The area around Seaside is prime territory for learning about the Lewis and Clark expedition, which opened up so much of North America to westward expansion. After reaching the Pacific Ocean in late 1805, the Corps of Discovery decided to spend the winter in one place before returning to the east. The shelter they built, Fort Clatsop, was located about 14 miles from present-day Seaside.
Today, you can see that fort, or at least an accurate reconstruction, at the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park. It’s an incredible educational opportunity for kids, most of whom study the expedition during elementary school. They’ll learn about what life was like for the members of the Corps, as they waited out the winter in a strange land some 200 years ago. They’ll also learn about the natives that originally lived in the area, including the Clatsop and Tillamook tribes, and how they both helped and hindered Lewis and Clark.
Park rangers are always on hand, some dressed in period costume, to explain life in the fort and how the expedition survived for nearly five months. After touring the fort, take some time to hike the short trails around the park. It will give you a vivid picture of what it must have looked like for Lewis and Clark over two centuries ago.
There’s a nice visitors center that features more information, including several short informational movies. There are also a gift shop and bathrooms.
Entrance fees for the park are $5 for ages 16 and older, while it’s free for those 15 and younger. After heading back to Seaside, be sure to take a few minutes to visit the Salt Works monument at the south end of town to add to your understanding of this important part of our history.