The Salt Works
Lewis and Clark National
92343 Fort Clatsop Road
Astoria, OR 97103-9197
(503) 861-2471 ext. 214
WELCOME to The Salt Works
Much of the Corps� stay on the North Coast was spent securing
sustenance for the winter and provisions for the trip home.
By the time they reached the lower Columbia River region, the Corps
had run out of valuable salt for seasoning food, and, perhaps more
important, preserving meat. Capt. Clark didn�t care if his food was
salty, but many other Corps members did. Good food meant good spirits,
and keeping morale up during the rainy winter of 1805 was key. On the
other hand, meat preservation was a matter of life or death for the
Corps. Spoiled elk meat could make the Corps sick, and without meat
for the return home, weakened with hunger.
To make salt, the Corps had to find rocks to build a furnace, wood
to burn, ocean water to boil, fresh water to drink and game animals.
Nearby rivers weren�t salty enough, but a site 15 miles southwest of
Fort Clatsop proved perfect. What�s more, there were homes of local
Clatsop and Tillamook Indians nearby, local experts who could help the
Five men traveled to the beach site, built the camp and set five
kettles to boiling, 24 hours a day, to produce salt. According to
their records, they set out from Fort Clatsop on Dec. 28, 1805, and
left the camp Feb. 20, 1806, with 3 � bushels or about 28 gallons of
�Excellent, fine, strong & white� salt.
To get a real sense of the saltmaking process, a visit to the Salt
Makers Living History reenactment is not to be missed. The
reenactments take place for several weekends each summer and are an
excellent opportunity to see the salt-making process, as well as to
visit with costumed reenactors who set up camp for 48 hours and make
salt round-the-clock, just as the Corps� members did.
goods the members might need � the Corps members are usually willing
to trade for items such as small foodstuff or camp supplies. Just don�t
be surprised when they fail to recognize a watermelon slice or call a
hot dog �an elk sausage� � remember, it�s 1805!
IF YOU GO: At the intersection of US Highway 101 and Avenue G,
turn west to Beach Drive, then turn left to Lewis and Clark Way. Park
where available without blocking private driveways. Walk west on Lewis
and Clark Way to the Salt Cairn off of the Prom. The Living History
reenactments held each summer are on the beach, off of Avenue U.
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