Seaside Stories

Salt Making in Seaside

March 9, 2011 | by Becky Jensen

Seaside is an amazing town! It’s full of wonderful and diverse things to do year-round. From bicycling along the Prom, enjoying a fabulous meal with an oceanfront view, or exploring the different shops; Seaside offers endless opportunities to do what you love. One of my favorite things to do is exploring historical places. Seaside has many historical sights and wonders throughout the town; including the Seaside Salt Works.

To reach the Salt Works display, turn west on Avenue G (from 101) and follow the green signs to South Beach Drive and Lewis & Clark Way. The Salt Works marks the site where the Lewis and Clark expedition set up a camp to obtain salt for use at Fort Clatsop and on the return journey home to St. Louis. Today there is a reconstruction of the original furnace, which was used to boil down the ocean water to collect the salt residue. I’ve taken my after school kids to the Salt Works after a day at Fort Clatsop to get the full significance of the Lewis and Clark experience (and how far they had to travel just to make salt).

A little history about the Salt Works; on December 28, 1805 the Lewis and Clark sent five men to establish a salt camp. Five days later, they found an ideal place on the seacoast fifteen miles southwest of Fort Clatsop (the seawater had a high salt content here, and game and wood were abundant). The saltmakers boiled approximately 1,400 gallons of seawater over the next several weeks. Three-and-one-half bushels of salt were produced for the return trip to St. Louis.

In 1900 the long-forgotten site was re-established by the Oregon Historical Society as a memorial to the Corps of Discovery. In 1979, the site was donated by the Oregon Historical Society as an addition to Fort Clatsop National Memorial. An interesting fact was that the only reason they wanted salt was for seasoning their food. But we know now that salt helps you to retain water in warm weather (to prevent dehydration), so the salt was extremely beneficial for their return trip during those warm summer months.

Thankfully we can just go to the store to get our salt, but a trip to the Salt Works will make you truly appreciate the process.

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