Monday, July 9, 2018

Fort Clatsop, 2018

 The welcome sign to Fort Clatsop

On the return trip home from the Redwoods in addition to the forest, beach and lighthouses we stopped at Fort Clatsop near Astoria, Oregon where Lewis & Clark and their party stayed the winter of 1805-1806.  This was their last camp before returning to St. Louis, Missouri.  Thirty-three people including the French Canadian trapper, Troussaint Charbonneau, his wife Sacagawea and their son lived here during that winter.  The name “Clatsop” comes from the local Indian tribe.  Docents dressed in period costumes are available to answer questions and perform demonstrations to show how the people lived and worked while they stayed at the fort.  When we visited a young woman dressed in costume was giving a tour to a group of school children.  There is also a modern visitor center and gift shop on the park grounds.

Life-size statue of Sacagawea and Pompy

Besides the fort buildings there is also a life-sized statue of Sacagawea carrying her baby, Jean Baptiste who was nicknamed Little Pomp or Pompy.    

It took a little over 3 weeks to construct the original fort that served as their camp.  When the Lewis & Clark party left to return east the fort was presented as a gift to the chief of the Clatsops.  Some of the wood was used for other purposes but the site became an important fur trading post.  After many years the original buildings decayed in the wet climate until nothing was left.  However a general idea of where the camp was located was known and for the sesquicentennial in 1955 a replica was built on or close to the original site.  That replica lasted for 50 years but was severely damaged by fire in 2005.  The current fort was reconstructed using about 700 volunteers in 2006.  The new replica was built using archeological information not available in 1955.  A fire detection system was also installed.  

The entry to the fort. School children watching the docent perform a demonstration can be seen at the right.

 Inside the fort

 Interior of a bunkhouse.  There were 4 sets of bunk beds or 8 beds in each bunkhouse.

 The larger room shared by Lewis and Clark

 The rear door out of the fort

A work area outside of the fort walls where tools were repaired, cooking and other work was done

The fort seemed small to us considering it housed 33 individuals.  Two simple buildings faced one another.  Each of the bunk-rooms had 4 sets of bunk beds, seven men per room with one bed empty.  Lewis and Clark shared a slightly larger room that had 2 separate beds and a table for maps and journals.  Charbonneau and his wife and child shared another room.   There was also a storeroom where supplies were kept.  A nearby spring provided fresh water for the fort.  

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