Fort Clatsop
Administrative History
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Visitor Use Studies

In 1986, a visitor survey was conducted in coordination with the Oregon State University Cooperative Park Studies Unit and directed by Marty E. Lee. The survey was intended to be a pulse of visitors to Fort Clatsop, their demographics, and the characteristics of their visit to the memorial and to the area. A similar pulse survey was conducted in 1987. These pulses were taken on a Friday through Sunday summer weekend. While their results provide valuable information about summer visitation, it was not representative of groups that arrive on bus tours nor school groups, which visit mainly during the spring and fall. School groups are a large portion of the memorial audience, so interpretive staff and funding over the years has been dedicated to providing high quality on-site educational programs for them.

Surveys were handed out to a random sample of 200 memorial visitors, with family groups selecting one member to respond to the survey. Of 200 surveys given out, there was a 73% return rate. From the returned samples, some key findings were: 27% of visitors were 12 or younger; 27% were 30 to 50; 20% were 60 or older; the average length of stay was 1.7 hours; 75% of visitors arrived in a family group; 44% were from the state of Oregon; and 68% were first-time visitors. [2] Other demographics included in the report show the educational, marital, and employment status of visitors, why they visited the memorial, how they heard about it, and characteristics of the visitors' stay along the Oregon Coast. Visitor evaluations and comments were also included, which were overwhelmingly favorable to the memorial, its programs, its staff, and especially its maintenance of park grounds. The areas most cited for improvement by the visitors surveyed was the need for more highway directional signs and RV parking.

The visitor comments from the survey provide an idea of how visitors remember Fort Clatsop as they are leaving. The most favorable impression was how clean the park was, especially its restrooms. Families with children appreciated the hands-on learning of the replica and educational opportunities for their children beyond looking at museum exhibits and watching films. Visitors also appreciated the atmosphere of the replica and the walking trails. Many found the talks informative, educational, and the rangers to be very friendly and helpful. Some sample comments were:

"Especially liked the ability to handle artifacts and living history - very good for young children."

"I really enjoyed the recreational fort and the way it was furnished and smelled."

"I visit Fort Clatsop at least once per year and consider it an excellent facility. It is one of my favorite attractions for visiting friends."

"Would have enjoyed it more when there weren't so many people going in and out."

"We were impressed."

"We thought it was very nice and have told several people not to miss it when they travelling in your area." [3]

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Last Updated: 20-Jan-2004