My boys and I spent far too long studying Lewis and Clark this past year. That’s what happens in our home when mom falls in love with learning about something… We camp there a while.
I never paid attention in school when we learned about the Louisiana Purchase and Jefferson’s desire to know all about America’s new land. It wasn’t until I picked up the book Undaunted Courage that I became enthralled.
This book intermingles the journals of the explores with “just the right amount of narrative” to draw you into the expedition. I loved every word.
To top it off, my husband thought it would be fun to explore some of their actual journey. Since we live a few hours from the Columbia River, we planned our vacation as a retracing the footsteps of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. What a delightful trip!
Here’s where we explored:
This is now home to a great Dam, but at the time of the expedition was a treacherous stretch of the river that was riddled with waterfalls. Clark was appalled by “the horrid appearance of this agitated gut swelling [water], boiling and whorling in every direction.” (They couldn’t spell)
It was such a dangerous stretch of water that they sent all the men who could not swim by land carrying all the heavy and less valuable items with them.
This was a Class V rapid, meaning it could not have been run by modern experts.
The natives of the area were sure the white men would die and so they lined the banks to watch them fail, ready to scoop up all the abandoned equipment. To their astonishment, the Americans made the run without incident!
We stopped at the Dalles Dam/Museum and enjoyed learning all about the dam as well.
It is interesting to see the river today. The dam quiets the rapids quite a bit but you can imagine the torrents of yesteryear!
Discovery Center Museum
There is a fantastic museum that we explored which included quite a bit of information and some artifacts from the expedition.
Fort Rock Camp
We visited the site where the expedition spent three days regrouping- repairing canoes, drying their gear, and hunting. It was surreal to stand where they stood!
We drove west along the Columbia. I was stunned that there were over 70 waterfalls! Nursing a foot injury, our family only explored the more famous falls which were easy to access from the road.
Multnomah Falls was my favorite.
Up a windy road we found the Vista House. At the turn of the century, this area was declared a wonderful excursion spot for motorists in the “horseless carriages”. The roads were groomed for pleasure driving and the vista house was a destination for travelers to take in the incredible view, picnic, and simply refresh themselves. Stunning view!!
Before leaving the Columbia, we stopped at the Bonneville dam to see the hatchery and the giant sturgeon. Worth the detour! In the main building we could see into the fishladder (bypass which keeps the fish safe as they swim upstream). It was incredible to see the amount of fish fighting their way upstream!
We then travelled west until we reached the city of Seaside.
Seaside is the place where the expedition first reached the Pacific Ocean. They also set up a salt harvesting team there as well.
After exploring the west coast for a place to camp for the winter, the captains decided to build a fort with the Clatsop Natives. There were plenty of trees and resources and the hunting was good. Our family loved exploring the recreation of the winter camp. The original camp was long gone, having rotten away from the elements, but the recreation is considered to be very close to the original.