Jilara (jilara) wrote,

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Fort Clatsop Burns

A friend just sent me an item from the Astoria paper. Fort Clatsop burned down last night. Just in time for the bicentennial celebration being held there next month. Which makes me wonder if it was arson.

They never caught the Bicentennial Arsonist. Back in 1976, there was a person or group who were burning down historic structures to protest "American Imperialism." Locally, they got a historic loop-trestle on the Big Trees/Roaring Camp narrowgauge railway. Burned a lot of historic buildings in California, too. Makes you wonder if someone lives in Oregon, now. Call me suspicious.

I liked Fort Clatsop, and visited it with my relatives in summers when we'd go to Astoria. My father's cousin Charlie said he helped build the reconstruction. The news stories talked about local "Finnish carpenters" who worked on it, so it's possible Charlie was one of them.

But oddly, I don't mourn it. This is an opportunity for renewal. They rebuilt it in 1955 for the 150th anniversary, and they can rebuild it now. After 50 years, it was getting elderly, not like the new structure that Lewis and Clark built out of logs as a place to spend the winter. It needs an aura of newness, of a structure just recently wrested out of the wilderness. If they get a big crew of volunteers, they could even get it rebuilt for the celebration. After all, that's what Lewis and Clark did. They just put their efforts to it and got it built in haste. Already, they're talking about how they can make the new Fort Clatsop closer to the actual structure that was there, based on new research. From the ashes will spring forth a new and improved Fort Clatsop.

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