Friday, Jul 22, 2011
This year marks the bicentennial of fur trader, surveyor, and mapmaker David Thompson’s journey down the Columbia River to its mouth near Astoria, Oregon. Thompson spent over 27 years in the fur business and very accurately mapped a huge region from Hudson’s Bay to the Pacific Ocean. Even Lewis and Clark carried one of his maps.
For six weeks this summer, over 100 hardy adventurers are paddling 25-foot Voyageur canoes along the route, stopping at old fur trading settlements such as Fort Colvile, Fort Okanogan, Fort Vancouver, and Fort Astoria/St. George. A significant portion of the journey passes through Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.
The park and a diverse group of local partners worked with the David Thompson Bicentennial Brigade to put on a series of events celebrating Thompson’s achievements. A Fur Trade Festival for local schoolchildren, canoe building demonstrations and races, geo-caching (but not in the park), lectures, and a movie about Thompson’s life were held at the Kettle Falls Historical Center.
On Saturday, June18th, brigade members and the local non-profit company, Voyages of Rediscovery, formed crews from visitors and paddled over the now water-covered sites of Kettle Falls and Fort Colvile. All told, over 800 visitors shared in the celebration.
After portaging around Grand Coulee dam and leaving Lake Roosevelt, brigade members continued downstream with the intent of arriving in Astoria, Oregon on July 15th, the same day Thompson reached the Pacific two hundred years ago.
To learn more and follow the Brigade’s adventures, click on the link below.