Lewis and Clark Trail, 8 yrs of it...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by LewisNClark, Mar 8, 2015.

  1. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    Page 1 of George Drouilard...Mr. Cool

    George Drouillard, was called several things in the “Journals of Lewis and Clark” but he was most often referred to as Drewyer (simply a phonetic spelling of his name), but his correct name was Drouillard. Clark spelled everyone's name phonetically.

    When Drouillard joined the Expedition he was the 28-year-old son of a French Canadian father stationed at Fort Massac and Shawnee Indian mother. He spoke both French, Shawnee and sort of a universal hand sign language. He was believed to have learned to read and write, probably from his father, but it is not known if he kept any type of diary during the Expedition.

    As the Expedition left Clark's cabin in Clarksville, Indiana the captains started realizing the two weakness of their crew. They had hired good woodsmen that lived along the river and could handle a small canoe, but few had any experience with a big barge like their keelboat. And they also had no one in the crew that could speak any Indian language. When they reached Fort Massac they would be entering Shawnee and Creek Indian country to the west of the fort.

    As they reach today's Illinois they stopped at Fort Massac on the Ohio River. There they meet Drouillard. Captain Bissell at the fort has previously recommended the civilian, Drouillard. He was an excellent hunter with a good knowledge of the Indians’ customs and sign language. Somewhere along his 28 years he had also learned how to navigate a larger canoe or barge. Going up the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers Drouillard spent many days manning the rutter on the rear of the 22,000 pound keelboat.

    Apparently Drouillard's father and mother were stationed at Fort Massac and lived among the Indians on the edge of the Indian wilderness west of Fort Massac.

    Pictures of Fort Massac:





    View from the front entrance of the Ft. Massac replica.



    In his job as civilian interpreter, Drouillard was offered .80 cent a day to join the Expedition. Lewis also gave him a $30 advance for guiding eight volunteers from South West Point, Tennessee, to Fort Massac to join the Expedition to help row the big keelboat when they reached the downstream current of the Mississippi River, not far from Fort Massac. This was a big trip for Drouillard since it was 250 miles away and about 40 miles west of Knoxville, TN. If you look at a map of where Fort South West Point is you can see, George earned his pay. It was a puzzle to find a navigable route to Fort South West Point.

    The only image of what George Drouillard probably looked like when picked up at Fort Massac.



    Drouillard and York, the slave, were the only civilian members of the Expedition to travel from Camp Dubois to the Pacific and back. At North Dakota's Fort Mandan two other civilians, Charbonneau and Sacajawea, also joined the party as interpreters.

    Since Lewis was often dealing with the local Indians, Drouillard frequently stayed with Lewis on scouting missions to be his interpreter. He quickly became known as the man to go to in situations of danger, where nerve, endurance and cool judgment were needed. Lewis highly praised him as the most skilled hunter among the men. Drouillard quickly became one of the most valued recruits.

    Drouillard was used more as a scout and interpreter but his bravery and hunting skills put him on the front line any time there was danger or their lack of food forced the captains to call on Drouillard, again and again.

    Drouillard sign language skills played a key role in establishing relations with the various Indian tribes that the Expedition encountered. In late July 1804, just north of the Platte River’s entrance into the Missouri River, Drouillard and Private Pierre Cruzatte were sent by the captains to scout out the villages of the Oto and the Missouri Indians. This was the first time these tribes would face civilized white men from east of the Missouri River and Drouillard was asked to lead the search for the potentially hostile tribes. Being half Shawnee and not a military man he probably looked more like an Indian.

    They found the principal Oto village and fresh tracks but no people, as the villagers were off on an annual buffalo hunt. Days later, Drouillard came into contact with one Missouri and two Oto Indians, with whom Lewis and Clark had sought to have council. This site was named Council Bluffs and is a large Iowa city today, called Council Bluffs, Iowa.

    Council Bluffs Memorial picture:





    Drouillard was sent out to search for the Oto Indians for the Expedition's first council at today's Council Bluffs, Iowa. The site of Council Bluffs Memorial overlooks both Council Bluffs, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska. If anyone is ever in the Omaha Eppling Airport you can see Council Bluffs from the airport terminal.



    In early August 1804, two men of the Expedition were believed to have deserted. Drouillard was such a good tracker he lead four soldiers from the Expedition as a search party charged with locating deserters Moses Reed and La Liberte. Drouillard and the other members of the search party succeeded in bringing Reed back to the Corps.
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  2. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    During the winter of 1804-05 the Expedition would have to survive a brutally cold winter at Fort Mandan with the Mandan Indians. Drouillard’s interpretive and hunting skills were integral to establishing friendly relations with the Mandan Indians. He was often assigned to small hunting parties, who would be charged with collecting meat to feed the troops and to trade with the Mandans for other food. Mandans were rare farmers among Indian tribes, growing beans and several other vegetables.

    In November 1804, Drouillard and six other unnamed men traveled upstream in a pirogue (big canoe), navigating a freezing, ice-coated river to deliver the dressed carcasses of 32 deer, 11 elk, and five buffalo to Fort Mandan.

    Picture of Ft Mandan L & C Visitors Center in the winter:



    In February 1805, after recovering from having been bled and purged for pleurisy, Drouillard and three other men were assigned to transport some buffalo meat that had been cached downriver. The team headed down the river on the ice with two sleighs, three horses and a colt to where the hunting party had stored the meat in log cribs (trees stacked up to keep meat away from bear and other animals), safe from predators. One evening during this trip, the team was attacked by over 100 Sioux Indians, who stole the two sleigh horses and some of the team’s weapons.

    View of Fort Mandan fort during winter.





    At Drouillard’s advice, the team wisely held their fire. It was enough that the Indians could claim to have stolen two horses from the powerful white men. The Americans, although short of needed supplies, were safe, and arrived back at Fort Mandan without the needed meat, which was later retrieved. Being dressed sort of like an Indian gave Drouillard an advantage in communicating with them.

    Drouillard provided vital interpreter services to Lewis when the captain and an advance party were scouting for the Shoshones.

    Lewis, on August 14, 1805, wrote in his Journal, “The means I had of communicating with these people was by way of Drewyer [Drouillard] who understood perfectly the common language of hand signs and gestures which seems to be universally understood by all Indian Nations we have yet seen. It is true that this language is imperfect and liable to error but is much less so than would be expected. The strong parts of the ideas are seldom mistaken.”

    The Indian sign language included pointing to the sun for days and time, fingers above one's forehead to means elk or deer. Directions were frequently communicated to Drouillard by drawing pictures or maps in the dirt with a stick, sometimes stacking up rocks or dirt to illustrate how tall a mountain was. On more than one occasion, like at finally finding the Shoshoni Tribe, Lewis' scouting crew was in for an attack but Drouillard simply suggested laying down their rifles as a sign of no hostility. Both Captains always followed Drouillard advice when dealing with the Indians.

    This is the site where Lewis, Shields and Drouillard first spotted Shoshoni with horses. The only way to communicate with the frightened Indians was use of Drouillard's hand sign language.



    Marker on Lemhi Pass of Drouillard using sign language with Shoshoni.



    Throughout the Expedition when game was scarce Drouillard was continually called on as the daily hunter. From the Great Falls west to the Columbia River the Indians had hunted the area enough that game was more scare. On the Bitterroot Mountains the terrain was so rugged that deer and elk were practically non-existent. Reaching Oregon and hunkered down for the Winter of 1805, Fort Clatsop presented just a few miles of hunting territory for elk, and it was quickly over hunted...thru the Salt Works were created to preserve what deer and elk the could find.

    The Lewis and Clark Journals included the daily work assignment and at the top of the list of hunters almost everyday was Drouillard leaving for days at a time to hunt solo. As Drouillard shot elk he gutted the carcass and winched the kill up a tree limb to secure it from wolves or other animals. Without horses at Ft Clatsop in Oregon, Drouillard returned to camp and lead a crew back to the kills for hauling the meat back to the fort in backpacks.

    Picture Fort Clatsop:



    Marker and painting of Drouillard being put ashore for another hunting trip.



    Drouillard was such an effective hunter the local Clatsop and Chinook Indian ask Lewis if they could follow Drouillard on his hunting trips. It was not uncommon for Drouillard to shoot 5 or 6 elk on a day...and on one day Sgt Gass reported Drouillard shooting 11 elk. A most impressive feat considering he was shooting a single shot musket that the Journals described as taking a good rifleman one to two minutes to re-arm powder and a musket ball.

    The below picture was made at Tongue Point just east of Astoria, Oregon. Drouillard's hunting skills were legendary among not only other members of the Expedition but also local Indians whereever they traveled.



    On the eastward return home journey, near present Missoula, Montana, at Travelers Rest in July 1806, Lewis and Clark divided the Expedition into two groups. Lewis would head northward to determine the upper limit of the Marias River to determine the northern extent of the Louisiana Purchase Territory.

    After 2 years of exposure to all 31 men of the Expedition the most dangerous venture was ahead and Lewis would choose four of the best to accompany him. Lewis wanted to do a last ditch search for a possible Northwest Passage water route and to also document the furtherest northern water flowing into the Missouri River. This would require entering the Blackfoot Territory, the tribe most feared by all the Indians they had encountered.

    Pictures of Cut Bank:



    Lewis chose the following to join him on the 300 mile route north to today's Browning and Cut Bank, Montana. Drouillard and brothers Joseph and Reuben Field accompanied Lewis into the northern country, where they skirmished with some roving Piegans, a band of the Blackfeet tribe.

    Knowing several teenage Blackfeet had been following them earlier in the day and had stopped at their camp at night fall, Lewis wrote that they were on high guard in fear 200 hostile Blackfoot warriors might arrive during the night. Lewis pulled his first guard duty of the Expedition and the other four stood watch with one eye open as they half slept.

    As Joseph Field lay half asleep he told Lewis later that he felt a tug at his rifle and he instinctively grabbed his hunting knife and without hesitation stabbed the thief in the heart killing the thief instantly. Attempting to steal the weapons and horses of the white men, two teens perished, one from a knife and the other for a gunshot from Lewis.

    Site of where Drouillard, the Field brothers, and Lewis encountered and killed two blackfeet.



    Lewis was nearly shot by one of the Indians. Days later Lewis wrote: “He overshot me, being bearheaded (bareheaded), I felt the wind of his bullet very distinctly (pass my ear).”

    One of the Blackfeet escaped into the darkness so all knew the Blackfoot warriors would be upon them in hours. The explorers escaped, managing to reclaim their horses, together with taking several of the Indians’ horses. Days later Lewis updated his journal to note that the four of them rode as fast as their horses could gallop throughout the night, arriving at the mouth of the Marias River the next morning. As they approached the merging of the Marias into the Missouri River at daybreak they could see their rescue canoe and crew of three comming down the river in their pirogue canoe. Lewis and crew tossed all of their belonging into the canoe, turned their horses loose and for the first time were downstream on the Missouri River, headed to Reunion Bay for a reunion with Clark and Sgt Ordway's party.

    This incident is believed to be what sparked the Blackfeet’s desire to avenge the two Indians’ deaths several years later when white trappers returned to their territory.

    When the Expedition safely reached St. Louis on September 23, 1806, Lewis entrusted Drouillard with the delivery of the first letters containing reports of the Expedition to the postmaster in Cahokia, a small Indian village south of St Louis. These letters were then sent on to President Jefferson.
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  3. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    Conclusion of Mr. Drouillard.....

    Later, after the Expedition's ending, several member of the Expedition could not resist returning to the adventures of the west, especially today's Montana. Returning were privates John Colter, John Potts and Peter Weise and George Drouillard, each joining other trapping crews. Private Willard and his wife eventually returned 10 yrs later to the west in a covered wagon.

    Drouillard returned to the Three Forks area of the upper Missouri as a member of Manuel Lisa’s 1810 fur trading party. Manuel Lisa, a close friend of William Clark, was the first and largest of the trapping parties following the Lewis and Clark adventure maps back to Three Forks, MT.

    Almost as expected, Lisa hired George Drouillard to guide his crew back up the Missouri, help establish a trading post and be his interpreter with the surrounding tribes. It was here near Three Forks, Montana that Drouillard lead a group of beaver trapper greenhorns. As the Expedition passed this area four years earlier the Lewis and Clark Journals noted the heavy population of beaver. They had traveled high mountain ranges to reach the valley around Three Forks where literally hundreds of creeks make up the Jefferson River surrounded by willows along the creek banks.

    It was here that Private John Potts met his death in 1809 and John Colter escaped the Blackfeet by out-running a gang of Indian warriors.

    George Drouillard was hired by Manuel Lisa to teach other trappers his trapping secrets and where he had discovered such good beaver country along the Jefferson River. Out on this day he was reportedly setting his own traps when he was attacked by a dozen Blackfeet.

    The following is what other trappers returned to a few days later found where they had left Drouillard a few days earlier. This description was provided by two different trappers to staff at Manual Lisa's fort and eventually a staff member sent a letter describing Drouillard's death to William Clark which was eventually published in a New York newspaper.

    Drouillard was on horseback with a single shot musket and several beaver traps. Other Indians were found dead at the site and the disturbed ground around Drouillard body was disturbed with hoof prints indicating that numerous Indians had circled Drouillard on horseback and eventually overtook Drouillard. At the site Drouillard and his horse were decapitated, they were both disemboweled with his remains strewn about in a ritual mutilation....a belief among the Indians was that scattered remains kept one from their God.

    This map is the clue as to where Drouillard returned to beaver hunt. On 06/02/1805 both Clark and Lewis noted in their Journal the large number of beaver dams they were passing on this date...(See map text)



    Picture of the probable location of where Drouillard and his horse met their deaths. (See 6/2/1805 Pinpoint)



    Even today the area is still very populated with beaver.



    No one knows the details of the deadly encounter but the trappers reported that they buried Drouillard's remains at the site in an unmarked grave. Since the Blackfeet had traded with Manuel Lisa's fort many historians feel that the attacking Blackfeet may have known that Drouillard was a member of the 4 man crew that killed two of the Blackfeet at Cut Bank two years earlier and may have been getting revenge against Drouillard.

    The Lewis and Clark Expedition was not successful due to any one man but it would have certainly never been completed without the contributions of George Drouillard. In my opinion he was the third most significant contributor to the completion of the Expedition.

    One of the greatest contributors to the Lewis and Clark Expedition and yet no marker, no grave headstone, and his only memorial honoring him is Mount Drewyer, established and named in 1997. Being on of so many solo hunting and trapping trips Drouillard may have wanted his memorial to be one that is nearly inaccessible.

    A few years ago they did get the name changed to the proper spelling of “Mount Drouillard”, in Teton County, Montana. Mount Drouillard (more commonly called Mount Drewyer on maps) is about 20 miles from the Continental Divide and is in the Sawtooth Mountain Range and inside the Lewis and Clark National Forest. Any one doing the Cont. Divide Trail will pass near Mount Drouillard, a small mountain to the west.

    Internet image of Mount Drewyer or Mount Drouillard:



    It could have easily been called the Lewis, Clark and Drouillard Expedition.

    Civilian George Drouillard, Mr. Cool.
  4. Wansfel

    Wansfel I'm not lost! The world is just a bit misplaced.

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  5. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    Thanks for the most interesting article. Great map at the bottom. The map of the Clark campsites matches pretty close to my GPS coordinates. Leaving Travelers Rest, Lewis, Clark and Sgt Ordway split up and traveled in three different directions. Clark was leading 22 men and around 24 horses south towards Lemhi Pass to dig up a cache they had left behinds year earlier (postly to retrieve their tobacco), so each campsite had to be at a level place next to a clean running creek to handle 22 people's tents and 24 horses.

    Fortunately, Sgt Gass was responsible for documenting which side of a creek or trail they camped on, left or right, and Clark continued to document the distance they traveled each day from one camp to another....so locating a campsite today is an educated guess based on clues from their Journals. One of my favorites was the "4th of July Creek" camp where they celebrated the 4th with a deer roast. Creek and road are both called "4th of July".

    Comcast had Ken Burns documentary of "The Journals of Lewis and Clark" on PBS last night....
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  6. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    Backwaterdogs - finally got around to Drouillards cause of death. One of my heros.
  7. 10ecjed

    10ecjed Been here awhile

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    That was great. Thank you for taking all the time and effort to do this ride/history report. Your good at this.
  8. Mcgee

    Mcgee Been here awhile Supporter

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    Love the Lewis and Clark expedition and this report is very informative and wants me to track some of the routes myself by motorcycle. Thanks again for your most interesting of ride reports!
  9. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    So glad you followed along. Reading everything I could find then traveling along their trail and standing in their footsteps is pretty amazing when you know what happened when they were there 212 years ago. Some places are nearly impossible to get to so that makes it more of a fun challenge to get to and they continue to be on my bucket list....one I just found last week is a Google Satelite image of Clark's "Sinque Hole". About a 5 mile hike from the very top of the LOLO Trail down and back up a very steep hillside.A forest fire on the LOLO last year finally revealed the water hole to Google Earth....renewing it on my bucket list.

    Clark's 7 man hunting party was starving for water for themselves and their horses, since everything around them was frozen.....lost and stumbling through 3 to 4 feet of snow they walk up on this water hole sunk into the ground full of water...Clark noted the water hole in his journal and misspelled it as the "Sinque Hole"...and it has been stuck with this name to this day.

    Traveling the L & C trail is definately challenging but would recommend it to any history buff.
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  10. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    Sign to “The Sinque Hole”





    The trail to Sinque Hole (AKA as the trail where I ran into a Badger)





    Sinque Hole from Google Earth:


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  11. YoBigT

    YoBigT n00b

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    I'm enjoying this immensely, yet can't help but notice that most of this section is completely out of order geographically. Elk Point is clear down below Yankton, not above the Bad River; Fort Peck Dam is in Montana, New Town is in North Dakota - further up river than Ft. Mandan where the Corps wintered; and it's Mobridge that is geographically next above the Bad River incident with the Teton Sioux. Hopefully you can edit this section to get it right, otherwise it's considerably confusing and inaccurate.
  12. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    Well aware of the jumping around route. The new version of AdvRider is not easy to control when and where pictures will be posted. I put them out there in a logical sequence and many of the Smugmug jpg's just randomly got dropped ....looked fine one day but a few days later they would be dropped. Once pictures are dropped you can not go back and easily add them back in.

    Recently discovered that you can only post a certain number of jpg's links or a certain size of jpg's or they get dropped. Very difficult if not impossible to control. My book, that this RR came from, has everything in a route sequence to and from the west coast. Book can be found in Vendors.
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  13. 10ecjed

    10ecjed Been here awhile

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    Good find. Great RR as I have said a few times.
  14. Utrider1

    Utrider1 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Well I just got back from a week long trip to Glacier, went up via Hwy 93 through Challis and Salmon to Hamilton. Came back over Lolo and through McCall. My mom was born in Lewiston, Idaho and raised in Clarkston, Washington, so I was raised with a curiosity of the area.................but this Ride Report just blew my mind!!!! WOW what an effort you have put in to this.

    I called my riding partner that went on the trip with me, and informed him we missed most of it and we'll have to go again.

    Thank you sooooo much for the time, effort and energy you've put into this amazing report.
  15. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    Thanks for watching.

    You have so much to backtrack and see...it really is an amazing story and their Trail is an giant puzzle. Don't hesitate to contract me for help planning a trip. Just a warning...the good stuff is in the back woods and roads, the fun part.

    Ironically, you two probably rode right by the Browning, MT tower on the first page of this ride report when you went to Glacier. That marker of the northern boundary of the Louisiana Territory in Browning, MT will always be my number one place on the Trail to discover. This marker, probably 15 miles from the east entrance to Glacier, was really the end of the Lewis and Clark Trail. If you went through Salmon, sure hope you went over Lemhi Pass.

    The Trail route around Lewiston and Clarkston are scenic and amazing. I just rode this part of the Trail this past winter during 10+ inches of snow to see the reality of what the boys went thru in 1805, some pictures of winter snow above 3 or 4 pages. The GPS coordinates and maps of all the Lewis and Clark campsites from Lewiston (Wala Wala) to the mouth of the Columbia (Pacific) are all in my book.
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  16. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

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    Thanks again for this. It was a well needed winter re-read since I'm not getting to ride as much at my own leisure these days.
    The other day, a friend and I were riding some unmarked single track and ended up on part of the original Natchez Trace hiking trails without realizing it, and popped out where else but once again at Lewis's gravesite. It was kind of unnerving due to the strange looks from tourists and a park ranger, but nothing was said as we hopped back on to pavement for the ride up the Parkway back into Nashville, where more funny looks were given to a couple of hooligans downtown on very muddy KLR 650's.
    EDIT: Let it be known that my friend and I did not intentionally ride our bikes on the hiking trails maintained by the National Park Service, but rather started on trails intended for dirtbikes and atv's, and when the one we were on dead-ended into a tricky-looking single track, we had no idea where it led, other than in the direction of the nearest paved road, according to GPS. We would not have ridden this particular trail knowing that it may be part of the historic Trace set aside by the government to preserve our history.
    No property damage occurred, only some noise pollution from the bikes.
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  17. richtidebruin

    richtidebruin Lurking since 2003..

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    Any trails in the White House area? Been looking for some nice tracks. I'm in G'ville but can be found doing some urban enduro errands downtown from time to time...

    Rich

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  18. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

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    I know of a few that are on private property, so the idea would be to go quietly and infrequently so as not to wear out our welcome. I like going to LBL as well as a few other places, too. So far I've not found much in Sumner County.
  19. Mcgee

    Mcgee Been here awhile Supporter

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    Just love this informative tale of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Inspired me enough to ride the trail this summer. Started at Fort Clatsop and rode to Great Falls, Mt. via Lost Lolo trail, Lemhi Pass and as close as I could to the rivers they were on. Stopped at the many, many roadside and visitor centers along the way gaining more information. For anyone wanting more insight of the expedition a book written or should I say edited by Bernard DeVoto, “The Journals of Lewis and Clark” is a great read. Thanks for getting the post going again, at least I hope, lol.
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  20. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    Just some suggestions - Google Louisville Nashville Turnpike and look at Wikipedia article. The Natchez Trace ended south of Nashville but the Louisville Nashville Stage coach route picked up at Nashville and hauled travelers towards Washington DC. (See page 11 of this Ride Report for picture of fire hydrant and stage coach marker.)

    Wikipedia:
    The Louisville and Nashville Turnpike was a toll road that ran from Louisville, Kentucky to Nashville, Tennessee during the 19th century. From Louisville, one route now called US highway 31W (further discussed below) ran through Elizabethtown, Munfordville, Glasgow Junction (now Park City), Bowling Green, and Franklin to the Tennessee line. The other Route ran through Bardstown, Buffalo, Glasgow, and Scottsville and is currently named U.S. 31E. The name survives in abbreviated form along routes including Kentucky State Highways 335 and 470.

    The above roads and Stage coach route are sort of a continuation of the Natchez Trail. The stage coach stop at West Point, Kentucky is pretty amazing...there are a dozen major historical marker sites in West Point KY. Lewis, Clark and the Nine Young Men from Kentucky all travelled on this stage coach route. Along the above routes some remains of the stage coach road could probably be found....when Lewis died he was headed for the stage coach route that passed thru West Point along the route toward Washington DC. Pretty sure google will be your friend to track down more of the stage coach route connection to the Natchez.