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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Pacific Ocean"
Includes ... Pacific Ocean ... November 15, 1805 ... "Mar del Sur" ... "Sea of the South" ... "Great Western Ocean" ... Sunset Beach ... Long Beach ...
Image, 2005, Pacific Ocean just north of North Head, at Beards Hollow Overlook, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Pacific Ocean north of North Head and south of Seaview, Washington. Pacific Ocean, from bluff north of North Head, overlooking Beards Hollow, approximately 2 miles south of Seaview. On November 15, 1805, Captain Lewis reached the Pacific Ocean near modern-day Seaview, Washington. Image taken April 19, 2005.


Lewis and the Pacific Ocean ...
On November 14, 1805, Captain Meriwether Lewis and four men left the others at their camp near Megler and proceeded along the coast to find Baker Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

"... Capt Lewis concluded to proceed on by land & find if possible the white people the Indians Say is below and examine if a Bay is Situated near the mouth of this river as laid down by Vancouver in which we expect, if there is white traders to find them &c. at 3 oClock he Set out with 4 men Drewyer Jos. & Reu. Fields & R. Frasure, in one of our large canoes and 5 men to Set them around the point on the Sand beech. this canoe returned nearly filled with water at Dark which it receved by the waves dashing into it on its return, haveing landed Capt. Lewis & his party Safe on the Sand beech. ..." [Clark, November 14, 1805]

Lewis and his men would reach the Pacific on November 15, 1805. Historians say they first saw the Pacific from a ridge near modern-day Seaview, Washington. Quite possibly the view would be similar to the view overlooking Beards Hollow. There is no recorded account of Lewis's journey to the Pacific. On the route map [Moulton, vol.1, map#89], the dotted line following the shore, around Baker Bay, and circling Cape Disappointment, is the route of Captain Lewis.


Image, 2005, Pacific Ocean just north of North Head, at Beards Hollow Overlook, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Pacific Ocean from Beards Hollow Overlook. Pacific Ocean, from bluff north of North Head, overlooking Beards Hollow, approximately 2 miles south of Seaview. On November 15, 1805, Captain Lewis reached the Pacific Ocean near modern-day Seaview, Washington. Image taken April 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Pacific Ocean just north of North Head, at Beards Hollow Overlook, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Pacific Ocean from Beards Hollow Overlook. Pacific Ocean, from bluff north of North Head, overlooking Beards Hollow, approximately 2 miles south of Seaview. On November 15, 1805, Captain Lewis reached the Pacific Ocean near modern-day Seaview, Washington. Image taken April 19, 2005.


Clark and the Pacific Ocean ...
While Captain Lewis was on his way to the Pacific, Captain Clark and the rest of the men packed up their gear and left their Megler camp on November 15, 1805, and setup camp at what would be known as "Station Camp". Captain Lewis arrived at Station Camp on November 17th. On November 18, 1805, Captain Clark and eleven men left Station Camp for their turn to view the Pacific Ocean.

"... A little cloudy this morning I Set out with 10 men and my man York to the Ocian by land. i. e. Serjt. Ordway & Pryor, Jos. & Ru. Fields, Go. Shannon, W. Brattin, J. Colter, P. Wiser, W. Labieche & P. Shabono one of our interpreters & York. I Set out at Day light and proceeded on a Sandy beech ..." [Clark, November 18, 1805]

"... men appear much Satisfied with their trip beholding with estonishment the high waves dashing against the rocks & this emence ocian ..." [Clark, November 18, 1805]

"... went over a bald hill where we had a handsom view of the ocean.     we went on a Short distance on the coast and Camped for the night. [Ordway, November 18, 1805]

They reached the Pacific at McKenzie Head, where they setup their camp.

"... I crossed the neck of Land low and 1/2 of a mile wide to the main Ocian, at the foot of a high open hill projecting into the ocian, and about one mile in Sicumfrance. I assended this hill which is covered with high corse grass, decended to the N. of it and camped. ... " [Clark, November 18, 1805]

On November 19, 1805, Captain Clark and his men journeyed up the coast about 10 miles before turning around near today's Long Beach, Washington. They camped that night on the left bank of he Wallacut River on their way back to Station Camp.


Image, 2005, McKenzie Head from North Head, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
McKenzie Head from North Head. Captain Clark and eleven of the men camped on McKenzie Head on November 18, 1805. Image taken April 19, 2005.


Discovering the Pacific ...
In September 1513, Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama and discovered a body of water he called "Mar del Sur", or "Sea of the South". Seven years later another Spanish explorer Ferdinand Megellan rounded the tip of South America and sailed into a great calm sea which and gave it the name "Pacific Ocean".

The Meriwether Lewis and a small group reached the Pacific on November 15, 1805, near today's Seaview, Washington. Captain Clark with another group reached the Pacific on November 18th. Captain Clark wrote on December 1st, 1805:

" The Sea which is imedeately in front roars like a repeeted roling thunder and have rored in that way ever Since our arrival in its borders which is now 24 Days Since we arrived in Sight of the Great Western Ocian, I cant Say Pasific as Since I have Seen it, it has been the reverse." [Clark, December 1, 1805]

For many years the Pacific remained the goal of overland travelers. John Ball, a member of Nathaniel Wyeth's 1832 expedition to the Rockies and the Pacific Northwest wrote:

"There to stand on the brink of the great Pacific, with the rolling waves washing its sands and seaweeds to my feet! And there I stood on the shore of the Pacific enjoying the happiest hour of all my journey, till the sun sank beneath its waters, and then by a beautiful moonlight returned on the beach to camp, feeling that I had crossed the continent. Cape Disappointment is in Lat. 46.19 N. and 123.59 W. Mount Saint Helens being due east, majestic and symmetrical in its form. This was the 9th of November and we had left Baltimore the 26th of March, seven and one-half months before." [John Ball, November 1832]

Image, 2005, Pacific Ocean from trail to North Head, at Beards Hollow Overlook, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Pacific Ocean as seen from the trail to North Head. Image taken April 19, 2005.


Views ...
Lewis and Clark saw various parts of the Pacific Ocean, from the Long Beach Peninsula on the Washington side, past Cape Disappointment and Point Adams, and down to Clatsop Beach, Sunset Beach, and Seaside on the south. Tillamook Head, a cape south of Seaside and jutting into the Pacific, was called "Clarke's Point" or "Clarke's Point of View".

Image, 2005, Pacific Ocean, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Pacific Ocean. Pacific Ocean at Long Beach, Washington. Image taken November 9, 2005.
Image, 2009, South Jetty, Clatsop Spit, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
South Jetty, Clatsop Spit, Oregon. Image taken September 27, 2009.
Image, 2009, Pacific Ocean, South Jetty, Clatsop Spit, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fishing, Pacific Ocean, South Jetty, Clatsop Spit, Oregon. Image taken September 27, 2009.
Image, 2009, Clatsop Beach from South Jetty, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Clatsop Beach from South Jetty, Oregon. Image taken September 27, 2009.
Image, 2009, Peter Iredale shipwreck, Fort Stevens State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Peter Iredale shipwreck, Pacific Ocean, Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon. Weather overcast and grey, but surprisingly no rain. Image taken August 8, 2009.
Image, 2003, Pacific Ocean at Sunset Beach, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Pacific Ocean. Pacific Ocean at Sunset Beach, Oregon. Image taken August 2, 2003.
Image, 2012, Brown Pelican, South Jetty, Clatsop Spit, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Brown Pelican, South Jetty, Clatsop Spit, Oregon. Image taken July 31, 2012.
Image, 2012, Sanderlings, Pacific Ocean, Seaside, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sanderlings, Pacific Ocean at Seaside, Oregon. Overcast gray day. Image taken February 9, 2012.
Image, 2012, Seaside Cove, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Foggy day at Seaside Cove, Oregon. Image taken February 9, 2012.
Image, 2010, Ecola Point looking south, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
View of the Oregon coastline, with Haystack Rock (far right), from Ecola Point, Ecola State Park, Oregon. Image taken July 14, 2010.

"... I have a view of the Coast for an emence distance to the S. E. by S. the nitches and points of high land which forms this Corse for a long ways aded to the inoumerable rocks of emence Sise out at a great distance from the Shore and against which the Seas brak with great force gives this Coast a most romantic appearance ..."
[Clark, January 8, 1806]


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 17, 1805 ...
At half past 1 oClock Capt Lewis returned haveing travesed Haleys Bay [Baker Bay] to Cape Disapointment [still today Cape Disappointment] and the Sea Coast to the North for Some distance. Several Chinnook Indians followed Capt L— and a Canoe came up with roots mats &c. to Sell. those Chinnooks made us a present of a rute boiled much resembling the common liquorice in taste and Size: in return for this root we gave more than double the value to Satisfy their craveing dispostn. It is a bad practice to receive a present from those Indians as they are never Satisfied for that they reive in return if ten time the value of the articles they gave. This Chin nook Nation is about 400 Souls inhabid the Countrey on the Small rivrs which run into the bay below us [Chinook River and Wallacut River empty into Baker Bay] and on the Ponds to the N W of us, live principally on fish and roots, they are well armed with fusees and Sometimes kill Elk Deer and fowl. our hunters killed to day 3 Deer, 4 brant and 2 Ducks, and inform me they Saw Some Elk Sign. I directed all the men who wished to See more of the main Ocian to prepare themselves to Set out with me early on tomorrow morning. The principal Chief of the Chinnooks [possibly Chief Comcomly] & his familey came up to See us this evening—






Clark, November 18, 1805, first draft ...
passed from last nitch across to the ocean ½ a mile low land the Cape [Cape Disappointment] is a high Partly bald hill, founded on rock, I assended a high Seperate bald hill [McKenzie Head] Covered with long corse grass & Seperated from the hight of Country by a Slashey bottom 2 miles S. 60 W of the Cape— thence to a 2d Grassey pt is N. 50° W. 2 miles, Those hills are founded on rocks & the waves brake with great fury against them, the Coast is Sholey for Several miles of this Cape & for Some distance off to the N W a Sand bar in the mouth. Sholey Some distance out from the mouth The Coast from the Cape N W is open for a Short distance back then it becomes thick piney Countrey intersperced with ponds Point addams [Point Adams, Oregon] is <S. W> S 20° W about 20 miles the Course on that Side bears S 45 W. I cannot assertain the prosise Course of the Deep water in the mouth of the river, the Channel is but narrow. I proceeded on up above the 2d point and Encamped on the Shore above the high tide, evening Clear, for a Short time. Supd. on Brant and pounded fish men all Chearfull, express a Desire to winter near the falls [Celilo Falls near The Dalles] this winter


Clark, November 18, 1805 ...
S. 46° E. 2 Miles to the inner extremity of Cape Disapointment [Cape Disappointment] passing a nitch in which there is a Small rock island, a Small Stream falls into this nitch from a pond which is imediately on the Sea Coast passing through a low isthmus. this Cape is an ellivated <Situat> Circlier point Covered with thick timber on the iner Side and open grassey exposur next to the Sea and rises with a Steep assent to the hight of about 150 or 160 feet above the leavel of the water <from the last mentioned nitch— > this cape as also the Shore both on the Bay & Sea coast is a dark brown rock. I crossed the neck of Land low and ½ of a mile wide to the main Ocian [Pacific Ocean], at the foot of a high open hill projecting into the ocian, and about one mile in Sicumfrance [McKenzie Head]. I as- sended this hill which is covered with high corse grass. decended to the N. of it and camped. I picked up a flounder on the beech this evening.—



Ordway, November 18, 1805 ...
Cloudy. Capt. Clark myself and 10 more of the party Set out in order to go down and see the passiffic ocean.     we proceeded on round Hailys bay [Baker Bay]     crossed two Rivers in Sd. bay. [Chinook River and Wallacut River]     one of the party killed a verry large turkey buzzard which had white under its wings, and was nine feet from the points of the wings, and 3 feet 10 Inches in length, and everey way proportined. we proceeded on round high clifts of rocks where we had much trouble to pass.—     towards evening we arived at the Cape disapointment [Cape Disappointment] on the Sea Shore.    went over a bald hill [McKenzie Head] where we had a handsom view of the ocean [Pacific Ocean].     we went on a Short distance on the coast and Camped for the night.



Whitehouse, November 18, 1805 ...
We had a cloudy morning. Captain Clark, 2 Serjeants & eight of our Men set out in Order to go down to Cape disappointment, (the Name of the Cape) in Order to get a satisfactory View of the Ocean &ca.

The Indians came to our Camp, from whom we purchased some dry Salmon. Towards evening our hunters returned to our Camp; they had killed One Deer, 2 brants & a squirrel & also a large fish called Flounder, which they brought with them to our Camp.— Our officers named this Cape Cape disappointment on account of not finding Vessells there.—






Clark, December 1, 1805 ...
A cloudy windey morning wind from the East, dispatched two hunters, I deturmined to take a Canoe & a fiew men and hunt the marshey Islands [Cathlamet Bay, in the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge] above Point William [Tongue Point], the Wind rose So high that I could not proceed, and returned [to the camp on the west side of Tongue Point] to partake the dried fish, which is our Standing friend, began to rain hard at Sun Set and Continued. my hunters returned without any thing haveing Seen 2 parcels of elk men all employed to day in mending their leather Clothes, Shoes &c. and Dressing leather.

The emence Seas and waves which breake on the rocks & Coasts to the S W. & N W roars like an emence fall at a distance, and this roaring has continued ever Since our arrival in the neighbourhood of the Sea Coast which has been 24 days Since we arrived in Sight of the Great Western; (for I cannot Say Pacific) Ocian as I have not Seen one pacific day Since my arrival in its vicinity, and its waters are forming and petially [perpetually] breake with emence waves on the Sands and rockey Coasts, tempestous and horiable.     I have no account of Capt. Lewis Since he left me. [Captain Lewis is out scouting for a place to spend the winter - Fort Clatsop]





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*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003

Sources:    McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland;    Mountain Men and the Fur Trade website, 2004,    "John Ball, Across the Plains to Oregon, 1832";    U.S. National Park Service website, 2004, Lewis and Clark and the Journal of Discovery;    U.S. National Park Service website, 2004, Fort Clatsop National Memorial;   

All Lewis and Clark quotations from Gary Moulton editions of the Lewis and Clark Journals, University of Nebraska Press, all attempts have been made to type the quotations exactly as in the Moulton editions, however typing errors introduced by this web author cannot be ruled out; location interpretation from variety of sources, including this website author.
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June 2011