14. Fort Clatsop and the fort-to-sea trail
Because several CFM staff members had worked in Astoria, it was natural that the firm was asked to provide public relations for the largely volunteer effort to recreate the Fort-to-Sea Trail used by Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery. But our awarding-winning PR work stretched beyond pitching stories about a trail when a fire erupted weeks before the scheduled bicentennial opening of the trail that destroyed the replica of Fort Clatsop, where the trail started. CFM adapted a crisis communications plan to respond to the fire, which dominated the front page of the Astoria newspaper for days.
The 6.5-mile trail was built by hand, using mostly donated supplies. The trail, which traverses deep woods, muddy bogs and cow pastures, winding up on beach dunes, is considered one of the best hikes on the Oregon Coast. You may see deer, elk, beavers, eagles and even a bobcat. The trail begins at Fort Clatsop, which replicates the small encampment where the famous explorers spent the winter of 1805-06. It is a perfect spot for living history exhibitions, which may have been the cause for the blaze that destroyed the fort. Early hikers on the trail got to see charred remains where the fort once stood. With CFM providing crisis response and counsel, the National Park Service and the Astoria community rallied to raise the money to rebuild Fort Clatsop. Now visitors can step back in history by wandering through the fort and following the trail Lewis and Clark walked to the beach.