Corp of Dicovery Expedition

April Doornbos Starred Page By April Doornbos , 24th May 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>North America>United States>Oregon

Oregon is full of historical facts and places these men traveled through the newly purchase Louisiana territory

The Departure

After Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory 1803, a staggering 850,000 square miles he bought from the French, what a deal, President Jefferson then needed it mapped and explored but most of all a viable water route discovered to establish commerce through rugged unexplored country to the Pacific ocean before any other countries claimed the upper north west that would become Oregon and Washington states . Jefferson called upon army volunteers Meriwether Louis and his friend William Clark. They set out in May 1804 and the trip took over two years and was concluded in September 1806, since my recent summer visits to this vast and still beautiful area many of their adventures are well documented as you visit different areas located in the Columbia Gorge scenic region.

Preparation Planning

This required a lot of time and thought by all parties involved the president and his two volunteers, the captain Louis and his second in command Clark who was a lieutenant and a frontiersman but also excelled in other vital areas such as plant and animals, his ability to adapt to changing habitats, Indian traditions, medical practices and so on.The supplies they amassed included weapons, a .46 caliber repeating rifle from Austria called the Girandoni, powerful even to kill large game such as deer, gunpowder, blacksmith tools and supplies, knives, tents etcetera. Clark had already established himself as a pioneer and together they with the help of a pregnant squaw, Sacajawea who became vital to the mission success even though she was the only woman and from the Shoshone tribe.


Sacajawea was from the Shoshone tribe and the daughter of a Shoshone chief, she was captured by another tribe at the age of twelve and sold to a French Canadian trapper who married her, she was already pregnant with her first child that was born on the journey when she became the interpreter for the expedition, she was the only woman on the trip , she bore a son that she would carry on her back in a papoose for the remainder of the journey. Sacajawea was born in 1788 and died at the young age of 24 on Dec 20,1812. At the Cascade Locks there is a life size bronze of the woman that turned this precarious mission into a great success, since her death there has been many accolades bestowed upon this amazing woman, the Sacajawea dollar, also a stamp bearing her likeness and she was also honored by then President Clinton promoting her to the rank of sergeant, regular army.

The Importance of Salmon

For thousands of years the Native Americans in this region depended on the salmon runs to see them through the cold windy winters, after the fish were caught many of them were pounded and dried in the sun and wind then stored for the months ahead, all was in balance then but once the white man established commerce in this plentiful region they began exploiting the salmon building canning plants all along the river as if there was a never ending supply of these fish but in no time this lucrative fast money dried up, as usual the fish couldn't reproduce fast enough to keep up with world wide demand. You can find out more and even see video tape at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, it is located at the first exit approaching The Dalles on I-84 east, there is a 9$ fee but it is well worth it, there is also a live raptor show and nature wall with all native plants, spring is the best time for the nature walk.

Traditional Indian Salmon fishing styles

The various tribes that caught salmon along this area of the Columbia reached an estimated 320,000 pounds for local trade in this area known as the Dalles was observed by Clark on Oct 24, 1805 according to their journals , there were several different fishing styles including Sapawilalatatpama which is netting salmon as they jump through the rapids, Tayxaytpoma, spear fishing, Qiyakawas, gaffing the fish as they swim by with a hook on a spear and Swaycas which is still in use today and that is fishing with long poled hoop nets, not nearly as effective since this river only contains a fraction of the billions of returning fish only one hundred years ago, today the Indians have had to resort to more modern methods to catch salmon, gill nets are strewn throughout the river and still their nets remain empty, a very sad reminder of the ramped overfishing and exploitation that occurred over fifty years ago. On their return on April 19, 1806 Louis and Clark witnessed an Indian Salmon Ceremony welcoming the salmon back from the Pacific ocean.

The Rock Fort Campsite

This natural campsite was very accommodating to our earliest explorers, set below the rocks providing protection and warmth from the endless windy that abound in this area of the United States, in early spring it is covered with native flowers that bloom in the wind, such as blue lupine that grows like a vine with its flowers springing up along the way, also yellow balsam root grows all over the rocky wind blown cliffs. There are seven plaques that explain in detail about the events that occurred at each location the expedition encountered. This precious and distinguished Natural and Historical land mark fails to be treated with the integrity and importance it has earned as a vital piece of American history, there is no parking within the area for at least a quarter of a mile and the sign is so small you could miss it even if you were looking for it. Forty soldiers and boatmen used the Rock Fort on their return that began March 23, 1806 along the way Lewis was accidentally shot August 11, 1806 they also had a run in with the Blackfeet a month earlier on July 27, 1806. All this information has been collected at the various cites I stopped at and visited during my time in this historic region of these United States.

Triangulating the Horizon

This was one of the principle reason for this expedition, mapping and recording the longitude and latitude along the Columbia river, taking special note of unusual landmarks, rapids, islands such as Memaloose, which means Island of the Dead, this was were they Indians took their dead, they were not buried just left on the island , fortunately it was not submerged once the dams where built along the river. Any recognizable points of interest like the Bridge of the Gods, that was a natural landslide that finally gave way allowing the river to river threw it once again decades late. These maps were contrived with the aid of the Sextant, compass, the chronometer that was slightly inaccurate, telescopes and a device called the Artificial Horizon all this to collect scientific data for the United States.

The Mouth of the Columbia

After the battle between our explorers and the Blackfeet they reached the mouth of the Columbia and the Pacific ocean on November 15, 1806, during the coming winter they built Fort Clatsup before beginning their return in March 1806. this whole adventure was an amazing achievement for this time period in a young budding America the beautiful and I would have given anything to go back in time and be part of it, to see this mighty beautiful landscape still unscarred by the coming " white man ", it must have been fantastic !!!!

Columbia River, Present Day

Since the days of this extraordinary expedition the once beautiful area know as the Columbia Gorge is now covered with modern day eyesores that are scattered along the river banks polluting not only the river but the vast natural beauty that existed long ago, still vast expanses are untainted but for how much longer as human population still continues to climb, our future is unclear as our species demands exceed the more than the Earth can yield. If futures generations continue at this pace our demise is inevitable.


Histroy Of Louis And Clark, Sacajawea

Meet the author

author avatar April Doornbos
In my younger days I exercised famous racehorses until I injured my spine since then I have traveled to Europe many times and all over the Unite States.

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author avatar Ptrikha
12th Jun 2014 (#)

Great pictures and amazing description of these places.

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author avatar April Doornbos
13th Jun 2014 (#)

I am glad you liked it , you have to see to describe it

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