Commemorative Plaque at the Salt Works

Lewis & Clark Salt Cairn, Seaside, Oregon
Allan McMakin photo

By 1900 the salt makers' oven had long since collapsed into a pile of rocks—a "cairn." In the 1950s, local historians reassembled the stones into a structure that represents the presumed appearance of the original.

The plaque reads:

On January 2, 1806, the salt works was established by the three "salt makers" of the Lewis & Clark Expedition: Joseph Fields, William Bratten and George Gibson, who remained here until February 20, 1806. These men, assisted at times by hunters and packers, were able during this period to tediously extract approximately four bushels of salt by boiling seawater day and night in five metal "kittles."

The Expedition had run out of salt before arrival at their winter camp at Fort Clatsop, 10 miles to the northeast, and it was very necessary for curing meat and preparing for the return trip to civilization.

This actual site was established by a committee of the Oregon Historical Society in 1900, on the testimony of Jenny Michel of Seaside, whose Clatsop Indian father remembered seeing the white men boiling water, and had pointed out this place to her when she was a young girl. She was born in this vicinity about 1816 and died in 1905.

Erected by Seaside Lions Club 1955.