We’ve reached the end of our time along the Pacific Highway, and we very reluctantly took our last walk along the beach before heading east and crossing the Columbia River.
We stayed at the Benjamin Young Inn in Astoria Oregon, a Victorian home built by Benjamin Young in the middle 1800s. His daughter went to medical school and practiced here in the house and in town; her certificate from medical school is dated 1907.
We had a delightful dinner at the J Paul supper club and learned that many musicians & artists live here and work at a variety of jobs (as they do everywhere).
The dock is very active: there are tugboats, barges and other ships in this docking area. Out of the window from the B&B there were several tankers anchored in the Columbia River waiting clearance for entrance in Portland. Some are heavy (with cargo) some are light (without/ and awaiting cargo) coming from and going to various places in the world.
We left Astoria crossing the Astoria Bridge that spans Astoria, Oregon and Point Ellice, Washington.
The 4.1 mile-long bridge features a main span 1,232 feet in length, the longest “continuous truss” in the world. Before the bridge’s construction in 1966, travelers relied upon ferry service from Astoria to Megler,
In 1803, Thomas Jefferson dispatched Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to lead the Corps of Discovery on a mission to find a water route across North America and explore the natural resources of the uncharted American West.
We stopped at Clark’s Dismal Nitch, the place along the Columbia River where the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery were stuck in awful storms as they tried to get to the mouth of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean just miles away.
From the National Park Service website: http://www.nps.gov/lewi/planyourvisit/dismal.htm “Imagine this. It’s early 1805, the fresh food had run out. The clothes were literally rotting off the backs of the members of the Corps of Discovery. They were traveling as fast as they could down the Columbia River, though, to meet one of the last trading ships of the season. If they made it, they’d send a set of journals and some collections home as requested by President Jefferson. But foremost was the chance to use an unlimited letter of credit from the president, a chance to “charge” all the goods the tired explorers needed, plus perhaps get a little rum, from the trade ship.”
A fierce winter storm forced the Corps off the river on Nov. 10 and pinned the group to a north shore cove consisting of little more than jagged rocks and steep hillside. Captain William Clark named the dreary spot “that dismal little nitch.” For six stormy days, the group was trapped by fierce wind and high waves at the rocky shoreline. For only the second time in the expedition, Clark said he was concerned for the safety of the Corps. “A feeling person would be distressed by our situation,” he wrote in wet misery, as the expedition became in danger of foundering just within a few miles of its destination — The Pacific Ocean. Finally, the storm broke and allowed the group to move on. It missed the trading ship, but eventually achieved its exploration goals
Clark describes their move from the unnamed cove to the Dismal Nitch: “As our situation became Seriously dangerous, we took the advantage of a low tide & moved our Camp around a point a Short distance to a Small wet bottom at the mouth of a Small Creek (Megler Creek), which we had observed when we first came to this cove…”
The rain continued on November 13 and 14. On the morning of November 15 Clark awoke to calm weather for the first time in 10 days. Clark describes the party’s escape from what became know as the Dismal Nitch: “About 3 o’clock the wind lulled and the river became calm, I had the canoes loaded in great haste and set out, from this dismal nitch where we have been confined for 6 days…”
The party moved to Station Camp on the west side of Point Ellice, and camped at that location for 10 days. It was at Station Camp that the famous vote was taken that included all members of the party and the party decided to move the south shore of the Columbia River where they would spend the winter before beginning their long journey home.