According to tradition, Fort Clatsop was given by Lewis and Clark to a Clatsop Indian chief, by whom it was occupied sporadically until it fell into ruin. With the arrival of the Astorians on the Columbia River in 1811, the site of Fort Clatsop was of interest to travelers, and as late as the 1860s sightseers occasionally visited it. The site was included in a donation land claim during the 1850s and farming operations obliterated the remains of the post. Between 1899 and 1901 there was a renewed interest in the site and at least two independent attempts were made to establish the exact location. The memories of early settlers in the region formed the basis of these identifications, which have won general acceptance. The Oregon Historical Society acquired the current memorial site in 1901, and it has since been operated as a historic monument open to the public. In 1955 a community-built replica of the explorers' 50'x50' Fort Clatsop was built on the ground then believed to have been the original site of Ft. Clatsop. Fort Clatsop National Memorial, now a unit of the National Park Service, commemorates the 1805-06 winter encampment of the 33-member Lewis and Clark Expedition. The park's reconstructed fort burned down in October 2005. However, the site remains open as a memorial to the expedition and still contains the reconstructed salt works.
In 1900 the long-forgotten salt-making site was re-established by the Oregon Historical Society as a memorial to the Corps of Discovery. It was based on the rockpile and the testimony of Jenny Michel, a Clatsop Indian born in 1816. Prior to her death in 1905, she recalled her mother's memory of white men boiling water on that spot. In 1979, the site was donated by the Oregon Historical Society as an addition to Fort Clatsop National Memorial.
Questions for Photos 2 & 3
1. How was it decided where to build the reconstructed fort and salt works? What are the strengths and weaknesses of using this method? Can you think of any other methods that might help determine where a structure used to be?
2. Since 1901, the site of Fort Clatsop has been operated as a historic monument/memorial. Why would people have developed a renewed interest in Lewis and Clark at that time? List some of the monuments and memorials in your local community or that you have read about in other places. What do you think monuments and memorials represent? Does a reconstructed fort fit your descriptions? Why or why not?
3. Based on what you have learned about the Corps of Discovery, why do you think it might be important to preserve and protect Fort Clatsop National Memorial? Do you think the reconstructions built here help people better understand the Lewis and Clark expedition's experience during their winter encampment? Why or why not?
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