Offical symbol of the National
Park Service's Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
Image courtesy of Lewis and Clark National Historic
Two hundred years later, what can be found on the Lewis and
Clark Trail today? The pathway taken by these explorers has
been greatly altered over the past two centuries. Highways cross
the continent where once only American Indian trails and rivers
were used for travel and communication. Towns and cities founded
by American pioneers moving westward have altered the landscape,
and the courses of rivers--such as the Missouri--have been altered
by dams, in some instances forever covering campsites once used
by the Corps of Discovery. There are however large areas such
as Nez Perce National Historical Park
that remain relatively unspoiled. Historian Dayton Duncan notes
that "Without a doubt, the most unchanged section of the entire
Lewis and Clark route is the White Cliffs section of the Missouri
River in north-central Montana--a stretch of the river, now
protected by Congress, that is only accessible by boat (usually
canoe). This is the place, with its eerie sandstone formations,
that Lewis described as 'scenes of visionary enchantment' ."
The Lewis and Clark National
Historic Trail traces the route of the explorers as closely
as possible given these changes over the years. Today you can
follow in the approximate footsteps of Lewis and Clark, by boat,
canoe, or kayak, by car or bus, on foot or bicycle, or by train,
exploring the route they traveled and reliving the adventure
of the Corps of Discovery.
On July 3, 2002, President Bush was joined by Secretary of the
Interior Gale Norton and other cabinet members in the East Room
of the White House to usher in the Bicentennial of Lewis and Clark's
Voyage of Discovery. Across the nation events commemorating the
bicentennial of the expedition have begun and will continue through
2006. President Bush remarked that "American history is filled
with remarkable examples of heroism and adventure, and the voyage
of Lewis and Clark is one of the most remarkable of them all."
President Bush ushering in
the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial from the East Room in the
Photo courtesy of the White House
The National Park Service's unique contribution to the bicentennial--the
of Discovery II: 200 Years to the Future--is a traveling
education center that will recreate the epic journey and be the
unifying component for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial observance.
Over the next four years it will make stops in large urban areas,
American Indian reservations and small towns along the original
Corps of Discovery's route, and later travel to areas off the
original trail from Florida to Texas, Minnesota to California.
The traveling exhibit includes two interpretive tents with displays
and a performance tent-- the Tent of Many Voices--with
space for demonstrations, lectures, cultural presentations and
audiovisual shows. Performances will be provided in partnership
with American Indian tribes, State governments, local agencies,
the private sector and other Federal agencies. The nation's commemoration
of the Lewis and Clark Expedition began with the debut of the
Corps of Discovery II at Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello,
on January 14, 2003.
Secretary of the Interior
Gale Norton with National Park Service Director Fran Mainella
and park rangers in front of the Corps of Discovery
II at its debut at Monticello in Charlottesville,
Photo from LewisandClark200.gov
Time magazine estimates that approximately 25 million travelers
will traverse the route of Lewis and Clark from 2004 to 2006.
Communities around the country are planning local events to commemorate
their place in the history of the expedition. Fifteen communities
from Charlottesville, Virginia, to Astoria, Oregon, have been
selected by the National Council of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial
as sites for national heritage signature events. Each community
was chosen for its place in the expedition's chronology, its historical
relevance, cultural diversity, tribal involvement, geographic
location and sponsoring organizations' capacity. Information about
these signature events, as well as news and announcements about
the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial, can be found at www.lewisandclark200.org.
Superintedant Gerard Baker
in front of the traveling exhibit Corps of Discovery
II, which will cross 19 States during the commemoration
of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial
Photo from LewisandClark200.gov
- The Falls
of the Ohio in Clarksville, Indiana, and Louisville, Kentucky,
will host a 13-day signature event from October 14-26, 2003,
which will open with the reenactment of Lewis's arrival in
Louisville and meeting with William Clark on October 14, 1803.
It will close with the reenactment of the Corps' departure
from Clarksville on October 26.
- On March 12-14, 2004, in St. Louis, Missouri, the National
Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial Committee and the National
Park Service will host an international ceremony observing
the 200th anniversary of the transfer of the Louisiana Territory
from Spain to France to the United States. Activities at sites
surrounding the Jefferson National Expansion
Memorial National Historic Site will feature the cultures
of the Louisiana Territory-French, Spanish, Anglo-American
and American Indians through interactive displays relating
the legacies of these cultures in America and highlighting
the roles of each in today's world. Information about this
event can be found at http://louisianapurchase.umsl.edu.
- On May 14, 2004, the communities of Hartford and Wood River,
Illinois, will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Corps
of Discovery's final departure from its winter encampment
at Camp River DuBois. Discovery Expedition reenactors
will trace the steps of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, leaving
the Camp River DuBois winter quarters to launch their boats
from the eastern bank of the Mississippi into the mouth of
the Missouri River to begin their journey into the West. By
this date a new Lewis and Clark Visitor Center and Camp River
DuBois fort replica in Hartford will be complete. To find
out more about this three-day event go to www.lewisandclarkillinois.org
- From November 24-27, 2005, there will be a symbolic walk
across the four-mile bridge to Astoria, Oregon, from the Fort
Clatsop National Memorial. The walk is one of several
events cosponsored by the Pacific County Friends of Lewis
and Clark and Fort Clatsop honoring the Corps of Discovery's
historic arrival at the Pacific Ocean at Station Camp and
the winter encampment at Ft. Clatsop.
- An event on August 17-20, 2006, in New Town, North Dakota
will mark the 200th anniversary of the Corps of Discovery's
return to the Knife River Indian Villages.
This event offering American Indian perspectives will contrast
the hopes and dreams of President Thomas Jefferson with those
of tribal leaders who met Lewis and Clark and focus on the
contributions of Sacagawea. For those seeking further information,
please go to www.mhanation.com.
- The Lewis and Clark Expedition officially ended September
23, 1806, when the explorers arrived in St. Louis, Missouri.
A flotilla of watercraft will travel to various historic sites
on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers in commemoration of
this bicentennial event. These historic sites will present
exhibits and conduct programs during the commemorative weekend.
See the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
National Historic Site for more information.
In addition to the 15 signature events, many States and communities
are also hosting events commemorating the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Missouri, the starting point for Lewis and Clark into the largely
uncharted West, offers a number of venues to explore the Lewis
and Clark Bicentennial. Missouri's events can be found at www.lewisandclark.state.mo.us/
The Missouri History Museum at Forest Park hosts Lewis
& Clark: The National Bicentennial Exhibition, from January
20 through September 6, 2004. This is the opening venue of the
national exhibition organized by the Missouri Historical Society.
Events commemorating the Lewis and Clark Expedition in Iowa and
Nebraska can be found at www.lewisandclarkne-ia.com. These include
the annual Sgt. Floyd Re-enactment Days every August in
Sioux City, Iowa. The South Dakota State Historical Society and
the Museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society will host
exhibition tour combining photos and Lewis and Clark journal
entries with modern visual images and historic renderings.
One of the many items you
will see in the Lewis
& Clark: The National Bicentennial Exhibition is
Meriwether Lewis's telescope made by William Cary of London
post-1790, from the Missouri Historical Society Collections
Photo by David Schultz, courtesy of Missouri Historical
Information on North Dakota events during the Lewis and Clark
Bicentennial can be found at www.ndlewisandclark.com. Montana
will host a Lewis and Clark Festival from June 25-29,
2003, to highlight events of the Lewis and Clark Expedition during
their stay in Great Falls in 1805, and Clark
Day on July 26-27, 2006, at Pompey's Pillar.
An entire list of statewide events can be found online at Lewis
and Clark in Montana. In Oregon, a play about Sacagawea was
performed in January 2003 by the Oregon Children's Theatre (OCT).
The play, written by nationally recognized playwright Eric Coble,
tells how Sacagawea joined the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In
June 2004, People of the River will debut--an exhibit focusing
on the American Indians who lived on the rivers from the mouth
of the Snake to the Pacific Ocean. The result of a collaborative
effort between the Portland Art Museum and the National Museum
of American Indians (part of the Smithsonian Institution), this
100-year-old collection of exclusively American Indian artifacts
has never been on exhibit or published in journals. This and other
events hosted throughout the Northwest can be found on the Lewis
& Clark Bicentennial in Oregon or Washington
State Historical Society websites.
Pompey's Pillar, just one
of the places around the country where an event will be
held to commemorate the expedition |
Photo from Bureau of Land Management
If you are interested in participating in the Lewis and Clark
commemoration and traveling the trail yourself, you will find
helpful links to websites that list events in each State and
nationally on our Learn More page.