One thing I've learned about homeschooling is that no trip is simply a trip, it is an educational experience. Or it darn well better be! Otherwise, what's the point? You don't expect me to simply have fun...or relax, do you? Stuff and nonsense.
So when it came to my attention that there were Lewis and Clark sites by the gazillions in and around where I live, I asked myself, "Self? Should we make a special trip to the coast to go see some of those?" And you know what I said in reply?
"YOU BETCHER BUCKSKINS AND SAVE YER MOCCASINS FOR SUNDAY!"
Shouted it, that I did.
So strap up your boots, bloggy readers. We's goin' on a history tour of the Oregon Coast! Highlights will be the Salt Works, Cape Disappointment, and Fort Clatsop. If I'm feeling especially nerdy, I'll throw in some bonus posts after that.
All right. Here's the bottom line. By the time the Lewis and Clark Crew made their cross-country trip, they were PLUM OUTTA SUPPLIES. And by gum those boys needed some salt! Salt in their shakers! Salt for their meat! And salt to throw over their shoulders to fend off bad luck!
Okay. I might have made that last part up.
So the ocean. It has some salt. And we know that men like fire, and hauling heavy things, and goodness knows they had some time to kill while they whittled away the winter on the Oregon coast.
The Salt Cairn. Pronounced like a hick saying "I'm carin' about ya."
Basically it's a pile of rocks and some buckets of water over a fire. See? I am awesome with the history.
Due to the passage of time, the original salt cairn disappeared, but fortunately a replica-esque has been built near the original site. History buffs and those they drag along with them rejoice. I know for a fact that my kids could not have lived knowing there was a salt cairn nearby that they hadn't seen.
Keeping future tourists in mind, Lewis (or Clark, who knows?) made sure to set up a plaque describing the cairn. Or maybe it was the Lions Club in 1955. You know. One of those.
I made my four-year-old pose in front of it. See? She adores a good salt cairn. She also adores a good moisturizing lotion, and could have used some to ease that itch on her back.
I'm guessing by now you are busting to know what's written on that sign. Well, wait no longer!
On January 2, 1806, the salt works was established by the three "salt makers" of the Lewis & Clark Expedition: Joseph Fields, William Bratten and George Gibson, who remained here until February 20, 1806. These men, assisted at times by hunters and packers, were able during this period to tediously extract approximately four bushels of salt by boiling seawater day and night in five metal "kittles."
The Expedition had run out of salt before arrival at their winter camp at Fort Clatsop, 10 miles to the northeast, and it was very necessary for curing meat and preparing for the return trip to civilization.
This actual site was established by a committee of the Oregon Historical Society in 1900, on the testimony of Jenny Michel of Seaside, whose Clatsop Indian father remembered seeing the white men boiling water, and had pointed out this place to her when she was a young girl. She was born in this vicinity about 1816 and died in 1905.
I leave you with a photo of the men in action. A true historical document. (Click to enlarge.)
Next up: Cape Disappointment. You'll not be disappointed. Or maybe you will be. Wait and see.
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