William Clark led a group through the Clatsop Plains bogs over to the beach and that journey is remembered tody by the six-mile Fort-to-Sea Trail. The Trail runs from Fort Clatsop over to Sunset Beach. Clark wanted to find a spot where his men could make salt by boiling sea water, but he eventually ended up eight miles south on the Promenade of Seaside in order to mediate the freshwater influence of the Columbia River. You can still get a good approximation of the countryside Clark and his men traversed - it is a fairly quiet trail. I overheard one young man talking to his father saying, “Six miles! Wow, that must take all day!” He should have remembered, however, that six miles one way equals twelve miles round trip - two days?!
Lewis recorded in his journal : "Capt Clark set out after an early breakfast with the party in two canoes as had been concerted the last evening; Charbono and his Indian woman were also of the party; the Indian woman was very impotunate to be permited to go, and was therefore indulged; she observed that she had traveled a long way with us to see the great waters, and that now that monstrous fish was also to be seen, she thought it very hard she could not be permitted to see either (she had never yet been to the Ocean)."
Clark recorded almost the same thing.
This strong and courageous woman had suffered all the trials of the men, had worked as hard, and though trained to always be obedient had invested enough in the exhibition that she felt strongly her right to see that for which the whole journey had been searching. She wanted to see the "great waters". She persuaded the leaders she "should be indulged".
They left from Fort Clatsop and went to the area around Tillamock in search of blubber from a whale which had landed there. There is a painting of her facing the great waters and I wonder at her thoughts and emotions at seeing this sight which she had never imagined.
Photo courtesy of Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives
I have to admit that I really didn’t know how Netul Landing fit into the overall Lewis and Clark saga. The Fort Clatsop Historical Society and the National Park Service have elevated Netul Landing to the same scale as other historic sites of the Park - Fort Clatsop, Dismal Nitch, Seaside’s Salt Works, etc.. The Park brochure describes Netul Landing as the parking lot and regional bus arrival point for a visit to Fort Clatsop. On the summer weekend I visited, no one was parked in the vast parking lot and constant shuttle buses were running empty. There is a nice kayak launch site into the river here, though.