"A Lewis and Clark Botanical Memorial"

A Lewis and Clark Botanical Memorial

The “A Lewis and Clark Botanical Memorial” history sign is on Naito Parkway just next to the Burnside Bridge in Portland. The placement, and the subject matter of the plaque strikes me as rather odd. Lewis and Clark never specifically said that they even came down the Willamette this far. Some members of the party most likely did come down at least a few miles to check out the area.

“The Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1803-1806 has been described by biologist/historian Prof. Paul R. Cutright as “the transcendent achievement of it’s kind in this hemisphere, if not the entire world… [their] journals are among the glories of American History.” Clearly, the record of this bold venture, penned indelibly in Lewis’ poetic license and Clark’s inspired spelling, has become a legacy of America as enduring as the vast lands the expedition traveled.

The documented observations contributed by Lewis and Clark and their partners in discovery provided extensive new knowledge in the scientific world, specifically in the disciplines of botany, zoology, geography, and ethnology. Politically, the brilliant success of the exploring enterprise marked a vital strengthening of the U.S. claims to the “Oregon Country,” and hard far reaching impacts upon international relations.

In the field of botany a total of 178 plant species new to science, found throughout their transcontinental journey, were reported by the explorers. Of their Pacific Northwest species, those suited to the environment of the Downtown Waterfront Park form the theme of this memorial. Interpretive displays explaining the discovery of the plants, and their historical uses, are installed throughout the park. Individual species are identified by markers within the planting beds.”

I do not know if the beds were ever installed. They certainly are not there now, nor have a I seen any pictures of the beds or even postcards. Nor do I know the history behind this sign and who exactly were the Greater Portland Area Federal Employees.

Leave a Reply