Whether you're president of the Lewis and Clark fan club, or not even sure who Lewis and Clark are, there is something for you at Fort Clatsop National Historical Park near Astoria, Oregon.
Lewis and Clark are the 2 explorers who lead a group from St. Louis, up the Missouri River, to discover it's source at the Pacific Ocean. Not only were they explorers, they were also botanists, zoologists, diplomats, geographers, cartographers, anthropologists, fishermen, hunters, negotiators, and much more. They spent about a year and a half working their way to the Pacific Ocean, and Fort Clatsop is where they "wintered" before heading back to St. Louis.
The fort at this National Historical Park was destroyed by fire in the 2005. Even though it was not the original fort, the fire was a huge tragedy. Great care had been taken to duplicate it exactly, even down to it's exact location and orientation. The setting is just beautiful, and is located several miles south of Astoria, Oregon.
Currently, efforts are underway to rebuilt Fort Clatsop to it's original specifications. You can follow this http://www.nps.gov/lewi/FOCL/html/fortexhibit/index.html to check on the rebuilding and even volunteer to help out. There is even a slide show of the fire and the aftermath. There is still plenty to do and see at Fort Clatsop during the reconstruction. However, when the construction is finished, this is what you can expect from your visit:
When you first arrive at Fort Clatsop National Memorial, you will enter through the Visitor's Center. This is filled with artifacts and information, and of course a gift shop. They also run a 20 to 30 minute movie . A short walk from the visitor's center (100 meters) will bring you to the actual fort. Plenty of staff are on hand, dressed in frontier-wear, to answer questions. I found them to be extremely knowledgeable. There are many demonstrations of frontier skills used at Fort Clatsop at 15 minute intervals through-out the day. We were able to watch a staff member start a fire using a steel implement and some dried bark. After she was done, we were able to try it ourselves. We also caught a demonstration on the use of the flint lock rifle. (Loud!)
There is a picnic area, as well as a nice trail down to the canoe landing. Again, this heavily wooded area is just beautiful. The day we were there it was not very crowded, and on my walk to the canoe landing, I felt like I was the only one around, as the trees muffled out most of the sound. Very peaceful.
Our son, 18 months at the time, loved climbing in and out of the dug-out canoe, as well as exploring the different rooms of the fort. In fact, as he was walking in and out of the room that belonged to Sacajawea, several of the staff members started calling him Jean Baptiste, Sacajawea's son, who was about 18 months at the time he stayed at Fort Clatsop.
As nice as it would be to have Lewis and Clark's original fort still standing, having a replica allows for much more hands-on learning and investigation. I can imagine that if it were Lewis and Clark's actual dwelling, there might be more interest in preserving it, and not so much freedom for visitors to explore.