Fort Clatsop
Lewis and Clark Trail from Fort Clatsop to the Clatsop Plains
NPS Logo


In view of the above discussion of the historical significance of the trail, it seems clear that it is possible to assign priorities to certain sections of the trail which can be recommended for inclusion within the boundaries of the authorized Memorial. These priorities are as follows:

1st priority. The short section of the trail leading westward from the restored Fort Clatsop along the top of the ridge for a distance of approximately 1250 feet to the location of the proposed bypass which would take the present paved county road away from the immediate fort area, as proposed in the boundary status report now being prepared by the Region Four office, should be acquired at once. In the present thinking for the development and interpretation of the Memorial, the immediate vicinity of the fort, including the top and south slope of the ridge on which it sets as far west as the proposed bypass road, would be permitted to revert to natural coniferous forest . The present logging road which ascends the lower part of the ridge on the approximate route of the Lewis and Clark trail would be vacated by the county as far as the proposed bypass, and its route would be utilized for a re-creation of the Lewis and Clark trail. The trail would be screened by several hundred feet of dense woods from the planned parking area, Visitor Center, and other developments; and thus it would be possible for visitors to have the experience of walking on the original Lewis and Clark trail for at least a short distance within the boundaries presently recommended.

This section of the trail all falls within the boundaries recommended to achieve the purposes of the Memorial within the existing 125-acre area limitation. Therefore, no further definition of the lands necessary for its acquisition will be undertaken in this report. 2nd priority. If the visitor is to be given an opportunity to experience travel on any extensive portion of the Lewis and Clark trail, it is the opinion of the writer that the desired effect cannot be achieved by the acquisition of any lesser section than that stretch from Fort Clatsop westward to the main Skipanon River. As has already been explained, there would appear to be no point to attempting to reconstruct the trail in the farming and residential area which lies beyond the main Skipanon River. Therefore, it is suggested that the section of the trail shown in red on Map 3 and lying west of the recommended Memorial boundaries, be considered for addition to the monument after provision has been made for the acquisition of the more urgently needed lands in the immediate vicinity of the fort as recommended in the boundary status report presently being prepared.

3rd priority. It has been proposed to add to the authorized Memorial a small section of' the "original" hemlock forest on the ridge about .6 mile west of the fort site. The thought behind this proposal is to permit visitors to see a section of the forest as it must have appeared when traversed by Lewis and Clark. However, the present writer believes that the acquisition of such a small tract would not permit the achievement of the desired objective and would present many practical administrative difficulties. Some of the objections which can be raised to such an acquisition are as follows:

a. The nearest suitable stand of hemlock which could be used for interpretive purposes is approximately .6 mile west of the fort site and separated from it by a tract of cut-over land which at the present time is not particularly attractive in appearance. Further logging which would surely be conducted on the private land surrounding the sample tract, would further serve to detract from the impression intended to be created.

b. Access to this tract, if the site of the old trail were followed, would necessarily have to be along the present logging road running from Fort Clatsop to the Clatsop Plains. Since this road is a dedicated county road and since it is the principal means of access for logging trucks to the extensive forest still remaining on the ridge, there would be a constant conflict of use between interpretive and logging interests. As long as the bulk of the property along this road over to the Clatsop Plains remains privately owned, there would be little chance of inducing the county to vacate the section of the road between the monument proper and the sample hemlock forest.

c. Although the hemlock forest at the present time is quite impressive when compared with the second-growth timber of the immediate vicinity of the fort, it can be anticipated that as years pass and as the fort area becomes reforested, the contrast between the two types of forest will become less conspicuous. In perhaps fifty years the dense forest which will surround the fort site will probably satisfy the visitor's desire to see an example of the type of forest encountered by Lewis and Clark; therefore, there would be less incentive to visit the hemlock stand.

d. As mentioned in the above narrative, there are some indications that the hemlock forest on the ridge back of the fort has been subject to at least selective cutting and, therefore, may not represent virgin forest.

<<< Previous <<< Contents >>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 04-May-2004