Although Lewis and Clark were the first to map out Oregon there are others that say they may not have been the first to visit the area. Finn J.D. John (Offbeat Oregon History, March 2017) says in his podcast “Let us face it: No one actually knows where the famous English privateer and explorer spent the summer, and his notes, upon his return, were deliberately opaque. However, it is possible that his “Nova Albion” was on the Oregon Coast”. Nevertheless, Lewis and Clark were among the first to map out the new land obtained through the Louisiana Purchase. In November of 1805, the mission was completed and it was time for the Lewis and Clark expedition team to prepare for the harsh winter before returning home. They decided to set up camp across the South of the Colombian River border, which is near present-day Astoria, Oregon. After arriving there, they started building Fort Clatsop on December 10 and moved in by Christmas that year. It was three miles up from what is now the Lewis and Clark River. They chose the location for its ready supply of elk and deer and the convenient access to the ocean (History.com Editors, 2009). They spent three months there; it was a well needed break seeing, as everyone was tired from their expedition across all the new purchased land. Although the Fort Clatsop was in a convenient location, it was not without problems. During the winter, the natives of the land were less than welcoming of the newly built fort. Tension increased between the expedition team and the natives causing an increase of security around Fort Clatsop. The lower Colombian River people were not friendly and were not as interested in relations or trade between the expedition team. Even though the conditions were not favorable, they used the time they spent at the fort efficiently. They compiled notes and maps of everywhere they have been during this trip. The mission may have been over but they could not leave just yet. The weather was harsh during the winter. In a journal, entry written by William Clark (Lang, W. L. 2019) he exclaimed “The winds violent. Trees falling in every direction, whorl winds, with gusts of rain Hail & Thunder, this kind of weather lasted all day. Certainly one of the worst days that ever was!” Lewis and Clark wanted to leave for their return trip home as soon as possible. On March 22, 1806, they turned over Fort Clatsop to Chief Coboway and left Oregon to head back to Missouri.
Dangers on the trail
The 2000-mile route from Missouri to Oregon is one of history’s most cruel and grueling journeys taken upon by emigrants. Composed of livestock, wagons, and over 1000 people, these emigrants went down his route to settle down in Oregon City, Oregon. The trail was the most popular way to get to Oregon at the time but it did not come without it struggles. Most emigrants had to sell their business, homes and anything else they could not bring with them. Before setting out they purchased thousands of pounds of flour, bacon, sugar, coffee, and salt along with rifles and ammunition. However, the most important item they brought along with them was the covered wagon. Without it, everything would have spoiled and rusted during this long journey from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon. Most travelers would leave in either April or May that way they could avoid the harshness of winter. The trip would last anywhere from five to six months, but by leaving in the spring they had ample grass for the livestock involved in the trip (History.com Editors, 2017). The trip would start from Missouri and cross through Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and finally ending in Oregon. Plenty of problems would occur during the trip. Some hardships of the journey were death of relatives due to accidents, Indian attacks, supply shortages, weather, disease, and medicine.