Cape Disappointment Is Dense With History

Most places have some sort of interesting history, Cape Disappointment is incredibly rich in history and has far more than its fair share.

Cape Disappointment and the Corp of Discovery

I’ve been coming out to Cape Disappointment for as long as I’ve lived here in the Pacific Northwest which is over thirty years now. It wasn’t until my most recent visit that it sort of hit me just how much history this one dot on the map actually hosts. Capt. Robert GrayCapt. CookCapt. Vancouver and John Jacob Astor are just some of the historical figures that have links to this area.

But probably the most significant, or at least recognizable, is the 1805 visit by the Corp of Discovery. They had already been on the trail for a year and a half but reaching their objective, the Pacific Ocean, was no easier even if they were only a stone’s throw away.

Landing at the highest spot they could find on the northern (Washington) side of the Columbia River estuary, they established what they called “Station Camp.” The site is commemorated by Lewis and Clark Campsite State Park, a tiny roadside attraction two miles southeast of what is now the town of Chinook, on U.S. Route 101. The location of the actual campsite is a matter of conjecture since the shoreline has shifted by several hundred feet since Lewis and Clark passed through.

The Corps spent 10 days at Station Camp — their longest encampment in what is now Washington state — exploring, hunting, and visiting with the Chinook and Clatsop Indians who came to inspect and trade with the newcomers.

At the cape, one of the men killed a “remarkably large buzzard” that had been feeding on the remains of a whale. This was a California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus), a carrion bird with a wingspan of more than nine feet (compared to five feet for the bald eagle). Condors, now an endangered species, were common on the shores of the Columbia until the mid-nineteenth century. The Port of Ilwaco commemorates the event with a life-size sculpture of the California Condor.

Cape Disappointment State Park also has a very informative Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center that is a must-see if you’re in the area. The center stands high on a 200’ cliff above the pounding Pacific surf. A series of mural-sized timeline panels guide visitors through the westward journey of using sketches, paintings, photographs, and the words of Corps members themselves.

Costa Rica

We've returned from Costa Rica and what a trip it turned out to be! Now, comes the time consuming process of culling the photographs and footage. Not to mention going through the multiple pages of field notes!

I'll be posting both detailed reports on our excursion out into the field as well as some 'Featured Animal' articles highlighting some of unique animals we encountered.

I'll also be posting some behind-the-scene clips and such over on our Twitter account.

Columbia River and the United States Exploring Expedition

Far less known to today’s public but no less significant with the United States Exploring Expedition and it’s scandalous leader Capt. Charles Wilkes.

The expedition was shaped by both commercial and scientific concerns and a desire to expand American influence and interests in the Pacific Northwest. Secretary of the Navy James Paulding wanted “to extend the bounds of science, and promote the acquisition of knowledge.”

However, it can be argued that concerns in Congress about British hegemony in the Pacific Northwest helped to shape what historian Philip Lundeberg called “the Expedition’s most significant geopolitical undertaking, a comprehensive survey of the Oregon territory, extending from the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Columbia River valley.” This show of force was to let all know that the US intended to claim and settle the Pacific Northwest.

On April 28, 1841, Wilkes arrived off the Columbia River bar but was unable to cross because of hazardous conditions. He proceeded to Puget Sound and Fort Nisqually. His negative impression of the accessibility of the river to a possible port (“Mere description can give little idea of the terrors of the bar of the Columbia”) was reinforced by the later loss of the USS Peacock on the bar on July 18, 1841.

Most places have some sort of interesting history, Cape Disappointment is incredibly rich in history and has far more than its fair share.

Member of the following

We are the learned society for geography and geographers.
as-seal-gr
Working to provide opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to make a difference as they play in the outdoors.
coasst-logo
Working to translate long-term monitoring into effective marine conservation solutions.
Sea Grant Washington
Provide integrated research, communication, and education to coastal communities that lead to the responsible use of the nation’s oceans.

Latest Instagram

Just published our latest adventure, or maybe misadventure. You can find the link in my bio up top. - The Ghost Town of Port Crescent ...

Porter Falls in in our Capital State Forest. This is a gorgeous area and easy to hike to. Well worth the hike.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #nature #travelphotography #love #beautiful #washington #naturephotography #oregon #photography #photooftheday #art #pnwonderland #hiking #adventure #seattle #picoftheday #pnwlife #waterfalls #naturelovers #upperleftusa #landscape #outdoors #pnw #travel #wanderlust #explore #pacificnorthwest #getoutside #mountains #waterfall #optoutside ...

I've just published an article over on our website featuring one of the unusual aminals we saw on our recent trip to Costa Rica. You can find the link in my profile. | Costa Rica: Rufous-naped Wren ...

A waterfall finding the south side of Crescent Lake in the Olympic National Park.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler #WildOlympics ...

One of the many White Faced Capuchin that were attempting to steal our lunch while in the Costa Rica.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #puravida #explore #manuelantonio #waterfall #puertoviejo #instagood #top10costarica #photography #cr #photoshoot #love #costaricacool #photooftheday #biodiversity #tiquicia #nature #costarica🇨🇷 #birds #aviationlovers #arenalvolcano #atardecer #travel #happy #naturelovers #landscape #oceanart #bird #sunset #sanjose #costarica ...

I've just published an article over on our website featuring one of the unusual aminals we saw on our recent trip to Costa Rica. You can find the link in my profile. | Costa Rica: Blue Morpho ...

Here's my latest news article regarding the world of citizen-science | "From Tropical to Temperate Rain Forest" https://buff.ly/2UB38Gw ...

Sunrise over Port Angeles from the deck of the M/V Coho. Heading across the Strait of Juan de Fuca for Victoria.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #sky #sunriseclouds #photooftheday #sunrisecolors #sunsets #skyonfire #sunrise #oregon #travel #pnw #horizon #upperleftusa #nature #pnwwonderland #oregonlife #orangesky #pnwlife #upperleft #clouds #sunset #pnwisbest #pnwlove #beautiful #sunrisephotography #washingtonstate #sunriseporn #sunriseoftheday #pacificnorthwest #photography #instagood ...

From the trail on the north shore of Crescent Lake this is looking at the snow covered south shore.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #washington #pnwisbeautiful #wildernessculture #pnwonderland #nature #canada #oregoncoast #olympicnationalpark #adventure #pnwwonderland #cascadiaexplored #roamtheplanet #naturephotography #nationalforest #metrisweek #pacificnorthwest #getoutside #multnomahfalls #pnwlife #columbiarivergorge #nationalpark #pnwdiscovered #mounthood #upperleftusa #pnw #earthofficial #earth #discoverearth #mountrainier #ig ...

I've just published an article over on our website featuring one of the unusual aminals we saw on our recent trip to Costa Rica. You can find the link in my profile. | Costa Rica: Spotted Sandpiper ...

After three days of stormy weather we finally had a clear day. Grabbed our bikes and rode the north shore of Crescent Lake. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #instagood #winter #mountains #cold #happy #pnwonderland #white #pnw #ice #snowy #art #travel #snow #winterwonderland #snowing #adventure #love #photography #photooftheday #snowfall #winteriscoming #nature #snowday #wildolympics #beautiful #snowflakes #landscape #naturephotography #picoftheday ...

Spending the weekend at Crescent Bay for the start of our Timber Tracking Project for Adventure Scientist. Stopped here at Tongue Point on our way to the Olympic National Forest. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #adventurescientist @adventurescientist #timbertracking ...

I've just published an article over on our website featuring one of the unusual aminals we saw on our recent trip to Costa Rica. You can find the link in my profile. | Costa Rica: Ground Anole ...

Sunset over the Gulf of Nicoya in Costa Rica.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #puravida #explore #manuelantonio #waterfall #puertoviejo #instagood #top10costarica #photography #cr #photoshoot #love #costaricacool #photooftheday #biodiversity #tiquicia #nature #costarica🇨🇷 #birds #aviationlovers #arenalvolcano #atardecer #travel #happy #naturelovers #landscape #oceanart #bird #sunset #sanjose #costarica ...

I've just published an article over on our website featuring one of the unusual aminals we saw on our recent trip to Costa Rica. You can find the link in my profile. | Costa Rica: White-faced Capuchin ...

Here's the latest on our website | "Costa Rica: Puntarenas" https://buff.ly/37kIcXO ...

The list of accomplishments of the expedition while in this area is long and impressive but perhaps it has taken a back seat in the history books due to the scandal revolving around Capt. Wilkes and his leadership. Accusations by Wilkes of incompetence and contempt against several junior officers led to countercharges against Wilkes. A court-martial resulted in a reprimand of Wilkes on a charge of illegal punishment.

As we road portions of the Discovery Corp trail on our Rad Power Bikes, reading commemorative signs posted along the way, the historian in me reeled trying to grasp that such a small area could have so much history. Ghosts are everywhere.

Further Reading

There are a couple of books I can recommend for anyone who would like to dive deeper in these two historical expeditions; Sea of Glory: America’s Voyage of Discovery, The U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 by Nathaniel Philbrick and Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West: Meriwether Lewis Thomas Jefferson and the Opening by Stephen Ambrose. Both are excellent reads.

Please share this:

More to explore

Crescent Bay
Journal

Skyfire over Crescent Bay

This area, located just west of Port Angeles, has one of the most intriguing histories just by virtue of what you don’t see when you

Read More »

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

×
×

Cart

2020 Calendars Shipping Soon!

Just want to thank everyone for all the messages and encouragement this last year. And we really appreciate your donations as well! Our overhead is low, but we do appreciate your generosity in helping with the expenses. 

Check your email as we will be sending our 2020 Calendar over the next few weeks. Feel free to share and publish at your favorite publishers.