You’ll find joy along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.
The summer travel seasonis almost upon us. Now is the time to figure out where you’re going and what to see.
Some good advice: Explore parts or all of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trailduring your summer travels. The trail goes for 4,900 miles through 16 states from Pittsburgh, Pa., to the mouth of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest.
The trail is perfect for tourist outings for single travelers, companions and families. You’ll discover beautiful scenery; hiking trails to wander along; campsites if you prefer sleeping in the outdoors; educational, recreational and entertainment opportunities; and significant historical sites, statues, and museums about the 1803-06 expedition.
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark believed good planning would make for a successful journey. With their philosophy in mind, here are tips on how to prepare for your travels, as well as how to keep a travel journal that your family and your descendants will love to read.
Travel books about the Lewis and Clark Trail: Before you make final decisions on your travel plans, research parts of the trail that you may be interested in by reading books that tell not only about what the expedition did on this or that day but also what’s available today in those areas. All of the books mentioned below are available from online book companies and outlets like Amazon.
There are numerous quality books on the market that offer details about where the trail goes through certain states and the available Lewis and Clark sites, museums, and statues. Most of these books provide information about hotels, recreational opportunities and other amenities, including guiding companies if you’re interested in getting on the water in a canoe or traveling parts of the trail by tourist boat. These are good references ifyoualready know your specific destination.
For example, if you know your destination is along the Snake or Columbia rivers in the Pacific Northwest, take a look at a spiral-bound book, Wind Hard from the West: The Lewis and Clark Expedition on the Snake and Columbia Rivers, by Robert Heacock and Kris Townsend.
The book by the two long-time members of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation includes the expedition’s daily activities and location descriptions; and maps and historic and modern photos. The book is extremely helpful if you want to locate Lewis and Clark sites along the two rivers and learn what happened at those sites.
And let’s say your travel destination is Lewis and Clark sites in Missouri. A good reference guide: Exploring Lewis & Clark’s Missouri by Brett Dufur. This book gives information on how to find specific Lewis and Clark locations but also extensive advice on local hiking trails, art galleries, museums, parks, and other places. The book is a wealth of information that even includes addresses and phone numbers of places along the trail through Missouri.
Map of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail from Pittsburgh, Pa., to the mouth of the Columbia River. Map by the National Park Service and Solimar International.
Because the trail is so long, it can be challenging to identify specific areas you want to visit if you intend to travel the entire trail. Here are some suggested books for taking a look at what’s offered along the entire trail:
Traveling the Lewis and Clark Trail by Julie Fanselow.
Traveling the Lewis and Clark Trail by Julie Fanselow offers first-rate information about the best sites to visit and activities to do along the trail, as well as maps, itineraries, and advice on local lodging and dining. Julie also details specific Lewis and Clark events that happened along the trail.
Her top-notch book has remained a popular travel guide since it was originally published around the time of the 2003-06 Lewis and Clark National Bicentennial Celebration. Now in its fourth edition, the book is an essential pilot for a Lewis and Clark traveler.
Published in 2019, the book gives an in-depth look—in both text and photographs—at what you’ll find not only along the trail in the way of Lewis and Clark history but also historical places unrelated to Lewis and Clark that you would enjoy visiting. Jennifer even notes good cafes and restaurants, as well as nearby walking trails and other opportunities.
If you prefer human-powered wheels to motorized travel, there is a good book, Bicycling the Lewis & Clark Trail, by Michael McCoy. With maps, info about road surfaces and traffic, and other helpful information, it’s an indispensable handbook for bicyclists.
Meanwhile, if you feel more adventurous than merely driving the roads on or near the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, backpacking and camping are great alternatives—and they are good ways to get a taste of the outdoor life experienced by the explorers.
Tom is the author of a brilliant and insightful award-winning book, Five Months on the Missouri, about his 2,341-mile journey in a dugout canoe from Montana to St. Louis, Mo. The book offers a wonderful step back in time to the adventures of Lewis and Clark and what it’s like along the river today—it’s superb reading for any traveler by water or otherwise along the Missouri River. Click here to see information about Tom’s books.
The best reference sources, of course, are the Lewis and Clark journals themselves. Various edited versions of the journals have been published during the last two centuries. By far, the most outstanding and most accurate version is the set of The Definitive Journals of Lewis & Clark, edited by Gary E. Moulton, a Thomas C. Sorensen Professor Emeritus of American History at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
With the highest degree of accuracy, Dr. Moulton kept the journals true to what the explorers wrote. His work on the journals was one of the most important scholarly accomplishments of the 20th century.
Beneficial for your travels are Dr. Moulton’s footnotes that explain where the expedition was on a specific day in relation to today’s communities and landmarks. This information is a splendid key for helping you locate a Lewis and Clark site and comparing what you see there against what the explorers reported viewing and experiencing.
Dr. Moulton has also published The Lewis and Clark Expedition Day by Day, a single volume that translates the unique writing styles of the explorers into the modern grammar of today. It’s an easy-to-read book and a remarkable reference if you already know the location of a place where the explorers were on a specific date.
If you’re computer savvy and know the expedition dates associated with the locations of places that you intend to visit, check out the Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition Online. After you reach the website’s home page, type the date you’re looking for into the search bar at the top right of the page. You’ll find the explorers’ daily journal entries, as well as images, supplemental information, audio files, and Native American perspectives.
Visit Lewis and Clark travel websites: You would be wise to study online resources that offer details about the expedition and what you can expect to find today. There are two premier websites.
The Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation’s website offers an interactive travel section that gives a state-by-state look at where to find Lewis and Clark sites and other places of interest. The section also includes information about the top 25 Lewis and Clark sites.
Meanwhile, the National Park Service developed an excellent travel website during the last few years that will soon be turned over to the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation for management and continued development.
The website—lewisandclark.travel—provides extensive information about history along the Lewis and Clark trail, historic places, natural areas, Native American cultures and lands, arts, events, guides, tours, museums, interpretive centers, campgrounds, motels, bed-and-breakfast lodging, maps, and a wealth of more information. Make sure you check it out.
You’ll definitely want to go to two National Park Service helpful offerings as you plan your journey, whether you’re going to be on a short jaunt or the entire trail.
The NPS has a state-by-state guide where you’ll learn about Lewis and Clark connections in each state. Here’s the link to reach the guide. Click on the name of the state that you want more information about.
Meanwhile, when you’re on the home page for this state-by-state guide, scroll down until you see the U.S. map that shows the visitor centers and museums which have a connection to Lewis and Clark. Use your cursor (your cursor will become a little wavy hand as it hovers over the map) to enlarge the map so it’s easier see the location of a visitor center or museum. When you click on a location, a box will pop up that gives you the address of the museum or visitor center there, as well as a link to click on for more information.
This map shows the locations of Lewis and Clark-related visitor centers and museums along the trail. Read the information in the two paragraphs above this map to learn how to use this site. Click here to go to the NPS web page that has the map.
The National Park Service also offers very useful travel apps for trail guides and national parks, a number of which are located along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. The apps can be downloaded through the App Store or Google Play. Just type “National Park Service” into one of those site’s search bar.
After your narrow down your upcoming journey, there are other important recommended steps:
Prefer to bicycle parts of the Lewis and Clark trail, if not all of it, this summer? For your research, check out this talk by Megan Boehmer, who biked the entire trail. Megan gave the talk to members of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation.
Visit the world’s best online resource: It’s no exaggeration to say lewis-clark.org is the world’s best online resource about the expedition and its period in time. Also known as Discover Lewis & Clark, it is the educational website of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation. The website can provide you with details about what the expedition did day by day, as well as easy-to-understand info about the geography, geology, American natives, plants wildlife, fish, reptiles, and even insects encountered by the explorers.
So, for example, if you’re headed to Great Falls, Montana, you can go to the website and find everything there is to know about the expedition’s time there, including how the explorers celebrated July 4, 1805, with music and dance and, oh, woe, they ran out of whiskey, which meant no more distributions of a gill of whisky to each expedition member after a hard day of traveling. A “gill,” by the way, was the common term back then for four ounces of liquid.
Get help from a local expert: The Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation offers a free Ambassador Program that can put you in touch with local experts who will help you learn about Lewis and Clark history and assist with finding local sites. An Ambassador will also have information about museums, places to eat, and other local opportunities.
The Ambassador Program is a good benefit for travelers interested in personal assistance in discovering local Lewis and Clark information. The program operates through local volunteers who are members of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation. To learn more about the program, contact Sarah Cawley, the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation’s executive director: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most of us take photographs on vacations. Go a step beyond and keep a journal. The landscapes and places you travel through, and the people you meet, offer magnificent opportunities to write in a journal—or to draw if you feel like it.
Regardless of how you record your experiences in a journal, it’ll help put you in the mindset of the Lewis and Clark explorers. The two leaders and four other expedition members kept detailed journals, totaling about a million words. Journals cover the 1,118 days from the expedition’s departure from Pittsburgh, Pa., in the fall of 1803 to its return to St. Louis in late September 1806.
Lewis and Clark used a variety of notebooks, usually five- by eight-inch morocco-bound books—morocco is a type of goat skin used in bookbinding—that opened from the end. They also used notebooks bound in pasteboard with marbled covers, as well as two leather-bound books and one field book made up of loose sheets and bound in elk skin.
This replica of a Lewis and Clark journal tells about the explorers’ time in the area of Cape Disappointment on the Washington coast. The replica is on display at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment State Park. Learn about the explorers’ journey at Cape Disappointment.
The explorers recorded their daily activities; extensive observations of plants, animals, weather, and terrain; and details about the lifestyles, customs, clothing, religions, political climate, and other valuable ethnographical information about the Native Americans they encountered in about 50 different tribes. The information became useful to pioneers and others who were part of our country’s westward expansion. Today, the journals are critically important in understanding our country’s history. Click here to learn more about the explorers as ethnologists.
Pages from some of Wayne Wilson’s travel journals, a combination of his art and writing. Some of the pages are from Wayne’s travels along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.
The foremost advocate of travel journaling: Without a doubt, Wayne Wilson is the No. 1 advocate of keeping a travel journal. He spent most of his career in the museum and archives field, including as executive director of the Kelowna Museums in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. He is a Pacific Northwest historian and an artist extraordinaire.
Since high school, Wayne has always traveled with a sketchbook. His more formal travel journaling began in 2011 during a six-week canoe trip down the Columbia River system. He began filling journals by recounting the places, people, and events that made journeys so compelling. He keeps written travel journals complemented with his artwork of places encountered along a journey.
Wayne is passionate about encouraging people—particularly kids—to keep travel journals. He emphasizes: “Your memories will be richer and clearer. You’ll have more memories. You’ll nurture your creative spirit and your observation skills will sharpen, and your insights on people, places and events will become more thoughtful. As well, your travel journal will be a legacy of who you are as a person.”
That last part—leaving a legacy—is important. “I quickly learned in my museum and archives work that the people who will ever be remembered are those who wrote it down—and I want you to be remembered.
“So don’t be forgotten by your children and grandchildren or even in the longer history of your community. Set out to let your descendants know something more about you—where you traveled, who you met, what gave your life light and meaning, and where you were when you had that epiphany about some part of life.
“A travel journal is a legacy worth leaving.”
Wayne’s website—Travel Journal 100 – Proof of Life—offers a four-module course on travel journaling and solutions to challenges you might face—what you want, for example, in a kit that contains all of the journaling supplies you’ll need. The course offers motivational advice and is the ultimate guide to everything you need to know about travel journaling. There are also tips to help people overcome trepidation they may have about keeping a travel journal.
Wayne Wilson’s ebook about keeping a journal on your travels along the Lewis and Clark Trail. Well-worth the $4.95 price. Click here.
For an online workshop that he taught in March about travel journaling for members of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Wayne put together a delightful, beautiful ebook—Lewis and Clark…A Special Guide to Travel Journal Prompts.”
Among other very useful advice, his ebook does just what the title promises: It gives excellent prompts about how to include sights, sounds, smells tastes, touch, and even your 6th sense, you know, the déjà vu that makes the hair stand up on your arms. All of these will enhance your travel journal.
Wayne’s ebook is available online for only $4.95. It’s well worth the small price. Click hereto learn more and purchase the ebook.
Just a few of the Lewis and Clark events across the nation in May through July 2023.
Thirty-two events will be held from May through July along the 4,900-mile Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Click this link to see the calendar of events: Lewis and Clark Calendar_May-July 2023
Events range from talks by experts, a visit by Thomas Jefferson (a character actor, that is), a tour of a garden to learn about plants reported by the explorers, a celebration of the expedition’s 1804 departure, the annual meeting of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, and much more.
The map above shows just a few of the upcoming events.
In total, 31 events related to the Lewis and Clark Expedition will be held in March, April and May 2023.
The events range from educational Zoom talks given by experts and meetings of a group that studies the expedition’s journals … to an exhibit focusing on the maps created by the explorers … and a fun festival to celebrate the expedition’s start up the Missouri River in May 1804 … a class to show kids how to bake the berry tart favored by William Clark … and an online class to help you start your own travel journal … and many more events … and all but a couple are free to you.
All in all, a lot of opportunities that offer you and your family the chance to learn about the most important expedition in our country’s history.
Click on the link below to see the calendar of Lewis and Clark events across the nation:
And here’s a quick visual look at three of the events:
Lewis and Clark authors Drs. David J. and Marti E. Peck will give two talks (April 18 and May 12) about medicines used by the explorers and the mystery surrounding the death of Meriwether Lewis. Here, in the photo, David is explaining the firing mechanism of a weapon similar to what Lewis may have used to kill himself.
On March 9, Barb Kubik will give a live and Zoom talk about the “Musquetos are verry troublesom”—an assessment given in the Lewis and Clark journal (Lewis and Clark were quite unique in the way they spelled some words back then!). Barb will discuss Lewis and Clark’s understanding of mosquitoes, vector-borne diseases, and the medical care the captains provided to alleviate the “troublesom’-ness” of mosquito bites.
Traveler’ Rest Connection near Missoula, Montana, will from April 6 to May 23 host an exhibit—“Imprinting the West: Manifest Destiny, Real and Imagined”—that features 48 prints by 18th- and 19th-century artists who recorded images of the landscapes and people of the American West. Some of the artwork depicts landscapes and people much in the same way the Lewis and Clark explorers may have seen them. The photo above is of one of the pieces of art to be shown during the Travelers’ Rest exhibit: George Catlin’s painting named “North American Indians.”
Here are summaries of eight upcoming Zoom presentations for you to attend (more info and Zoom links are shown after the summaries):
February 25 (Saturday): Montana artist Tom Schenarts will discuss his creative process in creating his sculpture, Dividing the Corps, which depicts the departure of Lewis and Clark from Travelers’ Rest on July 3, 1806.
February 26 (Sunday): Deveney Reber will give a presentation about Reuben Lewis, the younger brother of Meriwether Lewis.
March 4 (Saturday): Fiddler and violinist Ellie Nuno will share the music of the era of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
March 5 (Sunday): Edward Red Eagle, Jr., and James Duncan will talk about the Osage during the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
March 9 (Thursday): Barb Kubik will give a presentation entitled “’Musquetos are verry troublrsome’: The Corps of Discovery and Mosquitos.”
March 14 (Tuesday): John W. Jengo will give a Zoom presentation about the geological discoveries and mineralogical specimens of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
March 25 (Saturday): Lewis and Clark enthusiasts who enjoy traveling the trail have a wonderful opportunity: Curator and historian Wayne Wilson offers a workshop to help you keep a travel journal. Lewis and Clark kept journals—there’s no reason why you can’t keep your own.
April 30 (Sunday): Enjoy a presentation by Dr. Jay H. Buckley about the mountain men in the Yellowstone region in the 1820s and 1830s. The region is nicknamed Colter’s Hell after the Lewis and Clark Expedition’s John Colter, believed to be the first person of European descent to visit the region.
Read the following for more information and the Zoom links…
Dividing the Corps sculpture:
February 25 (Saturday): Longtime Montana artist Tom Schenarts will discuss his creative process in creating his sculpture, Dividing the Corps, which depicts the departure of Lewis and Clark from Travelers’ Rest, near what today is Missoula, Montana, on July 3, 1806. Meriwether Lewis marked this occasion in his journal by writing “I took leave of my worthy friend and companion William Clark and the party accompanied him. I could not avoid feeling much concern on this occasion although I hoped this separation was only momentary.”
This is the sculpture, Dividing the Corps, created by Montana artist Tom Schenarts. He will give a presentation on February 25 about the sculpture as part of the Travelers’ Rest Winter Storytelling Program.
The dividing of the Corps was a courageous and dangerous decision by Lewis and Clark. The Corps was already a small contingent in a vast wilderness. The nine men selected to explore the Road to the Buffalo in Blackfoot territory took a considerable risk.
Tom will talk about his creative process and the many details which make this sculpture an intimate portrait of an important moment in American history. His talk begins at 11 a.m. (Mountain Time).
As well as being an outstanding artist, Tom is a Travelers’ Rest State Park volunteer. His talk is part of the Travelers’ Rest Winter Storytelling Program.
For almost two decades, the Winter Storytelling at Travelers’ Rest has been a seasonal celebration of the Séliš tradition of sharing stories during the cold winter months. The stories are told by elders, authors, historians, and naturalists. In 2023, the storytelling will be held on Saturdays at the Travelers’ Rest State Park Visitor Center and on Zoom.
The cost to attend a storytelling session is $5 in person or on Zoom. However…admission to both the in-person and Zoom stories is free to members of the Travelers’ Rest Connection. Here is how to become a member. For non-members, click hereto register for Zoom presentations at $5 per presentation. Select “Drop-In” to register and pay for one presentation at a time. If you are a member, select “Entire Series.”
To learn more about Travelers’ Rest and the time Lewis and Clark spent there, click here to read articles about the site. The articles are posted on lewis-clark.org (also known on the internet as Discover Lewis & Clark), the educational website of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation.
February 26 (Sunday): Deveney Reber will give a 3 p.m. (Mountain Time) Zoom presentation about Reuben Lewis, the younger brother of Meriwether Lewis. Deveney will present new information gathered from primary sources, interviews with collateral descendants of Reuben and Meriwether, and her trips to some of the places where events happened.
Deveney is a history and German studies graduate of Brigham Young University. As an undergraduate, she conducted research on Reuben Lewis while she was an assistant to Dr. Jay H. Buckley, director of BYU’s Charles Redd Center for Western Studies and a former president of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation. Deveney plans to continue her education by pursuing a master’s degree in history. Her article on Reuben (co-authored by Dr. Buckley) is featured in the upcoming 2023 February issue of We Proceeded On.
Deveney’s presentation is hosted by the Southwestern Region of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation. Here are the Zoom link and by-phone information for attending Deveney’s talk:
By mobile phone: +17193594580, 8014225327# US or +12532050468, 8014225327# US. Dial by your location: +1 719 359 4580 US or +1 253 205 0468 US or +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma) or +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose).
Lewis and Clark music:
March 4 (Saturday): Fiddler and violinist Ellie Nuno will share music of the era of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. These will be tunes that would have been familiar to the explorers and may have been played around their campfires by fiddler Pierre Cruzatte. Her presentation begins at 11 a.m. (Mountain Time).
On March 4, Ellie Nuno will be on Zoom to share music of the expedition era as part of the Travelers’ Rest Winter Storytelling Program.
Ellie has been sharing her energy and imagination for more than 30 years in performances across the western United States, Europe, and Asia. Her creative style reflects decades of study and performance on the fiddle/violin and encompasses a universal range of music, from traditional Old Tyme and Bluegrass to Celtic, Cajun, and contemporary rock.
Ellie has a deep connection with the Lewis and Clark story. She is the daughter of Joe Mussulman, the late professor of music history and theory at the University of Montana, who created the educational website, lewis-Clark.org, also known as Discover Lewis & Clark. The website is now operated by the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation.
For almost two decades, the Winter Storytelling at Travelers’ Rest has been a seasonal celebration of the Séliš tradition of sharing stories during the cold winter months. The stories are told by elders, authors, historians, and naturalists. In 2023, the storytelling will be held on Saturdays at the Travelers’ Rest State Park Visitor Center near Missoula, Montana, and on Zoom.
The cost to attend a storytelling session is $5 in person or on Zoom. However…admission to both the in-person and Zoom stories is free to members of the Travelers’ Rest Connection. Here is how to become a member. For non-members, click hereto register for Zoom presentations at $5 per presentation. Select “Drop-In” to register and pay for one presentation at a time. If you are a member, select “Entire Series.”
March 5 (Sunday): A Zoom presentation at 4 p.m. (Central Time) will focus on the Osage Native Americans during the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Presenters will be a member of the Osage Nation, Edward Red Eagle, Jr., and James Duncan, former director of the Missouri State Museum.
Edward Red Eagle, Jr.
At the time of the expedition, the Osage were the dominant tribe in large areas of present-day Missouri and Arkansas. Their hunting grounds extended into Kansas and Oklahoma. Before the Louisiana Purchase, the French were their primary European contact.
Edward and James will present their perspectives on the culture and history of the Osage and how the history of how the Osage Nation transitioned into today’s world.
Edward, a full-blood Osage, has been active in cultural and traditional Osage customs. A speaker of the Osage language, he served in the Osage Nation Congress and was instrumental in establishing the Osage Cultural Center. He worked in the corporate world for 32 years before retiring. Edward’s family home is located in Barnsdall, Okla., on the original allotment from the 1906 Osage Allotment Act.
James is an archaeologist, educator, author, and Osage scholar who served as director of the Missouri State Museum and also exhibits director of the Missouri Department of Conservation. He directed the department’s three-year statewide program for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial from 2003 to 2006. He is co-author of The Petroglyphs and Pictographs of Missouri and is co-editor of Picture Cave. A resident of St. Louis, Mo., he has published articles about the Osage.
Pre-registration is not required for their Zoom talk. All members of the public are welcome. Please note: The Zoom talk will be limited to 100 attendees. Here is the Zoom link:
March 9 (Thursday): Barb Kubik will give a presentation entitled “’Musquetos are verry troublrsome’: The Corps of Discovery and Mosquitos” at 3 p.m. (Pacific Time) in the Lewiston City Library, Lewiston, Idaho, and by Zoom.
Barb’s talk—the title is pure Lewis and Clark spellings, by the way—is part of the speaker series of the Idaho Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation. The program is sponsored through a collaboration between the Idaho Chapter and the Lewiston City Library. Barb’s talk will be given in person and over Zoom. For the Zoom link: contact the library: website.
Before Barb Kubik’s talk, you might want to read an interesting (and fun!) article about the explorers’ unique meanings and spelling of words like “Muscatoe Curtains” and “bier.” Click here to read an article on lewis-clark.org, the educational website of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation.
Lewis and Clark’s geological discoveries:
This photograph by John W. Jengo shows the rugged topography downstream from the Missouri River confluence with the Judith River in Montana. It is typical of the region known as the Missouri Breaks.
March 14 (Tuesday): John W. Jengo will give a Zoom PowerPoint presentation at 7 p.m. (Mountain Time) on the geological discoveries and mineralogical specimens of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The presentation is hosted by the Portage Route Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation in Great Falls, Montana.
John is a professional geologist and licensed site remediation professional who works for an environmental consulting firm in Pennsylvania. He specialized in hydrocarbon and hazardous waste remediation earlier in this career and now focuses on wetland restoration and dam removals to restore migratory fish passage. He has published articles in We Proceeded On since 2002 on the subject of Lewis and Clark’s mineral collection and the significance of the scientific influence of their geological discoveries.
Lewis and Clark’s mineralogical specimens are not always as heralded as their collections of botanical and zoological specimens, but the mineralogical discoveries were just as important. The explorers dealt with mineralogy in the same way as they did with botany and zoology: They diligently collected representative samples for shipment back East so experts could make proper descriptions and chemical analyses. John will discuss the fate of these mineralogical specimens in his presentation.
For information about how to get the Zoom link, check in the monthly national Lewis and Clark calendar to be emailed out March 1 to members of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation. You can also check the calendar on the Trail Heritage Foundation’s website: lewisandclark.org.
If you’d like to do some background research before John’s presentation, click here to read information about him and some of his writings about Lewis and Clark’s mineralogical observations and gatherings. The information is posted on lewis-clark.org (also known as “Discover Lewis & Clark”), the educational website of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation.
How to keep a travel journal:
March 25 (Saturday): Lewis and Clark enthusiasts who enjoy traveling the trail have a wonderful opportunity: Curator and historian Wayne Wilson offers a workshop to help you keep a travel journal. Lewis and Clark kept journals—there’s no reason why you can’t keep your own.
Wayne will talk about a range of topics for you to remember when planning your journal: What to write in your journal; what to put in your travel journal kit; when to make your journal entries; and what to do with your journal once you’re home.
A page from Wayne Wilson’s travel journal. While most travelers keep a written journal, Wayne relies on his artistic abilities to record in his journal. He drew this scene of river and mountains.
Wayne has kept travel journals for years, from a journal about a month-long 900-mile paddle journey down the MacKenzie River in the Canadian Arctic wilderness to the rolling waves of the Yellowstone River to the winding stretches of the Jefferson and Missouri rivers.
While recording his adventures across these epic landscapes, Wayne worked out essential tips and tricks that will help make your travel journals a wonderful memento for you and future generations. Wayne has spent his career in the museum and archives fields, giving him a special perspective on recording events in a person’s life.
Wayne’s Zoom presentation begins at 1 p.m. (Pacific Time) and will last for about an hour, including time for questions and answers. The workshop is limited to 25 persons. At the end of the workshop, participants will receive a link to downloadable PDF documents that will help guide them as they plan their own expedition of the Lewis and Clark Trail. Click here to register. For more info, click here to read a press release and FAQ.
April 30 (Sunday): Dr. Jay H. Buckley will give a Zoom presentation on the topic of “Mountain Men in Yellowstone during the 1820s and 1830s.” In his talk, which begins at 3 p.m. (Mountain Time), Jay will draw upon a wealth of primary sources, including journals and poetry left by these fur trappers who ventured into the beautiful, geothermic region known as Colter’s Hell, a nickname for what became Yellowstone National Park. The nickname is associated with John Colter, who after the Lewis and Clark Expedition became the first person of European descent to journey through the Yellowstone region.
Dr. Jay H. Buckley
Jay is an associate professor of history at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah; director of the BYU’s Charles Redd Center for Western Studies; and director of the university’s interdisciplinary American Indian Studies minor. He is president of the Utah State Historical Society’s Utah Valley Chapter and past president of the Lewis and Clark Trial Heritage Foundation.
In his long association with the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, he has been a frequent contributor to We Proceeded On, the organization’s academic journal. He has authored several books, including William Clark: Indian Diplomat, as well as a new book, Great Plains Forts, that will be published in December by the University of Nebraska Press. He is also co-author of By His Own Hand: The Mysterious Death of Meriwether Lewis, and Zebulon Pike, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West. Learn more about Jay.
His presentation is hosted by the Southwestern Region of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation. Here are the Zoom link and by-phone information for attending his talk:
From a poetry reading about William Clark’s wife and study groups tracking the Lewis and Clark journals to talks about historical sites, art, and fiddle music—all relating to the Lewis and Clark explorers—the calendar covers events in February and March and includes in-person and Zoom presentations.
An excellent way to do this is by buying a 2023 calendar that features modern-day people, landscapes, and flora along the 4,900-mile Lewis and Clark Expedition National Historic Trail from Pittsburgh, Pa., to the mouth of the Columbia River on the Pacific Ocean coast of Oregon and Washington.
With your purchase, you’ll also be supporting the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation and displaying on your wall (or wherever you keep your calendar) a calendar with beautiful photographs taken by nine of the nonprofit organization’s members.
The members—all amateur photographers—took the photos for the organization’s annual photography contest. The photos were winners in one of six categories: historic sites, landscape, flora and fauna, people on the trail, public Lewis and Clark art, and overall winners.
The calendars are almost sold out, so order yours today at $20 a calendar. And remember that the calendar makes for a great Christmas gift. Click here: Order your Lewis and Clark calendar.
The following are looks at each photograph in the 2023 calendar. Click on a link that accompanies a photo and you’ll learn Lewis and Clark information that goes with the photo’s topic. The links will take you to lewis-clark.org (as known as “Discover Lewis & Clark”), the educational website of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation. The website is the world’s large digital repository of information about Lewis and Clark and their times.
Winners of the Historic Sites category
Dugout Canoes at Pompeys PIllar. Photo by John Montague.
This photograph by John Montague shows Pompey’s Pillar in the background and, in the foreground, the bows of two dugout canoes, modern representations of the vessels used by some of the explorers to reach the pillar along the Yellowstone River in Montana. William Clark and nine men, as well as Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau and their 17-month-old son, Jean Baptiste, arrived at the pillar on July 25, 1806. Clark described the pillar as a “remarkable rock” and named it “Pompy’s Tower” to honor little Jean Baptist, who during that summer had been nicknamed “Pomp.” In his journal, Clark wrote, “The natives have ingraved (sic) on the face of this rock the figures of animals &c near which I marked my name and the day of the month & year.” Learn more:
Named “Decision Point Encampment,” this photograph by Lee Ebeling represents the historic site where one of the most important questions faced by the explorers came up: Which river to take? In June 1805, the expedition, having journeyed up the Missouri River, reached the mouth of a large river that flowed into the Missouri. At this point, the explorers were unsure which river to continue up—the one that came from the south or the one from the north. Making the correct decision was of utmost importance; the explorers knew they needed to reach the Rocky Mountains without delay and find Natives to trade with to acquire horses to ride over the mountains. So for the next few days, they reconnoitered both rivers. They did, indeed, make the correct decision by continuing up the south fork, the Missouri River, rather than the other river, which Clark named Maria’s River after his cousin. Discover more:
Perhaps (and this is just speculation) one of the more happier moments for the explorers came on Nov. 7, 1805. On that day, William Clark wrote—with misspellings and all—in his journal: “Great joy in camp we are in View of the Ocian, this great Pacific Octean which we have been So long anxious to See…” Unfortunately, the jubilation was premature; the explorers were looking at the Columbia River estuary rather than the ocean, which was still at least 20 miles to the west. In this photograph named “View of the Ocian—O! the Joy,” photographer Laura Labadie excellently captured the coastal beauty that Lewis and Clark would have seen. More:
This photograph by Jared Norris gives a scenic view of the Astoria Column at Astoria, Oregon, a community founded in 1811 on the Columbia River shoreline tread upon by the Lewis and Clark explorers during their 1805-06 winter encampment at nearby Fort Clatsop. The area overlooks the mouth of the Columbia River and gives a magnificent view of the landscape the explorers would have seen as they hunted, explored, and visited with members of the Clatsop, Chinooks, and other tribes who lived in the region. More info:
Taken by Shannon Kelly, this photo shows a purple Dotted Gayfeather. One of President Thomas Jefferson’s instructions to Meriwether Lewis was to report on the flora and fauna seen during the journey. Even on the toughest of days when the expedition members were exhausted, Meriwether Lewis made efforts to observe and identify plants. At least 200 plants were preserved and taken back to civilization for accurate identification. Here are links to click on for more info:
Titled “Misty Sitka Spruce Forest,” this photo by John Jengo highlights one of the many diverse landscapes seen by the explorers. Sitka Spruce mainly occur along the northwest Pacific Coast, particularly in the area Fort Clatsop, the encampment built at the mouth of the Columbia River by the explorers for the 1805-06 winter. In his journal entry of March 10, 1806, Lewis noted a verbal report by hunters of the expedition who said they had seen a tree with a trunk 42 feet in “girth” (circumference) and that it was “very lofty.” He wrote: “…from the appearance of other trees of this species (sic) of fir and their account of this tree, I think it may be safely estimated at 300 feet. it had every appearance of being perfectly sound.” More information:
Canoeing the L&C Trail Approaching Citadel Rock. Photo by Phil Downs.
Taken by Phil Downs, this photograph of Citadel Rock is a landmark on the Missouri River in Montana. Upon passing by it on May 31, 1805, William Clark wrote in his journal about this “high Steep black Rock riseing (sic) from the waters edge.” The landmark, which did not receive a name until the steamboat era decades after Lewis and Clark, is an igneous intrusion in a sandstone layer that had been washed away by the river. It was near here that the explorers almost lost a pirogue. Take a moment and find out more:
“Upper Portage Camp” is a photograph taken by Lee Ebeling. The iron structure in the photo—it sort of looks like the back and rib skeleton of a while (but it’s not)—is a replica of what the expedition’s iron boat may have looked like. The boat was an idea that Meriwether Lewis (or it may have been Thomas Jefferson’s idea) had back in civilization about being able to assemble a large canoe when the time was needed. So the iron parts were made and taken along on the expedition. The boat was assembled in May 1805 after the explorers made a lengthy portage around the Great Falls of the Missouri River. Good idea, but no go—the boat failed. Lee’s photo shows the replica at a site near the Upper Portage Camp outside of Great Falls, Montana. The site features not only the replica but also historical information displays placed there by the Portage Route Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation. Learn more:
Sunshine and Snowflakes for Seaman. Photo by Shannon Kelly.
Entitled “Sunshine and Snow Flakes for Seaman, this photo by Shannon Kelly features a statue of the dog of Meriwether Lewis that was a beloved and valuable expedition membership. Located at the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site (For Mandan) in North Dakota, the statue is believed to be the world’s largest statue of Seaman. Shannon wrote an article about the statue for this LewisandClarkNew.com blog. The article tells all about the statue. Learn more:
Tony Huhn captured how Lewis and Clark must have felt on their arrival in St. Louis on Sept. 23, 1806. Crammed into five canoes and one of the two original pirogues, the explorers would surly have waved—as shown in Tony’s photograph—at St. Louis residents waiting on the riverbank to greet them. The site and statue are at the riverside Gateway Arch. The statute, sculpted by Harry Weber, was placed there to mark the end of the 2003-06 national bicentennial celebration of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. To learn more, click on these links:
Camp Disappointment National Historic Site. Photo by Phil Scriver.
This photograph by Phil Scriver tells a story of great hope and great disappointment. If the hope of Meriwether Lewis had played out, the United States may have acquired more land through the Louisiana Purchase. On the way back to St. Louis, Lewis and three other men explored up the Maria’s River in northern Montana in hope of finding that the river’s source was north of the treaty boundary of the Louisiana Purchase. If it did, the U.S. would be eligible for more land—land within the Canadian boundary of British territory. Lewis and his tiny entourage spent several days at a camp in July 1806 so Lewis could make celestial observations to determine their location. Their food supply was down to roots, a few pigeons and buffalo grease mush. The weather was cloudy and rainy—bad for celestial observations. Lewis’ chronometer, needed for observations, stopped working for some unknown reason. Finally, Lewis estimated the extension of the treaty boundary was a no go. Much to his chagrin, as he wrote in his journal, “We set out biding a lasting adieu to this place which I now call camp disappointment.” Check out these links to learn more:
Hole in the Wall From Below. Photo by Shannon Kelly.
Look closely at this photograph by Shannon Kelly and you will see the hole at the top of what looks to be a rock wall on the right half of the photo. Known as the “Hole in the Wall,” the site is within the Montana area of the Missouri River known as the White Cliffs. Meriwether Lewis was immensely impressed by the sandstone formations that dominated the shores. He wrote: “…so perfect indeed are those walls that I should have thought that nature had attempted her to rival the human art of masonry had I not recollected that she had first began her work.” More info:
Fort Mandan State Historic Site’s Seaman statue after an April blizzard. Entitled “Sunshine and Snowflakes for Seaman,” the photo by Shannon Kelly won the Public Lewis and Clark Art category in the 2022 photo contest sponsored by the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation.
The Midwest takes its mammoth roadside attractions seriously, and North Dakota is no exception. The Peace Garden State boasts supersized sculptures such as the world’s largest Holstein cow, sandhill craneand buffalo—and those are just the ones along Interstate 94.
Little did I know when I first started working as a ranger at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Washburn, N.D., that another delightful giant (who I once had the honor of playing in my fourth-grade class’s Lewis and Clark musical) would lurk nearby.
The bronze Dog of Discovery was installed in 2006 along the Missouri River near the Fort Mandan replica and visitor center. He obediently sits greeting visitors and looks as if he might be awaiting a juicy bison treat from Capt. Lewis himself.
During a 2011 flood, the Seaman statue was trucked from its location near the Missouri River and placed temporarily in front of the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center near Washburn, N.D. Admired by visitors to the center, Seaman spent some quality time with the statues of Sheheke and Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Upon the invitation from the two expedition captains, Sheheke (also known as Sheheke-shote) and his wife Yellow Corn visited Washington, D.C. He was the principal chief of the lower Mandan village.
Lewis never documented where or when he bought Seaman—many theorize he purchased the pooch in Pittsburgh during the summer of 1803 while equipping the expedition—but he does mention paying $20 of his own money for the dog.
Seaman earned his keep as a hunter, retriever, sentry, and lifeguard.
The dog proved his worth at the journey’s very beginning. Less than two weeks after leaving Pittsburgh, Pa., and heading by boat down the Ohio River, Lewis spotted on a couple of days a migration of squirrels swimming across the river. He sent Seaman swimming after them. The dog killed squirrels and swam with them in his mouth back to Lewis. In his usual unique spelling style, Lewis penned in his journal, “They wer fat and I thought when fryed a pleasant food.”
Seaman was certainly an alert sentry. On the evening of June 19, 1805, after the expedition made camp in the area of today’s Great Falls, Mont., the dog’s barking may have scared off a buffalo that seemed ready to charge willy-nilly through the camp.
Seaman is pictured with expedition member Toussaint Charbonneau and his wife, Sacagawea, during their first visit to Fort Mandan. The artwork, titled “Sacagawea’s First Gift,” is by noted Lewis and Clark artist Michael Haynes. Learn about Michael Haynes.
The greatest danger in that area, however, came from grizzly bears. They were everywhere, always a threat, lurking about day and particularly at night, probably attracted to the explorers’ campsites from the smell of cooking food. “…my dog,” stated Lewis’ journal entry of June 27, 1805, “seems to be in a constant state of alarm with these bear and keeps barking all night.” Seaman’s good use of his vocal cords probably helped the explorers avoid many bear encounters in the darkness of night.
Expedition members came to refer to Seaman as “our dog.” It’s likely there was great concern on April 11, 1806, on the Columbia River not far from what today is Portland, Ore., when Indians stole Seaman—most likely for the dog to become their meal.
In his journal, Lewis recorded his reaction: “…sent three men in pursuit of the thieves with orders if they made the least resistance or difficulty in surrendering the dog to fire on them.” After a 2-mile chase, the three men saw the canine kidnappers, who, upon spotting their pursuers, abandoned the dog alive and fled.
A dog of a different color?
Seaman’s coat likely resembled that of “Lion: A Newfoundland Dog” in this painting by English artist Edwin Henry Landseer. From Wikimedia Commons.
Seaman will probably forever be represented as a modern-day black, chunky Newfoundland, but the breed in his era was almost universally black and white after what is known today as the Landseer Newfoundland after English painter Edwin Landseer. (Landseer famously captured the breed’s distinctive coat pattern on canvas during the 1800s.)
Contemporaneous artwork and descriptions of the breed also indicate a sportier build than today’s Newfoundlands. No records remain of Seaman’s appearance beyond his impressive size.
Lewis held his furry friend in such high regard that in July 1806, on the expedition’s return trip to St. Louis, he named a creek in present-day Montana “Seaman’s Creek.”
Interestingly, a Masonic museum in Virginia at one time apparently housed a dog collar that may have been donated by William Clark in 1812, although the original is now lost. The inscription on the collar stated: “The greatest traveler of my species. My name is SEAMAN, the dog of captain Meriwether Lewis, whom I accompanied to the Pacifick [sic)] ocean through the interior of the continent of North America.”
Besides the fact that this tail-wagging trailblazer was large, what does any of this have to do with giant roadside attractions?
The biggest dog statue
Recently it occurred to me that Fort Mandan State Historic Site just might have the world’s biggest Newfoundland dog. I reviewed my own photographs and scoured the internet for Newfoundlands in public art.
Seaman is the most oft-sculpted member of his breed and certainly the greatest traveler of his species. St. John’s in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador only has a life-sized Newfoundland statue. Then there’s the salmon-eating incarnation of Seaman (part of the “End of the Trail” statue) I encountered during a 2002 family spring break trip to Seaside, Oregon. But that was no competition either.
Placing a close second in size is a statue of Seaman on a Lewis and Clark monument that has duplicate casts at the Sioux City Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Iowa and the Lewis & Clark Boathouse and Museum, St Charles, Mo. The monument was done by Pat Kennedy.
The closest in stature to the State Historical Society’s Seaman I could find is the one included on artist Pat Kennedy’s Lewis and Clark monument, which has duplicate casts at the Sioux City Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Iowa and at the Lewis & Clark Boathouse and Museumin St. Charles, Mo. I contacted staff at both sites and requested measurements of their statues. That Seaman is approximately 6 feet, 3/16 inch tall, with a head circumference of 7 feet.
Armed with this knowledge, I measured our own pup with a measuring tape and a stepstool to determine dimensions. Our dog nosed ahead with a height of 7 feet and a head circumference of nearly 8 feet.
I contacted the Newfoundland Club of America, which had been involved with the statue’s 2006 installation and reinstallation following a 2011 flood. The representative who responded was delighted. Our Seaman is now on the map in the Newfoundland world.
So, when you’re looking to go on an adventurous expedition, come see what all the fuss is about, and snap a selfie with the great Dog of Discovery himself. Woof! Woof!
And where is the smallest Seaman?
Seaman, three inches tall at the shoulders.
That’s what you’ll find in statuary along the Columbia River in Washington. It’s likely the smallest of Seaman representations.
The statuary of Seaman, Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and Sacajawea is at the Dismal Nitch Safety Rest Area on Highway 401 (also known as the Lewis and Clark Trail Highway) near Point Ellice close to the mouth of the Columbia River in Washington. The rest area is the home of the high-relief bronze sculpture artwork and monument by sculptor Gareth Curtis and mason Bill Clearman.
In the above photograph by Jim Sayce, Seaman seems to be having a good ol’ time studying what one of the explorers is pointing at—others of the expedition trying to canoe through huge swells.
The artwork reflects the dire situation the explorers faced during a bad storm and high waves near the mouth of the Columbia River. They were stranded there on the shore Nov. 12, 1805. During low tide, they moved into a cove that became known as the “Dismal Nitch”—and dismal the area was.
The following is William Clark’s journal entry for that time, shown here with the captain’s unique spellings intact:
“It would be distressing to See our Situation, all wet and Colde our bedding also wet, (and the robes of the party which Compose half the bedding is rotten and we are not in a Situation to supply their places) in a wet bottom Scercely large enough to contain us, our baggage half a mile from us and Canoes at the mercy of the waves, altho Secured as well as possible, Sunk with emence parcels of Stone to wate them down to prevent their dashing to pieces against the rocks.”
The author of this article, Shannon Kelly, is the interpretive resource specialist at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and Fort Mandan State Historic Site in Washburn, N.D.. She holds a bachelor’s in history from the University of Idaho and a master’s in public history from Colorado State University. Kelly has written a history of the Sound of Idaho Marching Band for the University of Idaho and is a contributor to the Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation’s journal We Proceeded On. She is currently at work on a book exploring the three winters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Much of this article was originally published May 9, 2022, in the State Historical Society of North Dakota blog.
A thank you goes to Jim Sayce for providing the photograph and information about the smallest Seaman and Dismal Nitch. Jim is the incoming president of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation.
Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Mo. A bit chilly this morning. We’re at an isolated, tranquil spot in the far corner of the beautiful, tree-laden cemetery. All is quiet except for a lovely rustling sound created by a soft breeze whispering through the leaves of an ancient oak tree.
Jerry Garrett steps out of the cool soft shade given off by the oak and into a warmer sunny spot. Before him is the impressive bust of an American icon positioned in front a towering granite obelisk. The obelisk is mostly awash in grays from the shadows of the oak tree. The top few feet of the the peak are transformed into bright white from sunshine. It’s time for Jerry to help others learn about the life, death and burial and, well, also the reburial of explorer William Clark…
Jerry Garrett at the William Clark Monument.
…And so began the tour of William Clark’s gravesite with Jerry Garrett. He has given many tours of this cemetery where people of fame are buried. Always, he includes the final resting place of his favored person in history, William Clark of the 1803-06 Lewis and Clark Expedition. How Jerry reached this point—where his time is spent educating people about Clark’s monument—is an interesting story dating back almost four decades.
In his 30s in the mid-1980s, Jerry had a sudden urge to go exploring. It swept upon him after reading William Least Heat-Moon’sBlue Highway, an account of the author’s extended road trip throughout the United States. For Jerry, the book stirred up feelings of adventure. He wanted to experience what’s out there in America. He quit his job, bought a van and set off from his hometown of St. Louis.
He had two goals: to visit the 48 contiguous states and go as far south, east, north, and west as possible in the continental United States. By the time he finished, he accomplished the goals, spent almost 100 days on the road and traveled 22,672 miles. As a comparison, the circumference of the globe is 24,901 miles.
During his journey, Jerry visited Fort Clatsop, a replica of a fort constructed by the Lewis and Clark explorers at the Columbia River mouth in Oregon. The encampment was where they stayed during the 1805-06 winter. Jerry’s visit inspired his interest in the explorers simply because, he relates with a laugh, “They made it to the Pacific and I made it to the Pacific, too.”
William Clark: best known as expedition co-captain. Expedition members: the “wild bunch.” And their journey summarized. Click here to read.
The interest led to reading a version of the expedition’s journals edited by John Bakeless. “And that just hooked me,” Jerry recalls.
The interest also led to becoming a member of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, a nonprofit citizen organization dedicated to telling the story of Lewis and Clark. He was the group’s treasurer for several years and involved in the Lewis and Clark National Bicentennial Commemoration from 2003 to 2006. Still an active member, Jerry gives the Clark monument tours and talks about the explorers. (To view one of Jerry’s talks, watch a fun YouTube video about how the explorers spent their Christmases. Jerry and another member of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Barb Kubik, gave the Zoom talk together.)
Jerry is a gentlemen you instantly like. As he says about himself, he’s “an outgoing person.” Indeed, he is. He has a quick smile, a sharp wit and casual, interesting manner that encourages people to pay attention to what he says. Especially when he talks about Clark and the monument.
Obelisk at Clark’s monument shaded by an oak tree.
Little did Jerry suspect decades ago that his Lewis and Clark interest would take him on a path to Bellefontaine Cemetery. A host of famous individuals are among the 87,000 people buried in the 314-acre cemetery. Among them: Adolphus Busch, co-founder of Anheuser-Busch; Sen. Thomas Hart Benton; radio commentator Rush Limbaugh; and writer William S. Burroughs. There, too, rests Manual Lisa. Lisa became Clark’s partner in a fur-trading business after the expedition.
But the special Bellefontaine spot for Jerry is William Clark’s monument, erected and dedicated in 1904. The site is on a forested bluff overlooking the Mississippi River that Lewis and Clark traveled up in December 1803 from the Ohio River. They reached the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and, a few miles from today’s St. Louis, built a winter encampment, Camp Dubois. (Today, there is a re-created encampment, the Lewis & Clark State Historic Site. It’s not far their original campsite, which long ago was washed away by the shifting rivers.)
In full sunlight: The monument in “imposing in grandeur and simplicity.” Photo courtesy of Bud Clark.
Writers have described Clark’s monument with such glowing words as “imposing in grandeur and simplicity.” It is, certainly. The obelisk—41 feet tall from the ground to peaked tip—towers above the bronze bust of Clark. The bust is done in heroic style, a sculpturing term meaning grand and larger than life. The obelisk was fashioned from gray granite, but in sunshine becomes starkly white. Standing in the middle of a circular parapet 22 feet in diameter, the obelisk emerges from a 9-foot-square granite base. Flanking the parapet are stone piers, giving, as one writer suggested, a military appearance.
Charles Wilson Peale’s portrait of Clark. The portrait was used as a model for the Clark bronze bust.
W. Liance Cottrell of the Harrison Granite Company, New York created the monument design. He was an artist, architect and designer of notable monuments in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Among his better-known designs is the 110-foot-tall Pennsylvania State Memorial located at the Gettysburg battlefield.
William Ordway Partridge, a celebrated sculptor who lived in New York, sculpted Clark’s bust. In covering the news of the 1904 monument dedication, the St. Louis Republic called the bust “one of the very best productions of Partridge.”
Partridge felt challenged to provide facial accuracy to the bust. Clark had died six decades earlier, so Partridge used as a model a portrait of Clark hanging in a room at Independence National Historic Park, Philadelphia. Charles Wilson Peale painted the portrait in 1807. His portraits of Clark and Lewis are today iconic images of each explorer.
William Clark’s bust: From Peale’s portrait to bronze interpretation of Clark by sculptor William Ordway Partridge.
Peale showed Clark with his “head turned slightly but looking at the artist, open-faced, approachable, no-nonsense, taking it all in, with a suggestion that he is in on the joke,” according to a description on Lewis-Clark.org, the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation educational website.
In contrast, Partridge’s bronze bust of Clark has a serious facial look. It seems as if the sculptor believed the weight of Clark’s life after the expedition was far too demanding. Clark has a focused stare that captures the attention of visitors. Jerry likes to note on his tours that Clark’s bust faces toward the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, from where the expedition launched its journey in 1804.
The stone piers display sculpted buffalo and wolf heads. Both animals played important roles in the expedition’s story. It’s unknown now why Partridge chose them. He may have intended them to be watchful guardians. Or it’s possible he picked a buffalo because it is a symbol of abundance and honor among some Native American cultures. Meanwhile, a wolf symbolizes courage, strength, loyalty, and success at hunting.
The monument has engraved information about Clark’s life as a soldier, explorer, statesman, and patriot, with inscriptions covering much of the stone piers and the obelisk’s base. Clark’s life is summarized in the stone: “Born in Virginia, August 1, 1770. Entered into Life Eternal September 1, 1838. Soldier. Explorer. Statesman and Patriot. His Life is Written in the History of His County.”
Buffalo head as part of the monument
Another inscription: “William Clark received his commission as Lieutenant from George Washington in 1791. He was appointed Brigadier General of the Territorial Militia, and principal Indian Agent for All Tribes West of the Mississippi by Thomas Jefferson in 1807, and reappointed as such by James Madison in 1811. He was made Governor of Missouri Territory by this President in 1813, and recommissioned twice by him, being again appointed governor by James Monroe in 1820, who also made him superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1822. His great fame as an explorer was won on the expedition of 1804-5-6.”
(Author’s note about the “1804-5-6” dates: For many decades, the federal government recognized the official years of the expedition as 1804, 1805 and 1806. However, in 2019, Congress changed the official years to include 1803. Congress also revised the expedition’s official starting point from the St. Louis area to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.)
Symbols and Inscriptions
With so little space available on any monument, decisions to engrave inscriptions or symbols are typically well-thought through. As years pass, there becomes the risk that meanings of and reasons for engraved messages can be lost to the public. Clark’s monument is not immune from such a possibility. Jerry doesn’t delve too deeply into the possibilities of deeper meanings behind symbols and inscriptions. After all, such information can be chancey—esoteric at best and boring at worst. But looking a bit deeper may help to flesh out some of Clark’s thoughts and reasonings. Consider:
Wolf’s head on the monument
The most recognizable symbol for visitors today is engraved on the obelisk. Partway up the front is the square-and-compasses symbol of Freemasonry. This signifies that Clark was a Freemason, inducted in 1809 into the St. Louis Lodge No. 111. Lewis, a Mason since the age of 22, helped to establish the lodge the previous year.
Freemasonry, an extremely powerful force in early America, reflected the idea of “truth, justice and the American way” that is ingrained in the American psyche. Freemasonry dovetailed nicely with the Age of Enlightenment of Lewis and Clark’s time. Enlightenment exalted the idea that freedom, democracy and tolerance are central to human existence—and, it’s easy to believe, to Clark’s general personal philosophy.
Engraved on the obelisk’s backside is a phrase that may have a meaning which most visitors today may not fully understand. The phrase from Deuteronomy 1:XXI states: “Behold the Lord Thy God Hath Set the Land Before Thee: Go Up and Possess It.”
The phrase is part of a message by Moses when he stood on Mount Horeb and addressed followers to offer a clearer view of their quest for the Promised Land. The entire quotation—depending on which Bible version is read—is, “Behold, the Lord thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.”
On the surface, there seems to belittle reason to dwell on the meaning of the Deuteronomy inscription. But there is a good reason. Discover why…
“Through the Narrow Way”
William Clark later in Life. Painting by George Caitlin. The painting hangs in the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute.
Meanwhile, above the Deuteronomy inscription is a short phrase engraved in Greek lettering. The phrase might be translated as “Through Difficulty.” This saying is believed to be part of the coat of arms of the English ancestral line of the Clark family.
However—and this is an interesting twist—a University of Illinois professor in Greek and Latin languages has another interpretation. So, too, does another expert who teaches classic languages at a private school. Their thought: The Greek phrase could instead mean “Through the Narrowland,” Jerry points out.
On this subject, Bud Clark, a great-great-great grandson of William Clark, offers a delightful anecdote that speaks to the commitment of the Clark family to maintain the truth of events related to the William Clark’s life. Bud’s anecdote, which he provided via email from his Michigan home, is also a playful observation of William Clark’s creative grammar and unique spellings in the expedition journals that he and Lewis kept.
“The worst speller in America”
To appreciate Bud’s anecdote, it’s necessary to learn a bit about Clark’s educational background. By all accounts, he was a highly intelligent fellow. However, his family moved from Virginia to Kentucky when he was 14. This essentially ended his formal education.
He lived in a young nation where word pronunciations were not standardized and spelling was often confusing. The rule of thumb of those times seemed to be: “Spell it like it sounds.” And Clark did just that. For instance, the expedition’s journals show that he used 14 different spellings for the name of Charbonneau, Sacagawea’s husband, and 27 for the name of the Indians the French called Sioux.
“As my Dad told us,” Bud says, relating the anecdote, “it (the Greek phrase) means ‘Through the Narrow Way,’ meaning to take the righteous path. Dad also pointed out there is a misspelling in the Greek inscription. Years ago a stone carver offered to correct the mistake by simply adding a line to one letter. Dad thought it was a fitting coincidence that the worst speller in American history should have a misspelled word on his memorial. Accordingly, the change was never made.”
Coins of Respect
After viewing all of the engravings on the monument, a visitor can easily imagine the depth of public admiration and respect for Clark during his times.
Left by visitors to the monument, coins of respect on the ledge under Clark’s bronze bust.
Just as telling now in our times is a multitude of tiny, respectful honors placed on the narrow edge of the stone base holding up Clark’s bust. The edge is lined with coins—pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters—left by visitors. The leaving of coins at a gravesite originated with ancient Greeks. The custom became popularized in the United States during the Vietnam War. Like the ancient Greek tradition, it demonstrates a sign of respect for a person buried in a grave.
Rural Cemetery Movement
It’s not an exaggeration to say Jerry Garrett has a love affair with Bellefontaine Cemetery—in the sense of how many of us love one place above all others. Jerry—now 78 years old and retired since 2000 after an accounting career in the medical profession—slipped into his gig as a master tour guide, a volunteer position, after attending a lecture in the late 1990s about the rural cemetery movement in America.
The idea behind the movement was to build cemeteries one to five miles outside of a community, but close enough for visitors. The popular trend was to construct these cemeteries in landscaped park-like settings and include elaborate monuments, memorials and mausoleums.
Even though it’s now surrounded by an urban area, the Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis is one of the nation’s more beautiful and peaceful cemeteries. Photo by the National Audubon Society.
The movement began in 1831 with the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Mass. This launched the nationwide effort that stopped burials in church cemeteries and small family plots within urban areas. It led to the relocation of 22 small St. Louis cemeteries to rural settings like the land that became Bellefontaine. But St. Louis continued to grow. Bellefontaine is now a calm, magnificent island surrounded by a busy, crowded urban ocean.
“The lecture I attended made me aware of the significance of this cemetery (Bellefontaine),” Jerry recalls. And for him it led to the discovery of interesting information about some of the cemetery residents. With a self-depreciating chuckle, he adds, “I had lived in this town for 20 years and I had no idea that someone of such historical prominence as William Clark was buried here.”
For a while, Jerry gave group tours of 20 to 30 people, but now he prefers touring with groups of far fewer people. His tours focus on burial sites of noted individuals, but sometimes he just gives tours of the Clark monument.
It took considerable research and study for Jerry to learn about lives of the past. But it has been worth it, he points out. “I enjoy showing what I know. I’ve found that many people are fascinated not only about the stories of deceased people but also by the astounding size of monuments, the cemetery itself, the towering trees, the beauty. It’s amazing. This helps to open up the world of the past for people.”
As a person inextricably familiar with Clark’s monument, Bud Clark, long-time friend and admirer of Jerry, couldn’t agree more. For Bud, the monument has much more importance than being an impressive structure.
“I think it stands as a great testimonial not only to William Clark but also to everyone who made up the Corps of Discovery,” Bud says in a telephone interview from his home. “Beyond that, it spurs people on to learn more about Clark and all of the explorers, and also how Clark’s post-expedition life impacted western expansion and in some ways was more important than the expedition itself.”
As if foreshadowing Jerry and Bud’s comments above, on the day of the tour with Jerry Garrett, a yellow school bus drives along the narrow cemetery road near Clark’s monument and stops along the roadside a few minutes before Jerry arrives. The bus is from St. Paul Lutheran School of Des Peres in the Greater St. Louis Area.
Dan Sterling, a teacher at St. Paul Lutheran School of Des Peres in the St. Louis area, talks to his students about the life of William Clark.
Students flock from the bus with great joy and enthusiasm. They chatter as youth will. It takes only a glance at the impressive Clark monument for them to realize this isolated place of solitude is also a place of reverence. They quiet down and follow their teacher, Dan Sterling, to the monument. They gather around as the bust of Clark’s face seems to scrutinize them. The obelisk towers above the students as Mr. Sterling gives a good lesson about the importance of Clark’s role in the histories of Missouri and our nation.
Connection with the Deceased
Jerry notes that it is one thing to read books and study a deceased person’s life, but you will always be “separated by time and geography.” At one point earlier in his life, Jerry studied the Civil War. But he realized he was, indeed, separated by time and geography in the real understanding of those times. So he visited the McClean House in Appomattox County, Virginia, where in April 1865 Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Commanding General of the U.S. Army Ulysses S. Grant, ending the Civil War.
Jerry realized at the McClean House the importance of visiting historic sites, particularly tombs, monuments and gravesites when trying to understand a person in history. “Even though you may never have met the deceased person, when you visit a tombstone you end up at the last stop of the person’s journey,” Jerry says, “and there’s a connection that happens between the visitor and the deceased.”
As he strolls from headstone to headstone encircling the Clark monument, Jerry talks about Clark’s life during the expedition and afterwards when Clark entered public life. Jerry also focuses on others of the Clark family lineage buried at the monument: children, grandchildren and so on to present times. He points out the headstones of two persons who are believed to have been beloved servants of the William Clark family.
“A walking historian”
A month after the interview for this article, Jerry took Jeff McElroy on a full cemetery tour that concluded at Clark’s gravesite. Jeff, 61, was on his own Lewis and Clark expedition. His adventure became a 10,247-mile auto excursion from his home in Sequim on Washington’s Olympic peninsula. Jeff visited Lewis and Clark sites and took along his kayak so he could paddle in the same rivers the explorers traveled.
Jeff says the two-hour tour with Jerry Garrett was a highlight of his trip. “It was spectacular,” Jeff acknowledges in a telephone interview. “Jerry has so much knowledge. He’s all about history. He’s a walking historian of Lewis and Clark. He knew the answer to every question I asked. When we drove around the cemetery and saw all of the monuments and mausoleums, he talked about how some of these people were directly or indirectly involved with William Clark.”
Learn how Jeff McElroy’s young daughter shaped his interest in Lewis and Clark…and Jeff’s comparison of the Clark monument with the Meriwether Lewis monument in Tennessee.
“Shining light” on Statues
Statue of Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea in Charlottesville, Va., before it was removed by the city
During his tours, Jerry says that he keeps up with a relatively new trend across the nation that calls for the removal of public statues of historical figures whose lives and actions were less savory than what some people today would have liked for them to have been. Slavery tops the list.
His interest in the trend revolves around Clark’s post-expedition life. How, for example, might some observers in today’s world view some of Clark’s post-expedition activities with Indian treaties, as well as the fact that Clark—as with many Americans in his time—kept slaves? The slaves included York, an expedition member who, along with others of Clark’s slaves, was treated harshly by Clark at times after the expedition.
To date, the most publicized Lewis and Clark statue removal occurred in July 2021 at the same time that the city of Charlottesville, Va., removed statues of Robert E. Lee and Confederate General Stonewall Jackson because they were seen as symbols perpetuating racial inequality in America. The city removed from public viewing a Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea statue because of the positioning of Sacagawea on the statue. Some Native Americans and others said she was shown in a subservient and demeaning position. In opposing views, other observers of the statue say Sacagawea, who was greatly respected by the two captains, particularly Clark, is resting on a rock with her arm cradled around her baby—a position that could be interpreted as stemming from a mother’s tiredness rather than subservience.
Learn more about Sacagawea and the Charlottesville statue.
Jerry turns briefly to reflection when he broaches the topic of statue removals. Will the time come when Clark’s monument makes a hit list? The same, too, can be asked about statues and monuments of Jefferson and other early American leaders.
He thinks that removing statues and monuments has less benefit to the public than using them as learning tools. “Monuments like Clark’s can help educate people by shining light on how and why they did what they did, and how we evolved as a country from their times to now,” he points out.
Bud Clark offers an enthusiastic thumb’s up to Jerry’s assessment. “A lot of healing needs to be done in our country over slavery and how Native Americans were treated,” Bud emphasizes. “The healing can only be done through sincere approaches where people sit down and speak from the heart. We can’t erase what has been done by tearing down statues. We need to use them to provide information that helps people understand what happened and to promote dialogue among people so we can help with the healing and move forward as an American Family.”
Click here to learn how Clark’s post-expedition years have resulted in debates over his role in Indian treaties.
Death, Burial and Reburial
Taken in 1889, the photo shows Minoma, the home of Meriwether Lewis Clark and his wife Abby where William Clark passed away in 1838. Minoma was built at Fifth and Olive Street in what is now downtown St. Louis. The site is now occupied by a brick building that has a street-level newsstand which sells tobacco, beer, wine, candy, and lottery tickets. Photo courtesy of Bud Clark.
Clark lived to the age of 68. The cause of death is unknown. His demise may likely have been from natural infirmities related to aging, Jerry suggests.
In late 1834, at 64 years of age, Clark suffered “palsy”—tremors that may have been caused by a stroke, according to historian Landon Y. Jones in his excellent book, William Clark and the Shaping of the West. Clark recovered enough that three years later he and son William Preston Clark traveled to New York City for a Fourth of July celebration and dinner honoring the 61st anniversary of American independence, an important milestone “that Clark could recall from firsthand experience,” wrote another top historian, William E. Foley, in Wilderness Journey:The Life of William Clark.
By the time he returned to St. Louis, Clark’s health began failing rapidly. He apparently had a penchant for falling. Foley cited a letter written by a friend who saw him in those days: “William is in very bad health…I think too he is imprudent, he has a predisposition to something like vertigo & he pays no attention to his diet.”
In early 1838, Meriwether Lewis Clark—one of Clark’s sons—and his wife Abby moved into a new house, which they named Minoma. They built it at Fifth and Olive Street in what is now downtown St. Louis.
William Clark moved in with them. By late August, death was imminent. One day he recognized his friends; the next day, he did not know his own family members. He died at 9 p.m., Sept. 1, 1838, outliving his good friend Meriwether Lewis by 29 years.
Outside of Gateway Newsstand on a busy downtown St. Louis street corner, a beer sign stands below a small gray plaque hanging on the side of the building. The plaque briefly notes the passing of Clark at this site.
Today, the site of Clark’s death is a short stroll from the Gateway Arch, which commemorates the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark’s expedition, and westward expansion. On the former Minoma plot is a newer brick building on a street corner. The building has a street-level shop named Gateway Newsstand, which specializes in selling tobacco, beer and wine, candy, and lottery tickets. Outside, on a wall next to a bright sidewalk sign advertising “This Bud’s For You,” hangs an inconspicuous small plaque. The plaque’s 98-word message, almost unreadable due to weathering, states that Clark died on this site and he was a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The plaque goes unnoticed by throngs of people who hurry by every day.
As Jerry Garrett notes on his tours, Clark was originally interned in a family mausoleum on the farm of his nephew Col. John O’Fallon. (Today, part of the farm is known as O’Fallon Park about four miles from downtown St. Louis.) The miles-long funeral procession that took Clark’s body to his eternal resting place became the largest ever up to that time in St. Louis for the numbers of people who lined the way to pay their respects. Cannons were fired as a military salute.
As it turned out, Clark’s eternal resting place did not remain eternal—and here’s where the rural cemetery movement came into play, Jerry says.
In 1850, St. Louis dedicated a new rural cemetery named after a road to a military post, Fort Belle Fontaine, about 20 miles north of St. Louis. Bellefontaine Cemetery became the first major rural cemetery established west of the Mississippi River.
Clark’s son, Jefferson Kearney Clark, mourning his late father who was temporarily interned in the O’Fallon Mausoleum
The new cemetery absorbed land where Clark’s original burial site was located. His sons arranged for a large family burial plot within Bellefontaine. In 1860, William Clark, his second wife, Harriet Kennerly Radford Clark, and three deceased Clark children were reburied there. Clark’s first wife, Julia Hancock Clark, had passed away in 1820 in Montgomery County, Va., while visiting family in hopes of recovering from a long illness. She is buried in Virginia, alongside her father on the family plantation.
The Clark monument of today dates back to 1904, a busy year for fans of Lewis and Clark. St. Louis hosted the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, also known as the World’s Fair. Meanwhile, the nation prepared to celebrate the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, a worldwide event that would be held in 1905 in Portland, Oregon. The exposition would attract 1.6 million visitors and exhibits from 21 countries.
The Oct. 2, 1904, dedication and unveiling of the Clark monument in St. Louis created news on front pages of newspapers throughout the United States and elsewhere around the world. Of course, the most extensive coverage occurred in the local city nicknamed the “Gateway to the West.”
One of Clark’s sons, Jefferson Kearny Clark, left money in his own will to build the monument.
Newspaper accounts reported the day was ideal, sunny with a gentle fall temperature. Prayers were said; blessings, given. The Army Band played hymns. American flags wrapped the obelisk. Until the unveiling, the official flag of the upcoming Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition draped Clark’s bronze bust. The flag, brought specifically to St. Louis for the dedication ceremony, was four-colored, emblematic of the four nations—England, France, Spain, and the United States—that once vied for dominance in the new lands of America.
Five generations of the Clark family attended the dedication. So did local and national dignities, and other invited guests. World leaders sent representatives; others, messages of respect for Clark. England, for example, sent several representatives. The Chinese Imperial Vice Commissioner sent an accolade that praised Clark by stating he “had literally fulfilled the wording of the charter of the Pilgrim Fathers that their country was to extend ocean to ocean.”
Dignitaries gave glowing speeches about Clark. Family members and friends spoke. But perhaps—from our viewpoint of 118 years later—the more interesting speech was made by General Pleasant Porter, principal chief of the Creek Nation. His speech gave insights into how some Native Americans felt about Clark. “General Clark was a brave man and a man with mercy, and the Indians, who love a brave man, loved General Clark,” the St. Louis Republic quoted Porter as saying. “Everywhere he went he made friends of the Indians and they loved him.”
Considering the high public interest in the event, the number of attendees was rather small due to Bellefontaine Cemetery’s rules about crowd size. But, in the days after the ceremony, hundreds of people visited the monument.
Mary Susan Glasgow Clark, widow of Jefferson Kearny Clark, fulfilled her late husband’s wish to have the Clark monument built.
The St. Louis Republic applauded the monument as one of the “foremost testimonials of the world.”
Funding came from Jefferson Kearny Clark, Clark’s youngest son with Harriet Kennerly Radford Clark. Jefferson Kearny Clark passed away in 1900, but his wife, Mary Susan Glasgow Clark, had the monument completed. She personally supervised the monument’s construction.
Bud Clark says the monument’s construction cost at the time was $25,000. Today, the $25,000 would be the equivalent of about $800,000 due to inflation.
Let’s Stroll Forward a Century…
By the late 20th century, Clark’s monument had fallen into disrepair and needed major renovations. Endowment money left a century earlier by Jefferson Kearny Clark had run out. It looked bleak for the monument of one of America’s most well-known figures.
So the Clark family decided to gather donations to renovate the monument. Two Clark brothers—Bud and John, descendants of George Rogers Hancock Clark, a son of William Clark and Julia Hancock Clark—created and championed the fundraising campaign for the site where their ancestral line, all the way from Clark and his second wife through the brothers’ deceased father, is buried.
Initially, Bud and John thought the campaign might be readily supported by large corporations and historical societies that would see the public relations value for themselves.
William Clark’s descendant: Bud Clark in his reenactor’s uniform as William Clark. Bud was the Clark re-enactor during the national 2003-06 Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commemoration that retraced the historic trail and gave presentations to thousands of people.
“We assumed,” Bud says with a chuckle at his memory of being so incorrect, “that they would rise to the occasion and help fund repairs.” He pauses his thought, remembering. “But finally it became clear that if we wanted to get it (the renovation) done, it would be up to the Clark family to make it happen.”
After contemplation and brainstorming, the Clark family reached out to sculptor Cody Houston in Great Falls, Montana. Around that time, Cody had completed a bronze work, “The Explorers at the Great Falls of the Missouri,” to help fund a building campaign for the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls. The piece depicted Clark, Lewis, Sacagawea, and her young son, Pompey.
Members of the Clark family asked Cody to allow them to include art of the statue on one side of a silver medallion that would be minted in a limited edition and sold to raise funds for renovating Clark’s monument. The other side of the medallion would feature art of William Clark’s bust at his monument. Bud Clark designed the medallion, with permission from Cody.
The Clark family announced the fundraising campaign in the early 1990s at an annual meeting of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation. It was an appropriate place for such an announcement. Bud was a member of the foundation and is now a former member of the board of directors.
In a glass case, William Clark on the medallion used to raise funds for renovating the Clark monument. Photo courtesy of Bud Clark.
Long story short: It took years, but the necessary renovation funds—$100,000—were raised through donations and medallion sales.
Working closely with the Bellefontaine Cemetery staff, the Clark family oversaw all of the technicalities, legalities and contractors for renovating the Clark monument. It was a long, hard and commendable effort, primarily undertaken by the two Clark brothers.
At times, the effort seemed almost insurmountable, Bud remembers. “But, you know, when we Clarks decide to get something done, by God, we’re going to get it done.”
With an appreciative verbal nod to his great-great-great grandfather, he adds, “It must be hereditary.”
The renovated Clark monument was rededicated May 21, 2004—two centuries and seven days after the Lewis and Clark Expedition departed Camp Dubois. The rededication was held during the time of the Lewis and Clark National Bicentennial Commemoration. Shoshone, Osage and Mandan tribal members attended the rededication and spoke positively about Clark’s service to their nations.
During the rededication, a new stone marker was unveiled at the site to express three messages: One message, as part of the engraved description states, is to be “a testimonial to the admiration and gratitude of William Clark’s descendants and their fellow countrymen for his devotion to family and a lifetime of service to his country.” Secondly, the stone marker also recognizes principal donors that made the monument renovation possible.
The other side of the fundraising medallion. Featured is Cody Houston’s sculpture. Photo courtesy of Bud Clark.
The third message is to call attention to visitors that four Clark family members are buried with William Clark under the obelisk. “Previously,” Bud points out, “visitors would have no idea that four other family members were buried with William Clark.”
(Note: A photograph of the stone marker can be seen at the end of this article.)
While standing in the shadow of Clark’s monument, Jerry Garrett emphasizes there is much to be said and thought about William Clark. Explorer. Civic servant. Negotiator. Statesman. Pragmatist. A friend of Indians, yet sometimes seen as a foe. He lived in times when life was tough, racism ruled and some decisions—as seen through the lens of today—were controversial. William Clark was a man of contradictions.
…Tour over, Jerry Garrett reaches into his pocket and pulls out a shiny nickel minted in 2004. The federal government minted millions of such coins to specifically honor the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase and as a reminder of the Peace Medalsthat Lewis and Clark presented to Native Americans.
The nickel from Jerry Garrett.
The face of President Thomas Jefferson, who initiated the Lewis and Clark Expedition and was largely responsible for the Louisiana Purchase, is shown on one side of the coin. The other side has two shaking hands below a crossed axe and peace pipe, symbolizing the Peace Medal. One hand has a military uniform cuff, representing the U.S. government; the other, a silver band adorned with beads and a stylized eagle, representing the Native American community.
Jerry gives a nickel like this to every person who tours the Clark monument with him. Some people leave their coin on the ledge at Clark’s bust. Others take the coins along to deposit elsewhere. Jerry tells the story of a woman who carried a coin to Tennessee where she left it at the Lewis monument. “She was very proud that she was able to do this,” Jerry recalls.
License plate of Jerry Garrett’s car. “LWS” = Lewis. “CLK” = Clark.
Jerry walks out of the sun and through the cool shadows of the big oak tree near Clark’s monument. He strolls over to his Nissan parked nearby. As a tribute to Lewis and Clark, his Missouri license plate on the front of his car states, “LWS CLK.”
Yes, Jerry Garrett is a walking historian of Lewis and Clark, and a gentleman whose favorite stroll is through William Clark’s monument.
Stone marker unveiled at the 2004 rededication ceremony of Clark’s monument:
What about the other guys? And Sacagawea? And Pomp? Where are they buried? Learn about the burial sites of members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition through Find a Grave.
About the author of this article: Gary Kimsey is a board member of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation and board member of the LCTHF’s Southern Prairie Region. His interest in the Lewis and Clark Expedition dates back to 1973 when he and four other men spent six months retracing the explorers’ route by backpack, canoe and foot from Fort Clatsop to St. Louis. Click on these links to read two of the articles that Gary has written about his journey: How Lewis and Clark Almost Got Me Murdered and What’s a Special Lewis and Clark Day Like?
So far, four videos have been published on the channel—more will be posted in the near future. Each video is more than an hour in length and covers different topics in-depth. The speakers are experts on the Lewis and Clark Historic Trail, the explorers and related topics.
The Knife River Villages, which played a role in the Lewis and Clark Expedition, is the topic of one of the new videos offered by the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation.
Sarah Cawley, the Heritage Foundation’s executive director, said viewers of the videos will learn about the speakers’ personal insights, reflections and extensive knowledge about the expedition and explorers that may not be available in books or elsewhere.
“The speakers have a true passion for telling the story of the expedition,” she said. “Their information is intriguing, accurate, sometimes humorous or touching, but always sincere and educational.”
Videos were recorded from live presentations or virtual Zoom talks.
During the Covid pandemic when live meetings were not possible, three of the Heritage Foundation’s chapters used Zoom to present speakers as a way to keep members and others informed and enthused about the expedition. The chapters were the Portage Route Chapterin Great Falls, Montana; Missouri-Kansas Riverbend Chapter, Kansas City, Mo; and the California Chapter.
Here are synopses of the four videos:
Chris Hodges, author of Colter’s West Wind, gives an informative and entertaining talk on the topic of “Furs, Land and Sewing Needles on the Frontier” and how the Lewis and Clark Expedition was at the forefront of opening the frontier for future development. Click here to view…
Deveney Reber, a graduate student at Brigham Young University, talks about “The Forgotten Brother of Meriwether Lewis: Rueben, the Talented Fur Trader and Indian Agent Along the Missouri.” Reuben was a frontiersman and an even better Indian Agent. His story provides insight into two complicated elements of American history: the fur trade and the precarious United States-Native American relationship. View…
Darian Kath, director of the Knife River Center near Mandan, North Dakota, gives a virtual tour of the Five Earthlodge Villages at Knife River in North Dakota. His presentation offers a picture of the villages in an historical context of the Upper Missouri River with an emphasis on the time the Lewis and Clark Expedition spent there. See the video…
Joseph Wiegand offers an energetic living history portrayal of Theodore Roosevelt, who was instrumental in preserving land in North Dakota, a state through which Lewis and Clark traveled. Watch the video…
The YouTube channel is part of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation’s mission and vision to preserve, promote and teach the diverse heritage the story of the 1803-06 Lewis and Clark Expedition for all people
How to view the YouTube channel
You can view the four videos above by clicking on the links at the end of the descriptions. To view videos posted in the future and whenever you want to, you can go to YouTube.com. Once there, type in Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation in the Search bar.
The page that then comes up will show a variety of videos related to the expedition
Locate the Lewis and Clark icon that has the title of “Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation” next to it. (Note: when you see the icon, you will have the option to “Subscribe” to be notified when the Heritage Foundation posts a new video.)
Click on the icon or the title, and you will be taken to the page where the Heritage Foundation’s videos are located. Click on the video you want to watch.
There are three ways to be notified when a new video is published.
One is the “Subscribe” method cited above.
You can watch this blog site (we’ll post a notice when a new video is published).