The nation's only mobile national park, "Corps of Discovery II: 200 Years to the Future," joins the City of Stevenson and Skamania County's Chamber of Commerce and Parks and Recreation and the Chinook Nation to commemorate the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial at "The Last Portage: Carrying Change," a four-day event at the Skamania County Fairgrounds.
By itself, Corps of Discovery II presents a comprehensive look at the original expedition of 1803-06, life along the Trail in the past 200 Years, and visions of the future. The April 7-10 event brings in a special exhibit, the Long House Learning Center.
"We have 550 school students scheduled for April 10th so the Long House Learning Center will be a key with Corps II," said Amy Colacello, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce. "We also know that many people in the area have seen Lewis and Clark events and Corps II and the Long House Learning Center will be something new for them, a reason to return."
The Long House Learning Center brings together hands-on interactive experiences for explorers of all ages. "We'd like people to join with local agencies, tribal members and field experts who share skills, information and discoveries of Lewis and Clark," Colacello said. "Visitors will be able to watch a Chinook flint knapper and master paddle carver and visit with historical reenactors."
The Long House Learning Center's exhibits are presented by the Washington State Parks, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Forest Service, US Fish and Wild Life Services, Northwest Interpretive Association and the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum.
Two hundred years ago, the great Cascades and Beacon Rock on the lower Columbia River became important as critical western benchmarks for Lewis and Clark. The great Cascades stretched across the Columbia between present-day Stevenson and Cascade Locks then to the west to what is now North Bonneville. These rapids were the last significant physical barrier to the Pacific Ocean. Only a few miles below the Cascades at Beacon Rock, Lewis recorded the first indication of a tidal surge, meaning their journey across the continent was nearly complete.
Corps II will be set up at the Skamania County Fairgrounds. Admission is free. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 7 and 10 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 8-9.
Programs in the Tent of Many Voices bring to life more than 200 years of history and culture of people living along the Lewis and Clark Trail before, during and after the 1803-06 expedition.
In Stevenson, presentations in the Tent of Many Voices include two of the nation's premier Lewis and Clark Bicentennial educators and entertainers, Hasan Davis of Berea, KY, as York and Los Angeles educator and actor Daniel Slosberg as expedition member Pierre Cruzatte.
The Tent of Many Voices schedule also features Louis and Marilyn Malatare of Toppenish, and their program on Yakama culture and history; artist and storyteller Pat Courtney Gold, a Wasco Indian; and Robert Miller, law school professor from Lewis and Clark College on the Doctrine of Discovery Thomas Jefferson used to "discover" Indian nations of the West.
National Park Service rangers do one-on-one and small group programs for visitors at a two-thirds size keelboat and an American Indian interpretive station that includes a 16-foot diameter Plains Indian lodge or tipi.
"Visitors at the keelboat can sample what life was like for the crew during the journey from St. Louis to Fort Mandan," said Kevin Crisler, Manager of Corps of Discovery II. "We also have an explorer camp where park ranger Steve Morehouse of the Bureau of Reclamation demonstrates skills members of the Expedition brought to the crew or learned while on the 1803-06 journey. Steve has a 25-foot dugout canoe with him and often cooks beaver tail and corn meal mush at Corps II."