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Old 03-08-2015, 09:20 AM   #1
LewisNClark OP
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Lewis and Clark Trail, 8 yrs of it...

I was taking in Glacier National Park eight years ago and heading home through some very remote back roads in northern Montana and I see a monument sticking up in the horizon in the middle of absolutely nowhere. This caught my curiosity.....

Having not seen a house or business for 20 miles I decided to take a chance across a cattle guard on to what looked like a private free range cattle see what stood there in the horizon.

Ends up this little marker, 14 miles from the Canadian border, is so remote very few people have ever seen it, but the site was so significant it changed the geography of the United States forever. All because water running downstream from the little creek beside the monument eventually flowed into the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico taking the land away from France. The mountains in the distant background are the Canadian Rockies.

Reaching the monument I certainly knew the guy's name on the monument. Heading home 2,500 miles away I passed another marker in St Louis with the same name on the marker. It hit me, this guy was the real deal AdvRider. When Meriwether Lewis walked away from this little creek in Montana he knew the Lewis and Clark Expedition was over, so he was headed home.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition sort of ended down the above little gravel road, but started down the below little gravel road.

After 8 years and 52,000 miles and over 5,900 jpg's I've covered the Lewis and Clark Trail, several times. But still have not seen it all. They did cover some of the most beautiful parts of this country.

After exploring the Lewis and Clark Trail it finally led me back to the below little gravel road in Ivy, Virginia last year, to the Lewis plantation called Locust Hill. The little gravel road where it all began and ended when Lewis returned home to Locust Hill in 1806.

Lewis was born on this gravel road in 1774 and from birth he was destined to travel, partially because the eventual President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, was a next door neighbor.

Crossing a frozen river in 1779 Thomas Lewis, Meriwether's father, fell off his horse into a frozen river and died from exposure. President Jefferson, a close family friend to Lewis' parents and kept an eye on 5 yr old Meriwether after his father's death.

Meriwether's mother, Lucy, was now a single pioneer mother whose sole method of survival was what she could shoot with a musket from her front porch and scratch out of a vegetable garden in the back yard. So she did the best thing she could think of to support herself and Meriwether, she married her cousin.

Albeit, a second cousin living 600 miles away in Georgia. Engaged, and married like a mail order bride Lucy and Meriwether probably traveled for a month by wagon with all their worldly possessions the 600 miles south to Goose Pond, Georgia. This was the beginning of Lewis' continual travels for the rest of his life.

Sign leading to Lewis' birth place in Ivy, Virginia.

Closeup of birthplace marker:

Driveway marker:

View of driveway to the Lewis farm:

Two cattle gates in front of original site of the Lewis home. The site is deep inside a local residential subdivision. Didn't know it, until the third trip there, but the actual site of the house was a local top secret. Pretty easy to find the general location of the Locust Hill plantation but I was out to find the home site. On the third ride there, in desperation, I flagged down a lady jogger on Locust Hill Road. After explaining my quest of three trips there searching in vain for information about the location of the home site, she laughed and shared the secret. Finally found someone to reveal the secret location.

Standing in front of the site of the Lewis home I heard a sole “woof” over my shoulder...that sounded like human talk for “git along, you've found it, git along”.

Newfoundland dog checking me out: like the Expedition's dog Seaman (because he was an breed destined to be a water retriever.

Property/Farm Lewis family farmed.

Obligatory pic of bike:

Route of Lewis and his mother had to have been over today's Blue Ridge Parkway. Today's Blue Ridge parkway is about 4 miles from their home at Locust Hill. It took me two days to reach home (which is 80 mile from Goose Pond); I must have crossed 50 rivers and creeks (I had bridges) and can not image traveling this route in a wagon without bridges, but crossing ferries or rock roads across rivers. Their trip had to have taken close to a month.

Map from Ivy, VA to Goose Pond, GA.

Travel to Goose Pond, GA (located 24 miles south of Elberton, GA and 65 miles due east of the University of Georgia (Athens).

The John Marks' plantation at Goose Pond is located in a very remote rural area.

Pile of chimney and foundation rocks of the Lewis' new home at Goose Pond. Lewis' new step-father was John Marks.

Known picture of what the 1700's era homes looked like: (this replica home is at Revolutionary War battle site at Cow Pens. 1 room; 1 fireplace, and if you were well off, you had a front and back lean-to porches). This is most likely what the John Marks home looked like, a wealthy plantation owner.

Marker about John Marks family at Goose Pond, GA.

After six years of living in a southern wilderness...Meriwether's mother Lucy sent 12 yr old Meriwether back to live with relatives in Ivy, Virginia to get an education.

When Lewis reached 24 yrs old he enlisted in the US Army. By 28, he had quickly advanced to the rank of Captain. Immediately upon his election to be President, Jefferson hired Lewis to be his personal secretary and aid. His first major assignment was to lead the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The brains and planning of the Expedition were born at Jefferson's plantation at Monticello, VA:

Jefferson's actual desk where the planning began:

With much input from Jefferson, Lewis spent a year planning and preparing for the Expedition, Planning included how many people, it started at 2 or 3 men, went to 20, then to 30, and would change again before the first oar struck water. Lewis planned tools, medical care, food, weapons, and ammo, learned to calculate GPS coordinates with a sextant, chronometer, with the sun, moon and stars. Bottom line is technology and training came from Philadelphia, if it was a tool or made of metal it came from the Harpers Ferry Armory in West Virginia.

Downtown Harpers Ferry as it looked in 1800 and as it still looks today, 2015.

Musket Rifles of the same model purchased by Meriwether Lewis

The brick building to the right (half brick and half stucco) is believed to be the building Lewis visited to place his order for all of the Expedition tools. Stucco building to the left was a pub (bar and restaurant) that Lewis was to have visited when at Harpers Ferry.

Typical tools custom ordered for the Expedition...rifle, gun powder horn, tomahawk (combination tomahawk and tobacco smoking pipe in the handle and head), knife, and three bullet presses.

Both Jefferson and Lewis planned to befriend the Indians west of the Mississippi so they had dozens of different tools made specifically for the Indians, who had no metal making skills. One such tool was an small auger for drilling holes in wood or trees.

Another tool ordered by Lewis were gigs for spearing fish. A simple gig could be traded for an Appaloosa horse when they reached Idaho.

This tool was the personal property of a member of the Expedition, Sgt Gass. His family donated the broad hatchet to the Cape Disappointment Lewis and Clark Museum, and it's still there today.

Maybe Lewis' idea, no one knows for sure, but all the Expedition's gunpowder was stored in lead canisters. Knowing that much of their travels would be by canoe Lewis used these canisters for storing gunpowder in case a canoe overturned, destroying the gunpowder. Once a canister was empty of powder the lead canister was melted down to make bullets in the bullet press.

And one of the most critical hand tools on the Expedition, an “adzes”.

A cross between a hoe and ax was used to make oars, hollow out canoes and build the three forts they constructed during the Expedition. Both captains felt they could not have survived their travels without their adzes.

But finally, the most important tool. The manual emery wheel used by blacksmith, Private Shields. All their rifle's were the same model musket but no two hand shaped firing mechanism were the same. Each firing pin was uniquely filed to a precise margin for it to detonate gun powder. Shields used the emery wheel to adjust each rifle. He used it hundreds of times during two years and 8 months on the trail. Both captains were so depending on the emery wheel and Shields' skills they requested Shields get double pay for his 2 yrs and 8 months of duty during the Expedition. His additional pay was granted.

Typical rifle firing mechanism:

This is the site of the armory factory (factory walls are outlined by a chain, barely visible) that would eventually be burned to the ground just after the Civil War started. George Washington directed construction of the Harpers Ferry Armory to provide rifles for the Revolutionary War era.

more adventure coming.....
The Trip:
Link to 4,000+ pictures of Lewis & Clark Trail:

LewisNClark screwed with this post 03-28-2015 at 09:22 AM
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Old 03-08-2015, 10:12 AM   #2
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Old 03-08-2015, 10:13 AM   #3
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Thank you

This is amazing and surely will be one of the all time greatest "ride" reports! Thank you for sharing your travels a nd knowledge. Look forward to following along.
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Old 03-08-2015, 10:59 AM   #4
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Making of the big barge/keelboat

While Lewis' tools and rifles were under construction at Harpers Ferry he headed north to a little town called Elizabeth, Pennsylvania. This small town is about 25 miles due south of Pittsburgh and was known in the 1790's as the primary builder of large river boats. Mr. John Walker was the founder of the boat building industry in 1790 but his family and employees expanded the industry into the next century. Walker is not believed to have been the builder of Lewis' keelboat....but one of his apprentices. No one know positively but research hints aht a William Greenough may have been Lewis' keelboat builder. As mentioned, many called the big boat a keelboat, but in reality both captains and their troops usually called it the “big boat” or “barge”

Finished Keelboat:

Lewis sketched out the basic shape and dimensions of the keelboat for the boat builder. Even at this point neither Jefferson nor Lewis had decided how many men would go on the Expedition but the size of the keelboat complicated the number of crew members needed. Today the keelboat would probably be called a barge and everything built at Elizabeth was destined to be a river boat, mostly for transporting cargo up and down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

The following marker describes the Walker family involvement of boat building in Elizabeth.

Tombstone of John Walker in downtown Elizabeth:

After sketching and ordering the keelboat Lewis continued his preparation for the Expedition (navigational longitude and latitude training, medical training, leaning Latin (so he could properly classify and name new plants that he knew he would be discovering during their travels. Lewis ended up discovering 250+ new unknown plants and animals on their travels. (Like the mule deer, antelope, prairie dog, and the Lewis Peckerwood bird, etc). Probably the most popular of his findings is the “Lewis' Woodpecker”.

Lewis traveled back and forth between Elizabeth, Philadelphia, Ivy, VA (his home), and Harpers Ferry receiving various training as described. Meanwhile, Clark had excepted Lewis' letter of invitation to join him on the Expedition and his sole responsibility was to recruit the best and most physically fit soldiers he knew, and wait.

Probable site of where the keelboat was built in Elizabeth, PA. on the banks of the
Monongahela River. The back of this building is right on the banks of the Monongahela
River. The construction of the 20,000 pound keelboat had to have been build along the banks since the only crane available in 1800 was a grass rope winch.

With a Spring target date Lewis had scheduled a Conestoga wagon to pickup his tons of rifles and tools from Harpers Ferry to be hauled to Wheeling, West Virginia to meet up with him and the keelboat on the Ohio River. With the Spring target date to return to Elizabeth to pickup the keelboat, Lewis returned to find a skeleton of a boat and a drunk single worker asleep (passed out) in his shop in the middle of the day. In this instant the Expedition is delayed for a year.

The departure date of the Expedition was carefully planned so the Expedition could reach the last friendly Indian village at today's Washburn, North Dakota so they could hunker down for a brutal Dakota winter. The delayed keelboat meant that the start of the adventure was delayed for a year.

Eventually Lewis would returned to retrieve the new keelboat and would begin his first leg of river travels down the Monongahela River, to the Ohio River to pickup Clark and his recruits near Louisville, Kentucky.

Waiting for the completion of the keelboat Lewis spent many months learning...

Navigation, Lewis had to learn the tools of the trade:

The chronometer – basically a watch that “must” keep perfect time in order to be useful for calculating coordinates.

The Pole Chain Ruler - Used to measure short distances such as widths of rivers, rock formations, etc. but mostly land. Each link in the chain folded out similar to a tape measure. A British tool, the chain ruler was used to measure acreage of land and miles.

The Sextant: Used to measure distances and calculate coordinates. Only months into the Expedition Clark could measure the width of the Mississippi with the sexton without getting his feet wet.

Spool and disk - This tool was used to measure the speed of the river current. President Jefferson knew many future pioneers would be tracing the Lewis and Clark Expedition river route and the knowledge of what to expect in river current speeds would be valuable to various size boats. The speed of the river current greatly decreased in the western plains and also changed as the river passed through narrow banks.

How the spool and triangle disk was used – Clark or a crew member stood on the front of the keelboat or one of the pirogues and threw the triangle down the river. As they rowed or coasted down the river someone wound up the twine on the spool and someone else measured the time, probably with an hour-glass. Clark or someone maintained a log of the location and speed of each test. Remember the majority of their river travel was rowing upstream so the speed being measured was fairly slow.

The monocular and hand compass were carried by both Captains through the Expedition. The monocular was frequently used by Clark to estimate distances.

Lewis collected the most advance tools known to man for the Expedition. The source of tools was simple, a gentleman's club called the American Philosophical Society.

This APS was the made up of some 20 such members as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Dr. Benjamin Rush, etc. Who were the original planner of a secret exploration into French Territory west of the Mississippi River. Each member of the organization was the top scientists in their fields, medicine, law, botany, chemistry, etc. And most were signers of the “Declaration of Independence”. They had already privately funded two failed attempts to explore the west. The L & C Expedition was their brain-child but with Jefferson now the President of the United States the Expedition was now funded by the US Government, a full $2,500.

Jefferson scheduled Lewis to attend training with numerous members of the Society, especially medical first aid training from Dr. Rush.

Dr. Rush provided Lewis with the a box of medicine and herbs for his Expedition, and warned that the unknown length of time they would be traveling and the probable diet of deer and elk meat at each meal, constipation would be one of their main needs for treatment. He provide Lewis with his concoction (invention) of “Rush's Revenge”, as the troops would eventually call these little pills. A strong laxative that's main component was mercury, known today to be a poison.

Another treatment Dr. Rush provided was the syringe like the one below. This device was tastefully never listed in their list of tools, nor supplies, or anywhere in their journals until Clark wrote about the use of it on infant, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau. It is assumed many of the soldiers used the pump on themselves, but the Rush pills were the preferred relief. To use the siphon one simply pushed the siphon needle up their rear end and pulled up on the siphon pump handle to relieve the constipation. Thanks but no thanks, I'll use as many pills as it takes.

A second primary medical treatment were pills to make the patient sweat.

A third treatment taught to Lewis was bleeding. Most of Lewis' medical training involved the medical theory that most illnesses were due to the imbalance of the body's three fluids:
blood, bile, and sweat. If someone had a headache, Lewis or Clark would normally pull out their knife and make a cut in an arm or leg to bleed the patient of to one pint of blood to balance the blood fluid. An upset stomach was a Rush pill or pull out the syringe. If those did not work, another fluid treatment was tried.

One of their most noted medical treatment was when Sacajawea's was in painful labor for several days giving birth to John Baptiste Charbonneau, and Lewis' treatment was, you guessed it, one of the little Rush's Revenge pills, a laxative.

While Lewis is wrapping up his navigational, medical and botany training President Jefferson is busy buying a country...the Louisiana Purchase Territory. Lewis.

The Louisiana Purchase Territory is in the GREEN below. France had laid claim to the Louisiana area and Spain had claims on the lands west of the Louisiana Territory. France was busy with wars in other parts of the world and only had a few hundred soldiers and citizens in their territory so they were willing and ready to sell their territory. Jefferson's genius, or maybe it was an accident, was in the wording of the Louisiana Purchase Treaty.

First, the lands west of the Mississippi had never been maps, only a few hundred people had ever scouted the area. The treaty stated that France was selling “all lands on which waters flowed into the Mississippi River. Jefferson knew it but Napoleon must not have known that the Missouri River flowed into the Mississippi. Jefferson no doubt noted the importance of mapping the rivers on their travels....Lewis eventually was standing 14 miles from the Canadian Border just south of today's Glacier National Park (Browning, Montana). Standing at that site collecting the coordinates, Lewis was standing beside a little creek that ran into the Missouri, that ran into Mississippi, that ran into the Louisiana Territory. The Expedition had marked a site that double the lands of the original 13 colonies.

Probably the most interesting story about the Louisiana Territory is a marker on the southeast corner of the Louisiana Purchase was lost for over a hundred years. Several hunters, one being a surveyor, stumbled across the actual corner site of the Louisiana Purchase territory in 1927, 112 years after the original purchase. The surveyor noticed a line of trees cut down around the site of the original marker. This granite marker was later installed to permanently mark the site of the lower east corner of the Territory.

If anyone wants to find this marker and Louisiana Purchase Territory State Park, the below maps will lead you to it. It is south off of Interstate 40, 27 miles south of Brinkley, Arkansas.

Meanwhile, as Jefferson finalizes the Louisiana Purchase Territory, Lewis is busy picking out a Newfoundland pup for the Expedition, return to Elizabeth, PA, scheduling his conestoga wagon from Harpers Ferry,.....The below map is Lewis' probable route from Pennsylvania, DC, Harpers Ferry, Elizabth, route of the Ohio River, and intersection where to meet the conesotoga wagon hauling his tools and rifles from Harpers Ferry, and finally to pickup Clark and “The Twelve Young Men from Kentucky” (the key members of the Expedition soldiers).

Map of Lewis' route before loading boat(s) and heading down the Ohio River to pick up Clark.

One of Lewis' and Seaman's camping stops was an island in the middle of the Ohio called Buffington Island. Sixty years later this island was also a Civil War campsite.

Just a mile south of Buffington Island I totally by accident pass a historical marker identifying property owned by George Washington. George was one of he largest landowners in the 1790's and owned much of the lands up and down the Ohio River. Do note that the markers describes use acres and “poles”. Poles were the length of the chain ruler described above.

Let the Expedition Begin.....Route of the Ohio to Louisville (Clarksville, IN).

Long story shortened...Lewis leaves Elizabeth, PA. headed to pick up Clark and crew to then head further down the Ohio River to the confluence of the Ohio and the mighty Mississippi. Lewis had never seen the Ohio but he had been told the Ohio was full of “rivits”, rapids, and lots of shallow water....a major problem for the big keelboat (barge). After getting the big keelboat hung up on rapids 4 times and having to hire farmer's oxen and mules to pull the keelboat down the river he purchased two smaller canoes, called pirogues.

To keep the keelboat maneuverable and sitting high in the river he loaded his heavy cargo into the two lighter pirogues.

Replicas of the two pirogues (red and white):

Replica of the interior of the keelboat (located at the Camp Dubois Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center near St Louis, MO).

All three boats (replicas) together at the 200th year reenactment camped at Cole Creek Landing near St Louis. Cole Creek camp was the Expedition's first campsite. As a test Clark had the crew leave Cape Dubois at 4:20 PM and row the boats only about 4 miles before camping.

Traveling down the Ohio to Louisville, KY to meet Clark took several weeks. Lewis had hired temporary laborers to help row the three boats down the river so his help relieved him to do some hunting. He sat on the front of the keelboat popping off squirrels for supper as Seaman his new 6 month old pup retrieved them.

One of a dozen maps of this Ohio River campsites.

Lewis arrives in Louisville (actually Clarksville, Indiana) across the river from Louisville, KY to meet Clark. Below is an exact replica on the exact site of the Clark home. In the background is the cabin of York, Clark's servant.

Clark and York were living at his older brother General George Rogers Clark's cabin. View from the front door of Clark's cabin over looking today's Louisville.

Exact site where Lewis docked their keelboat and two pirogues.

Lewis, Clark, York, Seaman (the dog), Bratton, probably Colter, and possible several other members of the Expedition loaded up the three boats and headed out to pick up “The Twelve Your Men from Kentucky”. Several of these men lived in today's West Point, Kentucky. (the Fields brothers, Floyd and blacksmith Shields). The keelboat pulled ashore to pick up this group at the below river bank.

Marker noting the history of the men being picked up here.

Floyd was probably pickup up at West Point, KY at this location. He was the only member of the Expedition to die during their travels. He lived just south of Louisville in a community called Floyd Station, still there today.

Leaving Louisville the Expedition's next stop was Fort Massac. Traveling down the Ohio River Lewis had his hands full navigating the keelboat and now he and Clark realized they were lacking a skill that they had probably not foreseen. Though most of the men had lived on the Ohio River none were really experienced in navigating a 20,000 pound barge with a rudder. At Fort Massac they uncovered one of the most valuable members of the expedition. Fort Massac was on the outer reaches of civilization before entering into Indian territory.

At Fort Massac they meet George Drouillard. Drouillard was half Creek Indian and half French Canadian Army Officer. He was a civilian but had experience with navigation but also possessed the best communication skills with the Indians, hand sign language that was pretty universal with all tribes they would encounter. And would eventually be the most skilled hunter and woodsman. Without doubt, the expedition would never have been completed without the skills of George Drouillard. His main contribution was his hunting skill which kept them from starving.

FYI – Fort Massac is just outside Metropolis, Kentucky.

As the boats reached the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi River the Captains had collected about 44 men to help reach their winter stopping point. Lewis had left Elizabeth and gone down the Ohio, all downstream for almost 1,000 miles. As they turn north up the Mississippi they would be rowing, poling, and possibly pulling the 22,000 pound keelboat on upstream current. They decided to take a week of rest and training before tackling the Mississippi.

At Philadelphia Lewis had learned a wealth of new information about navigation, Latin, botany, minerals, and needed to delegate the majority of the navigational responsibilities on to Clark. Clark was a land surveyor by occupation and training from his older brother in Clarksville. So he was a much better choice for mapping and documenting their travels.

Under the below tree, Lewis spent 6 days teaching Clark the use of all the new navigational instruments he had learned to use in Philadelphia. The critical training was how to use the sexton, sun, moon and stars to calculate latitude and longitude.

In the shade of these trees Lewis taught Clark everything he knew about calculating latitude and longitude. They practiced by documenting the important coordinates of the confluence of
the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. From that day forward Clark took on the responsibility of mapping the lands west of the Mississippi River. His maps were used for the next 100 years.

This old cast iron marker documents the history of the site. This marker is on a backwoods road in Cairo, Illinois just before you head up the bridge going over the Mississippi River into Missouri. Cairo, Illinois is right at the corner of Illinois, Kentucky, and Missouri and is best known as a town that floods every year.

Leaving the above marker you cross over this bridge into Missouri. If you're afraid of heights you might want to bypass this bridge but it is the only bridge for probably 30 miles that crosses the river. The steepest bridge I've ever crossed. The bridge road climbs up into the upper level seen in the top of the picture.

Traveling to begin shortly
The Trip:
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LewisNClark screwed with this post 03-19-2015 at 11:40 AM
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Old 03-08-2015, 11:32 AM   #5
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I hope that is at least part optical illusion. I can't fathom going up that bridge on a tall GS in stop and go traffic. Subscribed!
"I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure about anything." Richard Feynman, Cal Tech Scientist
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Old 03-08-2015, 11:41 AM   #6
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NO optical illusion...had to be a tall bridge to survive the annual floods of the Mississippi.

Only other steeper bridge I have ever encountered is across the Mississippi Rvr in Louisiana. On my first trip over this bridge in Cairo I learned to never get behind a big slow loaded tractor trailer truck which I did the first time and was having to stay in 1st gear behind him. Worst problem with this bridge was it continually swayed from traffic.

But there's little choice to avoid this bridge without an hour ride to get over the Mississippi.
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LewisNClark screwed with this post 03-08-2015 at 01:44 PM
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Old 03-08-2015, 11:43 AM   #7
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I hated history when I was a boy--------but now luv it.
There is no greater story for me than this one.
Thanks for all the work.
None of us are adventurers-------they were.

Been over that bridge a jillion times---it was closed for repairs awhile back.
Very near there is where the army corps of engineers blew up a levee about 3 years ago
to keep Cairo from flooding.

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Old 03-08-2015, 11:44 AM   #8
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thanks for your interest I4Bikes & Skratchy.....RR are a lot of work but I hope to complete this one for the total 4,800 miles the Expedition did....lots of pictures ahead.
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Old 03-08-2015, 11:47 AM   #9
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Totally in for this one!!

Be sure the safest rule is that we should not dare to live in any scene in which we dare not die. ~Lewis Carroll~
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Old 03-08-2015, 11:55 AM   #10
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Thanks BigDog:

You are exactly right. Never knew what I wanted to major in in college...hated history. Now at 60+ I finally figured out what I should have done...history.

Never thought of this until a someone mentioned it...."the only other adventure close to landing on the Moon was the Lewis and Clark Corp of Discovery". The suffering these 33 guys (and Seaman) went through had to be unbearable.

This RR is not leaving out much of the goory details of the suffering some of these guys went through stopping bleeding cuts with a red hot knife blade (carterizing) or eating over 100 dogs, curing syphillis....thank you but I'll suffer.

Hope you tag along. l know that bridge above is in your backdoor.... (Especially on the Lolo Trail that you have been close to)

Originally Posted by BigDogAdventures View Post
I hated history when I was a boy--------but now luv it.
There is no greater story for me than this one.
Thanks for all the work.
None of us are adventurers-------they were.

The Trip:
Link to 4,000+ pictures of Lewis & Clark Trail:

LewisNClark screwed with this post 03-30-2015 at 03:32 PM
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Old 03-08-2015, 11:58 AM   #11
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Thx, glad you're hear...always watch your RR's. I can almost guarantee you will be on the L & C Trail if you watch this RR all the way through. I think my last trip will be this summer and hope this RR gets others to jump on it like the TAT.

Originally Posted by larryboy View Post
Totally in for this one!!

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Old 03-08-2015, 12:00 PM   #12
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Love it!!! Thanks!!!! Been to a lot of places along the route, but not enough! This will get me motivated to see more!!!!

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Old 03-08-2015, 12:03 PM   #13
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I have read all I can find about Lewis and Clark. I really like your report with all the pictures. Looking for more.
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Old 03-08-2015, 12:04 PM   #14
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One of my favorite, most difficult finds on the trail

Tavern Rock (Cave) was the hardest place for me to find on the trail....dangerous to go there but afterwards glad I did. If anyone here tries to hike to it ...WATCH OUT FOR THE TRESSEL.

Leaving their camp at Cairo, Ill. Clark is practicing his new navigation skills as they enter the Mississippi and head due north to today's St Louis. The two pirogues and big keelboat are now manned by 44 men, and one dog. Being in the middle of the mighty Mississippi with a 22,000 pound boat and ten 8 foot oars manned in shifts had to make some of the men wonder what they had volunteered for, and eight were known to be non-swimmers.

St Louis was not a big city but did have a few thousand pioneers, mostly of French and British
ancestry, and some Indians. Jefferson had provided Lewis is a rough sketch of a map of the upper Mississippi and Missouri Rivers that had been passed down through several books . This map was developed by a trapper who had made one or more trips north out of St Louis. As more map sketches were created the combined map led river travelers to today's Washburn, North far the word Dakota was not a part of the map.

This rough map provided enough information that Lewis already knew it would probably take 6 to 8 months to reach North Dakota, here within lies the significance of the keelboat's construction not being on time.

Lewis and Jefferson had planned on a departure from Elizabeth, PA in the Spring of 1804 and a direct route to North Dakota where they would hunker down for a brutal Dakota winter, which they were well aware of. With 40+ men to feed and shelter from a Winter climate the plan was to reach North Dakota before the bitter cold and build some sort of shelter from the known freezing temperatures and snow.

The keelboat's delay now meant the Expedition would now have to make their first Winter camp near St Louis before entering the Missouri River and continuing on the North Dakota. The St Louis area winter temperatures allowed the two Captains to build a temporary fort, stage their supplies and tools and they could evaluate the skills, discipline and temperament of the crew....they had 43 to 44 men in the party, at least 8 were simply hired laborers (called engagees) that they all knew would not be part of the “Permanent Party” but would be part of the “Return Party”. All of the 40+ men would travel to North Dakota since they were all needed to paddle, pole and pull by rope the keelboat.

The original plan was for all members of the expedition to be active military men, but both Captains quickly saw the necessity of experienced boat navigators and interpreters. Drouilllard, the civilian who was half Indian and half French with boating skills, and excellent sign language skills was immediately made part of the permanent party.

Their winter camp near St Louis was located at a small river called Camp Dubois, French for Wood River. The community of Wood River is still there today. This camp site was in the United States 13 colonies territory so it was technically in today's Illinois. The land for Camp Dubois was owned by a wealth trader living in St Louis who agreed to let Lewis temporarily use the site. The property was eventually purchased by Shell Oil but is now a state park.

The below is a map of the location of St Louis and Camp Dubois.

Camp Dubois is not far from here, just across the river.

This is a replica of the “fort” at Camp Dubois. The captains made it a point to call this structure a camp and not a fort since it was only a temporary quarters, was on private property, and Lewis probably did not know that the Louisiana Territory Treaty was finalized and St Louis (west side of the Mississippi River) was under French control.

In 2003, the 200th Anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Trail Corp of Discovery was reenacted by each state effected by their travels. The US government funded $10,000 to each state that participated in the reenactment. Illinois and Missouri performed the reenactment with the participation of the National Park Service. The keelboat was the biggest replica involved and the original plans were to have a crew of volunteers row the 22,000 keelboat....this did not make it past a first attempt and two Mercury inboard motors were concealed to propel the keelboat. Based on Clark's sketches in the Lewis and Clark Journals both pirogue and keelboat are believed to be exactly to scale as the real boats.

Various picture from Camp Dubois:

By far the best museum about Lewis and Clark is the Wood River (St Louis) Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. The below picture is of a cutaway of the keelboat.

Captain's quarters inside the hull of the keelboat.

Rear view of the keelboat.

Interior walls of Camp Dubois.

Interior sleeping quarters of enlisted men at Camp Dubois. Most historians estimate that most men on the Expedition were roughly 5'6' tall and probably weight an average of 140-160 pounds. Many were of German and Irish ancestry so they were small in stature. Five or six were recent immigrants since birth and many had accents. This is best noted in their written journals. The “Twelve Young Men from Kentucky” most likely had very strong southern accents, this is reflected in Clark's journals and spelling.

The below bed bunks are replicas but were sketched by Clark to be about 18 inches apart which indicated how small the enlisted men were.

The Captains sleeping and working quarters at Camp Dubois. They always had writing desks for writing your journals, built by the enlisted men.

The below is an image of the replica boat departing Wood River (Camp Dubois or the Wood River) at 4:20 PM on the 200th anniversary date. The keelboat is in the distance. As in the real expedition, the pirogues lead the way on their river travels.

Close up of the keelboat approaching a landing at Cole Creek Landing, their actual first campsite in 1804.

All three boats at the exact site they landed 200 years earlier.

The below is my route for the following 50+ miles. I keep all GPS coordinates in Microsoft Streets and Trips, then convert them to EasyGPS which puts them in GPX format for pretty much any GPS unit.

As you leave each campsite or point of interest the GPS shows the next nearest stop (point of interest).....pretty fool proof and this also lets you start at any point on the L & C Trail and go either east or west, and easily skip areas that are not of interest, or simply too rough to do, such as a wheat field, or swamp.

View of Cole Creek campsite in 2003.

This granite stone marks the spot the expedition departed Camp Dubois.

Text of the marker.

The starting point of the Expedition is debatable but the OFFICIAL starting point was St. Charles, Missouri. Leaving the Cole Creek campsite their next stop was St Charles and a reception of locals gave them an official send off on a Sunday afternoon.

Downtown St Charles as it looks today.

Marker of Lewis, Clark and Seaman at today's St Charles river park the site of the Expeditions official departure.

Maps of their stops and campsites as they depart St Charles;

This is a very typical view of the pavement route of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. From St Charles to Washburn, North Dakota they were upstream on the Missouri River. On pavement their river route is to your left then your right, and campsites are almost always down a little gravel road, often a fishing boat landing is the nearest path to their campsite. The above maps give you a clue as to where they camped. Some campsites are very easy to get to, others are not....from St Charles, Missouri to their Winter stop at Fort Mandan (Washburn, North Dakota) they averaged 10 to 12 miles each day upstream on the Missouri.

Normally rowing, but if water was shallow a team of soldiers jumped in the water and used ropes to pull the 22,000 pound keelboat. When they reach the plains of Iowa and Kansas they sometimes pulled ropes from the banks. When the winds were blowing right they sometimes hoisted their sails when there were no overhanging tree limbs.

Leaving St Charles the river was a few hundred yards wide and full of floating logs and sandbars. This bridge view is typical of their travels up the Missouri River.

Map of their travels in the first week after leaving St Charles.

This is a typical road sign for finding Lewis and Clark campsites.

Just two days into their adventure Lewis decides to take his first side adventure. He had heard much talk about a popular cave for French, Spanish and Indian trappers and traders, that traveled up and down the Missouri. Many people feel like the name “tavern” suggests that the cave was a place to drink and possible store booze. At the time the cave was 250 feet off the banks of the Missouri but today the river course has changed so it is several hundred yards from the river. The cave was a little haven from bad weather. No one knows the total history of the cave but there are centuries of notes and signatures scribbled on the inside of the cave walls. And yes Clark did leave his signature inside the cave.

Tavern Cave is one of my favorite L & C sites: Really challenging and hard to find, beautiful scenery, historical, and signs that told me never to go there. Lewis was determined to find the cave and did the difficult climb up the treeline but when he started down he saw the boats in the river below and was attempting to climb down the face of the rock (probably showing off) and almost fell to his death. Sliding down the mountain side he was able to save himself by stabbing his (bowie type) knife into the rock and climb back up the rock face.

Tavern Cave is located on the top of Tavern Rock...........If you're bound and determined to explore it be took me two days just to find it due to the change in the course of the river.

Go to the tiny town (subdivision) called St Albans, Missouri and look for the Post Office. Hard to find...ask for directions. This is St Albans in it's entirety, the Post Office is behind this building.

Behind the Post Office is an old cast iron sign that will verify you're in the right place, and
you'll be at a old abandoned railroad track.

Old cast iron sign.

Head right down the “old” railroad track ( to the right) past the “No Trespassing” sign.

Walking across this trestle is not recommended but it's the only realistic way to get to the cave. In all seriousness, IN 2012 when I walked across it THE TRESTLE IS SO ROTTEN IT IS BARELY STANDING.

You're in for a 2 mile hike down the railroad tracks.

Mile 1

At about 2 miles you will see the below hillside...called Tavern Rock. NOTE THE LITTLE RED ARROW AT TOP OF ROCK.

You don't want to pull a Meriwether Lewis and fall so take a right up this embankment and the third mile is up this embankment parallel with the railroad tracks. The climb will wind anyone.

Standing inside Tavern Cave...

About 50 feet directly in front of the cave entrance is the steep cliff Lewis almost fell from.

Again, look for the red is about 50 feet in front of the cave.

Clark noted in his Journal that he too climbed Tavern Rock after Lewis' return and left his initials inside the cave wall. He also noted that he scolded Lewis for such a risky climb at the beginning of their Expedition. This adventure on their second day was a wake up call for Lewis.

Leaving Tavern Cave the expedition traveled their typical 10 miles upstream. Clark is busy measuring the width of the Missouri, and carefully measuring the distance of river travel they are making. Lewis is most frequently on shore scouting the new country. Leaving St Charles, Lewis purchased two horses that traveled along the banks of the Missouri. These horses were used for Lewis' scouting and for two hunters to haul any game they might shoot.

This is one of those known campsites that you can see from a distance but when crops are in season it's near impossible to get to such campsites. There are often trails between fields that you could get to the site of their camps. I always “try” to get permission to cross over private property but sometimes there is no property owner in sight. Twice I've headed across fields and was approached by an owner or employee, in both cases when they heard about what I was looking far they asked if they could go with me. Surprisingly the vast majority do not know there was a L & C campsite in their backyard.

Marthasville and La Charette – French communities.

At this site the Expedition passed the last civilization they would see for over two years. One thing that stood out was when they passed Marthasville they would remember the milk cows standing on the banks of the river. These cows were a landmark when they returned home.

Today the community is still there and is a farming community raising crops and playing softball throughout the summer.

Text of Marthasville marker.

Marthasville historical marker.

Just past Marthasville is the oldest cemetery I've ever seen. The majority of the tombstone had dates of birth prior to 1760.

This route paralleling the Missouri is Hwy 94, it also parallels the Katy Trail, a converted RR track into a jogging and biking trail.

Another campsite in western Missouri.

Traveling in rain for a week Clark develops a severe sore throat. He was the first patient on the trip. Having difficulty swallowing any food, his manservant (York) decided to go hunting for something his master, Clark could swallow. York and Clark were believed to be born just a few months apart and Clark's father gave his infant son York as his manservant and playmate.

At this site on a sand bar island York spotted wild turnip greens (commonly called “poke salad” near today's town of Hartsburg, MO. He swam to the campsite, pulled up a “mess” of poke salad and swam back to have their days cook boil the turnip greens for Clark.

Site of York island of turnips. Most of the significance of Turnip Island is it was one of my finds. Two sentences in their Journals gave me clues on how to find the sand bar.

Road to Turnip island.

Site of York Turnip island

During most of their journey both captains made detail journal notes of their travels. Lewis documented in his journal a row of vertical rocks sticking up on the east banks where York swam to fetch the poke salad. York throughout the journals was described as a tall muscular man. The boats stopped while York swam to the sandbar and returned swimming with one arm and his other arm around the turnips.

The row of rocks along the banks (right side of picture) were described by Lewis in his daily Journal (diary) and this short description is how I was able to locate of Turnip Island.

The Indians they eventually met along their trails had never seen a black man and were always amazed at the black skin, frequently asking to see his privates to if they were black too.

Bridge leaving Iowa into Nebraska to Rulo, Nebraska.

Known campsite in Rulo, NE. Here Clark and several troops walked the river banks and described wading across several muddy creeks with water up to their chest and the plentiful berries everywhere they walked.

Reaching Kansas the Expedition camps at the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri River. Realizing it was going to be a significant fort, trading post and city they camped at what is today downtown Kansas what they called Kaw Point.

Kaw Point campsite overlooking the two rivers and Kansas City in the background.

Obligatory bike picture at Kaw Point.

Kaw Point has a touching memorial to the boys. Each member has a marker.



Even Seaman their Newfoundland dog has a marker.

All the markers: Kaw Point Park is unfortunately a “slum” and daily hangout for the homeless community of Kansas City and I wouldn't go back after dark.

Leaving Kansas City the Expedition had a number of funny or scary incidences probably because they had passed the Platte River into known hostile Indian territory. Each night 3 or 4 shifts of guards were posted to guard their boats during the night. On one night after leaving Kaw Point a guard reported seeing a monster approaching the camp. His yelling scared the rest of the troops so much most were up the rest of the night armed for a monster.

A few days later four hunters were put a shore on the left side of the river to deer hunt for the day. Hunters typically rode the two horses a distance from the river to begin hunting, tie the horses up, and spread out to hunt for the day. On this day they got back to the river late at night and did not see the boat so set up a campfire and bedded down for the night.

Meanwhile the boat pulled on to the right side of the river which was 200 yards wide and camped for the night. Later seeing a campfire across the river at night most of the boat crew were up most of the night standing guard and sounding their horn with the hunters never responding to the horn, thought the fire across the river was hostile Indians.

In this picture to the right, below the hour glass is a horn believed to be exactly like the horn Lewis bought for the Expedition in Harpers Ferry to sound an alarm or call remote scouts and hunters.

The next morning Clark dispatched a half dozen men to the opposite side of the river in a pirogue to attach the hostile Indians at the campsite they had watched all find it was their own hunters sound asleep. The wind had been so hard and the noisy they had kept them from hearing the horn throughout the night.

This is the area where the beasts and hostile Indians kept the troops awake for two nights. This particular area has very few roads and has very limited access except by something like a Jon boat.

This maps shows where the above events occurred. Note also that Seaman had been out hunting on his own. Clark was big on holidays and served the cup of whiskey to celebrate the 4th of July, Independence Day. It was an official U.S. Army regulation that each soldier was rationed a specified quantity of whiskey each week. The captains honored this stipulation until they were down to a few gallons and saved those gallons for medical care.

Entering Nebraska

One of Pres Jefferson's instructions to Lewis was to make peace with the Indians. To let them know that they were now part of a new larger nation (since the Louisiana Purchase Treaty) and had a new Chief over all Indian tribes, himself.

Here at today's Omaha, NE and Council Bluffs, Iowa Lewis halted their travels to have several soldiers scout the surrounding shores for local Indian tribes.

Lewis called this campsite Council Bluffs, as it is Council Bluffs, Iowa today. In the distance of this picture is Omaha, Omaha's Eppings Airport, and Council Bluffs. The bluffs overlook the entire area and is the site of the Lewis and Clark Council Bluffs Memorial .

Council Bluffs Memorial does not allow any motorcycles inside the State Park due to loud pipes on Harley's. My very quite 1150 GS parked in the distance.

The state of Nebraska is an enthusiastic supporter of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. They had another replica of the expedition's keelboat built in 2003.

The L & C keelboat also had such a cannon. The expedition's cannon probably looked exactly like this cannon. It produced zero offense as a weapon since it was impossible to aim, but produced a deafening noise that scared the “pajesus” out of Indians visiting the keelboat.

Speaking of cannons, Lewis had heard of an air rifle in Philadelphia and he personally bought such an air rifle. His rifle was one of only about a dozen that were ever believed to have been made. The air rifle propelled bullets from air pumped into an air chamber underneath the rifle. A pump handle was provide under the barrel of the rifle that reportedly took 7 or 8 hours of pumping to build up enough pressure to fire bullets. It was a very temperamental weapon and the effort to pump it up made it impractical to use for hunting.

Lewis used to rifle to demonstrate the advanced weapons his troops had in their possession. During a demonstration to the Indians Lewis would always shoot a tree in the distance. Not hearing a sound, the Indians sort of did not believe it had fired a bullet and Lewis would have to walk them to the tree to find the bullet to prove that the rifle shot bullets with compressed air.

Today Lewis' real (actual) air rifle is located in the Natural History Museum at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. The efforts to proved that it was the real deal rifle were finally considered proven based on the work that blacksmith Private Shields did on the rifle and were documented in the Lewis and Clark Journals. The key piece of evidence was a spring that had worn out or broken that Shields had to make during the Expedition. The rifle apparently still had Shield's version of the spring.

If anyone goes to the Smithsonian, you might as well take in the Lewis compass. It is normally in the Natural History Museum, but the last time I was there it was underneath the Wright Brothers airplane in the Smithsonian Aerospace Museum.

The Lewis compass (the real deal) is behind an inche of bullet proof glass and heavily secured. For 150 years after the Expedition the compass was the only item that was a known artifact left over from the Expedition. Today the air rifle, and probably Lewis' branding iron, Sgt Gass' hatchet, and of course the “Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition” located at the American Philosophical Society in downtown Philadelphia.

I was very honored to hold one of the “Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition” in my hands last year. They're amazingly small in size, probably 4” x 6”. What an honor for me to actually be invited to hold one of their Journals. Xerox had provided special copiers that have maintained copies of the original Journals...but the above picture is of the real-deal. They are in very good condition to be 213 years old.

Where the Journals are secured at the American Philosophical Society vault. This vault also contains Darwin's notes and books and Benjamin Franklin writings and letters, both members of the American Philosophical Society.

The Trip:
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LewisNClark screwed with this post 03-08-2015 at 02:05 PM
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Old 03-08-2015, 12:13 PM   #15
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i think the next chapter has some of your state in it....if you haven't you should check out the Louisiana Purchase boundry marker near Brinkly.

Originally Posted by LONG DONGER View Post
Love it!!! Thanks!!!! Been to a lot of places along the route, but not enough! This will get me motivated to see more!!!!

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