1805 To the Pacific – The end of the voyage by water
Finally, the Lewis and Clark Expedition made it around Point Ellice (or "
Blustering Point" or "Point Distress," as they called it)
and established a final camp on a "butifull Sand beech" east of the
present-day town of Chinook.
On Nov. 15, Clark wrote, "I landed and formed a camp on the highest Spot
I could find between the hight of the tides, and the Slashers in a Small bottom this
I could plainly See would be the extent of out journey by water .…"
Lewis and Clark called this location "Station Camp." After
traveling more than 4,100 miles up the Missouri River, over the Rocky Mountains and
down the Snake and Columbia rivers, members of the Corps of Discovery finally reached
the end of their voyage by water.
Others in the party also noted the importance of this site:
"We are now in plain view of the Pacific Ocean…We are now of the
opinion that we cannot go further with out Canoes, & think that we are at end of our
Voyage to the Pacific Ocean.…"
~Joseph Whitehouse, Nov. 16, 1805
"We are now at the end of our voyage, which has been completely
accomplished according to the intent of the expedition .…"
~Patrick Gass, Nov. 16, 1805
Near Station Camp, a Chinook "village of 36 houses" stood
unoccupied. The Chinook people had already moved to their winter houses along protected
rivers and bays to the north. For 10 days, Expedition members had learned how challenging
the weather could be, and probably fully understood the benefit of moving to a more
protected location for the winter.
Today, Station Camp State Park is located within a few hundred feet of the historic
campsite. The tiny one-acre park memorializes large events. When you visit, use your
imagination to recreate the 10 days the Corps of Discovery spent here exploring,
surveying, establishing latitude and longitude, bartering with the Chinook Indians and
deciding where to spend the winter.
Hiking to Cape Disappointment
On Nov. 18, 1805, William Clark took 11 men on an excursion to the ocean. Following
the curving edge of Haley's Bay (present-day Bakers Bay), they explored, mapped,
examined and recorded what they saw.
In the bay Clark wrote about a California Condor, "Rubin Fields Killed a
Buzzard of the large Kind near the meat of the whale we Saw: W. 25 lb.measured from
the tips of the wings across 9 1/2 feet, from the point of the Bill to the end of the
tail 3 feet 10 1/4 inches, middle toe 5 1/2 inches, toe nale 1 inch & 3 1/2 lines,
wing feather 2 ½ feet long & 1 Inch 5 lines diamiter tale feathers 14 1/2 inches, and
the head is 6 1/2 inches including the beak."
The "Vote" for Winter Camp
Having explored Cape Disappointment and completed their mission of reaching the
Pacific Ocean, it was time to begin the long trip home. An important question loomed:
should they begin the eastward voyage now and winter somewhere up the Columbia? Or
should they cross the river and search for a suitable location for a winter camp near
the mouth of the river? On Nov. 24, 1805, the captains called for a rare event –
they asked the opinion of each member of the Expedition, including Sacagawea, an American
Indian woman, and York, an African-American slave.
Patrick Gass noted, "At night, the party were consulted by the Commanding
Officers as to the place most proper for winter quarters …"
Clark summed up the "vote" by writing "our party induced us to
Cross the river and examine the opposit Side …"
By early December they found a suitable location and soon established a winter camp
they called Fort Clatsop. During the wet winter at the mouth of the Columbia River, they
traded with the local American Indians, hunted elk, made salt from sea water, worked on
journals and maps and prepared for the return voyage.
Next section of journey history
Return to Lewis and Clark Main Menu