Native History: Lewis and Clark Depart Fort Clatsop, Head Home
The vote was in favor of moving across the Columbia where they constructed Fort Clatsop, in recognition of the Clatsop Tribe. They moved into Fort Clatsop on Christmas Day. The area was 50 square feet and contained five buildings, three on one side and two others facing them. This was home for 32 men, a woman, a baby, and a dog, the Newfoundland that accompanied them during the entire expedition.
Gass kept count on elk and deer killed—the final total was 131 elk and 20 deer. That was supplemented with some roots and berries, an occasional dog they would buy from the Natives, and whale blubber they also got from the Clatsop or one of the other Chinook speaking tribes nearby.
By March it was getting more difficult to find game and the hunters had to go farther from the fort, sometimes several miles, to find elk or deer. Captain Clark wrote: “[We] have lived as well as we had any right to expect, and we can say we were never one day without 3 meals of some kind a day either pore elk or roots.”
March 23 also was “raney [sic] and uncertain”, Clark wrote, but by noon the rain ceased. “At which time we loaded our canoes and at 1 P.M. left Fort Clatsop on our homeward bound journey.”
They managed 19 miles that first day before camping for the night. The next month was spent progressing east along the Columbia River, occasionally meeting with Native people they had met earlier. By early May they had again reached the Nez Perce and recovered the horses they had left the previous fall. Winter snows were still deep in the mountains to the east so they remained with the tribe until early June before they continued east.
On September 23, 1806, after being away for two and a half years, the Lewis and Clark Expedition completed their mission by returning to St. Louis, Missouri.
You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page