Clark Knew They Were Near Pacific

island in a river
Sand Island in the Columbia River Gorge.  NPS.
The men of the Corps finally reached the Pacific Ocean in the middle of November 1805. But about two weeks before, the Captains knew the Expedition was closing in on its goal.

How? By simple observation.

On October 31, 1805, when they first viewed Beacon Rock (which is about 35 miles east of today’s Portland/Vancouver and about 145 miles from the mouth of the Columbia), they had noticed slight changes in the river levels, the result of the ocean’s tides. As they progressed downstream, they noticed more and more salmon in the river, the water became more brackish, larger waves rocked their canoes, and they encountered Native peoples with European goods and products. Lastly, they observed they were entering a rainforest-type climate.

In just a few more days they would finally encounter the long-awaited Pacific Ocean.

Last updated: October 31, 2018