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This historical theme embraces the expansion of the British colonies and the United States from the crest of the Appalachians across the North American continent and into the Pacific Ocean, between the Proclamation of 1763 and the end of the Spanish-American War.

Subthemes include the following aspects of North American history: British and United States Explorations of the West; Fur Trade; Military-Aboriginal American Contact and Conflict; Western Trails and Travelers; the Mining and Farming Frontiers; and the Cattlemen's Empire.

Grand Portage NM
Grand Portage National Monument

Grand Portage National Monument is an example of a National Park Service unit that is representative of the Exploration historical theme. It is a fur trade site, located in northern Minnesota, of the late 1700's. It is comprised of the reconstructed great hall (shown at right), kitchen and canoe warehouse, as well as a palisade wall and the eight and one-half mile Grand Portage. The centuries old Grand Portage became a major gateway into the interior of North America for exploration, trade and commerce. It linked Lake Superior with an inland system of lakes and rivers. During the late 18th century, Grand Portage served as the inland headquarters for the North West Company, and was the location for a summer rendezvous involving traders, agents, partners, voyagers and Indians.

The links below will take you to other NPS units which contain additional information regarding this historical theme. Following that are links to related materials, which will provide more detailed Web sites that discuss selected aspects of this historical theme.

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