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An 1805 Christmas Revisited: N. Oregon Coast's Fort Clatsop Holiday with Soggy Lewis 'n Clark

Published 12/19/23 at 4:25 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

An 1805 Christmas Again: N. Oregon Coast's Fort Clatsop Revisits a Soggy Lewis 'n Clark

(Astoria, Oregon) – This little spot on the outskirts of the Oregon coast was the place where all the action was about 218 years ago. It was the only Christmas celebration for thousands of miles around.

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Up near Astoria, at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park and Fort Clatsop, there will be a truly old-school kind of holiday celebration. December 26 through December 31 – starting the day after Christmas – you can relive the holiday celebrations held by Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery in the winter 1805. You can time travel back to the soggy and soaked holiday that the Corps spent here, with Fort Clatsop offering a few special programs that week.

Each of those days, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m., park rangers in period clothing will present living history programs that reenact those early days of the Oregon Territory. Talks and demonstrations will be on the docket, displaying various aspects of the troupe's winter at Fort Clatsop.

Settling here from November through early February, the Corps experienced damp, unpleasant conditions, a part of the Oregon coast and Washington coast experience that modern conveniences allow us to hide from. Out of all those almost-four months here, it rained the entire time, save for 12 of those days.

The newly-renovated visitor center features more exhibits, the Fort Clatsop Bookstore, and there will be movies in the theater. "A Clatsop Winter Story” is a 22-minute movie about the 1805-06 winter from a Clatsop Indian perspective, while “Lewis and Clark: Confluence of Time and Courage” is a 34-minute piece. Both will be offered every hour.

“The bookstore, operated by park partner Lewis & Clark National Park Association, specializes in books, media, historical recreations, and other items that complement the interpretive themes experienced in a park visit,” said park ranger / spokesman Sally Freeman.

The park is closed on Christmas Eve Day, December 24 and Christmas Day, December 25.

A unit of the National Park Service, Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, Fort Clatsop is located southwest of Astoria, on the northern edges of the Oregon coast - three miles southeast of U.S. Highway 101. Substantial parts of this region – including the southern edges of the Washington coast – were recorded in history as being stops of the explorers.

The park includes the Fort to Sea Trail, the visitor center, Fort Clatsop, Netul River Trail, and the parking lots, and it is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Lewis and Clark NHP also includes the Salt Works near the Promenade in Seaside and two sites in Washington: Middle Village/Station Camp just east of Fort Columbia as well as the Dismal Nitch Rest Area east of the Astoria Bridge.

For an authentic experience, visit these sites during winter, the time of year the expedition was here. Dogs on a leas can also take part in the trails and the outdoor programs. Admission to the park is $10 per adult (16 and over). America the Beautiful Passes and the Oregon Pacific Coast Pass are accepted for free admission. For further information, call the park at 503-861-4414 or visit the park’s website at or follow the park on Facebook at LewisandClarkNationalHistoricalPark or on Instagram at lewisandclarknps.

Fun Lewis & Clark Oregon Coast Facts

Tillamook Head is one gigantic Oregon coast monument to a lot of things, sitting snugly between the high-profile Oregon coast towns of Cannon Beach and Seaside. It's where part of Lewis & Clark's troupe walked to what is now Cannon Beach to check out a beached whale. And it offers stunning views of the ocean, rock islands and the mysterious Tillamook Head Lighthouse a mile offshore.

These days, Tillamook Head is an exceptional hotspot for roughing it and hiking, with six miles of trail stretching over this wilderness of soaring trees and thick brush, with its summit at 1,112 feet. Some of it you can do in shorter bursts, but most of it takes a sojourn of almost four miles one way.

Also see:

Windy, Raging Cape Blanco on S. Oregon Coast Gets Warm for Holidays

(Port Orford, Oregon) – One of the windiest, wildest places on the south Oregon coast gets especially warm for the holidays. In comes to the “Spirit of Community Christmas” to the raging waters of the Port Orford area's Cape Blanco, eight scattered days throughout December that cause the Historic Hughes House near the famed lighthouse to glow.

All events are free at the Cape Blanco State Park celebration, starting with two tea happ's December 15 and 16 (which are already booked up), and then six days of richly-layered fun on the south Oregon coast headland from December 17 through 22...... full story Windy, Raging Cape Blanco on S. Oregon Coast Gets Warm for Holidays


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Photos courtesy Fort Clatsop

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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