Three Weird Facts About Lewis & Clark

Nov 7, 2018 | History, Fall

1. They were being hunted by the Spanish.

James Wilkinson

James Wilkinson

Did you know espionage was a part of the Lewis and Clark story? That’s right. The Spanish had their eyes on the American frontier as well. After the Louisiana Purchase, they were determined to stop American expansion.

Enter James Wilkinson, a Revolutionary War hero and a man with a lot of debt. He began selling American secrets to the Spanish. This included details about the expedition west to find a route to the Pacific Ocean.

The Spanish sent patrols after the Corps of Discovery, and at one point, got within 100 miles. Fortunately for the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Spanish never reached them.

2. Meriwether Lewis was shot in the bum.

Meriwether Lewis

Meriwether Lewis

Before taking a dive into how Meriwether Lewis ended up with lead in his bum, it’s important to introduce another character in the Corps of Discovery: Pierre Cruzatte. Part French and part Omaha Indian, Cruzatte was a linguist, hunter, and spirited fiddle player. He also only had one eye.

During the return journey in 1806, Lewis and Cruzatte set out to hunt some elk. After wounding an elk, they went separate directions to pursue it. When Lewis raised his gun to take another shot at the elk, he felt a ball strike his “left thye about an inch below my hip joint”.

Lewis knew right away that Cruzatte had made a mistake. In his journal, he wrote, “I instantly supposed that Cruzatte had shot me in mistake for an Elk as I was dressed in brown leather and he cannot see very well…” When he called out to Cruzatte, he received no answer. There could only be one explanation. They were under attack by Indians!

But this wasn’t the case. Cruzatte, realizing he had shot Lewis, ran and hid. Later, when Lewis examined the bullet and confirmed it to be from Cruzatte’s gun, Cruzatte denied it all.

3. Lewis & Clark weren’t that important.

Lewis and Clark’s contemporaries weren’t that impressed with the expedition. Jefferson, who conceived of the Corps of Discovery to begin with, barely spoke of it afterward. Why?

Technically, they failed their mission to find a water route across the continent to the Pacific Ocean (to be fair, none exists). Even their route through the Rocky Mountains proved so useless that it’s still just a dusty, dirt road to this day.

No one really talked about their epic adventures at first.

Their journals were published a decade after their return but had little impact at the time. A revival of interest in the Corps of Discovery’s journey would not come until the beginning of the 20th century. Even then, interest waned during World War I, and America’s current infatuation with the explorers would not begin until the 1960’s.

Lewis & Clark history on the Long Beach Peninsula (and beyond)

The Long Beach Peninsula was journey’s end for the Corps of Discovery. Walk in their footsteps for your own Lewis and Clark adventure!

  1. Pillar Rock – This is the location where Lewis and Clark first recorded seeing the Pacific Ocean. You’ll find Pillar Rock in Altoona, WA.
  2. Dismal Nitch – Terrible weather conditions pinned the explorers in this nitch for five days. Today, you can enjoy a picnic and great views from this rest stop managed by the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park.
  3. Middle Village-Station Camp – The site of a seasonal Chinook village where the Corps of Discovery camped for ten days. During this time, they surveyed and mapped the surrounding area.
  4. A Rocky Point (Discover Pass Required)- While exploring, Clark ascended a rocky point about 40 feet high where he got quite a view. This point is within present day Fort Columbia Historic State Park, one of the most intact historic coastal defense sites in the USA.
  5. Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center (Discover Pass Required) – The interpretive center is a great place to learn about the Corps of Discovery and enjoy panoramic views of the Columbia-Pacific Confluence.
  6. Maya Lin Confluence Project (Discover Pass Required) – Artwork (created by renowned artist Maya Lin) commemorating the Chinook people and the Lewis and Clark journey can be found at several locations in Cape Disappointment State Park. Locations are marked on the Cape D map.
  7. Discovery Trail – Named after the Corps of Discovery, the trail stretches 8.5 miles from Ilwaco to Long Beach. Find interpretive panels and art installments along the way to learn more about Lewis and Clark as well as Chinook heritage.
  8. Fort Clatsop – Fort Clatsop was the winter encampment for the Corps of Discovery. This park is located across the river in Oregon and makes a great day trip from the Long Beach Peninsula.

Explore more of what Pacific County has to offer.

Haunt-tober Spotlight: Graveyards of Pacific County

As the weather changes and the winds creak the shedding trees, our thoughts turn to the peaceful plots buried in our past. With storied towns filled with folklore, a few skeletons lurk in the closets. Join us as we walk softly through some of the graveyards of Pacific...

Unique Pacific Northwest Museums in the Long Beach Peninsula

The Long Beach Peninsula’s museums have long been treasures that have brought joy to locals and delighted visiting guests. Quaint and lovingly curated, our museums celebrate local culture and defining characteristics of this special region. Scattered like jewels over...

How to Go Storm Watching on the Long Beach Peninsula

The best places for storm watching, what you need to bring, and tips for storm watching on the Long Beach Peninsula.

Indoor Fun in Pacific County 

Being outdoors, surrounded by spectacular scenery, is a big draw for Pacific County  And, there’s fun to be had indoors, too. Here are some ideas for when you want to have some indoor fun in Pacific County.    Visit a Museum Pacific County is home to a variety of...

Haunted Places on the Long Beach Peninsula

Home to eerie sounding areas like Cape Disappointment, Dismal Nitch and the Graveyard of the Pacific, it’s no surprise that Washington’s Pacific County boasts a hearty helping of haunted houses… and hotels.

Fall Event Guide

Autumn might just be Pacific County’s best-kept secret! Fewer crowds and incredible weather are reason enough to plan a fall escape. The “hushed season” of fall adds a crisp breeze to the air and comfort to the soul. Mark your calendar, and celebrate the season at...

Join us for the Cranberry Harvest this October

October’s cranberry harvest has been a part of the peninsula’s culture for over a century. This tart, native berry brings more excitement than you might expect as the bogs are flooded for harvest and roadside stalls with fresh cranberries begin to pop up.

Live Music & Festivals in Pacific County

Enjoy live music every night on the Long Beach Peninsula. Be sure to mark your calendar for annual festivals!

Thanksgiving Weekend on the Beach

When you decide to escape to the beach for Thanksgiving weekend, then you might be wondering: where can I get turkey and stuffing? What’s happening Black Friday weekend? Are things open?

Razor Clamming

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) sets Ocean Sport Clamming Seasons. Tentative Dates & Tides:Dates will be confirmed by safety tests just prior to the digs. Watch our blog, or WDFW’s press release page for confirmation announcements. This...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This