‘Tis the time of year to prepare for 2023.
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
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:
- All about the dugout canoes of Lewis and Clark.
- Pompeys Pillar.
- Listen to a short radio commentary (3:39 minutes): July 25, 1804: The explorers’ time at Pompeys Pillar.
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:
- Decision Point by air.
- Decision Point: Marias River decision.
- All about Decision Point.
- Short radio commentary (3:26 minutes): Choosing between rivers.
Winners of Landscape category
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:
Winners of Flora and Fauna
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:
- Plants of the expedition.
- How the plants were preserved.
- Listen to botany professor James Reveal talk about plant collecting on the expedition.
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:
- The five fir trees of Lewis.
- Largest species of spruce.
- Short radio commentary (2:51 minutes): 42-foot girth.
Winners of People on the Trail
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:
- The iron-framed boat.
- Portage around the Great Falls.
- Short radio commentary (3:07 minutes): July 11, 1805: Iron boat launched.
- Short radio commentary (3:27 minutes): July 14, 1806: Iron boat still in good shape.
Winners of Public Lewis and Clark Art
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:
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:
- The story of Camp Disappointment.
- National Park Service: A high potential historic site.
- Camp Disappointment today.
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:
- The White Cliffs.
- Short radio commentary (3:36 minutes): Scenes of visionary enchantment.