The Fort was named after the local Clatsop tribe of Native Americans. The Corps of Discovery moved into the Fort on December 25,1805. The original stockade was a small cramped wooden structure,more of a barracks than a defensible structure. At Fort Clatsop their interaction with the local Clatsop tribe was not social and was limited mostly to small-scale trading. The fort was opened to trading only 24 days during the entire winter.
The expedition’s journals do not give a precise layout of the fort, and the two floorplans drawn by Sergeant John Ordway and Captain William Clark differ. Clark’s floorplan is the accepted version due to his rank and role in the construction work.
The area they had settled in was on the lands of the Clatsop tribe, one of the Lower Chinookan peoples. Prior to the expedition’s arrival, the Clatsop had frequently traded with other European traders and explorers visiting the area by ship. Because of their prior experience with traders, the Clatsop tribe were shrewd at valuing the expedition’s “indian trinkets”. Despite this, the tribe interacted frequently with the expedition, trading goods, services, and information.
The camp site was selected by Captain Lewis and construction took place over the month of December, with the expedition moving in by Christmas Day, 1805. They remained there until March 23, 1806, when they abandoned it for their return home. The original fort decayed in the wet climate of the region but was reconstructed in 1955 from sketches in the journals of William Clark.