Fort Canby (now known as Cape Disappointment) bears the distinction as the state’s first military installation. Constructed in 1852 to guard the mouth of the Columbia River, it was part of the defensive triad that included Fort Columbia and Fort Stevens (located on the Oregon side of the river.) The confluence of the Columbia and the Pacific Ocean was a historically significant destination that attracted Native peoples, European explorers, and the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition. This state park preserves some scattered remnants of the fortification, the oldest functioning lighthouse in the state built in 1856 (Cape Disappointment Lighthouse), and North Head Lighthouse. One of the park’s significant attractions is the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center that is sited on the bluffs overlooking the merging waters of river and ocean. It was near this point on November 7, 1805, that Lewis and Clark first glimpsed the Pacific Ocean.
Fort Canby State Park is located on the Washington side of the Columbia River, two miles southwest of Ilwaco off US Hwy. 101.
Eager to return to the United States after their long journey, Lewis and Clark were forced to wait nearly six agonizing weeks (from May 14 to June 10, 1806) for snow in the mountains along the Lolo Trail to melt. During this time, many of the Nez Perce visited the expedition, and Lewis takes full advantage by making many notes on their manners and customs. He also administers medicine to many of the sick members of the tribe, who were brought to him for help. Finally, on the 10th of June, the expedition departs Long Camp. Their first stop on the way home is the quawmash fields where they intended to acquire as much meat as possible before attempting to re-cross the Bitterroot Mountains.
The Lewis and Clark Long Camp is marked by interpretive signs along U.S. Highway 12, 1 mile east of Kamiah. The campsite itself is located two miles distant on the Clearwater River on privately owned land.
If the trek from St. Louis to the Mandan villages, against the current was difficult for Lewis and Clark, the portage around the Great Falls of the Missouri was next to impossible. The Great Falls are a stretch of the Missouri River where the channel drops some 400 feet over 10 miles. In order to circumvent this obstacle, the men of the Corps of Discovery would have to haul all of their belongings piecemeal over an 18 mile land trail. It took the men eight trips and roughly thirty days of intense physical labor to get all of their equipment past the falls. The captains had anticipated the portage would take only a week. Today, the falls have been modified by dams that generate hydroelectric power for the city of Great Falls. Portions of the portage route are visible from the Giant Springs side of the River. In addition to the portage route, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center is located in a bluff overlooking the Missouri River. The Interpretive Center features exhibits on Lewis and Clark as well as specifics regarding the portage around the Great Falls.
The Great Falls of the Missouri are subsumed within the town of Great Falls. From U.S. 87/89, follow the 10th Avenue exit.
Arriving in St. Louis in December, 1803, Lewis and Clark were busily engaged in acquiring the final supplies needed for the voyage. It was their intention to make a winter camp at La Charrette, on the Missouri. The local Spanish authority, however, would not allow them to enter the Louisiana territory as he had not yet received official documents transferring title of the territory. The Captains were therefore forced to make camp on the east side of the Mississippi River, at the mouth of the Wood River. This camp was named Camp Dubois, and is also known as Camp Wood. The expedition spent the winter months training, preparing for the journey and running afoul of the Captains, as discipline during the first winter was lacking. The actual campsite has been destroyed by river channel migration. A monument to the camp is located in Lewis and Clark State Memorial Park.
Location and Directions
Links: Lewis and Clark State Memorial, Camp Dubois, Illinois
Lemhi Pass is located along the Continental Divide, at 7,323 feet above sea level. It was here in 1805 that Lewis and Clark passed out of the boundaries of the Louisiana Purchase Territory. They also got their first glimpse of the headwaters of the Columbia River, that would carry them to the Pacific Ocean. Today, the Lemhi Pass area remains much as it did when Lewis and Clark were in the area. Development has been kept to a minimum, and as a result, plant and animal life are abundant. Signs and markers interpret the activities of Lewis and Clark during the summer months.
Location Map and Directions.
Living within the valley of the Missouri River, the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara nations were among the most powerful tribes of the northern plains. The Three Affiliated Tribes lived in large, consolidated villages consisting of earth lodges that housed between ten and thirty people each. Villages were constructed on terraces and bluffs overlooking the Missouri River, and were frequently fortified with ditches and palisades. The Three Tribes Museum is devoted to the history and culture of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara, who where instrumental in the success of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The Corps of Discovery passed the winter of 1804-1805 among the Mandan. Had they not benefited from the knowledge, material culture and food stores of the Mandan, the Corps of Discovery would likely have perished during the bitter cold that characterizes winter on the northern plains. Opening in 1964, the Three Tribes Museum is located on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, where the Arikara, Mandan and Hidatsa currently reside. The museum features artwork, crafts, artifacts and other items relating to the three tribes.
Location map and directions.
Links: Three Tribes Museum