99. Cannon Beach, Oregon

(view southwest)

Cannon Beach

Whale Tale

By the time Clark and his party got to present-day Cannon Beach, Oregon, on 8 January, Indians had picked the dead whale's 105-foot-long carcass clean. Clark succeeded in bargaining for about three hundred pounds of whale blubber and a few gallons of oil. "Small as this Stock is I prise it highly," he wrote, "and thank providence for directing the whales to us; and think him much more kind to us than he was to jonah, having Sent this monster to be Swallowed by us in Sted of Swallowing of us as jonah's did."

Late that night, as Clark sat smoking with some Tillamook Indians, he was alarmed by a woman's scream from one of the cabins across the creek. His guide "made Signs that Some one's throat was Cut." Noticing that High McNeal was not around, he dispatched several soldiers to look into the situation. It turned out that an Indian man had lured McNeal into a cabin with the intent of murdering him for his blanket and other possessions. A Chinook woman, who was "an old friend of McNeals," shouted a warning and the Indian man ran off. The detail met the intended victim "comeing across the Creak in great hast." Evidently embarrassed, McNeal claimed that "the people were alarmed on the opposite side at Something but what he could not tell."

According to Sergeant Ordway, Clark spoke of naming the creek, shown at left in the photo, "McNeals Folly." In the end, he decided to label it Ecola, the Chinookan word for "whale."

From Discovering Lewis & Clark from the Air
Photography by Jim Wark
Text by Joseph Mussulman
Reproduced by permission of Mountain Press.