From the Superintendent

Jon Burpee, Lewis and Clark National Historical Park Superintendent

As a park ranger, I have always loved questions. I love using questions to engage visitors to think deeply about a park theme. I enjoy the look that comes over a visitor’s eyes when you have prompted them with a rhetorical question to dig into the story and to test their assumptions. As much as I enjoy asking the questions, however, I also try to remind myself that there is much value in listening to the questions that our visitors ask.

The old saw is that the number one question asked of a park ranger is “Where is the restroom?” That is probably accurate. I know in the current set- up of the visitor orientation area in the Visitor Center that is a fairly common question. You have to let them know that they passed the restrooms when they entered the building. Of course, after the remodel of the bathrooms with the new entrances, this question might decrease.

Beyond the necessary question about necessities, I really like when people ask questions that stump me. One of the first phrases that I teach new park interpreters is “I don’t know.” It is absolutely acceptable to not know everything. Those times that I have to give that answer thrills me because it guides an area of research that I had not touched on before. Plus, I like getting the answer to a visitor, even if it takes a week and has to be via e-mail.

It would be easy to laugh at some of the questions that I have been asked in my career. I have been asked if the fire in the kitchen cooking area at Fort Vancouver was ‘real’ fire. I was asked if Johnny Horton was at the Battle of New Orleans while at Chalmette Battlefield. At Fort Frederica, I was asked how many people that we don’t know of were buried in the colonial cemetery. There is always a bigger truth that the visitor is exploring when they ask those questions. For an interpreter, any question can be a springboard towards exploring bigger truths that help visitors find their place in history.

St. Louis, Jan’y 4, 1804. Sir: I have taken the liberty to add to this, additional questions of a mixed nature relating to Upper Louisiana, your answers to which will be extremely gratifying, and gratefully acknowledged.

Your friend and Ob’t Servant,
Capt. 1st U.S. Regt. Infy.

(This note from Capt. Lewis to fur trader and merchant Rene Auguste Chouteau included a list of 13 questions. Chouteau was one of the founders of St. Louis. Chouteau’s answers are unknown.)

Jon Burpee is Lewis and Clark National Historical Park Superintendent



Did the Expedition Actually Eat Candles?

Candlemaking demonstration at the fort.
Candlemaking demonstration at the Fort

On January 13, 1806, while at Fort Clatsop, Captain Lewis writes, “this evening we exhausted the last of our candles, but fortunately had taken the precaution to bring with us moulds and wick, by means of which and some Elk’s tallow in our possession we do not yet consider ourselves destitute of this necessary article; the Elk we have killed have a very small portion of tallow.” One of the highlights enjoyed by students who participate in the “Class of Discovery” program here at LCNHP, is the opportunity to wick candles in molds, much like the molds that the Expedition brought with them. Each student gets to take home a candle at the end of the day. Our candles are made from beef fat, not the elk fat used by the Expedition when they were at Fort Clatsop.

Many books and articles state that while crossing the Rocky Mountains, the Expedition members were so hungry, they ate candles. But, did they? On September 18, 1805, Lewis writes,

“ this morning we finished the remainder of our last coult. we dined & suped on a skant proportion of portable soupe, a few canesters of which, a little bears oil and about 20 lbs. of candles form our stock of provision, the only resources being our guns & packhorses.”

Is Lewis saying that they ate portable soup, bear’s oil and about 20 pounds of candles? Or, is he saying that they ate portable soup, and their provisions consist of a few canisters of portable soup, a little bear’s oil, and they have 20 pounds of candles left?

Why is Lewis the only one to write about candles on that day? Other Corps members mention only the portable soup. It would be a rare occurrence for Sgt. Ordway and Pvt. Whitehouse’s journal entries for the day to not include eating candles when recording that they ate the portable soup.

Questions to think about:

If the Corps members ate 20 pounds of candles, would they have had enough to last from September 18, 1805, to January 13, 1806? Why did all others who wrote on that day only mention eating the portable soup, and not candles? What do you think?

Tom Wilson is a Retired LCNHP Ranger


In Memory of LCNPA Board Member, Cheri Folk

Cheri Folk
Cheri Folk

It is with great sadness that we report the recent passing of longtime Lewis and Clark National Park Association board member Cheri Folk. Cheri served on the board since 1987 and brought her enthusiasm for this area to the group at a pivotal time. The work that she and the board did to raise a significant amount of money led to the 1991 expansion of the Visitor Center and the creation of the current exhibits. Cheri continued to ensure the success of the association and the park in small and large ways throughout her board tenure. Her kindness, dedication, and passion for this park and the local community will be deeply missed.





Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter

By Ben Goldfarb, 286 pages, Softcover

book coverIn Eager, environmental journalist Ben Goldfarb reveals that our modern idea of what a healthy landscape looks like and how it functions is wrong, distorted by the fur trade that once trapped out millions of beavers from North America’s lakes and rivers. The consequences of losing beavers were profound: streams eroded, wetlands dried up, and species from salmon to swans lost vital habitat. Today, a growing coalition of scientists, ranchers, and passionate citizens recognizes that ecosystems with beavers are far healthier than those without them. Eager is a powerful story about one of the world’s most influential species, how North America was colonized, how our landscapes have changed over the centuries, and how beavers can help us fight drought, flooding, wildfire, extinction, and the ravages of climate change. Ultimately, it’s about how we can learn to coexist, harmoniously and even beneficially, with our fellow travelers on this planet. Includes an index.

Item #785, $17.95

Birds of the West: An Artist’s Guide

By Molly Hashimoto, 176 pages, Hardcover

book coverAward-winning Seattle artist and teacher Molly Hashimoto captures birds through different media, from quick sketches with pen and wash to more carefully planned block prints. Each medium has a unique way of revealing different avian qualities–elegant lines or imposing silhouettes, a delicate bill or brilliant plumage. In Birds of the West, the author shares this range of artwork as a way to encourage readers, whether artists or not, to observe more closely the feathered friends around us. Through her art and words, she explores specific Western habitats providing the natural histories of birds typically found in each, intimate personal encounters, and inspiring poems and passages from other artists and writers. Hashimoto uses sidebars to teach different art techniques for all levels of experience. Includes an index, bibliography, and resource list.

Item #704, $22.95

The Journey of York: The Unsung Hero of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

By Hasan Davis, Illustrated by Alleanna Harris, 37 pages, Hardcover

book coverThis strikingly illustrated picture book uses a journal format to follow the Corps of Discovery as 2 captains, 29 men, 1 woman, and 1 child chart a route to the Pacific Ocean. All the men but one volunteered for the mission. York, the enslaved man taken on the journey, did not choose to go. Slaves did not have choices. York’s contributions to the expedition, however, were invaluable. The captains came to rely on York’s judgement, determination, and peacemaking role with the American Indian nations they encountered. But as York’s independence and status rose on the journey, the question remained what status he would carry once the expedition was over. This is his story. Author Davis imagines York’s feelings as he navigates his role as both a slave and almost-full member of the expedition, and also captures the stress of life as a second-class citizen. A Preface and Author’s Note page provides additional information and speculation as to York’s fate. For ages 8 and up.

Item #656, $17.95

Thomas Jefferson

By Cheryl Harness, 43 pages, Softcover

book coverThe illustrations and narrative in this National Geographic book examine the crucial role that the “sage of Monticello” played in shaping the ideals of freedom and self-government, which became the cornerstones of American democracy. The author’s conversational storytelling, her richly detailed illustrations, and use of period maps bring to life the exciting times of Thomas Jefferson on every page. This appealing and insightful biography is an honest, well-balanced portrait of a complex and controversial American legend. For ages 7 and up.

Item #613, $7.95

Jefferson’s America: The President, the Purchase, and the Explorers Who Transformed a Nation

By Julie M. Fenster, 422 pages, Softcover

book coverHistory comes alive in this entertaining account of Thomas Jefferson’s unrivaled age of American Exploration. At the turn of the 19th century, many powers were jockeying for control of the lands west of the Mississippi River, including the young United States led by President Jefferson with his vision for a continental America. The president’s most famous expedition sent into this wilderness was led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, but other explorers dispatched included William Dunbar, George Hunter, Thomas Freeman, Peter Custis, and Zebulon Pike. This book was originally published in hardcover, but now we offer it in softcover format. Includes a bibliography and index.

Item #533, $17.00

Wild Babies: A Nature Sketchbook

By Irene Brady, 50 pages, Softcover

book coverIn this handsome book, a perceptive naturalist shares with the reader her observations of the forested environment. Irene Brady’s illustrations are exquisite and precise, but at the same time warm and personal. Based on years of study in the wild and a loving respect for its inhabitants, this book captures the beauty of the wild world for readers of all ages. Each page has lively sepia-toned pictures to hold a youngster’s attention, and the text is absorbing and vivid enough to allow the adult to read it aloud time after time without getting bored. Information is provided in a story format and features bobcats, squirrels, bats, deer, hawks, and bears. Includes an index.

Item #621, $8.95

A Charbonneau Family Portrait

By Irving Anderson, 20 pages, Softcover Booklet, Published by LCNPA

book coverAn updated edition of this popular booklet about Toussaint Charbonneau, Sacagawea, and their son, Jean Baptiste, has been reprinted by the Association with a new color cover, added journal quotes, and a color map on the back cover. The booklet is well-researched and includes short biographies of the members of the family.

Item #409, $5.95

*** Of special note: An additional In Their Footsteps free speaker series event will be held on Sunday, August 18, at 1:00 PM in the Netul River Room of the LCNHP Visitor Center. Garry Bush, a retired teacher who enjoys living history, will present “The Life and Times of Pomp: Jean Baptiste Charbonneau”. These free events are sponsored by the Association and the Park. ***




Questions? and Answers!

Below are a few visitor questions (and the answers) that our park rangers have been asked.

Q & A
LCNHP Ranger Randy Francom answers visitor questions and provides information during a flintlock program at the fort.

From LCNHP Ranger Alicea Powell:

Aside from where are the bathrooms . . . I think the most common question is about why the roof is slanted in. The design is based on military fort design of the time. The slanted roof allows visibility of anything or anyone trying to sneak in on you.

Maybe not quite a question but more of a conversation starter is when people say, “Wow, you have such a fun job.” And yes, we do have quite a bit of fun. It is also thought provoking because I did not set out in my life to become a park ranger, and when thinking about how I ended up here, it just goes to show that however much you try to plan out your life, there are still fun surprises.

Another common question is if Lewis or Clark was the father to Sacagawea’s baby. French Canadian interpreter, Toussaint Charbonneau, was the father of Sacagawea’s baby, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, who was only a few weeks old when the family joined the Expedition at Fort Mandan in 1805.

From LCNHP Ranger Matt Hensley:

Visitors sometimes ask what happened to the horses used by the Corps. Some horses were traded and others were left in the care of the Native American people that the Corps encountered along the way. According to the journals, a few dozen horses and one mule were branded and then left in present-day Idaho with the Nez Perce on the westbound segment of the journey, until the Corps retrieved them on the return trip.

From LCNHP Ranger Bill Millar:

“Where did they go to the bathroom?” is an unusual question that has been asked. Although there are no references in the journals or other historical documents, it is possible that at Fort Mandan and Fort Clatsop the location of the sinks (toilet holes dug into the ground) was based on Baron Von Steuben’s Blue Book, which dictates that sinks were to be located 100 paces from the camp or fort. Von Steuben was a Prussian Army officer who volunteered to come to the American colonies and serve as inspector general for the Continental Army during the American Revolution. His book, entitled Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States but often referred to as the Blue Book, became the standard U.S. Army drill manual through 1812.

From LCNHP Ranger Debbie Kaspar (with additional info from Chris Clatterbuck, LCNHP Chief of Resource):

People are awed by the trees and often ask if the trees around the fort are the same trees that were here at the time of Lewis and Clark. The short answer is no. The huge Sitka spruce near the fort were not present when the Oregon Historical Society acquired the land in 1901. The Corps of Discovery cut down several of the smaller trees in order to construct Fort Clatsop and also for firewood during its 1805-06 winter encampment. What is known about the site in ensuing years is based on scant accounts from visitors and homesteaders. The original fort began to disappear almost immediately after the Corps left in 1806, and the area soon became overgrown with vegetation and trees. Most of the forest around the Fort Clatsop site was logged and milled between 1851 and 1854 by William M. Moore. Brothers Carlos and Franklin Shane, who lived at the site around 1850, also cleared land for farming and to plant an orchard. William Hampton Smith, who married into the Shane family, fell trees to build a house near the fort in 1872 and to create charcoal to sell in Astoria. Also during the 1800s, more trees were removed around the fort to clear land for planting potatoes and extracting clay.

From LCNPA Executive Director Debbie Wilson (as shared by a former park employee):

“When do the deer turn into elk?” You are on your own to answer that one.







Visitor Orientation Project

Dear Friends,

VisitorOrientation Project2019
Click the image for a pdf of the form.

We are very excited to tell you about the new Visitor Orientation Project designed to expand and improve the Visitor Center at Fort Clatsop, and we are asking for your financial support. Visitation to the park has grown by 40% in recent years and numbers are continuing to increase. This growth will ensure that your contribution to the project will impact more and more visitors for years to come.

This Visitor Orientation Project is part of a much larger effort by the National Park Service to improve the interpretative, educational, scientific, and historical projects at the park. The approximately $5 million-dollar upgrade to the structures and infrastructure at Fort Clatsop will fundamentally change a visitor’s experience as they start out their adventure in the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park.

The GOAL of this Visitor Orientation Project is to better teach multiple perspectives for a richer cultural interpretation of the Lewis and Clark story. Specifically, your financial gift will support development of new visitor orientation exhibits that will be the first point of visitor interaction at the site. It will fund development and presentation of 7 outdoor interpretive panels under a shelter that will help the park begin visitor experience and understanding before they enter the door, and provide needed undercover space for the roughly 10,000 students who visit each year.

Within a newly designed building entrance paid for by park funds, your financial support will help pay for the design, fabrication, and installation of an exhibit that will incorporate tribal stories into the context of the Lewis and Clark story. The intent of the exhibit is to place modern visitors in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark as visitors to the lands of the Chinookan peoples. Its central exhibit will feature a 28’ Chinook cedar canoe. This is a fundamental shift in the context of the story from just looking at the epic journey through the perspectives of Lewis and Clark to a more inclusive story of the peoples who called this area home long before and after Lewis and Clark visited. The project will also provide visitor wayfinding at five of the park units and unify park messaging between these disparate units through design, fabrication, and installation of interpretive kiosks.

Our pledge to the Park is to raise $235,000, and as of August 1st we have raised $91,000.

The cost of this project will be helped by a matching grant from the Centennial Challenge Fund, a federal grant celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. So, every dollar you give will be matched dollar for dollar. The grant as well as your contribution will enable us to help refurbish the visitor center, upgrade and improve exhibits, and build a new entrance that will give the visitor an improved picture of the time and distance involved in accomplishing the epic journey of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Thank you for your consideration,

Susan Deshon
L&CNPA, Board President

Rosemary Baker-Monaghan
L&CNPA, Board Member and Treasurer







A Special Message From the Superintendent

Jon Burpee, Lewis and Clark National Historical Park Superintendent

Working Together to Enhance the Visitor Experience

If therefore there is anything under those circumstances, in this enterprise, which would induce you to participate with me in it’s fatiegues, it’s dangers and it’s honors, believe me there is no man on earth with whom I should feel equal pleasure in sharing them as with yourself.”

– Meriwether Lewis to William Clark
 June 19, 1803

When Captain Lewis invited William Clark to co-command the Expedition, he knew what he was doing. Lewis and Clark made such great leaders of the Expedition because their strengths complemented each other. They were united in a mission and supported each other in the task of achieving that mission.  Together, they made history!

Similarly, Lewis and Clark National Historical Park and the Lewis and Clark National Park Association make great partners that utilize the strengths of each organization to achieve our joint mission to provide the best park experience for our visitors.  I do not know if the park staff is Lewis and the Association is Clark, or vice versa. I do know that through these great facilities, programs, and bookstore items, visitors are getting a deeper understanding of their connection to the fascinating stories of Lewis and Clark and the tribes that call this area home. None of this would be possible without the strong partnership and support from organizations and folks who contribute to the Lewis and Clark National Park Association.

The Association has supported the National Park Service at Fort Clatsop since 1963.  In those years, many important projects would not have been completed without this support. 

Our latest joint effort will fundamentally change the way visitors begin their adventure exploring the park and the Lewis and Clark story.  The project will multiply efforts underway to provide a world class experience within the Fort Clatsop Visitor Center.  The last upgrade to the park visitor center was planned in 1987 when the park consisted of 124.9 acres. At that time, park visitation was 175,000. Since that time, park visitation has grown by 40% and appears to be increasing. 

Through the generous support of the Lewis and Clark National Park Association, we will develop new visitor orientation exhibits that will be the first point of visitor interaction at the site. These orientation exhibits will incorporate tribal stories into the context of the Lewis and Clark story.  The intent of the exhibit is to place modern visitors into the circumstance of Lewis and Clark as visitors to the lands of the Chinookan peoples.  It will feature a 28’ Chinook cedar canoe placed in front of an interpretive mural that represents the culture of the peoples that Lewis and Clark found at the mouth of the Columbia River. This is a shift in the context of the story away from just looking through the perspective of Lewis and Clark to a more inclusive story of the peoples who called this area home long before and after the Captains visited.

The larger project also provides visitor wayfinding at five of the park units and helps unify park messaging between these disparate areas through design, fabrication, and installation of interpretive kiosks. It will develop seven outdoor interpretive panels under a shelter that will help the park begin visitor understanding before they enter the door.  This space also will provide needed undercover space for our roughly 10,000 students who visit per year. 

This project is part of a much larger effort by the National Park Service to upgrade the function and infrastructure of the Center.

This would not happen without the support of the Lewis and Clark National Park Association. There is no group on Earth with whom I should feel equal pleasure working with than them. Together, we are making history.

Information about Donor Recognition:

Donor Recognition

Thank You Letters

All donations with a value of $100 or more that are accepted on behalf of Lewis and Clark National Historical Park will be acknowledged in writing by the respective recipient. For the NPS, the Superintendent acknowledges these gifts.  The thank you letter acknowledges the gift, donor, date of acceptance, and any restrictions. When goods are given in-kind, a description – but not a dollar estimate – of the item is included in the acknowledgement letter. (The estimated value must be determined by donor if he/she chooses to include it as a tax deduction.)

Donations made to the Park’s philanthropic partners under the auspices of an NPS-approved fundraising campaign shall be acknowledged by the recipient partner.  The Superintendent may also elect to send a “thank you” letter to the donor through which the donation came with the goal of ensuring that contributors feel appreciated for their efforts.

Additional types of Recognition

In addition to thank you letters and depending on the value of the donation, the Park and/or our philanthropic partners may also acknowledge a donor through the following: a personal call or visit, press event, printed/digital/media platforms (brochures, displays and audiovisual productions), public website, photo opportunities, mementos, certificates, invitations to special events with appropriate recognition at the event, and finally, private events. Some will be “pending donor approval” (i.e., public press events, etc.).

Acknowledgement on a Donor Recognition Display

The Park believes it is fitting and appropriate that there be a single location in the Park where donors can be publicly recognized in a systematic and ongoing manner.  This acknowledgement will serve as both 1) a tangible and visible record of philanthropic support for the Park, and 2) an expression of Lewis and Clark NHP’s and its partners’ appreciation for such support.

Since the Fort Clatsop Visitor Center (VC) is the Park’s most popular destination, and it is accessible, it is fitting that the VC serve as the location where donors are appropriately recognized.  A donor recognition display will be placed in the Fort Clatsop Visitor Center near the visitor contact desk.  It will be maintained and managed by the Park. The Park, through a philanthropic agreement and work plan, may allow partner organizations to assist with maintenance of the on-site donor recognition display.

The donor recognition display will consist of a well-designed, plaque type donor board or digital display that recognizes the following:

  • Corps (of Discovery) Contributors recognizes individual, corporate and foundation donors at the $100 and above levels (see giving levels).
  • Capital contributions by project

The donor recognition display will also include recognition of volunteers who have:

  • Donated 1,000 or more hours to the Park and are still actively serving;
  • Donated 5,000 or more hours; these volunteers will be recognized for five years following their service.

Donor recognition may include the donor’s name and the category designation within which the donation falls. Donor and volunteers who do not request anonymity will be acknowledged appropriately. Donor request for anonymity will be respected. The donor display may not include logos, advertising, marketing slogans, taglines or other forms of commercialism.

In any given year, monetary contributions will be recognized as follows:

Corps Contributors

Amount of Donation

Giving Level

Duration of Recognition

$100 – $499

Privates’ Mess

1 year

$500 – $999

Sergeants’ Mess

2 years

$1000 – $2499

Captains’ Mess

5 years


President’s Circle

10 years

Capital Contributions by Project (Special Projects)

For funding specific projects/assets (i.e., project, vehicle, building, trail, etc.)

Amount of Donation

Duration of Recognition

$1,000 – $9,999

5 years

$10,000 – $24,999

Lifetime of the project/asset

$25,000 – $99,999

Lifetime of the project/asset

$100,000 +

Lifetime of the project/asset

Memorials / Living Memorials

Cash donation or planned gifts may be given “in memory of” or “in honor of” an individual and will be recognized as such for the durations otherwise indicated in this plan.

Jon Burpee is Lewis and Clark National Historical Park Superintendent



Not yet a Lewis & Clark National Park Association member?


Become a member / Renew a membership

The Lewis & Clark National Park Association was established in 1963 as a non-profit organization for the purpose of supporting National Park Service educational and interpretive activities at Fort Clatsop. The Association receives no public funds, nor is it supported by any private endowment. If you are not already a member, please consider purchasing an annual membership at this time.

Members receive a 10% discount in the bookstore and on our website.

Lewis and Clark National Park Association

As an Association Member, you will receive a 10% discount on most bookstore purchases, as well as discounts at stores run by cooperative associations at National Park sites across the nation. The 10% discount also applies to purchases from our website at  In addition, you will receive our quarterly newsletter.

Print this page, fill out the below, and drop it by the park or mail to 92343 Fort Clatsop Road Astoria, OR 97103

  Yes, I want to become a LCNPA Member!
  Yes, I want to renew my membership!

  $25 Individual
  $35 Family
  $100 Friend
  $500 Benefactor

About You
Full Name
City, State, Zip



Lewis & Clark National Park Association

Fort Clatsop

Association Board Chairperson 

Susan Deshon


Chuck Albright


Rosemary Baker-Monaghan


Les McNary

William M. Garvin

Jean Danforth

Chris Breitmeyer

Nancy Bell Anderson

Association Staff

Executive Director Deborah Wilson

Bookstore Staff

Terri Schleiss

Karen Leinenkugel

Cynthia Thompson

Kari Pointer

Chris Gremar

Lewis and Clark National Historical Park Staff

Superintendent Jonathon Burpee

Chief of Visitor Services Jill Harding

Newsletter Editor

Karen Leinenkugel