The ceremonial completion of Cape Disappointment State Park, the first of seven sites, took place on April 22, 2006.
Environmental and cultural landscape restoration is at the heart of the Confluence Project, comprised of seven sites along the Columbia River Basin in Washington and Oregon, stretching 450 miles from the Idaho border to the Pacific Ocean. The project’s goal is to use place and art to explore possibilities for a better future.
Here is where we hold up a mirror to the Lewis and Clark story. Our journey begins here.
Artist and architect Maya Lin, the central figure in the Confluence Project, is creating unparalleled artwork installations that follow Lewis and Clark’s path along the Columbia River Basin and redefine our relationship to the land.
The surface of the metal fascia edging the viewing platform is inscribed with an excerpt from the Lewis and Clark journals describing the day that the Expedition first arrived at the Pacific Ocean at that site and a contemporary ecological description of the saltwater estuary at Baker Bay.
Lin collaborates with landscape architects to restore natural environments and uses a palette of natural elements indigenous to each site to connect the art to the land. Each artwork will draw text from Lewis and Clark’s journals or traditions grounded in Native American cultures to address cultural, historical or environmental implications across the breadth of time.
Details of the Chinook creation myth are inscribed on the face of the basalt fish-cleaning table overlooking Baker Bay at Cape Disappointment.
Cape Disappointment State Park, the westernmost Confluence Project site is part of the new Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks system. Cape Disappointment occupies land long cherished by the Chinook Nation. It is also the place where, on November 15, 1805, members of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery first stepped into the breaking surf of the Pacific Ocean.
The cape was named in 1788 by English explorer John Meares to express his disappointment at failing to find the river. The Cape Disappointment lighthouse, built in 1856 to warn sailors of the treacherous river, is the oldest functioning lighthouse on the West Coast. During the Civil War, the cape was armed with cannons to protect the mouth of the river from enemy intrusion. The land and waters of the park provide habitat for eagles, murrelets (a rare seabird), cougar, deer and marine life, such as salmon, seals, starfish and whales.
Cedar driftwood collected at Waikiki Beach at Cape Disappointment. Similar recovered pieces of cedar were used for Lin’s “totem circle” artwork at the site.
Oyster shell path inscribed with Chinook blessing that leads from Lin’s redesigned amphitheater to the cedar “Totem Circle” artwork.
Lin’s artworks encourage looking at a place in different ways, not just historically and not just as it is today. It’s also important to look at a place ecologically and see different ways of relating to the land. The sites are linked thematically through different perspectives on direction.