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Seaside's Salt Makers Allows Time Travel Back to 1806 on N. Oregon Coast

Published 08/25/21 at 6:48 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Seaside's Salt Makers Allows Time Travel Back to 1806 on N. Oregon Coast

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(Seaside, Oregon) – Say you're on a trip to the Oregon coast, circa 1805. It's cold, damp, you're dressed in skins and leathers, and you've just walked a boatload of miles from St. Louis to, well, about Warrenton and Long Beach, Washington.

Then you discover: oh man, we're outta salt. And this, it turns out in this day and age, is about the only way to properly preserve meat so you can walk back home eventually. A serious problem: there are no convenience stores at the Prom yet, nor any on Highway 101. In fact, all that is nearly 200 years away or 2,000 miles from where you are.

So if you're like Lewis & Clark and the Corps of Discovery, you have to take a trip down the north Oregon coast to about where Seaside is now and make salt.

Those were the orders Meriweather Lewis gave a handful of men: go forth to the sea and make salt. Five men were dispatched, and after five days on the trail, on January 1 of 1806, they found the perfect spot and set up camp. There, they boiled sea water to make salt for nearly two months, always sopping wet from one of those usual Oregon coast winters. Finally, they returned to Fort Clatsop and shortly after the whole troupe set off for home with all their discoveries.

It's in that spirit of history that the Seaside Museum brings back the Lewis and Clark Salt Makers re-enactment, a wondrous bit of time travel role playing that's a bit like hitting rewind on the last two hundred-some years with your Netflix remote and finding real people in real time.

Lewis and Clark Salt Makers happens September 11th and 12th, from 9 am to 6 pm on Saturday and 9 am to 3 pm on Sunday. The event site will be on the Seaside beach west of the intersection of Avenue U and the Prom.

Members of the Pacific Northwest Living Historians (PNLH) do more than LARP (live action role play) on the beach: they share the experiences of the Corps of Discovery, how they explored the area, and sometimes talk in the actual manner these men spoke in back then.

Oregon coast visitors will walk back in time as soon as they enter the camp, finding members busy with salt-making, boiling sea water over a fire in exactly the same way the five men did back in 1806. The interpreters will also share the history and stories of the legendary expedition with those on the beach.

“Lewis and Clark Salt Makers is a free interactive learning opportunity for the whole family,” said museum president Tita Montero. “This event is sponsored by the Seaside Museum and presented by the PNLH. A portion of this project was made possible through a grant from the City of Seaside Tourism Advisory Committee, funded by room tax dollars. The program is also supported by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Seaside Public Works Department, and Sandy Cove Inn.”

Current guidelines regarding face coverings and open fires will be followed.

For more information, call the Seaside Museum at (503) 738-7065.

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