Clark's Point of View

View from a promontory on "Clark's Point of View"

360° panoramic photo

Photography by Allan McMakin

On his side trip to Cape Disappointment from Station Camp in November, 1805, William Clark observed "a high point of a Mountn." about 30 miles to the southwest. Later, Lewis took the liberty of naming it "Clark's Mountain and point of view." Eventually it was to be called Tillamook Head, after the Indians who lived nearby, who themselves called it Nah-se-u'-su.

On January 6, 1806, Clark, with twelve soldiers plus Charbonneau, Sacagawea, and her baby, set out from Fort Clatsop to see the dead whale that Indians had reported on the beach south of "Clark's Mountain." On the 7th, as they climbed over the 1,136-foot headland, Clark paused at a scenic viewpoint some 650 precipitous feet above the surf.

from this point I beheld the grandest and most pleasing prospects which my eyes ever surveyed, in my frount a boundless Ocean; . . . the Seas rageing with emence wave and brakeing with great force from the rocks of Cape Disappointment as far as I coud See to the N. W. . . . the nitches and points of high land which forms this Corse for a long ways aded to the inoumerable rocks of emence Sise out at a great distance from the Shore and against which the Seas brak with great force gives this Coast a most romantic appearance.

This panorama was photographed from the promontory on which Clark may have stood. Called Bird Point today, it has eroded considerably since then by wind and rain. Indeed, Clark noted that even at that time the headland was "slipping from the Sides of the high hills, in emence masses; fifty or a hundred acres at a time give way and a great proportion of an instant precipitated into the Ocean."

Just out of sight to the south (left) in the panorama is Ecola Creek, where the whale's remains were. In 1846 the schooner Shark sank nearby, and a portion of her deck bearing a small cannon washed ashore in that vicinity. The community of Cannon Beach, now a resort center, began in 1891. A short distance offshore is 235-foot Haystack Rock, also out of the camera's view.

The larger of the two rocks in the ocean at northwest by north is Tillamook Rock, on which a lighthouse stood from 1880 until 1957. In 1980 the lighthouse was turned into a columbarium—a repository for the ashes of cremated bodies.

Just north of the Head, out of view, was the Clatsop Indian village called Ne-co-tat, near the mouth of the Necanicum River where the Corps' saltmaking contingent set up their camp and stone oven. In the early 1870s a hotel and resort called Seaside House was built there. During the first half of the 20th century the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway brought vacationers from Portland and points east.

The mouth of the Columbia River is northward beyond the point of Tillamook Head.

For Further Reading:

Glen Kirkpatrick, "The Rediscovery of Clark's Point of View," We Proceeded On, Vol. 25, No. 1 (February 1999), 28-31.