“Tucked down and away from the road, this guest house offers a stunning- and historic-retreat at the edge of Baker Bay [photos]. With a view from the shore over tide-lands toward Sand Island, it offers a view much like the one that greeted Lewis & Clark as they walked to and from Cape Disappointment during their days on the North shore of the Columbia. China Beach Retreat has three bedrooms with sumptuous private baths, stunning handcrafted headboards, original art and vista windows that make for an idyllic getaway.”
The Lewis & Clark Expedition:
“Oh the joy, Ocian in view!”
William Clark November, 1805
The culmination of the greatest expedition in American history ended at a picturesque headland dubiously named Cape Disappointment. That November morning was wet and blustery. The year was 1805. Yards ahead of the explorers huge breakers were dashing the fishing rocks. The surf was tempestuous. The party had at last arrived at the Pacific. The explorers were dumbstruck by the beauty and power of the surging bottle-green waves. The men offered a whooping cheer. To the heels of their moccasin feet, they felt proud.
That vista is as breathtaking today as it was on that winter afternoon nearly 200 years ago. Standing in the yard at China Beach, a visitor can imagine the agony and glory of that 4000-mile trek, and the landscape of those first years of the nineteenth century. The vista continues to invigorate, to empower the viewer’s imagination. Massive Sitka Spruce jut from the shoreline. The wildfowl are migrating. Their cacophonies gladden the heart.
The Corps of Discovery traversed the beach here at China Beach; skirted the igneous outcroppings and old growth forests. The skies were overcast and the shoreline a meld of viridian and sorrel green. At Fort Canby State Park they cut through the sandy isthmus. Climbing on the fishing rocks below a current-day museum built to proclaim their achievement (The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center), the men most certainly felt the weight of their accomplishment. In separate diary entries, the officers would acknowledge the vision of the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. In their own words the observers would confirm his directive and vision. Our mission is complete, they state to their leader. To paraphrase the offerings of those scribes: ‘We have traversed the American continent and now stand before the Pacific Ocean.’ There can be no doubt that the same sense of awe touched the lives of the 16-year old Shoshone woman, Sacagawea, and the black slave of William Clark, York.
The Corps would camp for eighteen days on the Washington side of the Columbia River in present day Pacific County. Not all their campsites have been developed for tourism, but they can be ferreted out by historian and visitor alike. With luck and hard work, Station Camp will be transformed by the 2005 bicentennial. The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center is but a five minute drive from China Beach Retreat. From there, the sense of history is palpable. As in 1805, the vista is spellbinding. Just across the Megler bridge over the mouth of the Columbia river, Fort Clatsop remains the gem of Oregon’s historical restoration. Hundreds of thousands of visitors will visit the fort in the next few years.
The famous sculptress, Maya Lin designed a monument to the Corps nearby. The City of Long Beach is extending a beach trail that will follow the final miles of the expedition from Ilwaco to the sandy culmination at the Pacific Ocean just north of that attractive municipality.
“A nation that forgets its past can function no better than an individual with amnesia.” David McCullough fashioned those words, and the lesson behind them propels us to honor our rich past. We suggest that your Journey of Discovery can begin at China Beach. Come see us anytime.
Four thousand miles from St. Louis, Missouri to a quiet sandy beach at the mouth of the Columbia River – this is the odyssey of the Corps of Discovery and the conclusion of Thomas Jefferson’s western vision. Lewis and Clark resided in what is now Pacific County for 18 days. Here at China Beach Retreat a modern pioneer can imagine that same sense of pride and achievement; can stand awestruck by the natural beauty of the landscape.
18 days in Pacific County, Washington
( Pacific County Friends of Lewis & Clark website )
The Washington State Historical Society
( Lewis & Clark Articles )
Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau
(Long Beach Peninsula Events )
Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Newsletter
(Lewis & Clark Newsletter and Archive)