Lewis and Clark
regional events planned
to mark historic 1803 journey
to join Louisville
in staging signature activities
April 2003) - Events commemorating the Bicentennial of
the Lewis and Clark Expedition began Jan. 18 with an inaugural ceremony
at Monticello, the home of President Thomas Jefferson, outside Charlottesville,
Va. Monticello was the first of 15 sites designated by the National
Council of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial for national heritage signature
events to be held through 2006.
of Historic Trail
The sites, which spread across the country along Lewis
and Clarks now famous trail, were chosen based on their place
in the expeditions chronology, historical relevance, cultural
diversity, tribal involvement, geographic locations and sponsoring organizations
capacity, according to the Bicentennial Council.
A significant part of the Bicentennial Commemoration is inclusion of
the eastern half of the country with national signature event sites
in Monticello and the Falls of the Ohio area in Louisville, Ky., and
Clarksville, Ind. The Falls of the Ohio Lewis and Clark Bicentennial
Committee was chosen to play host to the second national signature event,
which is scheduled for Oct. 24-26 to commemorate the departure of the
expedition from Clarksville.
The committee formed in 1997 when a group of individuals from both sides
of the Ohio River began meeting to explore ways in which communities
in Indiana and Kentucky could commemorate the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial
We worked hard to get the designation of the second national signature
event, said committee president Dani Cummins. In addition to securing
the designation, which signifies the areas importance in the Lewis and
Clark legacy, the committee has also achieved other initiatives.
Among them were the production of a regional brochure titled, Lewis
and Clark at the Falls of the Ohio, production of a 20-minute
educational video called Spirit of the Land, and the successful
addition of both Falls of the Ohio State Park in Indiana and Locust
Grove, Ky., as certified sites on the national Lewis and Clark Trail.
Locust Grove is the only verified remaining structure west of the Appalachians
known as a Lewis and Clark stopping point. Both men visited the home
on Nov. 8, 1806, for a family celebration after returning from the expedition.
Southern Indiana and north central Kentucky community leaders are excited
about the areas inclusion in the national Bicentennial Commemoration,
especially considering the hard work that went in to making sure it
Its an opportunity for the state to tell the story of the
role that we played in the greatest expedition that ever happened,
said Jim Keith, executive director of Clark-Floyd Counties Convention
and Tourism Bureau and chair of the Indiana Lewis and Clark Committee.
Keith said the whole state, not just Clarksville, has embraced the Bicentennial
Commemoration, including the state government, which has produced Lewis
and Clark license plates, an idea Keith said was borrowed from Montana.
Im amazed at the way people have embraced this story,
In addition to the Bicentennial signature event, a number of programs
have been planned around the area, including a 13-day commemoration
beginning Oct. 14, the day Lewis arrived in Louisville.
in Clarksville, Ind.,
are planning to take part in the
Lewis and Clark Bicentennial
Commemoration activities in southern
Indiana and Louisville in October.
A reenactment of Lewis arrival and meeting with
Clark will take place at noon that day at Louisvilles Waterfront
Park. It will close with the reenactment of the Corps of Discoverys
historic departure from Clarksville on Oct. 26.
Between those dates, several additional events are planned throughout
the region. These include Native American and African American programs,
educational programs, a symposium with renowned speakers, Corps of Discovery
II exhibits and programs, St. Charles Expedition programs, special exhibits
and programs at area institutions, arts exhibits and performances, and
the expanded annual Lewis and Clark River Festival. The festival will
showcase the role that the Falls of the Ohio and its residents played
in the success of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Historical sites, galleries and educational institutions around southern
Indiana and north central Kentucky plan to celebrate the Bicentennial
by offering special events or attractions throughout the year. In Clarksville,
Falls of the Ohio State Park has two permanent exhibits, including a
20-minute movie about the local Lewis and Clark connection, and an exhibit
featuring local people who were part of the expedition. Park officials
will add temporary exhibits in commemoration of the Bicentennial.
Beginning Oct. 1, the first of their temporary exhibits, Lewis
and Clark: the Adventure Begins, will go up. It focuses on the
planning of the expedition and includes cutouts of important figures
to the expedition. The cutouts will be part of a traveling exhibit available
for loan to schools and other institutions after winter 2004, according
to Alan Goldstein, interpretive naturalist for the park and a member
of the education committee of the Bicentennial Committee.
Beginning May 1, the Filson Historical Society in Louisville will display
a collection of letters written by William Clark to his brother Jonathan,
five of which date during the time of the expedition and their collection
of surveying equipment, related artwork, portraits, weapons and the
horn of a bighorn sheep that was given to Clarks sister, Fanny,
and is believed to be the only verified animal artifact from the expedition,
according to Filson Curator of Special Collections, James J. Holmberg.
Beginning Oct. 5, the Louisville Science Centers IMAX Theatre
will show Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West, a portrayal
of the physical challenges faced during the 8,000-mile trek across a
More information regarding Lewis and Clark Bicentennial activities are
listed in the calendar of events. To learn more, visit or call one of
the sources listed below.
& Clarks easternmost travels,
preparation added to the celebration.
After the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from the
French in 1803, U.S. Congress authorized an expedition that would become
one of the most significant in U.S. history the Lewis and
Clark Corps of Discovery.
The primary objective of the expedition, necessary for expansion into
newly acquired territory, was to locate and map all navigable water
route across the continent. While the eastern section of the country
was widely settled, the region west of the Mississippi, including 828,000
square miles of new U.S. territory, remained an unfamiliar and uncharted
Clarksville, Ind., are
planning to takepart in
the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial
To lead the expedition, President Thomas Jefferson personally
appointed and trained Capt. Meriwether Lewis. Lewis was born in 1774
in Albermarle County, Va. His father, a Revolutionary War officer, died
when Lewis was a boy. Lewis became a militia officer and later joined
the regular Army. He served as President Jeffersons personal secretary
from 1801-1802. Lewis invited William Clark to join him as co-leader
of the expedition. Clark was born in Virginia in 1770 and at age 14
moved with his family to Louisville, Ky. Clark served in the Kentucky
militia and then as a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
On August 31, 1803, according to his personal journal, Lewis departed
from Pittsburgh, Pa., with a crew of 11. Thick fog and low water made
the travel slow and arduous at times, and it wasnt until Oct.
14 that Lewis connected with Capt. Clark. It is not known definitively
on which side of the river, north or south, the two first met, but historians
agree about the importance of the meeting.
Steven Ambrose and others say that when Lewis and Clark shook
hands, the expedition began, said historian and author Carl E.
Past historical accounts of Lewis and Clarks journey have focused
upon the expedition west of the Mississippi River. But in recent years,
new emphasis has been placed on preparation and travel in the east.
Now called The Eastern Legacy, the trail traveled by Meriwether
Lewis from President Jeffersons home in Virginia to the Louisville
area, where he met up with Clark and continued on toward St. Louis,
is recognized as an important part of the expeditions history.
We are basically changing a hundred year tradition. Most history
books start in St. Louis, said Jim Keith, executive director of
the Clark-Floyd Counties Convention and Tourism Bureau and chair of
the Indiana Lewis and Clark Commission.
The reason the eastern segment of the journey was formerly disregarded
was primarily due to the nature of the mission, according to Kramer.
The purpose for which they were sent out didnt begin until
they got to St. Louis, since their mission was to explore the Missouri
River and find a water route to the Pacific coast, he said.
However, many historians, including Kramer, concur that the eastern
legacy, particularly events that occurred in the Falls of the Ohio area,
are more significant than previously recognized. What were
doing is engaging in a certain kind of historical revisionism in the
sense that we are casting old events into new light based upon new information
and new perspectives, Kramer said.
Kramers soon-to-be-published book, The Corps of Discovery
and the Falls of the Ohio, will detail some of the new information
about the role of the Louisville-Clarksville area and the people recruited
here to participate in the expedition.
According to Kramer, the Falls of the Ohios historical significance
goes beyond being a mere meeting place of the two captains. Not only
was the area Clarks homeplace, it was also where he recruited
several expedition members while waiting for Lewis to arrive.
He came up with about seven men from this general area that became
the core of the Corps, , said Kramer. These men included
individuals who would become some of the most significant to the journey.
Among them were Sgt. Charles Floyd and his cousin, Sgt. Nathaniel Pryor;
brothers Joseph and Reubin Field; John Shields; William Bratton; and
George Gibson, all privates.
After Lewis arrived, he and Clark spent 12 days in the Louisville-Clarksville,
Ind. area making final preparations for the expedition and training
the men Clark had recruited. For all practical purposes, the Falls
of the Ohio is where the expedition took shape, said Kramer. More
than one-third of the expedition party had ties to the area.
Finally, on Oct. 26, 1803, the expedition set out from Clarksville toward
St. Louis. It was from St. Louis that the group entered into the unfamiliar
In addition to Capts. Lewis and Clark, 35 enlisted men and 15 civilians
made the expedition. Among the civilians were George Drouillard, the
son of a French-Canadian father and a Shawnee mother who had been hired
as an interpreter; Toussaint Charbonneau, a French-Canadian fur trader
hired as a guide; Charbonneaus Shoshone wife, Sacagawea; and York,
Clarks slave and the first African-American to cross from coast
to coast of what is now the United States.
The only female member, Sacagawea, earned a place of honor among the
party and in history as an interpreter and ambassador between the explorers
and her native Shoshone.
During the journey, Lewis and Clark not only were successful in mapping
a route beyond the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, they also
recorded flora and fauna, made scientific astronomical observations
and peacefully met with many Indiana groups along the way. Surprisingly,
only one casualty, the death of Sgt. Floyd of an appendicitis, occurred
during the expedition quite remarkable considering the length
and difficulty of journey. Covering nearly 8,000 miles, the group traveled
in boats, on horses and on foot across plains and mountains, and after
three years, returned to the Ohio River Valley in 1806.
When possible during their journey, Clark wrote letters to his brother,
Jonathan, in Louisville detailing events of the trip. In 1988, five
of those letters were recovered from an attic in the Louisville home
of one of Clarks descendants. The letters were donated to the
Filson Historical Society of Louisville, along with 46 others written
by Clark to his brother at other times.
According to Filsons Curator of Special Collections, James J.
Holmberg, two of the letters are especially descriptive. One, said Holmberg,
was written shortly after leaving the Falls of the Ohio area and details
two illnesses suffered by Clark. Another, written in 1805, was sent
just before the party left the last outpost before descending into unknown
territory. It was the last letter sent back during the journey before
the party reappeared in the St. Louis area in 1806.
Many gave them up for dead, said Holmberg, because they
had no way to communicate. Clarks letters were compiled in a book
by Holmberg titled, Dear Brother: Letters of William Clark to
Jonathan Clark. The letters will be on display beginning in May
at the Filson Club, 1310 S. Third St., Louisville.
Following their historic journey, Lewis and Clark went their separate
ways. Clark settled in St. Louis, where he served as Indiana agent for
the Louisiana Territory and superintendent of Indiana Affairs until
1838. He also served as governor of the Missouri territory from 1813-1820.
He died in 1838 and is buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis.
Lewis died just three years after the expedition on October 11, 1809,
at an inn along the Natchez Trace in Tennessee on his way to Washington,
D.C. Speculation of his untimely death, the result of gunshot wounds,
has not been verified, but most historians believe his wounds were self-inflicted.
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