• close up view of gate and parade ground of Fort Clatsop

    Lewis and Clark

    National Historical Park OR,WA

History & Culture: Stories: A Monstrous Fish

Corps at Cannon Beach

Corps of Discovery at Cannon Beach, Oregon

NPS Photo

A “Monstrous Fish”

Two days after Christmas 1805, Clatsop Indians told the Corps of Discovery that a whale had washed ashore southwest of Fort Clatsop near a Tillamook village (modern day Ecola State Park.) Because of adverse weather conditions, Clark and other members of the Corps did not reach the whale until January 8. Sacagawea, who insisted on seeing “that monstrous fish” and the ocean, accompanied them.

By the time the party reached the beach, only the whale’s bones remained. The Nehalem Indians who had gathered much of the whale’s remains were reluctant to part with any of it, but Clark did manage to obtain approximately 300 pounds of blubber to add to the food supply and a few gallons of rendered oil. Lewis sampled the blubber and found it “not unlike the fat of Poark tho’ the texture was more spongey and somewhat coarser. I had a part of it cooked and found it very pallitable and tender, it resembled the beaver or the dog in flavour.”

Did You Know?

Did you know?

Sergeant Patrick Gass wrote that of the 106 days they were at Fort Clatsop it rained all but 12, and of the 12 dry days, only 6 were sunny.