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Lewis and Clark: Fort Clatsop

Summary: This article about the Lewis and Clark Expedition provides interesting facts about the building and wintering at Fort Clatsop. The Corps of Discovery built Fort Clatsop as a winter base towards the end of their outward journey of discovery during the terrible winter of 1805-1806. The men of the Corps of Discovery built Fort Clatsop, near the Pacific coast where they spent 106 days in the Oregon Country near the mouth of the Columbia River.

Lewis and Clark Expedition: Fort Clatsop
 
Lewis and Clark Expedition: Fort Clatsop

The picture is of a floor plan of Fort Clatsop which was found in the journals of William Clark. The site and location of Fort Clatsop was chosen for a number of important reasons:

  • High, flat ground with easy access to trees for constructing Fort Clatsop. It was also was near a fresh water spring
  • There were plenty of elk which provided food for the Corps of Discovery, fat for making candles and hides for making clothes and bedding
  • The men killed more than 130 elk, 20 deer, and many small animals during their stay
  • It was near the Pacific Ocean which enabled the men to obtain salt, it was also near the mouth of the Columbia River and  it was also in close proximaty of the friendly Clatsop tribe

Lewis and Clark - Fort Clatsop Floor Plan

 
Lewis and Clark Expedition for kids: Facts about Fort Clatsop
The following fact sheet provides short, interesting facts about Fort Clatsop.

Lewis and Clark Expedition: Facts about Fort Clatsop

 
Fort Clatsop Fact 1: The above picture shows a floor plan of Fort Clatsop which was found in the journals of Captain William Clark.
   
Fort Clatsop Fact 2: The men of the Corps of Discovery had many skills including carpentry and blacksmithing and these abilities were invaluable when building Fort Clatsop and making furniture for the cabins. The construction was made of horizontal logs and picket fences. The roofs of the cabins would have been covered with anything that would prevent them from leaking.
   
Fort Clatsop Fact 3: The Dimensions: The dimensions are clearly marked as 50 x 50 feet. The complex consisted of 1 row of buildings with three rooms and another row of buildings that consisted of 4 rooms. Between the two rows of cabins was a small parade ground.
   
Fort Clatsop Fact 4: The construction took just over 3 weeks to build. It began on December 7, 1805 and they stayed until March 23, 1806.
   
Fort Clatsop Fact 5: The men of the Corps of Discovery were billeted in the rooms. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark shared a room. One room was used as a storage facility for stores and provisions
   
Fort Clatsop Fact 6: Fort Clatsop was built facing south and there were two gates (a main gate and a water gate) which were shut and secured at sunset. A sentry box was built next to the main gate..
   
Fort Clatsop Fact 7: Fireplaces would have been made from either stone or mud brick and lined with clay.
   
Fort Clatsop Fact 8: Floors: William Clark’s journal mentions a puncheon (rough plank) floor
   
Fort Clatsop Fact 9: The fresh water spring was located 75 yards from the fort complex.
   
Fort Clatsop Fact 10: The winter quarters housed the 33 members of the Lewis and Clark expedition who had reached the Pacific coast. They included Captains Lewis and Clark, 27 enlisted personnel, York, Captain Clark's servant, Toussaint Charbonneau, his wife Sacajawea and baby Baptiste.
   
Fort Clatsop Fact 11: Members of the Clatsop and Chinook Native Indian tribes visited Fort Clatsop on almost a daily basis taking the opportunity to trade. William Clark described them as 'close bargainers'.
   
Fort Clatsop Fact 12: The Corps of Discovery spent a total of 106 days at Fort Clatsop. According to Chief Cliff Snyder of the Chinook Tribe there were only 12 days without rain during their stay.
   
Fort Clatsop Fact 13: During their stay the men suffered from influenza, colds, rheumatism, and other different ailments. Their physical strength had been drained during their long, arduous journey had be severely drained.
   
Fort Clatsop Fact 14: As the winter spent at Fort Clatsop was subject to almost constant rain the men spent much of their time indoors. Time was spent on the care and maintenance of their weapons, making clothes for the return journey and making candles.
   
Fort Clatsop Fact 15: Clark and Lewis and other men of the expedition who kept journals updated their entries and spent time making additional notes on the plants and animals in their immediate vicinity. They also had the time to write good descriptions of the wildlife and were able to draw excellent sketches.
   
Fort Clatsop Fact 16: Captain William Clark took the opportunity to work on the maps he had drawn during the journey.
   
Fort Clatsop Fact 17: On March 23, 1806 the Lewis and Clark expedition left Fort Clatsop began their journey home.
   
Fort Clatsop Fact 18: A replica of Fort Clatsop can be visited at the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park
   

Lewis and Clark Expedition: Facts about Fort Clatsop

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Lewis and Clark Expedition: Fort Clatsop

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