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Lewis and Clark

In 1805 Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and their men made camp at Fort Clatsop (near Astoria) for the winter. It had been a particularly wet and miserable winter and they suffered from a nasty case of cabin fever. One day they received some interesting news:

"In the Evening some Indians came to our Fort. They informed us by signs, that a large Fish was drove by the Wind & waves on the shore near to where their lodges were, & we all suppose from the description they gave of it, that it must be a Whale." Joseph Whitehouse, expedition member, December 27, 1805.

This whale - in the native Chinook language, as spelled phonetically by Clark, is Ecola - was washed ashore at what is now known as Cannon Beach. Captain Clark and some men decided to have a look, thus making Cannon Beach the first tourist destination west of the Mississippi River!

For the first time during the entire expedition, Sacagawea made a personal request. She wanted to see the whale. "The Indian woman was very impatient to be permitted to go with me and was therefore indulged," wrote William Clark in his diary. "She observed that she had traveled a long ways to see the great waters, and that now that the monstrous fish was also to be seen, she thought it very hard that she could not be permitted to see either (She had not yet been to the ocean)." By the time the group got here, all that was left of the whale was a 105-foot skeleton; nevertheless, the sight thrilled Sacagawea. Years later, it was said that the "big fish" was the only part of the entire trip she never tired of telling her people about. A plaque marks the site of the beaching at Les Shirley Park, located at the north end of Cannon Beach near Ecola creek.

As you can see, they were quite impressed by the scenery from Tillamook Head (now within Ecola State Park), as he speaks about "Clark's Point of View:"

"... proceeded to the top of the mountain next to the [former?] which is much the highest part and that part facing the sea is open, from this point I beheld the grandest and most pleasing prospects which my eyes ever surveyed, in my front a boundless Ocean; to the N. and N.E. the Coast as far as my sight could be extended, the Seas raging with immense wave and braking with great force from the rocks of Cape Disappointment as far as I could See to the N.W. a most romantic appearance."

Captain Clark ended up purchasing 300 pounds of whale blubber, a souvenir that he much  



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