Clark's Dismal Nitch
Lewis and Clark National
92343 Fort Clatsop Road
Astoria, OR 97103-9197
(503) 861-2471 ext. 214
WELCOME to Clark's Dismal Nitch
Imagine this. It�s early 1805, the fresh food
had run out. The clothes were literally rotting off the backs of the
members of the Corps of Discovery. They were traveling as fast as they
could down the Columbia River, though, to meet one of the last trading
ships of the season.
If they made it, they�d send a set of journals
and some collections home as requested by President Jefferson. But
foremost was the chance to use an unlimited letter of credit from the
president, a chance to �charge� all the goods the tired explorers
needed, plus perhaps get a little rum, from the trade ship.
What the Corps didn�t realize, however, was
that it was about to run into some of the journey�s most treacherous
moments. A fierce winter storm forced the Corps off the river Nov. 10
and pinned the group to a north shore cove consisting of little more
than jagged rocks and steep hillside. Captain William Clark named the
dreary spot �that dismal little nitch.�
For six stormy days, the group was trapped by
fierce wind and high waves at the rocky shoreline. For only the second
time in the expedition, Clark said he was concerned for the safety of
the Corps. �A feeling person would be distressed by our situation,�
he wrote in wet misery, as the expedition became in danger of
foundering just within a few miles of its destination � The Pacific
Finally, the storm broke and allowed the group
to move on. It missed the trading ship, but eventually achieved its
Today, this dramatic piece of history is
preserved, thanks to help from the Conservation Fund, a non-profit
that works with landowners to preserve special places. More than 150
acres of that historic coastal forestland surrounding Dismal Nitch
will be protected.
For visitors, great views of the Columbia River
and the vibrant shipping lane that passes close to Astoria await. It�s
also a great place to bird watch, with multiple bald eagle nesting
sites nearby, or to watch modern tradeship glide past on the river.
Plans are underway for a short trail and additional visitor
facilities. You�ll also find restrooms and picnic tables, and a
seasonal information booth run by the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors
Bureau in the summer.
If you�re a bridge buff, check out the nearby
Astoria Bridge. The 4.1 mile-long bridge features a main span 1,232
feet in length, the longest "continuous truss" in the world.
Before the bridge�s construction, travelers relied upon ferry
service from Astoria to Megler, near Clark�s Dismal Nitch. That
included trains that needed to cross the river. It was eventually
converted to a car ferry before the bridge was constructed.
Did You Know?
Approximately 250,000 people visit Fort Clatsop per year. The slowest
days of the year are in December, but we haven't had any days of no
Page 1 of 1