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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    Back in St Louis one of his first stops was at the home of William Clark. There he furnished very valuable information to William Clark, who was compiling maps for the Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Back in St Louis with his fur trade profits, military salary and land grant he bought a farm near New Haven, Missouri.

    Colter could not read or write but described his western Blackfoot and trapping experiences to William Clark when he returned to St. Louis in 1812. His descriptions of the events were identical to those penned by Mr. Thomas and Dr. John Bradbury three years earlier. Clark documented Colter's descriptions of his adventures and these descriptions were eventually printed in a New York newspaper and this article was later printed in a Louisville, Kentucky newspaper in 1885.

    Since Colter had quit the Expedition before they returned to St. Louis in 1806 he still had not received his military pay for the two and a half years he had worked for the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

    Meriwether Lewis, who had agreed in 1806 to hold his pay, had died in October of 1809, three years earlier. In 1803, Colter enlisted in the Lewis and Clark Expedition as a private with a salary of $5.00 per month or around $150.

    Colter ended up having to hire an attorney to get his back pay and probably his land grant of 300 acres. After the Expedition all members of the Expedition were given a land grant of land for their Expedition services. Colter's grant was probably the land he briefly farmed near New Haven, Missouri in 1812.

    In 1812, Colter was looking for more adventure and joined the Nathan Boone Rangers in the War of 1812. Nathan Boone was the youngest son of Daniel Boone and lived only a few miles from Colter's farm in New Haven. During this war Colter contacted “yellow jaundice” is believed to have died after returning home.

    Yellow jaundice, with a symptom of yellowing of the whites of the eye and skin, is normally caused by hepatitis or liver cancer but some believe his consumption of Rush's laxative pills (about 1/3 of he contents was poison mercury) during the Expedition could have contributed to his death.

    Either before or after leaving the War of 1812 Colter is believed to have returned to St. Louis, Missouri, where he married an Osage Indian girl named Sally. Finally settling down in today's New Haven, MO, he lived on a farm near Dundee Road and became the father of a son named Hiram.

    In the Spring of 1813 a small party of fur trappers, having heard of Colter's travels up the Missouri stopped at Colter's farm to ask questions about his now famous exploration of the West. One of these trappers later wrote that Colter seemed to want to go with them, but did not feel he should because of his recent marriage and new son.

    Just months after the trappers passed Colter's farm he died on either May the 7th, 1812 or in November 1813 of jaundice, not yet 40 years old. There is some confusion about his burial place. One version is that he was buried in the cemetery of the Fee Fee Baptist Church at Bridgeton, Missouri, near his little farm. The records of the church contain an entry for a grave for "John Colter - fur trader with Manuel Lisa." Supposedly there was once a marker there bearing Colter's name, but it is not there now.

    The other version, and most likely, is that he was buried in a small cemetery atop a hill near Dundee Road in New Haven, which came to be called Tunnel Hill when in 1926 the railroad, to improve its elevation, excavated a wide cut through the hill to level off the train's hill climb. As the steam shovels ate into the hillside, a workman noticed more than dirt being crunched. There were bones and the remains of crude wooden coffins. If John Colter was buried there, he is now distributed along the right of way of the Missouri Pacific Railroad.

    Colter's son Hiram was the father of eight children. In 1926 many of John Colter's descendants still lived in the Dundee Road area and probably still there today.

    The following is my a return trip to Missouri last summer.

    Location of New Haven, Missouri – where Colter finally settled down to civilization. New Haven is beside the [1] on the map. Very small little farming town. New Haven is on the LEFT side of the map next the the GREEN 1. If anyone goes there be aware that the nearest bridge to cross the muddy Missouri may be 40 miles away.

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    Approaching New Haven to the south.



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    New Haven's claim to fame is that it is the home of John Colter. I was looking for the John Colter Museum with no sight of any signs. A local policeman apparently recognized my bike from a Ride Report last year and waved for me to follow him to the museum.......

    Not only did he give me a 3 mile escorted tour to the museum but ...but as I checked out the neighborhood he came back an hour later and officially made me “a New Haven policeman for the day”.

    The John Colter Museum...(closed for the day)

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    Official badge:

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    Yes, I used to be a policeman...for a day.
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    Random Lewis and Clark markers in New Haven.

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    Colter Information booth and Memorial overlooking the Missouri River.

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    The story of the rock inside the Memorial. With limited funding for the John Colter's memorial someone in New Haven thought it would be a good idea to tie Colter to his discovery of Yellowstone. A New Haven citizen contacted Billings, Montana to see if someone would help find an appropriate rock from inside Yellowstone for Colter's memorial. A coordinated effort from a contractor, a rock engraver and a wrecker service came to the rescue. They retrieved the below bolder from inside Yellowstone and a wrecker service delivered the engraved several ton rock to the John Colter Memorial in New Haven.

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    New Haven and John Colter marker...(worth the read).

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    John Colter's Grave – Oh the mysteries about John Colter's grave.

    This is believed to be the events leading to Colter's death:

    When he died in 1812 his widow barely spoke any English and not knowing what to do immediately upon Colter's death left their cabin and moved back in with her relatives on the Osage reservation. Colter's remains lay in their tiny cabin for the next 114 years. Some local New Haven farmers apparently bought Colter's unclaimed land and when tearing down his tiny collapsed and rotted cabin discovered his skeleton remains. Reportedly beside his body was a decayed leather pouch with the initials JC branded into the leather. It is known that members of the Expedition wore buckskin shirts and pants without pockets for storing pocket knives, tobacco, etc and were either issued these leather pouches or made them themselves. Irregardless, no one know if this was factually John Colters remains but these remains are believe to be those of John Colter's buried on a hillside in New Haven.

    Colter's grave was believed to be in a New Haven Fee Fee Baptist church cemetery, at least there was a record at the church of a John Colter grave. It is believed that his grave was accidentally dug up when a rail road track was being lowered in the early 1900's.

    In the below picture there is a rail road track behind the tree line that is believed to be the site where his grave was accidentally dug up and his remains were spread down the rail road right of way.

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    On the opposite side of the trees and rail road tracks is the entrance to Colter's Landing, a boat launch road going into the Missouri River.

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    And the mystery uncovered....Buffalo Creek. Looking backwards, one of William Clark main responsibility of the expedition was developing a map of their travels. This included noting the location of every creek and river merging into the Missouri.

    In June 7th, 1804, as the Expedition passed what would eventually be New Haven, Missouri, Clark sees a small creek merging into the mighty muddy Missouri River and named the creek “Buffalo Creek” because their hunters of the day had seen signs of buffalo on the river banks. Clark's spelling of “Buffalo” was “Boeuf”. Though not written in the Journals one wonders if Colter was one of the hunters for the day. Irregardless, Colter returned to this creek bottom in 1810 or 1811 to claim the land as his farm.

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    The below is a view of what is believed to be the land that was once John Colter's farm.


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    Location of New Haven, site of his grave:

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    Located a few miles off Hwy 94:

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    Typical house of the area during 1750's- 1825 along the Missouri River. This replica is in Marthasville, Missouri just a few miles from John Colter's grave.

    Vertical pole (log cabins) were typically 10'x10'.


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    Colter memorial = N 38 36.894 w 091 12.784

    (as time permits I'll do Drouillard's life next)

    As a fan of Drouillard, it should have been the Lewis, Clark and Drouillard Expedition.
    Aces 6, thechief86 and EdOriginal like this.
  2. siyeh

    siyeh unproductive Supporter

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    Loving this report. I have your early CD may have to upgrade!
  3. rastawheel

    rastawheel Pittsburgh, PA

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    Great RR, as a surveyor, this may be a ride I may have to do some day. Always thought about it.
  4. rockydog

    rockydog just a guy

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    thanks so much for all your gusto on this, really have enjoyed all
  5. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    Sent you a PM - latest book is a greatly improved version of all the other books combined...with over 1,000 pictures tied directly to campsites they stayed at. The nice part about the latest version is you can load it onto an iPhone (Smart phone) and an Ipad (or any tablet) that is the most effective way to use it on a motorcycle trip. Plus new version has full screen "paperless maps" of all the campsites along with the GPS coordinates. Being a PDF if you want to follow John Colter just "search" for "Colter" and every page in the book pops up with the details of all his activities, mostly hunting trips.
  6. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    You should check out Elizabeth, PA just south of Pittsburg for the history of the keelboat. The keelboat was build there and much of the supplies for the Expedition were stored in an old colonial military fort east of downtown Pittsburg (can't remember the name of fort) but some remains and markers are still there.

    I have 8 people with my CD doing parts of the L & C trail right now. Yeaks!! One 55 yr old fellow is hiking about 300 miles of it, including the entire 122 miles of the Lolo Trail in Idaho.
  7. horseiron1

    horseiron1 Been here awhile

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    Awesome report!!!!!!! Thanks for sharing
  8. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    Thanks and glad you tagged along...It always facinates me how so many people from Britian, Brazil, Iraq, etc order our CD book. I know many are military people planning on riding the L & C Trail or parts of it when they return to US soil. Just mailed a CD yesterday to Tokyo and another one to Russia... L & C seems to interest people from all over the world.
  9. rastawheel

    rastawheel Pittsburgh, PA

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    I work on the lock in Elizabeth. I do deformation surveys, monitor movement. Elizabeth is only 15 min from my house. I live on the Mon just downstream of Elizabeth.

    Fort Lafayette, Pittsburgh. That is the one you are thinking of.
  10. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    Yep that's the fort. Lewis collected a bunch of supplies and tools in Philadelphia and Pittsburg and stored them at Ft. Lafayette until the keelboat was finished. Lewis was stationed at Ft Lafayette as a 1 Lt in late 1790's.
  11. DesertSurfer

    DesertSurfer Tail sprayin

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    Wow LnC,
    Fantastic historical ride report! I've always been a big fan of the L & C Exp. and the historical trail. Seeing pics of the locations covered on bikes is extra special. I'd ride along on a trip through Lemhi and Lolo in a heartbeat by the way.
  12. swimmer

    swimmer armchair asshole

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    Absolutely fantastic ride report. One of my favorites. I true gift to this website. Thanks so much for all the work posting it up.
  13. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    Thanks for watching....I have a list of people wanting to join me on a ride (probably next Spring)...I recently put together a route starting at Fort Benton (aka Marias River junction)...along the trail, across Lemhi, N Fork of the Salmon, Lolo Motoring Hwy and down the Columbia River to the Pacific. It is right at 2,000 miles but the route is the best of the best of their travels. I'll post the map in the next day or so.
  14. Baroquenride

    Baroquenride Everyone dies, but not everyone truly lives.

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    I would be interested in riding with you beginning around Lolo Pass and riding to the Pacific. Fort Clatsop has, what I think is a good museum. I was just in Astoria last week too and could take you to a great brewery and/or fish eatery. I'm in Vancouver, Wa and there are so many L&C camp stops around this area and I'm embarrassed to say that I take it for granted. It would be nice to view it from another persons perspective the way I did when I was in St Louis several years ago.
  15. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    Will be in touch.

    Lolo will require something like a dualsport...From Lolo to Astoria/Cape Disappointment there must be 100+ campsites or other things found in their Journals. One found in the last 75 yrs is Lewis' branding iron...desparate for food Lewis traded his branding iron to an Indian chief for food. Indian apparently used it as his tomestone marker. Some one found the branding iron in an Indian cemetery 75 yrs ago...it's in some museum in Portland...museum's on my bucket list. The majority of the landmarks on the Columbia were named by L & C.

    Been to Ft Clatsop a couple of times but I was at the one that burned down. If you have not been to Cape Disappointment museum the view along is worth the trip. To me the Columbia River is in my top 10 favorite scenes in the US...amazing place.
  16. DesertSurfer

    DesertSurfer Tail sprayin

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    I'm definitely in for this trip. I'll have the bike and gear on standby.
  17. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    I will be in touch. Been planning this trip for a year. Already getting my WR250R set up for the Lolo and other dirt trails. Biggest challenge is getting a WR to Montana.
  18. Gotchile

    Gotchile Adventurer

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    I just came across this thread, I'm looking forward to going through it. I purchased the American Cycling Association Lewis and Clark maps around the anniversary of their expedition. My goal was and still is to do it by bicycle. My mom's maiden name was Coulter, our story is we are related to John Colter, even with the difference in spelling - it makes a good story anyway. I recently picked up a new klr, maybe the trip will be on it.
    #bucketride.bike
  19. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    Tracing Colter/Coulter name should be relatively easy from his son who had eight kids. Colter could not read or write so Wm Clark (who was a horrible speller) and Lewis guessed at the spelling of his name. A bunch of Colters relatives still live in the New Haven, MO area. Of the 33 final members of the expedition only 5 were literate (and some of those were barely literate). Doing the real L&C trail on a bicycle would be close to impossible due to terrain and distance....their trail was 8400 miles and following it would be closer to 15,000 miles unless you did it in a canoe and a few dozen horses. The only realistic way to do the entire trail is bit it off in 1,000-2,000 mile sections.

    KLR was made for doing something like the L & C Trail...I've had one but upgraded to a WR250R. Like Big Dog says, "The dealer was out of the 150's."
  20. DesertSurfer

    DesertSurfer Tail sprayin

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    Here's an option if you have a vehicle that can handle the tongue weight. Drive your WR to Montana and drive it back after.
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    I think my vehicle could also be a follow vehicle carrying my camping gear if I can find a cohort to come with.