At the mouth of the Columbia River, on the present-day border of Oregon and Washington, Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Volunteers for Northwest Discovery reached the Pacific Ocean in December 1805. They spent the next three months wintering here before returning home.

The National Park Service established the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park here on the shores of the Columbia River to commemorate the culmination of the expedition and the explorers’ winter encampment at Fort Clatsop.

Our Role

In 2004, we purchased more than 920 acres from Weyerhaeuser. Designated one of the nation’s top conservation priorities by the National Park Service, the property includes land critical to the Fort to Sea Trail, which will connect the Fort Clatsop National Memorial to Sunset Beach State Recreation Area and the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

Thanks in part to support from the Centex Land Legacy Fund, we protected several key properties totalling 1,000 acres for addition to the park in 2005. This effort included land critical to the Fort to Sea Trail and Clark’s Dismal Nitch. The Dismal Nitch marks Lewis and Clark’s dramatic arrival at the Pacific Ocean. In 1805, the Corps of Volunteers for Northwest Discovery spent six days trapped along the rocky shoreline near the mouth of the Columbia River. Members of the Corps battled thunderstorms, wind and high waves before they abandoned most of their supplies, buried their canoes and sought shelter in the cedar forest.

Why This Project Matters

In 2003, in honor of the bicentennial celebration of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Fund embarked on a major campaign to commemorate this legendary journey by protecting open space, river corridors and resources associated with the passage. Through our Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Initiative, we have helped conserve more than 20,000 acres along the famous route. This includes the land protected at the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park in Oregon and Washington.