Artistic Representation of Patit Creek Campsite
From Dayton, Washington, you can go up a secondary highway for two or three miles to reach the site of Lewis and Clark's May 2, 1806, camp along Patit Creek. I followed a sign indicating a "heritage site" in that direction, not realizing it was an L&C campsite because it seemed to be in the wrong direction.
What I found was a field full of metal silhouette sculptures representing all the members of the expedition, plus horses and Native Americans who traded with the explorers. It really gives you a sense of what that many people and animals would look like performing all the chores of setting up and running a large camp. I think we're so used to seeing artistic representations of only a few members of the expedition at a time, that it's hard to imagine the whole cast in one place. I think this is also the appeal of reenactments for so many Lewis and Clark buffs, both the reenactors themselves and their audiences.
The view from the parking area, looking out over the site of L&C's May 2, 1806, camp. There was a fence and a sign warning people to stay out of the field.
A closer view of some of the figures. In the foreground (according to the key) is William Clark trading with three Indians, each holding a horse.
At the parking area looking out over the field along Patit Creek was a key to all the figures, as well as a commemorative plaque and a more detailed sign. (Unfortunately, the artist was not identified at the site.) It was a very interesting exhibit and a complete surprise to me--I had not read about or seen photos of it in any article, tourist brochure, or bicentennial guide.
Plaque providing information about the Patit Creek camp. This sign says it was "near this spot," but another sign says this was the actual site. I wonder if there has been any archaeological research here to try and pinpoint the location of the camp.
This region was the territory of the Cayuse, Walla Walla, and Umatilla tribes, as well as other tribes who traded in and traveled through the area. The Cayuse, Walla Walla, and Umatilla now make up the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation near Pendleton, Oregon. A sign in Lewis and Clark Trail State Park describes the traditional homeland of these tribes.
In the town of Dayton itself is a small park with a couple of the interpretive signs found elsewhere in the region, and a somewhat whimsical use for depictions of Sacagawea and either Lewis or Clark: as figures on the doors to the men's and women's bathrooms!
Flour Mill Park in Dayton, with two interpretive signs about Lewis and Clark.
Sac's silhouette helps to mark the door of the women's room in Flour Mill Park. The door to the men's room has a male figure, but it's hard to tell if it's supposed to be Lewis, Clark, or someone else.
[All photos by K. Dahl, copyright 2007.]