"Ocian in view! O! the joy," wrote William Clark in his Journal.
But the next day, NOVEMBER 8, 1805, Lewis and Clark realized they were still only at Gray's Bay, 20 miles from the Pacific.
Lewis and Clark had been commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the Louisiana Territory - 828,000 square miles purchased from the French Emperor Napoleon in 1803.
President Jefferson informed Congress, February 19, 1806:
"Captain Meriwether Lewis, of the First Regiment of infantry, was appointed, with a party of men,
to explore the river Missouri from its mouth to its source, and, crossing the highlands by the shortest portage, to seek the best water communication thence to the Pacific Ocean;
and Lieutenant Clarke was appointed second in command."
William Clark was the younger brother of Revolutionary War hero George Rogers Clark, who helped secure the Northwest Territory for the United States - an area from which were formed the states of: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
By William Clark's estimate, their expedition had taken them 4,162 miles from the mouth of the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean.
The area they traversed, became the states of: Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota and Washington.
William Clark continued his description of Gray's Bay near the Pacific Ocean, November 8, 1805:
"We found the swells or waves so high that we thought it imprudent to proceed ...
The seas rolled and tossed the canoes in such a manner this evening that several of our party were sea sick."
"We at length turned a point, and found ourselves in a deep bay ...
We coasted round the bay, which is about four miles across ... called by the Indians ... Kilhowanakel ...
We named it Meriwether's Bay, from the Christian name of Captain Lewis, who was, no doubt, the first white man who had surveyed it."
The expedition was pinned down by drenching, cold storms for 3 weeks.
Lewis and Clark decided to let the members of the expedition choose where to build winter camp.
That year, 1805, the Lewis and Clark expedition celebrated a humble Christmas in their humble Fort Clatsop, near present-day Astoria, Oregon.
Their Journal stated:
"We were awaked at daylight by a discharge of firearms, which was followed by a song from the men, as a compliment to us on the return of Christmas, which we have always been accustomed to observe as a day of rejoicing ...
... The remainder of the day was passed in good spirits, though there was nothing in our situation to excite much gayety. The rain confined us to the house,
and our only luxuries in honor of the season were some poor elk, so much spoiled that we ate it through sheer necessity, a few roots, and some spoiled pounded fish ...
We ... endeavored to dry our wet articles before the fire.
The fleas ... have taken such possession of our clothes that we are obliged to have a regular search every day through our blankets as a necessary preliminary to sleeping at night ...
Every Indian is constantly attended by multitudes of them, and no one comes into our house without leaving behind him swarms of these tormenting insects."
Meriwether Lewis wrote July 24, 1805:
"Our trio of pests still invade and obstruct us on all occasions, these are the Musquetoes eye knats and prickley pears, equal to any three curses that ever poor Egypt laboured under, except the Mahometant yoke."
The Oregon Historical Society erected a maker:
"This site marks the final resting place of the youngest member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Born to Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau at Fort Mandan (North Dakota), on February 11, 1805, Baptiste and his mother symbolized the peaceful nature of the 'Corps of Discovery' ...
... Educated by Captain William Clark at St. Louis (St. Louis Academy, in 1924 renamed St. Louis University High School), Jean Baptiste Charbonneau at 18 traveled to Europe where he spent six years becoming fluent in English, German, French and Spanish ...
Returning to America in 1829, he ranged the far west for nearly four decades as mountain man, guide, interpreter, magistrate, and forty-niner.
In 1866, he left the California gold fields for a new strike in Montana, contracted pneumonia en route, reached 'Inskips Ranche' here, and died on May 16, 1866."
In concern for Indians, President Jefferson compiled in 1804:
"The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth, being Extracted from the Account of His Life and Doctrines Given by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; Being an Abridgement of the New Testament for the Use of the Indians, Unembarrased [uncomplicated] with Matters of Fact or Faith beyond the Level of their Comprehensions."
On August 12, 1805, Meriwether Lewis with three companions, George Drouillard, Private John Shields and Private Hugh McNeal, reached the headwaters of the Missouri River.
"The road took us to the most distant fountain of the waters of the Mighty Missouri ...
Private McNeal had exultingly stood with a foot on each side of this little rivulet and thanked his God that he had lived to bestride the mighty and heretofore deemed endless Missouri ...
They had now reached the hidden sources of that river, which had never yet been seen by civilized man."