman, John F.
Clymer, Karl Bodmer, Michael Haynes, and others.
Bicentennial activities in Oregon and Washington: This
week officially opens the Oregon Garden’s new Lewis
and Clark “living museum” which features plants
described by the captains in each of the “bio” zones
they found along our portion of the Columbia. Go to www.oregongarden.org for
directions to Silverton.
Week ending June 26: Near Great Falls,
Montana where a 17-mile portage gets underway around five
waterfalls in the Missouri River.
Highlights: Still regaining strength, Sacagawea
suffers a brief relapse when eating too much too soon. The
captains separate so Clark can mark a trail for moving boats
and baggage across ravines and rolling prairie. Lewis worries
how to build a 36 x 4’ iron frame boat using wood braces
and cured elk hides. Designed at Harpers Ferry, the experimental
craft requires materials hard to find along the river, particularly
pitch for sealing the seams after the hides are sewn around
the frame. Lewis guessed right that such a craft would ride
lighter and higher when the river becomes shallow. Meanwhile,
hunters butcher and dry over 1400 pounds of buffalo and elk
to keep the hungry crews fed. Hungry wolves steal a portion,
however. One calm and clear day the men hear mysterious booms
which still occasionally occur today with no explanation.
The men dig more storage pits to cache extra luggage they
will pick up on next year’s return trip. One man startles
a grizzly that chases him over a bank, but now mosquitoes
become the new challenge. For the portage, the men build
carts with wheels crosscut from a single large cottonwood
tree growing conveniently nearby. The first trip hints at
what’s to come: cactus spines, sharp-edged dried clay
ridges left by buffalo hooves, hot sun and axle breakdowns.
With his medical kit left back at the main camp, Lewis uses
his pocket knife to bleed a sick Corps member.
Words from the Journals: Despite the “incredible
fatigue” of several men who faint and fall asleep when
stopping, “no one complains, all go with cheerfulness.” The
captains express pride in the men’s resourcefulness
by catching the wind to help propel their boat carts across
the prairie. “This is dry land sailing in every sense
of the word,” says Clark.
Today’s connection: Knowing the importance
of good morale, the captains encourage their men to “shake
a foot” and “dance on the green” to Cruzatt’s
fiddle tunes. Measures of whiskey also keep spirits up. Clark
enjoys coffee one morning, a treat he’s not tasted
since Fort Mandan.
Website of the week: Watch for new items
appearing regularly at this premier website: www.lewis-clark.org
Book of the week: For an interesting summary
of key facts written for quick reference, see Lewis and Clark
for Dummies by Sammye Meadows and Jan Pruitt.
Bicentennial activities in Oregon and Washington: To
join with enthusiasts from around the country, go to www.lewisandclark.org.
Hear music of the Expedition and dozens of presenters on
many facets of the story at the Foundation’s annual
meeting in Portland in early August.
Week ending June 18, 1805: Approaching
and scouting out the Great Falls area of Montana.
Highlights this week: Hiking up to 27 miles
one day, Capt. Lewis is determined to find the falls which
would validate they are on the right course to the Rocky
Mountain headwaters of the Missouri River. Meanwhile, Capt.
Clark is laboring with the rest of the crew bringing up the
boats and gear. One man accidentally grabs a rattlesnake
instead of a branch. Finally Lewis hears the roar and sees
spray from the first of five waterfalls that will require
a difficult portage. Deciding to go ahead alone one day,
Lewis believes “all the beasts of the neighbourhood
had made a league to distroy me.” After shooting a
buffalo, there’s no time to reload his rifle to stop
a grizzly bear who attack the intruder. Seeing no tree to
climb, Lewis makes a 90-yard dash to the river. Twelve miles
later, a wolverine threatens the explorer, soon followed
by three bull buffaloes running “full speed toward
me.” Prickly pears piercing his feet remind him this
is not a bad dream! During this time Sacagawea continues
to be seriously ill, later to be “cured” by water
from a nearby sulphur spring.
Words from the journals: Like many of us, Lewis
finds words or sketches won’t do the job. The waterfalls are
so impressive he wishes he had the skills of a famous Italian painter
and Scottish poet popular at the time: “I hope to give to the
world some faint idea of an object which at this moment fills me
with pleasure and astonishment.”
Today’s connection: While Lewis worries
about his literary ability, Clark aims for measurement precision.
He reports the height of the highest falls to be 97’ ¾”,
the next 47’8” and another 14’7”.
Dams along the river have since altered these cataracts.
Website of the week: To start your own
exploration of this area of the Lewis and Clark Trail, go
Book of the week: One of several good photography
books covering the Trail is Bill and Jan Moeller’s
Lewis & Clark: A Photographic Journey.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Remembering
life before Lewis and Clark, the tribal museum at Warm Springs,
Oregon opens a new exhibit: “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” on
June 23. A reenactment of the 1855 Treaty signing is scheduled
June 25. www.warmsprings.biz/museum (541-553-3331)
Week ending June 11, 1805: Pausing at the
confluence of the Missouri and Marias rivers near today’s
Fort Benton, Montana as the men try to determine which stream
Highlights this week: The men split into
three groups: two exploring the waterways while others stay
at the base camp. Capt. Lewis and his party take longer than
expected, partly because of the famous “gumbo” Montanans
know so well today. This clay-like soil turns extremely slippery
in rain. On one cliff 90 feet above the river, Lewis slips
down and jams his espontoon (long staff with steel point)
into the dirt to stop his fall. Then his companion Windsor
also slips down the precipice with one arm and leg dangling
over the side. Lewis calmly talks him back up, telling him
to use his knife to dig footholds. On this side trip, Lewis
takes time to document birds, fish and the topography despite
an attack of dysentery which he treats using chokecherry
twig tea. When the scouting parties rejoin, it’s time
for whisky rations, singing and dancing before digging another
storage cache (pit) to deposit heavy items for the return
trip. Despite the data laid before them, all the men except
the captains still believe the Marias to be the true Missouri.
But, they also know who’s in charge. Knowing how crucial
this decision is with the Rocky Mountains looming in the
distance, Lewis decides to go overland to find the waterfalls
the native informants say will mark the mountain source of
the Missouri. Meanwhile, Sacagawea becomes very sick and
Capt. Clark resorts to bleeding her as a way to rid the cause.
Words from the journals: Writing about Windsor’s
near miss, Lewis says “I disguised my feelings and spoke
very calmly to him and assured him that he was in no kind of
danger.” That night they camp in an abandoned Indian lodge
where he says “I was fully repaid for the toil and pain
of the day, so much will a good shelter, a dry bed, and comfortable
supper revive the spirits of a weary, wet and hungry traveler.”
Today’s connection: After hiding
the red pirogue (large rowboat) under driftwood on a small
island, the men brand trees to ward off intruders. Bearing
the words “U.S. Capt. M. Lewis”, this tool was
found in the early 1890s on an island near The Dalles, Oregon.
Owned by Oregon Historical Society, it will be on display
there starting November 11 as part of a traveling exhibition
for the Bicentennial.
Website of the week: To follow activities
in the Clark County/Vancouver region in Washington state,
go to www.lewisandclark-clark.org.
Book of the week: For a comprehensive look
at maps leading up to and following the Corps of Discovery,
see Lewis and Clark: The Maps of Exploration, 1507-1814 published
by University of Virginia Library.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Visit
a comprehensive collection of materials highlighting the
1905 Lewis and Clark “world’s fair” in
Portland at the Collins Gallery in the Multnomah County Library.
See www.multcolib.org for
Week ending June 4, 1805: Moving through
the White Cliffs area of the Missouri River Breaks and arriving
near today’s Loma, Montana.
Highlights this week: “Scenes of
visionary enchantment” do not ease the pain of sharp
rocks slashing the men’s moccasins and feet. This is
an area of geological wonders lining the riverway with “a
thousand grotesque figures” and “a romantic appearance” whose
capitals and pedestals Capt. Lewis compares to Roman ruins.
The captains give extra rations of whisky to keep spirits
up. One night the dog Seaman diverts a raging buffalo bull
that tears through camp, damaging York’s rifle in one
of the boats (the white pirogue) and narrowly missing the
men’s tents. After several recent mishaps with the
white pirogue, Capt. Lewis is convinced an “evil gennii” possesses
the boat. One tributary they name Judith River for Capt.
Clark’s sweetheart back home. Lewis describes several
new birds and trees for science. As the week ends, the captains
are faced with one of their famous leadership dilemmas present-day
writers describe as “the Marias River decision.” No
one told them there would be a confluence of two equal-size
streams. The captains believe the southern branch to be the
Missouri while most others believe they should follow the
northwestern stream. Two short scouting parties do not return
with convincing evidence. On June 4, the captains decide
each will lead a 36-hour exploration of both branches and
then look at the data.
Words from the journals: A grizzly chases
two men until falling with a shot in the head, “the only
way to conquer the ferocity of those tremendous animals.” Writing
about the unexpected junction in the river, Lewis says “our
cogitating faculties have been busily employed all day.” Describing
the song of a flying bird, Lewis says it sounds like “twit
twit twit” and that grasshoppers appear to be the main
food supply of the “numerous progeny of the feathered
Today’s connection: Good leaders
try to build consensus and involve the entire group in data-based
decision making at critical junctures.
Website of the week: To follow the events
of the bicentennial in Oregon, keep checking www.lcbo.net where
back issues of this column also appear.
Book of the week: Paul Sivitz has published
a handy book titled Discovering the Birds and Mammals of
the Lewis and Clark Trail which describes only those species
still easily seen while driving along the Trail. Order directly
from him at [email protected]
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: A
national meeting of Lewis and Clark enthusiasts will be held
August 6-10 in Portland, hosted at Lewis & Clark College.
Find out how to register for one day or the entire five-day
package at www.lewisandclark.org
Week ending May 28, 1805: Moving into a
NE Montana region known today as the Missouri River Breaks,
still looking much the same as when Lewis and Clark passed
Highlights this week: Hard winds sometimes
delay progress. Along some stretches, the men must pull their
boats through rocky and rough rapids using long ropes made
of woven elk hides or hemp. Often they walk a narrow shoreline;
sometimes they wade in water as deep as their chests. The
terrain becomes more barren and ice greets them one morning.
Fewer trees mean fewer beaver, but the river produces tasty
catfish for a change of diet. Big horn sheep are now a new
target for the hunters and the head and horns of one are
added to the baggage. They describe how tribes shape the
horn for utensils and bows and believe its plastic-like quality
would make a good market for hair combs. Despite the cold
temperatures at night, a new pest appears: mosquitoes. Large
prairie dog colonies in the arid climate cause the journalists
to wonder how the burrowing animals live without water most
of the year. Capt. Clark says, “this Countrey may with
propriety I think be termed the Deserts of America.”
Words from the journals: One day the captains
briefly glimpse peaks of the Rocky Mountains for the first time.
Capt. Lewis secretly reveals his pleasure at being “near
the Missouri headwaters”, yet realizes there is difficulty
to come if they must pass that “snowey barrier” on
their way to the Pacific. He remembers his own philosophy: “I
will believe it a good comfortable road until I am compelled
to believe differently.”
Today’s connection: Scientists would
later discover the prairie dog does not depend on drinking
water, getting its moisture instead from plants. This might
explain why the caged prairie dog sent to Jefferson lived
just fine on its long journey to the president. After not
seeing any native people since leaving Fort Mandan, the men
discover evidence floating in the river: a lodge pole and
a “football” (not unlike today’s version).
Website of the week: To learn more about
prairie dogs today, start with a site that describes their
present situation: http://www.prairiedogcoalition.org/
Book of the week: See Handbook of American
Indian Games by Allan and Paulette Macfarlan for traditional
games used for learning and sport.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Life
in a Columbia River native village will be demonstrated Saturday,
August 6, 2005 at Blue Lake Park in east Multnomah County.
Members of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde will demonstrate
stick games and other authentic Upper Chinookan lifeways.
Week ending May 21, 1805: Moving up the
Missouri River through areas now covered by Fort Peck Reservoir.
Highlights this week: Perhaps remembering
how calmly Sacagawea reacted to the boat accident last week,
the captains name a Missouri tributary in her honor. Capt.
Clark narrowly escapes being bitten by a rattlesnake while
walking on shore; that evening, a tree catches fire and the
guard warns them to move their tents. Later, winds topple
the tree where the captains’ “lodge” had
stood. Burning coals damage the tents and a wildfire breaks
out which they cannot extinguish. The hunters kill several
deer to replace clothes, particularly “Legins and Mockersons,” which
are beginning to wear out. One day the marksmen wound a mountain
lion while it buries a partly-eaten deer. Seaman suffers
a dangerous wound when retrieving a beaver shot by a hunter.
Its sharp teeth sever the artery in a hind leg and Lewis
can hardly stop the bleeding.
Words from the journals: After drying out goods
waterlogged by the swamped boat, Capt. Lewis is relieved their
loss was confined to some garden seeds, a little gunpowder and
some “culinary articles.” He says Sacagawea had more “fortitude
and resolution” than anyone on board the vessel. Describing
the tree that nearly fell on them, Lewis draws on a science analogy: “we
should have been crushed to atoms.”
Today’s connection: This week the
journal keepers describe a plant that will continue to plague
them all across Montana: prickly pear cactus. Still today
these small, spiny pin cushions hide in the grass ready to
test the unprotected hiker.
Website of the week: For a good summary
of the journey with a special focus on the natural world,
explore the Nature Conservancy’s comprehensive overview
Book of the week: For persons planning
to drive the Lewis and Clark Trail this summer, a comprehensive
guidebook to highways and byways is Julie Fanselow’s
Traveling the Lewis and Clark Trail. Other guidebooks are
produced by Montana Highways and National Geographic Society.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: SOLV,
the Oregon-based environmental cleanup network, has designated
its annual “Down by the Riverside” event this
weekend to prepare for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial.
The May 20-21 clean-up sites follow not only the Columbia
River trail but are spread across the state. More than 17,000
volunteers turned out last year. See www.solv.org for
Week ending May 14, 1805: Moving up the
Missouri River in the vicinity of today’s Fort Peck,
Highlights this week: Two more grizzly
bear encounters are worse than before. One “monster” runs
more than a mile despite taking several lead balls in the
lungs and shoulder; another is shot by six hunters and chases
one of them into the river. Lewis writes: “I do not
like these gentlemen”! On two different days, Sacagawea’s
husband Jean Baptiste Charbonneau wins both praise and wrath.
The men love his tasty buffalo sausage described as a “great
delicacy of the forest.” However, during a sudden windstorm
one of their large boats nearly capsizes with Charbonneau
at the helm. “Crying to his god for mercy” rather
than following orders, boatman Pierre Cruzatt threatens to
shoot him “if he did not take hold of the rudder and
do his duty.” Elk and buffalo are so plentiful and
gentle “the men throw sticks and strones to drive them
out of the way.” Sacagawea shows the men how to find
and use wild licorice and “white apples” (prairie
turnips) she digs from the earth.
Words from the journals: Admiring the roots dug
by Sacagawea, Capt. Lewis thinks back to his fine food life as President
Jefferson’s aide: “I have no doubt our epicures would
admire this root very much in their ragouts and gravies instead of
the truffles morella.”
Today’s connection: Watching their
valuable cargo and best boat nearly swamp 300 yards away,
Lewis was preparing to dive into the rough, cold river before
realizing the odds were “100 to one” against
him. Two centuries later, summer swimmers still forget those
Website of the week: Plug in to a live
discussion “Nutrition and the Expedition: Eating on
the Trail” May 19, 10:30-11:30 a.m. PDT at www.ali.apple.com/lewisandclark or www.lewisandclark.net.
Book of the week: “Feasting and Fasting
with Lewis & Clark: A Food and Social History of the
Early 1800s” by Leandra Zim Holland details daily diets
while on the Trail and in kitchens back home.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: The
Oregon Symphony premiers a new work by Oregon composer Kevin
Walczyk titled “Corps of Discovery” May 14-16
at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland. See www.orsymphony.org
Week ending May 7, 1805: Moving up the
Missouri River in the vicinity of today’s towns of
Poplar and Wolf Point, Montana.
Highlights this week: Rising water and
strong winds continue to hamper the fleet. One morning a
heavy frost and quarter inch of ice on the water bucket greets
early risers, and a sudden snowstorm hits another night.
Metal parts on both larger boats break, requiring on-the-spot
repairs. One of the canoes overturns, causing a delay to
dry out wet gear. A hunter reports several yards of scarlet
cloth hanging high in a tree which Capt. Lewis believes might
be a sacrifice to the “great spirit.” One man
complains of rheumatism and another is treated for dysentery
using a laxative and then an opium derivative to help him
sleep. They encounter a second, even-larger grizzly bear—this
one requiring 10 shots to kill. Estimated weight: 600 lbs.
and over 8 ft. tall. Lewis says the men have now had their
curiosity satisfied about these bears! No one can believe
how the animals defy death.
Words from the journals: Lewis writes long,
detailed descriptions of birds, wolves, coyotes and the composition
of a stream bed. His word pictures of each new scene often use
analogies like this: “we passed beautiful plains…as
level as a bowling green…reaching as far as the eye can
Today’s connection: Areas of our
Columbia Plateau resemble the Corps’ description of
NE Montana in early May. David Nicandri, director of the
Washington State Historical Society, will discuss “What
did Lewis & Clark Know about the Columbia River and When
Did They Know It? Tuesday, May 10 at 7 pm, in the LaCenter,
Washington, Community Center.
Website of the week: To learn more about
what else was happening 200 years ago for a particular day
along the Trail, see http://www.lewisandclarkandwhatelse.com/
Book of the week: For youth, a popular
overview of the story is Rhoda Blumberg’s The Incredible
Journey of Lewis and Clark reprinted by several publishers.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Plan
ahead to hear Oregon’s Trail Band perform its popular “In
the Spirit of Lewis and Clark” program at Westview
High School in Beaverton at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 14. A
benefit for Portland Downtown Lions Club charitable projects,
the auditorium is at 4200 NW 185th Ave., ½ mile north
of Sunset Hwy. $26 general admission, tax deductible.
Week ending April 30, 1805: Moving up the
Missouri River in the vicinity of today’s North Dakota/Montana
border and Brockton, Montana.
Highlights this week: Strong winds and
blowing sand cause delays and sore eyes. Capt. Lewis complains
about grit stopping his pocketwatch. His dog Seaman wanders
off overnight, but returns the next day. Arriving at the
confluence of the Yellowstone River, the captains accurately
predict the future location of Fort Union. Reaching this
juncture calls for an extra measure of whiskey and a party
that night. In their first close encounter with grizzlies,
Capt. Lewis wounds, then kills, an estimated 300-pound specimen
and makes a detailed scientific description. He can hardly
believe how a beaver could fell a 3-foot diameter tree and
how wolves single out an antelope from a herd, then take
turns running it to exhaustion. Capt. Clark credits Sacagawea
for recognizing a “delicious froot,” probably
a variety of currants.
Words from the journals: After Lewis wounds
the grizzly, it chases him 70-80 yards before he can take another
shot. “…it is a much more furious and formidable
animal” than the black bear, says Lewis, “but they
are no means as dangerous as they have been represented.” This
prediction will be proven wrong further ahead on the trail.
Today’s connection: Visit the Oregon
Zoo in Portland for a close-up look at mammals described
by Lewis and Clark (elk, mountain goats, beaver, bear, wolves,
sea otters and harbor seals).
Website of the week: For a real-life application
of math to measure river flow, check out an Internet-based
activity April 28 between 10:30-11:30 a.m. at www.ali.apple.com/lewisandclark or www.lewisandclark.net.
You will see students learning how Lewis and Clark’s
calculations compare with methods used by the U.S. Geological
Survey along the Missouri River today.
Book of the week: To better understand
how geographers viewed the West, and the contributions made
by Lewis and Clark, see John Logan Allen’s Lewis and
Clark and the Image of the American Northwest, 1991, Dover
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: April
28-May 1 marks the second year of a
popular family event at Tamástslikt Cultural Institute near Pendleton.
This spring’s theme: “Salmon, Horses and Hospitality: Lewis and
Clark in our Camp.” See www.tamastslikt.com for
Week ending April 23, 1805: Facing strong
winds and frequent delays, the expedition moves slowly up
the Missouri River in the region of today’s Williston,
North Dakota. Collapsing riverbanks nearly hit their fleet
more than once.
Highlights this week: The captains describe
evidence of many native villages, including a scaffold used
for burials. Dogs in travois harness and a favorite horse
are apparently sacrificed nearby to assure a smooth journey
to the next world. Snagged buffalo hair bleached by the sun
hangs from rose bushes. Capt. Lewis says it’s silky
and soft enough to spin for cloth. One morning, two men argue
over who owns a beaver caught in two different traps. During
this period, several men are writing in their journals, often
copying each other because President Jefferson wanted a “back
up” version in case one was lost.
Words from the journals: From a hilltop, Capt.
Lewis has “a most inchanting (enchanting) prospect of
the Country around & the meanderings of two rivers which
is remarkably Crooked” while Capt. Clark walks through “extensive
bottoms of timber intersperced (interspersed) with glades and
Today’s connection: The language
skills of the journal keepers will be tested even more as
the Corps of Discovery keeps moving westward. Finding appropriate
words to describe immense herds of buffalo and incredible
scenery proves difficult with quill pen and ink. Travelers
today know their electronic technologies can never adequately
capture these same scenes.
Website of the week: See www.wisdomoftheelders.cmarket.com for
an on-line auction of native art, media and other items being
sold to help fund a radio programs highlighting tribal perspectives
on the Lewis and Clark journey (see below). Earlier programs
featured tribes along the Missouri River.
Book of the week: A new book by Alan H.
Hartley titled Lewis & Clark: Lexicon of Discovery helps
sort out the language used by the journal writers in the
Corps of Discovery.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: “Lewis & Clark
Walk and Bike” on Saturday, April 23 covers downtown
Vancouver and the Historic Reserve. See www.discoverywalk.org or
call 1-877-269-2009. Sunday, April 24 marks the official
launch of the Wisdom of the Elders radio series west of the
Continental Divide. The festivities are scheduled 1-5 p.m.
at the Native American Student and Community Center at Portland
State University, corner of Broadway and Jackson.
Week ending April 16, 1805: Moving up the
Missouri River in the vicinity of today’s Fort Berthold
and Garrison Reservoir NW of Bismarck, North Dakota.
Highlights this week: The captains describe
a “level and fertile plain as far as the eye can see” and
a bluff of burning coal giving off clouds of smoke. They
note bald eagles, geese, magpies, herds of antelope, elk
and buffalo, fine-looking beaver, gray brants and large white
cranes, but complain of mosquitoes. One night they make a “comfortable
dinner” on venison steaks and beaver tails. Crumbling
river banks threaten their fleet and on another day one of
the large pirogues carrying their most valuable cargo and
the non-swimmers barely escapes being capsized. A creek is
named for Charbonneau, one of their interpreters and husband
of Sacagawea, who remembered camping there on a prior hunting
trip. They believe that point to be the farthest west white
people have ever ventured. How local tribes capture antelope
using a corral-like “funnel” is noted as are
several old hornet nests. A stray dog follows the Corps for
several days, apparently with the approval of Seaman, Capt.
Lewis’s pet Newfoundland and the Expedition’s
Words from the journals: On-shore hikers
spot their first “enormous” grizzly bear tracks
and Capt. Lewis writes “the Indians give a very formidable
account of the strength and ferocity of this anamal,”.adding
that native hunters frequently fall victim to the beasts.
Today’s connection: Shale hills in
this region of North Dakota are coal rich and sometimes burn
spontaneously. Oil can be harvested from these geological
deposits, but the process is expensive.
Website of the week: See www.mnh.si.edu/lewisandclark for
a nice digital review of the flora and fauna encountered
by Lewis and Clark as compiled by the Smithsonian Institution.
Book of the week: For an inexpensive summary
of the animals documented by Lewis and Clark, see “The
Natural History of the Lewis and Clark Expedition” by
Raymond Darwin Burroughs who once taught biology at Willamette
University in Salem.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Portland
State University’s Office of Extended Studies is leading
trips on the Columbia River portion of the Trail which includes
a Lewis and Clark historic dinner created by Western Culinary
Institute. For details, call 503-725-3276.
Week ending April 9, 1805: Loading boats
and leaving Fort Mandan, near Mandan and Hidatsa Indian villages
on the Missouri River about 38 miles north of present-day
Bismarck, North Dakota.
Highlights this week: The men complete
boxing and baling items to be sent to President Jefferson
as well as their own baggage they will carry up the Missouri
River in 6 dugout canoes and 2 pirogoues (large rowboats).
Three cages of live animals are sent to the president: a
prairie dog, 4 magpies and a prairie hen. Only the prairie
dog and one magpie eventually arrive alive at today’s
White House. Several.Mandan and Arikara Indian representatives
bid farewell and gifts are exchanged. April 7 is finally
push-off date for the Corps of Discovery’s journey
west. Lewis and Clark take turns walking on shore to better
describe the geography. At night, the captains, interpreters,
Sacagawea and the baby nicknamed Pomp share a tipi whose
construction Lewis describes in detail.
Word from the journals: Capt. Lewis says
the departure is one of the happiest moments in his life,
fulfilling a dream he’s had for 10 years (he had tried
to volunteer on an earlier mission by President Jefferson
to find the Northwest Passage). Comparing their flotilla
to Columbus and Capt. Cook, Lewis writes, “We are now
about to penetrate a country at least 2,000 miles in width” with
every hope of success. “Penetrate” here refers
to European Americans mapping and documenting the region
for the first time.
Today’s connection: The Expedition’s
exhilaration about finally “lifting off” to places
citizens in the U.S. had never seen might be comparable to
NASA’s space teams excited about their latest mission.
Like the Corps of Discovery, recent NASA shuttle research
crews have also included women and persons of diverse racial
and ethnic backgrounds.
Website of the week: Comparing the Lewis
and Clark journey to NASA is one of the themes atwww.l3-lewisandclark.com This
site also contains helpful information on tribes the Corps
of Discovery encounters along the way.
Book of the week: For an abridgement of
the definitive 13-volume set edited by Gary Moulton, who
spent 20 years compiling that comprehensive series, see his
2003 single title “The Lewis and Clark Journals: An
American Epic of Discovery.”
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: The
50-member Oregon Chorale will stage its original comedy Paddle
Your Own Canoe April 9-10 and 16-17 at the Hillsboro High
School Auditorium, 3285 SE Rood Bridge Rd, Hillsboro, Oregon.
Reservations are required. Call 503-648-3620 or reserve online
Week ending April 2, 1805: Wintering over
at Fort Mandan, near Mandan and Hidatsa Indian villages on
the Missouri River about 38 miles north of present-day Bismarck,
Highlights this week: Working in “perfect
harmony and good understanding towards each other” the
men prepare their boats for the journey west. Local tribes
delight in retrieving drowned buffalo that fell through upriver
ice even though the meat is spoiled. Anticipating departure,
the party is in high spirits and nightly dancing continues.
The captains work on reports that will be sent back to President
Jefferson on the keelboat which is too large to navigate
upper reaches of the Missouri. Thunder and lightning and
intermittent rain occur as all watercraft are tested. One
visiting Mandan Indian secondary chief leaves the Fort “miffed” because
no one has time to give him attention.
Word from the journals: Capt. Clark describes
the extraordinary dexterity of the native men who jump from
one ice cake to another in the river trying to catch the
floating dead buffalo.
Today’s connection: Butchers today age
beef before cutting the carcass for sale. In many cultures certain
foods are allowed to “ripen” before serving. To celebrate
Christmas at Fort Clatsop the next winter, the men will eat “pore
elk” which has started to spoil—perhaps one of the
reasons salt was needed to mask the taste!
Website of the week: For better understanding
of the tribes encountered by Lewis and Clark and oral histories
they pass down about the Corps of Discovery, follow the work
of Rose High Bear at www.wisdomoftheelders.com.
This nonprofit organization based in Portland is capturing
the stories of elders for broadcast on public radio.
Book of the week: Several books summarize
the Corps of Discovery story from the eyes of Capt. Lewis’s
pet Newfoundland Seaman. Eugene, Oregon author Robert Young’s “Passage” is
a children’s activity book for young readers (www.writingforreal.com).
Wilsonville, Oregon author Roland Smith’s “The
Captain’s Dog” is widely used in upper elementary
reading programs (www.rolandsmith.com).
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: This
week marks the dedication and opening of the Chinookan style
plankhouse replica at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge some 14
miles north of Vancouver off I-5. See www.plankhouse.org for
Week ending March 26, 1805: Wintering over
at Fort Mandan, near Mandan and Hidatsa Indian villages on
the Missouri River about 38 miles north of present-day Bismarck,
Highlights this week: Hints of spring emerge
as ice on the Missouri starts to break up, rain instead of
snow begins to fall, and swans and geese fly NE. Returning
from visiting a detachment of men building smaller boats,
Capt. Clark finds beds of pumice stone, signs of ancient
volcanic activity. He brings samples back to melt (fuse)
in the blacksmiths’ forge. The captains give visiting
dignitaries a peace medal, clothes and wampum as part of
continued Indian diplomacy. The Expedition gives over 80
medals to important people during the entire trip. A delegation
from another tribe explains everyday words to help the captains
keep records on native vocabulary. The boat builders carry
four new canoes 1.5 miles to the river, preparing to float
them down to Fort Mandan when the ice clears.
Words from the journals: A visiting chief
delays his departure till morning to see men in the Corps
of Discovery dance, which Clark says “is common amusement” during
long nights at the Fort. For a family learning activity,
make a vocabulary list of common expressions like amusement
in other languages just like Jefferson asked Capt. Lewis
Today’s connection: Oregon Historical
Society uses the Jefferson peace medal carried by Lewis and Clark
as its logo. A real one owned by the Society will be on display
November 11 till March 11, 2006 during a national touring exhibition
of Expedition-related artifacts.
Website of the week: To monitor a “moving
national park” slowly making its way to our area as
it follows the Lewis and Clark Trail, check out www.lewisandclarkgnet.org.
Book of the week: Serious followers of
the Corps of Discovery will want the 2004 Encyclopedia of
the Lewis & Clark Expedition by Elin Woodger and Brandon
Toropov nearby as a reference tool..
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Next
week Amy Mossett, a leader in coordinating national tribal
involvement in the Bicentennial, will interpret the life
of Sacagawea from her Hidatsa Indian perspective at a special
lecture 7 p.m. March 29 at Gaiser Hall, Clark College, Vancouver.
See www.lewisandclark-clark.org for
Week ending March 19, 1805: Wintering over
at Fort Mandan, near Mandan and Hidatsa Indian villages on
the Missouri River about 38 miles north of present-day Bismarck,
Highlights this week: Housekeeping chores
keep the men busy drying out their goods, making more war
axes, and hulling corn received in trade for these weapons.
Visits from local French Canadian traders and nearby tribal
representatives continue. Charbonneau thinks twice about
meeting terms of the captains’ offer to join the Expedition
and asks for forgiveness for his “foolish behavior” last
week. The captains sign him up officially, knowing his Shoshoni
wives (Sacagawea the only one finally making the trip) will
be even more valuable in obtaining horses to cross the Rocky
Mountains. However, she is never paid for her many contributions.
Words from the journals: In an elaborate
two-page technical description, Lewis reports how the Arikara
and Mandan Indians make ceramic beads using a secret process
apparently passed eastward from the Shoshoni Indians in present-day
Idaho and Western Montana. Crushed glass/clay is shaped in
a cylindrical form, placed perpendicularly in an oven with
the bead’s aperture kept open with a small stick.
Today’s connection: Glass beads favored
by tribes and carried by the Corps of Discovery typically came
from Italy, but the less-technical manufacturing process described
for Lewis likely produced the larger variety worn as pendants.
Any pow wow in the Northwest will include vendors of beads and
beadwork still popular today.
Website of the week: For an advance look
at a national exhibit headed for the Oregon Historical Society
in November, go to www.lewisandclarkexhibit.org.
Here you can preview artifacts on tour to only five cities
during the Bicentennial.
Book of the week: Indian Trade Goods is
a useful, inexpensive reference booklet on beads and other
items favored by Northwest tribes. It is available from Oregon
Archaeological Society www.oregonarchaeological.org.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: For
a multicultural family experience where authentic beadwork
and other life skills are taught by Northwest tribal members,
consider attending the “Hallowed Ground” family
camp at Wallowa Lake July 23-28. Go to www.gocamping.org for
registration details. This is homeland for the Chief Joseph
band of the Nez Perce Indians whose hospitality to the Corps
of Discovery is legendary.
Week ending March 12, 1805: Wintering over
at Fort Mandan, near Mandan and Hidatsa Indian villages on
the Missouri River about 38 miles north of present-day Bismarck,
Highlights this week: Smoke rises from
burning prairie grass, a native way of clearing undesirable
plants and assuring better forage for buffalo in the spring
and summer. The youngest enlisted man George Shannon (19)
cuts his foot with a sharp tool (adze) used to carve new
boats, a process that appears to be going well. Capt.Clark
gives a sick native child Rush’s “thunderbolts” (nickname
for a strong laxative sent with Lewis by Dr. Benjamin Rush
in Philadelphia). Clark takes time to smoke a pipe with a
Mandan Indian chief which he writes is “the greatest
mark of friendship and attention” when conducting diplomatic
relations. Sacagawea’s husband Toussaint Charbonneau
objects to terms of his verbal employment as interpreter;
the captains’ apparent reply is “take it or leave
it” since there was no written contract.
Word from the journals: “Inducement” of
an early crop of prairie grass by burning was part of the
environmental plan for upper Missouri tribes. Early Northwest
tribes used the same strategy to induce healthy hunting grounds
and forests in the Cascades and Willamette Valley according
to Portland anthropologist Robert Boyd..
Today’s connection: Powerful laxatives and purgatives were the
two common medical treatments of the time, doctors believing it important to
remove evil substances causing the problem. Today we know these techniques
usually make things worse.
Website of the week: Tribes living in the
Fort Mandan area built earth lodges for permanent homes,
while along the lower Columbia the journal-keepers described
large plankhouses made from cedar. To be one of the first
visitors inside a new replica later this month at Ridgefield
Wildlife Refuge north of Vancouver, check out www.plankhouse.org
Book of the week: A quick-read paperback
that sets the stage for the Bicentennial in the Oregon Country
is now available from Oregon Historical Society Press. Ask
for Carl Abbott and William L. Lang’s Two Centuries
of Lewis & Clark. An overview of Portland’s 1905
world’s fair is included as well as perspectives from
Bobbie Conner, director of the Tamaststlikt Cultural Institute
on the Umatilla Indian Reservation..
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: OMSI’s
Omnimax Theatre runs the popular 5-story-screen film “Lewis
and Clark: Great Journey West” regularly. See www.omsi.edu for
the changing schedule.
February 27, 2005
Week ending March 5, 1805: Wintering over
at Fort Mandan, near Mandan and Hidatsa Indian villages on
the Missouri River about 38 miles north of present-day Bismarck,
Highlights this week: Capt. Clark works
on his maps while others dry meat for the pantry and make
charcoal for the blacksmiths. Men are dispatched several
miles upriver to find timber and start building pirogues
(large canoes) since the keelboat will be returned to St.
Louis in the spring with reports to President Jefferson.
Meanwhile, visits by French-speaking traders and neighboring
chiefs bring gossip and letters warning of potential trouble
among tribes. Clark takes time to describe dried purple coneflower
root, a medicinal plant he’s told cures snakebite,
toothache and rabies. One of the Mandan Indian chiefs who
visits the Fort is Sheheke, who had earlier promised Lewis
and Clark “if we eat, you eat.” In 1806, he travels
down the Missouri River with the expedition as an ambassador
to Congress and the President from the Mandan nation
Word from the journals: Describing how
to use the purple coneflower root on a snake or spider bite,
Clark says you first scarify the area (scratch the skin),
then chew or pound the root to a pulp and apply it to the
area twice a day.
Today’s connection: Today we know
purple coneflower as “echinacea”, one of the
top-selling herbs in America available in teas, capsules,
lozenges, cough syrups and tinctures. Many use it for preventing
colds, flu and sore throats. According to Portland ethnobotanist
Judy Bluehorse Skelton, some people trespasson tribal lands
to harvest the plants illegally..
Website of the week: Visit www.ohs.org to
learn about a new exhibit at Oregon Historical Society on
the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial and American Pacific
Exposition and Oriental Fair. It is open till September 18.
Book of the week: Tracy Potter’s
Sheheke, Mandan Indian Diplomat is one of the few books written
about tribal leaders who met Lewis and Clark. He weaves an
engaging biographical story about Sheheke, also known as
White Coyote or Big White, his visit with Jefferson and his
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Troutdale
Historical Society (503-661-2164) is featuring Gary Lentz,
popular interpreter of Corps of Discovery daily life, at
a public program Sunday, March 20 at 2 p.m. Lentz, president
of the Washington chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage
Foundation, is considered an expert on medical treatments
used by Lewis and Clark.
February 20, 2005
Week ending February 26, 1805: Wintering
over at Fort Mandan, near Mandan and Hidatsa Indian villages
on the Missouri River about 38 miles north of present-day
Bismarck, North Dakota.
Highlights this week: Social visits from
local tribes keep life at the Fort interesting. The captains
use these opportunities to gather cultural information for
President Jefferson. One visitor describes the death of a
man “120 winters old” who wanted his body to
be dressed and set on a stone facing south; other visiting
chiefs tell of men in their tribe who travel three days to
a sacred place (“Medison Stone”) where they learn
of things to come in the future. After many hours of hacking
and prying, the Expedition’s boats are finally set
free from thick river ice. But, the elk skin rope used to
winch the boats to shore keeps breaking! It takes three days
to finish the job. As his father pulls him on a sleigh, the
Corps says farewell to the boy whose frostbitten toes Capt.
Lewis had to amputate in January.
Word from the journals: “..by repeated
exertions the whole day we accomplished this troublesom task” writes
Capt. Clark as he describes the hard job of cutting their
boats loose from the ice. Everyday exertion keeps the Corps
of Discovery in fine physical and mental shape during the
long winter at Fort Mandan.
Today’s connection: At Columbia Hills
State Park east of Dallesport, Washington, visitors can see
a free new outdoor exhibit of pictographs and petroglyphs
rescued from the rising backwaters behind Columbia River
dams. Also at the park you may visit “She Who Watches,” our
area’s most famous petroglyph. Call 509-767-1159 for
a guided tour on Friday or Saturday mornings. Today, this
is still a sacred site important for the spiritual development
of tribal members living in the Northwest. Lewis and Clark
make no reference to this artwork or vision quest site as
they passed through the Columbia Gorge.
Website of the week: To learn more about
the boats used by the Expedition, catch a live program February
24 right from Fort Mandan: go to www.ali.apple.com/lewisandclark or www.lewisandclark.net
Book of the week: To read more about “She
Who Watches” in a children’s book format, see
Willa Holmes’ book by that name. There are alternative
versions of the legend of Tsagagalal, but this is one passed
down by the Wishram Indians.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Still
playing till February 27 is “Bridge of the Gods”,
a play by Ed Edmo and designed by Lillian Pitt. Hear Coyote
and She Who Watches as they tell the story of the beautiful
Loowit and brothers Wyeast and Klickitat who cannot learn
to live in peace. Produced by Tears of Joy Theatre, the play
is on stage at the Winningstad Theatre in Portland. Call
503-248-0557 or 360-695-0477 for details.
February 13, 2005
Week ending February 19, 1805: Wintering
over at Fort Mandan, near Mandan and Hidatsa Indian villages
on the Missouri River about 38 miles north of present-day
Bismarck, North Dakota.
Highlights this week: Upon his return,
Capt. Clark lists day-to-day events on their 10-day hunt.
Hunters sent out to bring back hundreds of pounds of meat
stored in log pens are met by Indians who steal their horses
and burn the meat. With the help of several Mandan volunteers,
Capt. Lewis leads a group in pursuit of the marauders, but
to no avail. Based on moccasins left behind, the Mandan Indian
helpers identify the raiders as Sioux Indians. Over two tons
of boned-out meat (40 deer, 3 buffalo and 16 elk) are finally
hauled 22 miles over the ice and snow. Along the way, one
of the Mandan chiefs suffers eye damage from reflection of
the sun off the white surface. The treatment is “jentilley
Swetting” by throwing snow on hot stones. Clark spends
time this week working on his list of rivers and geographic
features that lie ahead, thanks to information gleaned from
interviews with tribal and Canadian traders.
Word from the journals: One of the raiding
Sioux Indians apparently has a change of heart about capturing
three horses and wins notice from Clark for his intercession,
leaving the meat haulers one horse to pull the protein supply.
Today’s connection: Snow blindness
can still be a painful condition, but the cornea heals quickly.
This incident is only one of many where steam and heat will
be used to help cure various ailments—a treatment still
very common for us today.
Website of the week: To explore what life
is like in the Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara Nation today, and their
tribal histories over time, see www.mhanation.com/.
Book of the week: Dayton Duncan and Ken
Burns’ Lewis and Clark: the Journey of the Corps of
Discovery, an illustrated history book published simultaneously
with their PBS four-hour documentary, provides an engaging
look at daily life along the Trail.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Tamástslikt
Cultural Institute east of Pendleton, and the Cayuse, Umatilla
and Walla Walla Homeland Heritage Corridor in northeast Oregon
and southeast Washington, offers a free map showing Sehaptian
geographic place names used in the area before and after
the Corps of Discovery passed through our region in 1805-06.
Call 541-966-9748 for a copy. The Institute plans living
history presentations beginning spring 2005.
February 6, 2005
Week ending February 12, 1805: Wintering
over near Mandan and Hidatsa Indian villages on the Missouri
River about 38 miles north of present-day Bismarck, North
Dakota. Capt. Clark’s party still hunting for game.
Highlights this week: Excitement at the
Fort on February 11, as Sacagawea gives birth to a son who
will travel with the Corps of Discovery! However, “her
labour was tedious and the pain violent” so, thanks
to the suggestion of René Jessaume, a French-speaking
trader and interpreter, Capt. Lewis administers two rattlesnake
rattle rings crushed in a little water. Apparently it works;
ten minutes later Jean Baptiste Charbonneau is born. Lewis
questions the scientific validity of the treatment, noting
in his journal, “I want faith as to it’s efficacy.” Bartering
for corn continues, now with scrap metal from a burned-out
camp stove. The native people use it to make arrow points
and hide scrapers. Lewis describes how local tribes care
for their horses by keeping them inside their homes (earth
lodges) where the animals seem to thrive on eating slender
Word from the journals: One night Corpsmember
Thomas Howard slips back to the Fort. Finding the gate closed,
he scales the wall. Lewis says “an Indian who was looking
on” did the same thing, a serious security breach.
The next day, a court martial “for setting such a pernicious
example” sentences the soldier to punishment by 50
lashes, but no record is made of the penalty being carried
Today’s connection: Jean Baptiste
Charbonneau (nicknamed Pomp), child of Toussaint Charbonneau,
a French-speaking trader/interpreter, and Sacagawea, a Shoshoni
(Agaiduka) Indian, grew to adulthood fluent in several languages
and skilled in many trades. While traveling through eastern
Oregon at age 61, he dies of pneumonia and is buried near
the hamlet of Danner, some 15 miles from Jordan Valley in
Malheur County. His grave can be visited today. If your family
or group wants to organize a birthday party for Pomp, email
[email protected] for ideas and learn how to be part of a national
network of folks planning a celebration in 2005.
Website of the week: For an e-book style
summary of Jean Baptist Charbonneau’s life, see http://pompstory.home.mindspring.com
Book of the week: For a quick lesson on
Sacagawea, Jean Baptiste and Toussaint Charbonneau, buy “A
Charbonneau Family Portrait” by Irving W. Anderson
at the Fort Clatsop book store ($3.50). Or, call 503-861-4452.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: Amy
Mossett, member of the Three Affiliated Tribes in North Dakota,
will be sharing Hidatsa Indian perspectives on the life of
Sacagawea on March 29 at Clark College in Vancouver. Admission
is free. Go to www.lewisandclark-clark.org for
January 30, 2005
Week ending February 5, 1805 brings weather
similar to what North Dakotans today often experience: cold
and windy. Fort Mandan is now replicated near the town of
Washburn, some 40 miles north of Bismarck.
Highlights this week: Dwindling meat supplies
force Clark to take about 16 men, 3 horses and 2 sleighs
on what will be a 10-day, 60-mile hunting trip. Meanwhile,
Lewis draws and describes the war axes his blacksmiths create
to trade for corn with nearby Mandan and Hidatsa Indians.
Apparently formed out of scrap stove parts carried from Wood
River, Illinois, the heads are typically thin, about 8” long
and 5” deep in a diamond shape with perforated holes
for decoration. Worries about damage to their boats keep
the men working to melt, chop or pry their vessels free from
the frozen Missouri, where “strata” of ice and
water continually defy their efforts.
Word from the journals: Provisions were
always on the minds of the Expedition. But other “big
words” used by the Journal keepers this week illustrate
how their vocabulary would still challenge good spellers
today: turbid, luminous, expedient, exhausted, convenient,
dimension, ornament, perforate, strata.
Today’s connection: On their return
trip in spring 1806, the Corps spends several days near today’s
Washougal, Washington/Troutdale, Oregon to gather meat provisions
before attempting the strenuous portages and currents of
the Columbia River Gorge. A new Captain William Clark Park
in Washougal will be dedicated August 7, 2005 to commemorate
what is sometimes nicknamed “Provision Camp.”
Website of the week: Anyone interested
in traveling the Trail this year should first check the official
Bicentennial website: www.lewisandclark200.org
Book of the week: To learn about weather
patterns the Corps of Discovery faced in our Pacific Northwest
later in 1805-06, read Lewis & Clark’s Northwest
Journey: “Weather Disagreeable!” written by George
R. Miller, retired meteorologist living in Gresham, published
by Frank Amato Publications, Inc. in Portland (503-653-8108).
Bicentennial events next week in Oregon/Washington: Oregon
Historical Society is hosting a national traveling exhibit
on “The Literature of Lewis and Clark” prepared
by Lewis and Clark College in Portland. Included are rare
books and a map like the ones carried by the Corps of Discovery.
For hours and fees, see www.ohs.org.
The journals of the Corps of Discovery include descriptions
of plants found in a botany reference book Lewis consulted
along the way, for example. He had earlier learned basic
botanical knowledge from Dr. Benjamin Barton, author of one
of the books they brought along.
January 24, 2005
Week ending January 29, 1805 brings a short
break in the frigid weather so the men have time to hunt
(with no luck) and gather wood. Hidatsa or Mandan Indian
visitors from nearby villages share a meal with the Expedition
and seem to be “much Pleased” according to Clark.
A replica of Fort Mandan can be visited today near Washburn,
North Dakota north of Bismarck.
Highlights this week: One of the blacksmiths
creates a popular customized war axe which becomes a valuable
trade item for corn and other supplies. Perhaps to keep the
men busy, the captains send work parties to free their icebound
boats in the Missouri River, but no luck on this task either.
One man gets violently sick, so Capt. Lewis “bleeds” the
patient (a common treatment for serious illness, believed
to rid the body of bad blood). “Dr. Lewis” also
must finally amputate the toes of a young native boy who
they earlier treated for frostbite.
Word from the journals: Remedies used by
Lewis and Clark were the most advanced of their time. In
addition to bleeding, using strong laxatives and emetics
(purging) was another popular remedy along with herbal treatments
Lewis learned from his mother and the medical techniques
the two captains learned from tribes they met.
Today’s connection: What winter lesson
did the captains learn about the physics of rapid temperature
change and gases trapped in the pores? Hot rocks they thought
would melt thick ice around the boats immediately broke apart
when hitting the icy water!
Website of the week: To see how the nearby
Hidatsa and Mandan Indians might have lived 200 years ago,
check out http://www.nps.gov/knri/overview.htm.
For a description of the area around Fort Mandan, see http://nd.water.usgs.gov/lewisandclark/ft_mandan.html
Book of the week: The first book on medical
aspects of the journey was written by Portland physician
E. G. (Frenchy) Chuinard titled Only One Man Died.
Bicentennial events next week in Oregon/Washington: To
see a replica of a medical chest similar to what the Corps
of Discovery might have carried, visit the Cargo Exhibit
at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center in The Dalles. This
impressive display provides an up close and personal look
at the 30 tons of supplies carried by the Expedition along
the way. For hours and costs, call 541-296-8600 or visit www.gorgediscovery.org.
January 17, 2005
Week ending January 22, 1805 continues
to be cold but busy at Fort Mandan near Hidatsa and Mandan
villages some 38 miles north of Bismarck, North Dakota.
Highlights: Capt. Lewis shoots his air
gun to impress local audiences with the power of their new “white
father.” Native leaders have heard this storyline before
from British, Spanish and French authorities. The power struggle
brewing between American fur traders and the British Hudsons
Bay Company and North West Company impacts conversations
with a visiting trapper/trader who Lewis and Clark believe
has poisoned some tribes’ attitudes about the Expedition.
Trying to be a peacemaker with one young war chief, Lewis
warns the “Great Father” (Jefferson) will “open
their ears” if his nation does not listen and give
up their aggression. The warrior agrees to back down if a
raid “would be displeasing to us.”
Word from the journals: Remarkable: a term
used often during the long Fort Mandan winter: “nothing
remarkable happening.” However, even during slow times
the men were writing. We have five different narrative journals
accessible today, plus maps and other data still used by
scientists and scholars in 2005. Kept by officers and a private,
there are frequent overlaps when the journalists copy each
other’s entries. Jefferson wanted back-ups in case
a journal was lost.
200 Years Later: Captain Clark is impressed
with how tribal members share food in each village. Today
we also see families, neighborhoods and nations organizing
food banks, co-ops, and supplies for people in need. When
united around a common goal like survival, as in tsunami-stricken
regions now, old arguments seem to fade.
Website of the week: For a popular guide
to the entire story, including the difficult time in present-day
North Dakota, go to www.lewis-clark.com
Book of the week: Stephen Ambrose’s
Undaunted Courage is a favorite choice for readers wanting
to feel the passion and perils the Corps of Discovery faced,
particularly the role of Meriwether Lewis.
Bicentennial events next week in Oregon/Washington: Portland
Art Museum’s new exhibit titled “People of the
River: Native Art of the Oregon Territory” runs January
22-May 29. Designed to set the stage for the Bicentennial,
the show features first-ever- displayed objects from five
tribal communities who have lived over 10,000 years along
the Columbia River from the Snake River to the Pacific. For
hours and costs, call 503-226-2811 or visit the Museum’s
website at www.portlandartmuseum.org.
January 10, 2005
Week ending January 15, 1805 finds Lewis
and Clark’s Corps of Discovery at their newly-built
Fort Mandan near the Missouri River. Nearby villages of Mandan
and Hidatsa Indians comprised a major regional trading center
for visiting tribes, trappers, traders—the equivalent
of our shopping malls. Fort Mandan camp is replicated today
near Washburn, North Dakota, 38 miles north of Bismarck.
The weather is often below zero with moderate snowfall and
the Corps journal keepers record a total eclipse of the moon
Highlights: On New Years day, the Corps
of Discovery had fired their small cannons and held dancing
demonstrations designed to build political and commercial
alliances. Word spreads about Clark’s black slave York,
a man caught between two cultures, who local Indians viewed
as “big medicine.” The Expedition’s blacksmiths
busily repair tools brought in by tribal members in exchange
for dried corn, beans and squash, the major agricultural
commodities of the area. Captain Clark expands his maps based
on visiting tribal and trapper descriptions of upriver geography.
They are amazed at how young natives survive in open country
under frigid conditions, even as they treat one boy for frostbite.
The Corps observes two spiritual ceremonies: one to empower
men for raids against enemies, another to assure successful
Word test from their journals: observation.
During the lunar eclipse, Lewis is frustrated “by clouds
which continued to interrupt me throughout the whole observation.” In
a 16-page letter, Thomas Jefferson required his Army expedition
to measure and describe literally everything they saw, tasted,
smelled and felt. On one day at Fort Mandan, Clark observes
their Fahrenheit thermometer registers -40? He then answers
a math question, “how many degrees below freezing is
this?” (Answer: 72).
200 Years Later: Francois Rivet, an engage
who helped the Corps of Discovery with their keelboat and
two pirogues up the Missouri, is noted for “dancing
on his head” during their parties. How is Oregon forever
linked in history to this French-speaking hired hand? (He
is buried in St. Paul, Oregon where he settled on a land
claim many years later).
Website of the week: To find out what the
Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikira tribes who encountered Lewis
and Clark say about Lewis & Clark, and what happened
after their visit, go to www.trailtribes.org
Book of the week: For a comprehensive look
at how Lewis and Clark fared with the Mandan and Hidatsa
people, as well as other tribes, read James Ronda’s
Lewis and Clark Among the Indians.
Bicentennial events in Oregon/Washington: White
Bird Dance Company will take Francois Rivet’s “break
dance” style to a new level September 17, 2005 when
Project Bandaloop dancers will be suspended from the St.
Johns Bridge as part of a public festival to help commemorate
the Corps’ visit in the Portland area. It is believed
the Expedition reached up the Willamette River as far as
Terminal 4 near the University of Portland.