September 23, 2005
It doesn’t taste like chicken.
Reduced to a diet consisting mostly of dog (which Lewis had actually grown to enjoy) a taste of whale blubber prompted Lewis to write (all spelling is original): "It was white & not unlike the fat of Poark, tho’ the texture was more spongy and somewhat coarser. I had part of it cooked and found it very pallitable and tender, it resembled the beaver or dog in flavor." Alerted to a possible new food source by this trade item, William Clark and twelve others set out, January, 1806, hoping to obtain more.
On this beach the 105ft (presumably a Blue ) whale skeleton was found, stripped by local Tillamooks, whose village occupied both sides of the creek Clark named Ecola from the Chinook word for whale. Clark managed to barter for 300lbs of blubber, and some oil. …having Sent this Monster to be swallowed by us, in Sted of Swallowing of us, as jonah's did. They passed the night here, more or less where the park now stands. Whale Park, across the creek, completes the Great Whale’s tale with a sculpture.
We first discovered this off the beaten path park from a roadside sign indicating a nearby historic site returning from Ecola State Park, its claim to a Lewis & Clark connection drawing us in. Finding it too dark to distinguish many features necessitated a return. Once the whale aspect was finally explored my attention turned to the rest of the park. I was pleasantly surprised. This idyllic little park (part of the area’s wetlands reclamation) has plenty of picnic tables (both shaded and sunny), toilets, public phones, and a number of interpretive signs alerting you to, not only the L&C connection, but detailing the surrounding ecosystem as well. The school lying on Ecola’s south bank, next to 101, was the source of children’s laughter, although it can also drift up from Chapman Beach. For some reason this park remains underused, so chances are you‘ll have little competition for its amenities, and a nice respite from the sensory overload of a crowded day.
There’s no fee to use the park, and some parking is available. The free
Cannon Beach Shuttle, (an extension of CB’s conservation programs), running every 40-minutes, makes its northernmost stop at the rustic covered bench in Les Shirley.
From journal Broadsides: Taking (on) Cannon Beach