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Lewis and Clark Return to N. Oregon Coast in Living History Reenactment

Published 09/15/2018 at 4:17 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

Lewis and Clark Return to N. Oregon Coast in Living History Reenactment

(Seaside, Oregon) – The Salt Makers are indeed returning to the Oregon coast.

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Once again, the famed living history program that showed the Corps of Discovery in action is back in Seaside, this time happening on October 6 and 7.

The October event answers the question: What do you do when you run out of salt – and the nearest store is more than 2,000 miles away?

When Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discover arrived on what would be the Oregon and Washington coast in 1805, they would need plenty of salt to preserve meat, as well as to add flavor to the rather bland food they subsisted on during the expedition. However, the last bit of salt they had brought with them from St. Louis was about gone. That long and arduous voyage across the vast American West was ever tenuous.

After building their Fort Clatsop in the Warrenton area, members of the Corps of North Western Discovery – as Captain Meriwether Lewis called the party in his journal – did the only thing they could: set about making their own salt. They dispatched a small group to head to what would later become Seaside.

It was on December 28, 1805, when Lewis and Capt. William Clark sent forth this special detachment from their just-completed winter quarters on the north Oregon coast. Five men traveled overland from the Fort to the beach, searching for the best location for making salt.

On January 1, 1806, the fifth day of their search, these men found the perfect spot: the beach of present day Seaside, Oregon. Here is where they set up camp. Along with several other men who rotated in and out of the salt camp, they proceeded to make salt by boiling sea water for nearly two months, all while enduring the wet winter weather of of the future Oregon coast, before they returned to Fort Clatsop.

On October 6 and 7, the program again features the Pacific Northwest Living Historians (PNLH) bringing to life the salt camp those hardy explorers created 212 years ago. The program is entitled “Lewis and Clark Salt Makers” - which has been called the Return of the Salt Makers in the past and has been missing from the Oregon coast event roster for a few years. The event site will be at the west end of Avenue U in Seaside, near The Tides By The Sea Motel.

After a brief orientation, visitors to the program will enter the camp to “meet” members of the Lewis and Clark expedition, who will be busy making salt by boiling sea water over a fire.

They returned in late February with over three bushels of salt for
the trip home.

100 years later, as Oregon began celebrating the centennial of the Corps of Discovery, a Clatsop tribe woman named Jennie Michel showed the Oregon Historical Society exactly where the men were seen boiling sea water. Her real name was Tsin-is-tum (English names were forced upon local tribes about this time), and even though she was born in 1818, her parents and other tribal members had witnessed the group and had the spot memorized.

For more information: contact the PNLH at

Although this living history program will be part of the 50th Annual Meeting of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation (LCTHF), it is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Oregon Chapter of the LCTHF. The PNLH will also stage the program in collaboration with the Seaside Museum & Historical Society, Seaside Public Works Department, Clatsop County Work Crew, The Tides By The Sea Motel and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. Bev and Mike Carrick of Turner, Oregon were also integral to the program.

Even more on Lewis and Clark can be found in the first two books in the series Ultimate Oregon Coast Travel on Seaside and on Cannon Beach. - Lodging in Seaside - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours

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