New Fort for Fort Clatsop

Fort Clatsop PosterI'm never one to pass up a good Lewis & Clark story. Over the last few years, I spent a lot of time traveling the same trail that the Corps of Discovery did 200 years before. I know the official commemoration is over, but the story of that amazing expedition will live on for generations to come. When the Corps made it to their destination, the Pacific Ocean, they camped for the winter near the mouth of the Columbia River. Within three weeks of picking out their winter layup location, this army expedition had built a fort, Fort Clatsop.

The original fort is long gone, but in 1955 a replica was built as near to the original location as anyone could figure out. You may remember that back in October, there was a fire and the 50 year old fort burned to the ground. At the time, they thought it was arson, but now I read that it was probably accidental. The timing couldn't have been worse, the bicentennial commemoration road show was just one month from reaching Astoria. By the time the party arrived, the fort was totally gone.

The good news is that the fort has been rebuilt. The structure that Lewis & Clark's party built in 3 weeks has taken a modern day crew months to complete. It has taken time because it has been rebuilt to more accurately reflect the structure as it may have been built originally by the Corps of Discovery. As it says in this article, Fort Clatsop rises from the ashes,
The new fort was designed to look more rustic and rough-hewn than its predecessor, to better mimic the likely look of the first Fort Clatsop. The ends of the logs, for example, come to rough, chopped-off points, instead of the neatly-sawed ends of the 1955 replica.

The new structure comes with new fireplaces, and a renewed emphasis on fire training and safety. Staff will have to be certified before they can light a fire in the new fireplaces. According to that article, the cause of the fire was apparently from a stray ember which somehow lodged itself under the floorboards in the enlisted men's quarters.

Check out the article in the Daily Astorian for a couple of photos taken during the new fort's dedication. You can also check out the program of events that day here.