Resurrected in bronze, 'Clark's Tree' comes home

Long Beach City Administrator Nabiel Shawa strikes a Dr. Strangelove pose aboard the bronze tree as the sculpture makes its way up Pacific Avenue Monday.<BR><I>TIMM COLLINS photo</I>

Marks expedition's achievement here on Peninsula

PENINSULA - Many years after the heyday of a lumber industry that once shaped the area, another tree, this one in bronze, is the talk of the town.

"The Tree," as it has come to be known, is the work of sculptor Stanley Wanlass, and represents the tree on which Capt. William Clark is reported to have carved the words, "Capt. William Clark November 19, 1805. By Land. U States 1804 & 1805."

In the view of some historians and many local boosters, this act represented the culmination of the Lewis and Clark mission to the west coast.

On Monday the tree was put in its place on the Discovery Trail, and by doing so, ended a 400-mile journey down the Columbia River and a four-year vision by Mayor Dale Jacobson and the Long Beach City Council - and what a trip it has been.

It began here, in Long Beach, when Mayor Jacobson and the city council started to put together plans for an interpretive trail where walkers and history buffs alike could enjoy our neck of the woods. They also wanted to create something that would draw people to the rich history that surrounds Peninsula residents.

Approximately four years ago, Jacobson and the council got to thinking about how the city could boost tourism revenue by drawing more people to the area. It was written in Capt. Clark's journal that he and a smaller group from the Corps of Discovery traveled up the Peninsula and recorded in writing the interesting things they encountered. A California condor, the carcass of a beached whale and the tree were all mentioned.

Those items, or replicas of those particular curiosities seen by Capt. Clark and his men nearly 200 years ago, are now being placed on the Discovery Trail, and it is the hope of all parties involved that our descendents will be able to visit the area and learn about its rich history for years to come.

The original tree, according to one local historian, survived until nearly 1900, when it was cut down by a road crew.

In late September, Stanley Wanlass' bronze representation of the tree on which Capt. Clark carved his initials, was loaded onto Vision 1, a 70-foot barge built by Peninsula resident Stan Anderson. Vision 1 took the tree to Clarkston, Wash., where it began the long journey down the Columbia River.

The tree stopped in various places along the way. Kennewick, Portland, Vancouver, Longview and Astoria all got a chance to come aboard and take a look. At the same time, news media reported on its progress, giving anyone who paid attention to the news a reason to visit the Peninsula.

"It was a great victory for Long Beach public relations," said Jacobson. "It gives people a reason to learn more about the area, to come visit."

This past Saturday, a few interested parties met at Long Beach City Hall to be the first to see the sculpture as it landed on the Peninsula. About 40 took the Long Beach trolley to the Cape Disappointment Coast Guard Station, where the tree had stayed the night, and boarded Vision 1 for a 40-minute ride to Ilwaco harbor for a welcoming ceremony.

Aboard were past and present members of the local government, historians, artists and well-wishers, and although it was windy that morning, for those involved there was no other place on earth. The Coast Guard gave Vision 1 an escort on the trip, which came in handy when the wind blew retired Sen. Sid Snyder's hat overboard. Coast Guardsmen retrieved the hat and returned it to Snyder at the dock.

In a gesture of appreciation, Ilwaco Mayor Ed Leonard presented a plaque to Anderson and his wife Colleen. He thanked them for all the time and effort they donated to the cause (See Page A9).

On Monday, the tree was loaded onto a flatbed trailer and transported to its resting place along the Discovery Trail. To find the tree from the Bolstad beach approach, walk north on the trail approximately one mile. Or if you don't feel like taking the trail, park behind the Breakers and go west toward the sunset.

Along with the message left by the Capt. Clark, there is a special message left by Wanlass during the tree's creation. The message is in Latin, and neither Jacobson or Wanlass will say were to look.

Mayor Jacobson thanked the Long Beach Elks for sponsoring the trip and donating $600 worth of Christmas lights to the city. The lights were used to illuminate the tree during its voyage down the river, and this winter the same lights will be used to light the streets of Long Beach.

Jacobson also wanted to thank the Oddfellows and Wilcox and Flegel for 2,000 gallons of diesel used to power Vision 1.

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