LEWIS AND CLARK: A NEW NATION'S JOURNEY WEST
Leaving Home, Going West - Sat., September 11, 2010 - Journal Entry One
Bettye and I set off today on an “expedition” that has been mulling in our minds for years. Early on we dreamed of driving several weeks and camping along the way. Time and other constraints prevented, and later we thought we might drive sections of the route, but forgo the camping. Now, in later years, we’ve passed up the long drive, too. Instead, we will join an “Expedition” originating Sunday in St. Charles Missouri and following the route of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery Expedition of 1803-1806 to the Pacific Ocean. Their trek took them almost twenty months to reach the Pacific near Astoria and another year to return to St. Louis. They battled up river with a keelboat, two pirogues and several dugout log canoes made along the way. They killed or collected and cooked the bulk of their meals and bedded down under the sky at night. We’ll cover their route in just eighteen days and travel in the luxury of an air-conditioned bus with videos at the seats, movies of parts of their route that we won’t visit, an on-board historian/narrator/guide to fill in details and lead discussion while traveling and a tour coordinator to handle all meal, lodging and travel arrangements. Ain’t progress grand!
Along the way, we’ll have local historians to speak to us both on the bus and at evening programs or at stops of interest. We’re told to expect to get on and off the bus 190 times as we make stops at scenic or historic points, museums, educational centers, national parks and monuments, etc. Three locations entail boating on the Missouri or Columbia, at one point, on a replica of the keelboat used by the Corps on its first 1,600 miles. The company we’ll keep for the duration looks to be interesting. Our party of forty or so will include historians, writers, photographers as well as, I’m sure, quite a few old retirees like us. We look forward to making some new and interesting friendships. The trek is organized and directed as a part of the “Road Scholar” educational adventures of Elderhostel, Inc. lifelong learning programs. This program is entitled, Lewis and Clark: A New Nation’s Journey West. Elderhostel has conducted two or more such treks each year since 2004. We’ve enjoyed several week-long Elderhostel programs in the past and look forward to this extended one. At the conclusion of the trek, Sept. 29 in Portland, we two have decided to make a brief excursion to Seattle and then a four-day cross-country train trip along the northern border aboard Amtrak’s Empire Builder to Minneapolis and Chicago. Then it’s homeward bound on the City of New Orleans train.
We have spent much time this summer reading piles of books and journals of the L&C Corps travel, consuming stacks of printer paper copying maps and details and organizing our plunder into two suitcases. L&C started with 13 tons; we may get by with less. Much of the value of the original expeditions resulted from the extensive, detailed journals kept by seven or more of the members. (More will follow.) These brought to light discoveries of land, waters, animals, plants, etc. never before known to the civilized (?) world. They captured the imagination of all America and set its route of expansion rapidly in new directions. It has been suggested that members of our expedition, likewise create journals of our trip to share among ourselves and perhaps, to send back and share with others. This idea would not have worked with the original Corps, before anyone thought of steamboats and Pony Express, much less, computers, emails and blogs. President Jefferson did not get a message sent by Meriwether Lewis on departure from St. Charles for four months. It would be over a year before he received a second communication after the Corps wintered among the Mandan Indians in North Dakota. Today’s email is (usually) a bit faster.
You’ve received this “blog” because, for one reason or another, your email address has fallen into the clutches of our computer’s Email Address File somewhere in the clouds. We may try to send other notes from along the way if computers are accessible. If you want to receive any further journal accounts of the trek, do nothing. If you don’t care for them, do nothing drastic, please. Just delete them as they come. As it was with Captains Lewis’ and Clark's departure, there is no assurance that you will ever hear any more from us again this way but hopefully...
In tribute to those thirty-three valiant persons (never forget Sacagawea and Pompey) who first reached the Pacific from the United States by land, these will be written in style similar to that of their journal keepers. They did their journaling fifty years before Miriam Webster determined and propagated his idea for a standard spelling of words. They were almost two hundred years ahead of “Spell Check”, too. Likewise, we may test our reader’s skills by frequently omitting punctuations and botching sentence structures. Any “blog” will come from the heart but not necessarily from the head. If you know of any others bored enough to be interested in what might come, feel free to pass it along or send us an email address that will entitle them to their own personal copy, free of charge.
We fly from Gulfport to St. Louis today, Saturday, September 11. Keep us in your prayers. Cheers, David and Bettye Arnold
Going West - A Journey of Rediscovery - September 13 - Journal Entries Two
SATURDAY, Sept 11 - Our flights went right on schedule and our cab was waiting for us at St. Louis. I recommend that folks dye their hair gray and limp a little when traveling. It works wonders in getting picked up in terminals like Houston and St. Louis and shuttled through on golf carts. Our flight to Houston followed the coastal marsh line and the flight to St. Louis followed the Mississippi River for the last 45 minutes with the sun setting to the west. It gave us a beautiful "overview" of the river trip ahead of us and some idea of the sort of difficult currents and debris that Louis and Clark faced on their way down the Ohio and up the mighty Mississippi to St. Louis. Those early members of the Corps of Discovery must have struggled, rowing and poling the keelboat that Lewis had ordered built in Pittsburgh. Like so many government contracts it was nearly three months overdue and delayed the expedition by several months.
SUNDAY, September 12 –This morning at breakfast we met our Elderhostel leader, Grace Humberston, and our bus driver, Marv Diener, who come from Portland as well as three other early arrivers. One lady from Philadelphia was just starting to read our course primary resource, Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose and plans to spend the day doing her homework. She'll have a long day covering its 476 pages. I've been "appointed" keeper of the daily mileage log to be reported to our party of "Road Scholars". Speaking of which, there are only 35 on this expedition. With a fifty-passenger bus, we will have lots of room. Our first gathering of the group was at 2:30 pm. for introductions and the program opened with dinner and a discussion afterward. Our on-board historian for the trip, Don Popejoy from Spokane, is a hoot and jokester but a brilliant scholar of the Pacific Northwest history. He has taught at Spokane Community College, primarily American Northwest history and has written two books on area history with one due out soon.
MONDAY, Sept 13 - The travel today started with a 30 mile trip eastward through St. Louis and Across the Mississippi to Illinois where the Corps built its1803 winter quarters. There, on Wood River, across from the mouth of the Missouri River, they built Ft. Dubois and spent five months on the American side. Meanwhile, Lewis dealt with the Spanish governor at St. Louis who did not know that Spain had turned Louisiana over to France who had subsequently sold it the U.S. He would not grant Lewis permission to cross with troops and travel up the Missouri until duly notified. Clark trained and organized the soldiers they had recruited and made modifications found necessary to the keelboat, while Lewis spent time at the nearest army fort on the Miss commandeering addition equipment or buying from suppliers in St. Louis and St. Charles. While there, he gathered what information he could from French trappers who had been west. On May 14, 1804, Clark and the recruits along with a dozen French Voyageurs hired to row, pole or wade and tow the Keelboat, crossed over the Mississippi River and started up the Missouri to St. Charles where Lewis joined them on May 21, 1804.
St. Charles therefore claims to be the starting point of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery Expedition since it was the first place that the entire Corps moved westward together. Interestingly, St Charles also claims to be the place of origin for the Oregon Trail and the Santa Fe Trail. Returning to St. Louis, we visited the National Park Museum of Westward Expansion and the Gateway Arch. There we made the dizzying five minute tram ride to the top of the 630 foot high Gateway Arch where perfectly clear sky allowed seemingly endless views in all directions. If that wasn't enough to make everyone dizzy, we returned to ground and traveled back to Old St. Charles and luncheon at Winery of the Little Hills, Missouri's second oldest winery. While on the Missouri River front, we toured The L&C "boat house" and nature center and Museum and saw replicas of the Keelboat and the two smaller boats called Pirogues added to the fleet by Lewis. These replicas, built for the L&C centennial, traveled the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers during the time and have been towed on their trailers thousands of miles since then for displays and special occasions. Something they have that L&C would have loved is inboard diesel engines. We had free time until dinner (that's what they call it up here) to see the sights of historic St. Charles. It was a French trading town founded in 1769 that became the first State Capitol of Missouri. The legislature met in the second floor of a rented tavern that is now a State Park. Many of the old buildings still stand to the delight of tourists and antique dealers. We were able to stroll along the river on the KATY trail, a recent rails-to-trails project built along an old Missouri, Kansas and Texas Rail line that stretches 225 miles westward. I wonder if this is the source, also, of the name of Katy, Texas, the new home of the D.B. Arnolds.
Dinner was at a very modern campus of St. Charles Community College. Two presentations followed by a local history professor, Debbie Crank Lewis, dealing with the rationale and preparations for the expedition. The first briefly went back to the fall of the Roman Empire and the disruption of the Silk Road trade. The second started with Jefferson's election. Very interesting, more about that another time, it's getting late. Tomorrow, we set out at 8:30 for Independence Missouri and points between, along the Missouri River.
Written in haste, overlook errors, my editor is asleep.
D&B (alias Dad, Grand & Best Mother, Grand)
Westward We Go - Wednesday, September 15 - Journal Entries Three
TUESDAY, September 14 - This will be a brief, late night greeting from Council Bluffs, Iowa. Someone asked where we're going and I am beginning to wonder myself. Attached is an itinerary for this journey. We're two marvelous days out from St. Charles and have covered nine weeks of the travel of the Corps of Discovery. Tuesday we covered 150 miles to Independence Missouri, stopping for observations at Arrow Rock where the Corps stopped for two days to hunt food (no McDonalds Arches could be found) Later a thriving town of Arrow Rock grew up with churches bank, schools and a theater. It was a prominent shipping point with a wealth of minerals and industry. It is noted as the first stop of three trails, The Oregon Trail, the California and Mormon Trail and the Santa Fe Trail. Here, heavy cargo wagons were ferried across the Missouri en route west. The river has since moved three miles north and this quiet, quaint little village is a designated national historical landmark with a great museum, quite a few 1820s homes and buildings and of course antique and gift shops. There were two more stops along the river to tour Ft. Osage and an early water powered factory before we arrived in Independence Missouri with time to visit the Harry S Truman Presidential Library. To perk interest along the way, our delightful historian poses questions with "rewards" for the correct answers. As we arrived he posed the question: What does the middle initial, “S” stand for in Truman’s Name. We've started working the way they play “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” on TV...several got on cell phones to “phone a friend” who might be able to help. It's a lot quicker than doing the research ourselves but so far we've not found what the "rewards" are to be. Unfortunately, away from the interstate highways, cell phone connections are becoming difficult. Don did mention that the reward for members of the Corps that completed the journey was double pay. That would pretty well wipe us out of any reward.
Our evening dinner (that's what they call supper up this way) was catered at our delightful small hotel in a quaint old residential neighborhood just three blocks from the Truman Library. The Higher Ground Hotel is across the street from the Independence home where Bess and Harry Truman spent most of their married life. It was built in 1879 by Bess’ grandfather. Our windows fronted to the home and when I looked out at six this morning I could almost picture the President stepping out his door and onto the grand old porch before strolling through the neighborhood on his usual morning walk. Our program last night was given by a Mountain Man re enactor, Jim “Two Crows Wallen, who described the life of those hardy beaver trappers who soon followed in the footsteps of the Corps. Jefferson's third mandate to the Corps' commander was to find ways to establish commercial endeavors in the new territory and the trappers were the first to bring back profitable trade.
WEDNESDAY, September 15 -Today we traveled in four states, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa, stopping at five L&C locales. The site of the first of five councils conducted by the expedition with an assembly of Indian tribal chiefs was on the Nebraska side of the river near Present day Omaha. We visited the council site, its museum and a reconstruction of Ft. Atkinson. The fort was the first Army fort, built in 1820, on the Missouri. For seven years, it was the largest army base of the United States, housing as many as 2,000 soldiers as well as wives who could hire on as laundresses (at $8 per month for washing clothes of sixteen soldiers) and civilians employed by the army. Like many later pork barrel projects, it survived as a military installation for only seven years. Congress failed to approve $3,000 for maintenance needs and the army abandoned it and moved the Sixth Infantry to posts further west. Interesting stops at the Missouri River Basin Interpretive Center near Nebraska City, Nebraska and the Western Historic Trails Center near Council Bluffs filled the rest of our day. After a delicious dinner at Tish’s Restaurant we enjoyed a free evening to rest, write, walk about or swim at our Council Bluffs Comfort Suites
Tomorrow, as Lewis was fond of recording in his journals, "we proceed onward". These typed and emailed journal entries may become skimpier. Today my laptop suffered some unknown illness and refuses to turn on, so I will have to rely on the kindnesses of friends and the computers of hotels along the way. I add this to alert my two computer gurus, David B. and Randy, that work lies ahead.
In haste and near sleep, but with good thoughts to all, good night. D&B
Proceeding Westward - September 17, 2010 - Journal Entries Four
THURSDAY, September 16 - we were able to sleep late since we did not have to depart from our hotel in Council Bluffs, Iowa until 7:50 today! I'll back up to point out that on the previous day, the Council Bluff (no "s") site where Lewis held his first council with the Indians and where Ft. Atkinson was later built was on the Nebraska side of the Missouri. This day we crossed over again to Onawa, Nebraska a bit further up the river to reach their L&C State Park and to meet and hear one of the most interesting local historians yet. Butch Bouvier, of L&C Replicas, age 65, is THE authority on the construction of the three boats used on the Missouri River by the Corps’ expedition. In fact he has built ten of the replicas in use and in displays along the route since 1985. He and his wife, Catherine even traveled the river living on one -equipped with unauthentic, inboard plumbing - for two years. The park has been built by the state to display three of his replicas of the keelboat, the Red Pirogue and the White Pirogue and to conduct educational programs using them.
Next, it was back to Iowa and onward to Sioux City where we stopped at the grave and monument to Sergeant Charles Floyd - the only member of the Corps to die during the three years expedition. He died of what appeared to be a ruptured appendix, and it’s unlikely that the best physicians of the time could have saved him, though Lewis tried everything he had at hand. The one hundred foot monument erected high on a bluff overlooking the river is the largest of the hundreds of monuments honoring members of the Corps throughout the nation. Sgt. Floyd probably moved around more than any other, too. His remains were moved four times to avoid the river's incursion as it washed away great chunks of the bluff.
A brief tour of The Riverboat Museum and Interpretive Center named in Floyd's honor preceded a luncheon at the city convention center, arranged by the Sioux City Historical Society. Their President, Beverly Hinds, a retired nurse and scholar /writer on medical aspects of the L&C expedition addressed our group during the meal. She gave an extensive and detailed presentation of the medical maladies of the Corps as it traveled west and "enjoyed" contact with the natives. The treatments and medications of time, as administered by Meriwether Lewis, were described in detail. Few in our party cared for dessert following her presentation.
Proceeding onward, we visited Vermillion, the small-town home of the University of South Dakota shortly after entering that state. There, we again changed plans to find and hike up Spirit Mound, a singular mound of glacier debris heaped on an open plain. Meriwether Lewis halted his Corps for two days while he and a small party hiked nine miles each way to explore it. We only had to hike a mile to the top. Indians feared it believing it to be inhabited by eighteen inch little devils.
A scenic drive along the river brought us to Yankton, South Dakota - our fourth state of the day- and to an unusual and pleasant Kelly Inn Best Western Hotel. It is built around a two-story indoor pool, spa and small water park. During winter months - like September to May- locals pay a membership to use it. Many of our party enjoyed relaxing and exercising after dinner and a disorganized program of entertainment by fellow travelers. We had to search out Mississippi's state song on Google but chose to perform it in the style of the choir of our state school for deaf and blind. A few of the other fifteen states represented – but not many - suffered poorer misrepresentation.
FRIDAY, September 17 - It's been two more exciting days along the Lewis and Clark Trail and now we've reached Pierre - pronounced “PIER” up here - South Dakota. Our dinner included a Buffalo stew prepared especially for us by our host and Kings Inn Hotel owner. We had a free evening and are just two blocks from the State Capitol and three blocks from the Missouri River. We were able to see most of the city between those two landmarks - and most of the 14,000 population, too. We opted to hurry and get back to see USM whip up on Kansas on TV.
Map Quest projects and expects one to drive 844 miles, traveling from St. Louis to Pierre but that's not the way our historian does things. We've traveled 989 miles getting here taking back roads along the river and crossing the Wide Missouri 21 times so far, getting to historic and/or scenic points he wants us to see... Don Popejoy has led Lewis and Clark treks with this program eleven times since assisting in creating it in the late 1990s. Marv, our Gray Line tour bus driver has driven it five times so GPS knows little that they don't already have in their memory banks. Grace, our Road Scholar director is the new kid on the block, this being only her fourth time to coordinate and lead the L&C program - the two treks in 2009 and the two this year.
We're getting some feedback and questions from the home front in recent days and will try to get some answers to send back. While I think of it, will someone forward this to Jim and Linda Robertson or send us their correct email - the one we have is bouncing.
Today, we finally made a more westward turn and soon crossed into the distinctively different landscape of the upper Great Plains. This is a land of rolling, grassy hills and much different from our idea of the plains. It's rich in fields of cattle and hay, soybeans, corn and even sunflowers. The fall wildflowers are peaking and beautiful. Valleys and stream banks surprised us being so wooded. This has been an unusually wet summer for the region. We saw our first buffalo while crossing through an Indian reservation. Fortunately a strong fence stood between them and us. That is, between the buffalo and us, not between the Indians and us. The Indians were most hospitable. We made a rest stop at one of their casinos and got a royal welcome with coffee and sodas from them. They were well rewarded for their hospitality, it appeared. Along the way, we stopped to see the nearby Ft. Randall site and historic church.
Another detour was made to see the Big Bend of the Missouri River where the river made a thirty mile loop around a neck of land that was only 2,000 feet wide at its neck. Don and Marv know so many unusual scenic places and clue us in when approaching them, to get our cameras ready.
After a picnic lunch near a scenic bridge at Chamberlain, South Dakota we traveled to the campus of St. Joseph’s Indian School and visited its exceptional Indian Interpretation Center and Museum. There we got "the other sides" of the story. St. Joseph, I think, is second only to Boys Town in fund solicitation for its support. A modern printing office is first building seen when approaching the main entrance. After an afternoon stop at the location of L&C's second council with chiefs and their dangerous confrontation with Teton Sioux Indians near Pierre, we reached our hotel for the night, Kings Inn, Pierre, South Dakota. And so, at this late hour, we'll close our journal for this day. Paraphrasing the closing line of my favorite character, Stage Manager, in Thornton Wilder's play, "Our Town", "Most everybody’s asleep in Grover’s Corners…eleven o’clock…You get a good nights rest, too, Good Night, folks."
D&B (unedited or approved by B)
Proceeding Westward - September 21- Journal Entries E-mail Five
SATURDAY, September 18 - Fodder for our journals is coming in fast and furious now as we move across three sparsely settled states of South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana. L&C traveled almost three months without seeing any Indians with whom to hold a Council. Lewis had written a thirty minute speech to deliver to each tribe they encountered. Often it would take more than five hours to relay it and to receive responses from the chiefs through a series of up to five translators. There were Indians along the way and oral histories show that they knew where the Corps was and saw them but were not seen. Today these three states have a total population of less than 750,000 and cattle outnumber people by more than three to one. Today’s activities began at the state capital and the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Interpretive Center. It contains an exceptional exhibit of the dinosaurs uncovered in the area. It includes the only known example of a petrified dinosaur that includes its skin. Like all the other museums and interpretive centers we are seeing, this one had extensive displays of the L&C expedition.
For readers with interest and heritage related to the two Lusk brothers from Scotland who married MacDonald sisters, we found interesting new clues to follow up on. William Lusk, the younger of the brothers who crossed the pond in about 1880 and who went "west to the gold fields"...this center has a great presentation of the discovery of gold at a place named Lead, Dakota Territory near Deadwood in 1876. There was extensive coverage reported in newspapers throughout the country and no doubt in European papers, too. This might have been the attraction that drew young and single William to accompany his brother and sister-in-law to the states and then to strike out to seek his fortune in the Dakota gold fields. He might have spent the time before rejoining his brother in Alabama panning for gold in Lead.
Leaving Pierre, our party moved northward, crossing the Missouri for the twenty fifth time at Mobridge to view the burial place and monument to Sitting Bull and the first constructed monument to Sacagawea. We are nearing the Mandan villages where she, with her husband, Toussaint Charbonneau, who was hired on as an interpreter, joined the Corps of Discovery party. Sacagawea's burial site is unknown but one of three traditions places her death in this area of South Dakota. Don has researched and written much about her in one of his books which he discussed while we traveled. He explained his reasoning and rationale for the "rest of the story" of her fame.
The Women’s Suffrage movement was rapidly gaining momentum and support at the time of the 1905 Portland Centennial of the L&C Expedition. It held a national convention in Portland that year. Its leader was Susan B. Anthony and she was searching for a role model or figurehead for the movement. She hit upon the idea of creating that role model around the little known story and actions of Sacagawea and soon plastered newspapers and magazines of the day with semi-historical accounts of the exploits of this young woman- perhaps a seventeen year old mother of a 55 day-old infant - starting out with her husband on the expedition and safely "leading" it to the Pacific. This legend quickly struck a cord with at least half the population. Today, there are more statues and monuments around the country to her than there are to any other member of the party, including Lewis and Clark. In fact there are more to Seaman, Lewis' black Labrador Retriever than to its master.
After lunch and another L&C Interpretive Center, we visited the Reconstructed 1870s Ft. Lincoln and toured the elegant home designed by its commander, Gen. George Armstrong Custer. The Boy General of the Civil War and his wife led a rather lavish social life here before he led his 7th Cavalry on its ill fated patrol into Montana to round up Sitting Bull and his tribe on the Little Bighorn River.
Before reaching our Comfort Inn hotel at Bismarck North Dakota, we detoured, crossing the Missouri for the 27th time, to take a delightful two hour cruise along the Missouri on a replica of a historic paddle wheel river boat.
SUNDAY, September 19 - This was our longest day of bus travel yet - 283 miles. First stop was the North Dakota Heritage Center at Bismarck opened especially for our group. Then moving upstream to another crossing and a stop at another National Park Service at Washburn, North Dakota where we visited the reconstruction of Fort Mandan, the 1804 winter quarters of the Corps of Discovery. Here is where Charbonneau was recruited and where Sacagawea had her baby, Jean Baptiste. Don't pay too much attention to the spelling of their names. Clark spelled Sacagawea thirty-nine different ways in his journals and quite a few ways for the others. He became quite fond of her and her son over the course of their journey, and referred to her as "Little Sister", finally nicknaming her "Janey". He adored little Jean Baptiste and quickly nicknamed him Pompey or Pomp.
Further on we stopped to see a restored Mandan Indian village at the Knife River National Monument- one of the five Mandan villages that wanted the expedition to winter with them. Lewis wisely chose to build his own winter quarters a short distance across the river from the villages to avoid showing favoritism and creating disharmony among the villages. In 1804, the L&C expedition had traveled the 1,100 miles upstream from St. Charles to the Mandan villages taking over five months from May 14 to Oct 25. Our party covered this part of their voyage route in seven days. They would take over a month to build their winter cabins and live there almost five more months surviving an unusually brutal winter, hunting, drilling, and making ready for the unknown. Both Clark and Lewis honed their skills at celestial navigation and mapping while in winter quarters. No GPS guidance would be available for almost 200 years. They had the latitude and longitude plotted previously by an English trader for the Mandan villages. They had gathered crude maps of streams and landmarks along the river from St Charles to the Mandan villages from trappers and traders. A British sea captain had plotted navigational coordinates at the mouth of the Columbia River three years earlier. The vast distance between the two points was totally unknown. Clark would draw working maps as they progressed while Lewis would calculate coordinates. Amazingly, when the expedition was completed, Clark's maps would reveal an error of only forty miles in an expedition that covered over 4,400 miles!
We have been seeing more and more references to Teddy Roosevelt here in North Dakota. Our stop for the night is to be The Rough Rider Hotel in Medora, South Dakota. As we traveled westward in the afternoon we had our doubts about a hotel of that name. After driving miles and miles through beautiful Bad Lands scenery we arrived at a picturesque western town that is the gateway to the Theodore Roosevelt Badlands National Park. The hotel was by far the most elegant one in which we've stayed. It is original to the founding of the town in 1874 by an expatriate French nobleman, Marquis DeMore. The hotel is now owned by a well funded foundation and is elegantly furnished. Uniformed porters were awaiting our arrival, a warm fire was burning in the massive lobby and sitting room. There is a grand library stocked with a donated collection of 3,000 books related to Teddy Roosevelt. Dinner and breakfast were overwhelming western fare. We seemed to be the only tourists in town on a Sunday afternoon so late after Labor Day and the closing of most of the tourist related shops and entertainment. I walked for six blocks down the middle of the main streets without worry of any traffic.
MONDAY September 20 - Someone asked about the traveling party....more about members of L&C's party later. Ours is a great gang of folks and truly, it's a party most of the time. We have 35 members plus our historian, driver and coordinator from fifteen states - California to Maine, Florida to Washington. There are six couples, nineteen unattached women and four men, all over the age of 55.We're finding many common interests and are bonding some delightful friendships. One of the more enthusiastic travelers, a man from Connecticut, has visited all fifty state capitols and is working on visiting all of the fifty states highest points and liberty bells. Yes, liberty bells. We were all unaware of the fact that during a 1950 war bond drive, 55 exact - but ring-able - bronze replicas of the Liberty Bell were molded and given to each of the states and territories to be carted around and used to promote the bond drive. Afterward they wound up in some strange places. Ledge has traced them down and is in to process of visiting, photographing and ringing all of them, where permitted. He and a friend have developed a web site devoted to them. He pointed out the first one encountered on our trip on the lawn of the Truman Library. South Dakota's is at a Pierre fire station. We're discovering interesting hobbies and experiences of many in the party.
We've enjoyed getting acquainted with a couple from eastern North Carolina near Moore County where we spend considerable time with Arnold research. Gray and Betty Riddick participated in an Elderhostel on the Columbia River two years ago with Don as the on-board historian and registered on this one because of their great experience with him on the Columbia. Don has an interesting way of interjecting unusual words in his discussions such as "momently" and "Birdarium" over which he is often challenged by scholars or teachers. He thrives on this and loves to stir us up to check him out. So far the score is greatly in his favor. He's a lot like Bill Taylor in that he's always thinking of extra gems to show or tell us and is apt to take us on a detour at the mention or question of something interesting along the way.
At dinner in Yankton, a dear lady who finds it difficult to make all the walks we take, mentioned that she was born in a small town about ten miles off the "route" of travel on the next day. So next day, shortly after we got underway, Don announced that we would change our route for "historical discovery" and we proceeded a different way to the town of Avon, population 900 more or less, mostly less. There, through tears of joy, Judy conducted our tour, pointing out the house where she was born, the First Presbyterian Church ( the tiny town has TWO Presbyterian churches of our kind) where she was baptized, businesses and homes of friends and relatives, etc. Before "proceeding onward" we got off the bus in "downtown" Avon and in front of its newspaper office (closed) and leading business establishment - I love its name, "Pour Bar and Grill" - our Dallas cheerleader of the party led us in a few cheers for Avon to the puzzlement of the few folks on the street with whom we visited. Before leaving, Don fed us some more history from his well of knowledge. George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic Presidential candidate had also been born in Avon. Back on the bus this led to expanded discussion of the working of our two party system, relating it back to the political scrambles that Republican President Jefferson had with members of the minority Federalist Party in getting congressional approval to buy Louisiana Territory and finance the exploration of it.
way, for you kids in school, here's a tidbit that might get you bonus
points sometime. Did you know that technically, New Orleans was not a
part of "Louisiana Territory"? At the time of the Louisiana Purchase the
vast majority of population was located at or near New Orleans and along
the Red River. Congress, in its wisdom(?) established an upper and a
lower division of the new acquisition. The present day border of
Louisiana and Arkansas was the dividing line. The lower division,
including New Orleans, was given the name of Orleans Territory and the
upper division was named Louisiana Territory. The French Emperor
Napoleon, who generously sold (for $15 Million) us the land that became
known as the Louisiana Purchase did not really have clear title to it
from Spain. He generously threw in "all lands from which waters drained
to the Mississippi River". Can't you see present day surveyors and
lawyers dealing with that? Jefferson had a motive and gave the Corps a
mandate to explore the extreme northern waters in hopes of finding that
the U.S. could claim title to more of the land that became Canada and
thereby drive the British further away. After the success of the
expedition, Jefferson had Meriwether Lewis confirmed as Governor of
(upper) Louisiana Territory and William Clark, as head of Indian Affairs.
Territorial headquarters were established at St. Louis. Governor Lewis
took a room in the small home of General Clark and his new bride.
Territorial government business and Indian Affairs for an area that became
one third of this nation were conducted from a single office of the
house. My, how things have changed in the last 200 years and how
government has grown!
Following our arrival and dinner at the Clock Tower Inn in Billings we had an interesting presentation by Keith Edgerton, a Western History professor of Montana State University, giving us an overview of the expedition's travel in Montana Territory and the rationale for dividing into small parties on the return trip through Montana.
Tomorrow, we move into the Rocky Mountains. After climbing to the top of Pompey's Tower, today, these legs and eyes need some rest. Good night, all. David and Bettye
TUESDAY, September 21 – Today's travel from Billings to Helena, continued along the Yellowstone River to Livingston where the river curved south into Wyoming and we crossed over the first range of the Rockies through Bozeman Pass, elevation 5760 feet. Beyond Bozeman we turned north and spent time at the Missouri (River) Headwaters State Park where we hiked along the high river bank to see the point, considered by Lewis and Clark, as the point of origin of the Missouri River from which it flowed north. From this point we will be traveling downstream along the river. Our hike took us to the point where three streams of similar size converged. L&C named them the Jefferson, the Madison and the Gallatin Rivers, honoring their President, his Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury. We took time to dip our toes in the waters of this historic spot and enjoy another picnic lunch. L&C rested the Corps here for two days, to repair clothing and equipment and fixed the position of the confluence by celestial navigation. Lewis noted it to be an excellent position for a fort and trading post. After much discussion, L&C determined that the Jefferson was the main stream and the best for their travel through the mountains. Our Coach of Discovery, guided by GPS, proceeded in the opposite direction closely following the Missouri downstream to Helena, the state capitol.
Our overnight stop and dinner in Helena was at the Jorgenson's Motel. George Dean, our local historian for the next three days, joined us there and gave an evening program about the next day's visit to the Montana State Capitol and our travel through a portion of the Missouri River Gorge that Meriwether Lewis named The Gates of the Mountains.
Proceeding Westward - September 23 - Journal Entries Six
WEDNESDAY, September 22 - Politics in Jefferson's day were little different from today's. The Federalists had lost control of the Congress at the time of Jefferson's election and would be the foot draggers during his administration. They tried to obstruct the Louisiana Purchase as a wasteful expense. To get legislation passed for its exploration, he, with his young secretary, Meriwether Lewis, proposed launching a military expedition of twelve men at an "estimated" cost of $2,500. Over Federalist objections, the Republican supported legislation was approved. Lewis, the secretary was the one charged with presenting and defending the proposal before the congress. Jefferson cautioned him that no mention be made of this being a scientific exploration, so much of interest to the President. Congress of that day was only interested in exploration for matters of defense and commerce. As so often happens today, once approved, the expedition quickly ran into cost overruns. The final party departing St. Charles swelled to 58. Lewis purchased boats, equipment and supplies totaling $37,000. The construction of the three boats ran six months behind schedule leaving Pittsburgh, and the Corps' mission extended a year longer that projected..
Of course, the Department of War footed the bill for all military wages and costs. Jefferson gave Lewis an unlimited Letter of Credit - the 1800s version of a Platinum Credit Card - to charge the US government for any services or supplies that he needed. Though there may still be some unsettled charges, those paid ran, by some estimates, to another $62,000. Accounting for them without any receipts from Indians, trappers or tradesmen led to Lewis' recall to Washington to settle them and was a likely contributing factor to his death - suicide (?) - en route.
Today had been the best day yet, for many of us. George Dean our able local host historian/geologist/teacher/humorist, led us on an early morning tour of the beautiful Montana State Capitol, built in 1902. It is similar to the one we saw in Pierre and designed by the same architect. It holds the distinction of being the first capitol building designed to include electrical wiring and lighting. It has recently been renovated and restored to its original appearance. More importantly to me, many of its murals and art work were painted by a Montana artist whose work I've admired for a lifetime. His largest work, a twelve by twenty-four foot mural hangs in the House Chamber. Charles M. Russell painted the old west in hundreds of vivid and accurate scenes. From the capitol, we walked across its landscaped grounds to the Montana Historical Society Museum. Among its interesting exhibits, it houses the second largest collection in existence of Russell's western art and sculpture. Tomorrow, we will see the largest at the Russell Museum, but here we could freely photograph his works.
Ledge, our friend from Connecticut, led us to see Montana's Liberty Bell Replica on the state house lawn where we could ring it to our heart's content and hear its mellow tone, supposedly matching perfectly that of the original. George Dean is quite an authority on Montana geology and made interesting comments about it with his dry wit stories along the way. His tales of Montana politicians are even more colorful than those of our Alabama and Mississippi politicians - the way George tells them.
As we departed, hundreds of school children were descending on the capitol lawn for a special program of working exhibits related to their state's geological history. We were told that various programs are offered weekly for the schools.
From Helena, we traveled northward through the river valley toward Great Falls. We are now following the Missouri River downstream in the reverse direction from which L&C first approached this area. One of the three returning parties of the Corps came this way on the return. Taking scenic back roads - some dirt ones so steep, I would hesitate to drive them in a Jeep, Driver Marv carried us across the Missouri eight more times today. We paused to take a six mile river boat excursion at one National Forest park. We traveled through a portion of the river that Lewis named the "Gates of the Mountains". Here the Corps paddled upstream until late in the night, unable to find any beach or flat land adequate for a nights camp. The river cuts through sheer cliffs rising as high as 1000 feet on both sides. Our boat pilot had as many exciting stories as George has about this section of the river. Geologically these cliffs contain some of the oldest rock in North America - over 1 billion, 3 million years old, but who’s counting? They once stood taller than the Himalayas . The limestone that forms much of them was once sea shells on the bottom of the Inland Mississippian Sea somewhere around the equator, before the Atlantic and Pacific tectonic plates collided. We will have to research these "tall mountain tales" before accepting them as gospel truth.
After another turkey, beef or ham sandwich picnic on flat land at the park, "we proceeded on" to the village of Ulm and the nearby First Peoples Buffalo Jump National Landmark and Interpretive Center. This "jump" is the largest of several around the west where native Americans cooperated and shared work space before the arrival of the Spanish horses and guns. You new citizens of Texas have one for you to check out that Texans claim to be the largest. Young men trained for the honor of costuming themselves as injured buffalo calves and leading - or misleading- sub herds of 75 to 150 buffalo along a grassy, gradually rising plain to the edge of a 100 foot cliff. We males tend to think that buffalo herds were led by the biggest and strongest bull. Not so, that's bull or the bulls theory. Most were led by and older and wiser cow buffalo. As she grazed and kept an eye out for dangers, she also watched out for young calves in trouble. The young men studied buffalo psychology 101 and learned to mimic the call and movements of an injured calf and how to lead the matron herd leader; and in turn, the following herd toward the cliff. The rest of his tribe would have been hidden behind piles of stone forming a wide mouthed funnel narrowing toward the cliff. As the herd, following their leader, passed the hidden warriors, they came out of hiding to wave and make noises that started the herd moving faster and faster toward the bluff. The young brave must be able to get out of the way or have preselected a save escape route as the mass of buffalo raced to and fell to their death over the bluff. Waiting below were skinners and butchers ready to take and use all parts of the "manna" falling before them. We had no volunteer in our group interested in demonstrating the role of the decoy. Excavations below the bluff have uncovered buffalo bones as deep as thirteen feet and dated them as early as 900 AD.
Our group, traveling on Gray Line's newly renamed Coach of Discovery, has been anxiously awaiting our arrival in Great Falls where we stay two nights. Bottled water and snack supplies of our coach are running low and many are in need of additional supplies. We are told that there is a trading post there that we will venture to this evening. It is called by the natives, Wal-Mart. Dinner tonight is to be at a famous restaurant, popular in the west. It's known as Golden Corral.
THURSDAY, September 23 - This Townhouse Hotel is the fifth hotel in which we've stayed that is built around a central atrium with indoor pool and spa. This one is extremely spacious and nice. Last evening was a leisurely one with time to relax around the pool area, do laundry or visit the hotel's casino or lounge. We opted to swim, soak and wash. We had free time, too this morning until 10 a.m. when we drove a few miles out of town to an interpretive center near the fifth and last of the river falls that detained the Corps as it approached this area. From accounts of Indians at Ft. Mandan, L&C expected to find one water fall that could be portaged in a day. Instead they found a series of five with treacherous rapids interspersed. They found it necessary to portage their dugout canoes sixteen miles overland, taking thirty-one days to do it.
Our party next returned to Great Falls a small city of 27,000 and to its magnificent Charles M. Russell Museum. A luncheon and a great speaker, Ken Dykes, awaited and introduced us to the museum and the life of Russell. Ken next led us on a guided tour of the collections of Russell's art and sculptures and to the log cabin on the grounds adjoining the museum that served as his studio from 1903 until his death in 1926. The home that he and Nancy built next door was opened for us to tour. Most spent the next two hours viewing the museum collections. Surprisingly, visitors are free to take photographs throughout the museum. The time passed much too fast as we viewed what we could of more than 1500 of Russell's works on exhibit. I must have snapped 200 photographs in the huge multistory building.
While growing up, there was an old book in our home entitled “Indian How Stories” that brothers Bobby and Buddy had probably passed down. I don't know who, or if anyone, might have wound up with that copy. But if it's still in the family, the keeper should care for it well and maybe take it to be appraised by Antique Road Show. It was generously illustrated by Charlie Russell, and the copy that the museum has on display behind thick glass is one of very few remaining and highly valued.
We left the museum reluctantly but still had more on schedule before our day closed. A longer drive north along the Missouri and off the beaten path took us to the first of the great falls of the Missouri that confronted Lewis. It is 85 feet high and its racing water can be heard for almost a mile. Lewis spent two days hiking the full length of the falls and rapids determining the best places to begin and end the sixteen mile portage to be made.
Dinner tonight was catered for us at the hotel by a local specialty caterer team known as "Clark and Louie". Special guests for the meal, included our wonderful area tour guide, George Dean, and two delightful ladies who assisted in designing and making arrangements for the Road Scholar tour of central Montana. It was a wonderful meal including delicious barbecued buffalo ribs. We've tried several foods typical of the foods on which the Corps traveled and survived through the rugged mountains ahead. Their journals record 227 buffalo killed for food on the plains. Additionally, they killed for food 375 elk, 1001 dear, 62 antelope 23 black bears, 43 grizzly bears and numerous other animals. So far, we've not sampled two of their favorite foods while crossing the mountains - horse and dog meat! Journal entries indicate their diet included four horses and 169 dogs obtained from the natives.
Tomorrow, we travel on to Missoula, Montana. After I told another of brother Bobby's stories of Himalayan Rabbit stew, I've been banned from the bus microphone, except to give the daily mileage reports. For my efforts as a stand-up comedian, I was loudly told to sit down.
Our best to y'all all and thanks to the brave and hardy ones who've read this far.
Proceeding Westward - Sept 25 - Journal Entries Seven
FRIDAY, Sept 24 -Someone asked about the person to whom these journal emails are addressed. Some of the younger recipients have received “correspondence” before from this ancestor, Thomas T. Wall, telling stories of his experiences as a lad in Virginia, traveling across the mountains and down the Tennessee to Alabama Territory with his parents and family and to Coosa County in Alabama before it was ceded by the Indians. There, Tom married, thrived, served twice as sheriff and raised a large family. Tom's Father, James Augustus, born in 1777, was a contemporary of Meriwether Lewis and might well have seen and heard Jefferson speak in the Virginia Statehouse at Williamsburg while in school. He outlived his son, Tom, in Coosa County, although it appears that Tom continues to keep an eye on his beloved county, according to email correspondence received from TomTWallatPearlyGate.yahoo.com.
On this expedition, we've developed a new appreciation for these western states and their colorful history. States of the eastern seaboard commemorate and celebrate many events in their rich history related to the colonization period and the Revolutionary War in their monuments and reenactments. Throughout our southern states, the fresher events and battles related to the War Between the States dominate historic commemorations. Out here in the west the recorded history of western expansion is much shorter. The travel of the Corps of Discovery's is one of the most celebrated events of its history, along with the Indian battles and conquests as the nation expanded westward. Communities along the L&C trail hold numerous reenactments and celebrations each year and dot their streams, streets, highways and byways with historical markers and monuments to the expedition and their now honored Indians.
Mileage was light yesterday. Only 49 miles were traveled in and around Great Falls and downstream to two of the five falls on the Missouri. This morning we went a different direction and saw two more. The fifth is now submerged under a dammed lake, En route, a stop was made at Giant Springs State Park where the shortest river in the U. S. according to Guinness - the River Roe - rises and carries eight million gallons of spring water each day, two hundred feet into the Missouri River. Nearby, we visited an interesting trout hatchery and the granddaddy of the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Centers developed by the National Park Service in recent years. This one is the headquarters and has the most extensive collections and exhibits we've yet seen. It includes a two story, wide screen theater featuring Ken Burns’ movie of the expedition.
Clark and Louie catered another delightful meal for us at the center of chimichunga - perhaps to commemorate the four military expeditions sent north by Spain to locate, halt and arrest the Corps of Discovery that was crossing disputed territory. More intrigue: Spain had a highly placed secret agent – identified on their records as Agent 19 on their payroll - engaged to keep them informed about American military activities in the west and particularly expeditions such as that of Lewis and Clark. This was a key Washington insider, General of the Army, James Wilkinson, confidant of the the President and thought to be a double agent. He was an associate of Aaron Burr and involved in shady intrigues throughout his career. Fortunately, all four Spanish expeditions failed to overtake or discover the whereabouts of the Corps of Discovery.
After lunch, and after crossing it for the forty-fourth time, we paid a fond and final farewell to the Missouri River, just as L&C had to Like them, we set out cross country into the Lewis and Clark Range and the Bitterroot Range of the Rockies. We crossed the Continental Divide traveling on U.S. 12 through Rogers Pass at an elevation of 5,680 feet, some 2,000 feet above the elevation of Great Falls. More trivia: The elevation change of the Missouri River as it passes through the sixteen mile span of the Great Falls is 426 feet - about the same elevation change as the Mississippi makes between St. Louis and New Orleans.
We stopped in the little town of Lincoln, home of George Dean, our guide and humorist for the last three days. Before leaving us to return to his log cabin sans running water, he told a few stories of one of his neighbors that he knew for several years. This neighbor brought quite a bit of excitement to Lincoln a few years ago when neighbor Ted Kaczynski was arrested, identified and tried as the unibomber.
Today, like all others of our trip has been fair and mild. U.S. 12 follows the Clark River through the ranges getting us to Ruby's Inn and Convention Center in Missoula, Montana in time to enjoy a heated outdoor swimming pool and hot tub overlooking the scenic stream where we soaked and watched the sun go down over the western mountains. Dinner at the adjacent Joker's Wild Casino and an interesting presentation on Lewis and Clark as Naturalists, hosted by the Missal Trail Heritage Society closed our evening
SATURDAY, September 25 - We planned an early start today but were delayed. As we loaded, one lady discovered that her journal was missing, Like L&C's, her most valuable acquisitions during our expedition. After a search of her room and the dining room, it was found on our bus and we proceeded on to our first stop at Travelers Rest State Park where a Park Ranger was waiting for us. She led us on a hike to the only campsite of the Corps of Discovery accurately identified and proven. Two of the key factors of its proof were quite interesting. Archeologists excavating on the site located melted lead spilled beside charcoal remains of a campfire. Component testing showed that the lead came from a mine in eastern Kentucky that was producing for the Harper's Ferry Arsenal in 1803, from which the expedition's ammunition was procured. Secondly, Lewis recorded in his journal that he was treating two ill soldiers while at Travelers Rest with a favored medication that he obtained while getting his crash course in Medicine from Dr. Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia. This medication had mercury as a key ingredient, now known to be highly toxic and largely "expelled" by the body. In excavating, those archaeologists discovered a latrine site fitting military specifications of the day and - you guessed it- containing a high concentration of mercury.
The young lady ranger, a native of Boston gave an extremely interesting commentary as we toured the campsite. Travelers Rest was used for several day's rest and recuperation on both the westward travel in 1805 and the return in 1806. It was here that the Corps split into three parties on the return route. Clark and fifteen soldiers and the Charbonneau family traveled southward to locate and scout the Yellowstone River valley. Lewis, with nine men, turned northward to explore the watershed of the Marias River while a small party led by Sgt. Ordway, retraced their 1805 route to recover buried cashes of supplies and the two boats hidden for the return voyage. They found one had rotted, but one survived.
Returning to the Visitors' Center and Museum, we met a guest who was joining us for the morning. A William Clark impersonator (alias Ritchie Doyle), in authentic dress was waiting to show us one of the many maps that he drew over the course of the expedition. While Lewis used celestial navigation to locate key positions along the route, Clark used dead reckoning to estimate the Corps' daily travel and to locate and position converging streams and landmarks on his maps. Later cartographers discovered that his dead reckoning methods were off by only forty miles over the Corps' travel route of almost 4,400 miles.
Boarding the Coach of Discovery once more, our party headed higher into the Bitterroot Mountains. “William Clark” entertained us with descriptions of his activities through the area and gave an account of his party's return travel along the Yellowstone River. We crossed the Bitterroot Mountain Range and entered Idaho near Packers Meadow and the Lolo Pass, elevation 5235 feet. Near the summit, “William Clark” led us on a hike along a section of the actual Lolo trail that the Corps traveled by foot and horses. As we retraced our path back down the mountain to our coach, Clark – who is a musician by profession – dropped behind and we began to hear a haunting Indian tune being played on a wooden flute. We drove away with the distant melody still drifting off the mountain. We never saw the mysterious Captain Clark again. Hopefully, the lone car in the pull-off at the crest was awaiting him because we were many miles from civilization.
The horses that L&C had so anxiously searched for, to make the harsh journey through the Bitterroot Mountains, had been obtained from the Shoshone Indian chief, now famous as the brother of Sacagawea. Interestingly, the Corps first traveled this rugged route during the same days of September touring which we are traveling it. We have sun and heat to deal with. They spent eleven days struggling through early winter snow and nearly starving for lack of any game to kill. Four horses made the supreme sacrifice that enabled the Corps to make it through the Bitterroot Mountains. We traveled the distance in five hours, stopping for a sumptuous lunch at a beautiful Lochsa River Lodge and dining this evening at Lewiston, Idaho's Red Lion Hotel on salmon and steak (beef) with the finest of trimmings.
Stephen Ambrose renewed the popularity of the Lolo Trail through his writings and the annual horseback treks he led over its length for students and fellow historians. I have long imagined this most rugged section was a barren wilderness. Not so. From Lolo Pass we descended 4,500 feet to Lewiston through a lush and flowery river valley for almost 150 miles, traveling beside a growing mountain stream as the first small creek joined the Lochsa River that, in turn, converged with the Selby River forming the North Fork of the Clearwater River. That grew as it met with the Middle and South forks and raced on to join the mighty Snake River . For us, the scenery was stunning; the Fall foliage was in full color.
Much of the afternoon travel was through the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. One stop was made for a presentation and tour at the Nez Perce Historical Park Visitor Center. Another was a brief stop at a park identified by Don as the location of Canoe Camp where the Corps, with help from the friendly Nez Perce Indians found suitable ponderosa pine trees and made five dugout canoes near present-day Livingston. With these boats, the Corps was able to launch them into the Clearwater River and travel some 500 miles down the Snake to the Columbia and the Pacific coast. We will follow their route through Washington State and to The Dalles in Oregon, tomorrow. We spend tonight in Lewiston, Idaho's Red Lion Inn. After dinner at the inn, a Nez Perce tribal representative gave a program about the tribe history and association with the Corps. With this we'll close today’s journal. D&B
Proceeding West - September 27 - Journal Entries Eight
SUNDAY, September 26 - This has been a day in which we reflected on friendships - our own as well as those that bound the members of the original Corps of Discovery. It's hard to realize that our eighteen day expedition is so quickly drawing to an end. Many warm friendships have developed within our party that will, no doubt, be continued through mail and email, if not in person. Many are serious travelers and already looking at future travel together. Discussion at our table one recent evening centered on travel experiences- with several relating accounts of their travel in remote as well as popular sites throughout the world. One lady is leaving for South Africa and Zimbabwe within days of reaching home. Another leaves in January for a 103 day cruise around the world.
Members of L&C's Corps, too, developed strong, lasting friendships. It was recorded in one of the members’ diary that they could recognize each other in the night by the sound of their snoring. We've not become quite that close. After their return, four of their party, including John Colter, who would later discover Yellowstone, our nation’s first National Park, teamed up to return to the mountains as fur trappers. Several others were employed by Clark to work with him in various jobs for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. From school days most of us knew that Clark offered to raise and care for little "Pompey." Sacajawea and Toussaint Charbonneau declined at the time they left the party on its return to the Mandan villages. However, they brought him to St. Louis when he was six and left him in Clark's care. There, this child of Shoshone and French speaking fur trappers, quickly acquired a good English vocabulary and at 13 entered St. Louis' finest Latin school. He excelled and attained honors, finishing the three years with the equivalent of a 4.0 record as a scholar in English, German, French, Latin and Greek. Before age 18 he was guiding adventurers westward and spent a year guiding a German party. A young man of German royalty, invited him to return with him to Europe. There, he held his own among European society, even falling in love with a princess. He was devastated when the couple's only child, a son, died within its first year. Pomp returned, alone, to his roots in the west to work and be befriended by many famous and infamous men of the west. For a time he led Santa Fe bound wagon trains and hung out with folk heroes such as Kit Carson, John Colter and John Bent. Later he worked with a hotel in California, herded cattle and died at age 61 in Montana.
Today, our traveling historian, Don, was excited to learn from his editor that his latest book went to the printers Friday - in time for Christmas gift sales. He gave us a reading from a journal of a woman that he is researching to write about. It was a very touching account of a 39 year old mother of eight traveling with her husband over the Oregon Trail. Along the way, they were devastated by accidents, bad weather, deaths among friends in the wagon train and finally the death of her husband as they reach Portland. She was left penniless, having to sell what little of the family's belongings were left to survive and feed her children. Don said that he hoped to continue research to find what happened to her. His story struck a chord on this old genealogist's heartstrings. At our hotel tonight, I spent a couple of hours searching Ancestry.com and several other sources and discovered for Don "the rest of the story". Widow Elizabeth Dixon Smith remarried to Joseph Carey Geer, a man fourteen years older who had lost his wife along the trail a year earlier and been left with four children. Together they had three more sons before Elizabeth died in 1856. A son of one of her stepsons became governor of Oregon in 1912. She let her three oldest boys strike out for the California gold rush in 1850. One became a prominent lawyer and judge in Portland and a daughter married a minister and had a long life in Salem Oregon. Don went bonkers with the new information and has taken me on as his “research genealogist”.
Today’s travel took us from Lewiston, Idaho to The Dalles, Oregon, crossing the Snake and Columbia Rivers several times. We stopped several times for Don to show us points along the old Indian Road to the Buffalo on which the Corps traveled by foot and horseback on the 1806 return. From Canoe Camp near Lewiston, where they made dugout canoes and traveled by river to the Pacific in 1805, we were amazed at the beauty of the valley. Between the high bluffs on both side there are now two highways and two railroads, one each on both the Oregon and the Washington sides of the river. The hillsides are rich with fields of wheat and the valley dotted with vineyards and orchards of apples, pears and cherries.
A particularly interesting stop was made at a site near the small town of Dayton, Washington. Dayton is known for being part of the "Forgotten Trail," a portion of the Corps of Discovery's journey that historians often leave out. The expedition camped on the banks of the Patit Creek, a short distance from the present site of the Columbia County Courthouse. As part of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial, Dayton created a full scale, historically authentic model of the Patit Creek camp site, including the restoration of period vegetation and an interpretive kiosk. Life size silhouettes of every Corps member, horses, tents, etc. were cut from sheet iron and erected in the campsite area. The view of the camp from the interpretive kiosk is extremely realistic.
We are "camped" tonight in a pleasant hotel, Shiloh Inn, where we strolled out our back door and right down to the shoreline of the Columbia River. Unlike the views of them that the Corps saw , these two mighty rivers now have eight huge hydroelectric dams creating long lakes through the entire valley. Locks at the dams enable cargo barges and passenger cruise ships to travel the breadth of the two states to Lewiston.
Over the course of
our trip and studies we've become acquainted with the lives of many of the
adventurers of the Corps. Each of us has some favorites. I hope to learn
more about a couple of mine. Corporal Warfington was a soldier on duty
near Chattanooga when selected to join the Corps. Captain Lewis had been
given authority to select and transfer to his unit any soldier he chose
for the elite Corps. This naturally disturbed other commanding officers
that were losing these men. Warfington did not make the full journey.
After the winter at Ft. Mandan, the Keelboat (Lewis never called it
anything but "the Barge") was of little use in shallow waters going west.
He chose to load it with crates, boxes and cages containing his journals,
maps, specimen collections and cages of birds, prairie dogs and other
small animals to be shipped back to President Jefferson for his use and
distribution to other men of science. At Jefferson's urging, Lewis had
also recruited chiefs of several tribes to travel to Washington Town and
meet their new Great White Father. All together 45 Indian leaders
accepted the invitation and were hosted royally by Jefferson with all
expenses paid. Several were picked up and traveled on the keelboat to St.
Louis. For his leadership abilities, Warfington was chosen to command the
party of soldiers and French-Canadian boatmen that made the return
voyage. Warfington assisted in conducting the guests to Washington and
getting the cargo to the President. He carried with him the first
journals and indeed, the first correspondence that Jefferson had received
from Lewis in over eighteen months. Warfington military records indicate
that he was a native of Louisburg, North Carolina, a distance of about
twelve miles from the home of our great great-great grandfather, Solomon
Arnold, on Sandy Creek.
MONDAY, September 27 -The Dalles, Oregon to Astoria, Oregon - Our line of travel today was some 200 miles along the south (Oregon) side off the Columbia River to a point east of Portland where we crossed into Washington near Vancouver, then traveled along the shore to the mouth of the Columbia and its estuary to open water of the Pacific. "Ocien (ocean) in view, Oh the joy!” to quote the words recorded by William Clark in his journal. The Corps had achieved the first mandate that President Jefferson had given them for the expedition.
The river valley surprised us with its vast fruit orchards and fields of wheat while the bluffs and mountains above were arid and bare. After passing through the Cascades--the most westerly range of the mountains--the landscape changed rapidly and we found ourselves traveling in densely wooded, semi-tropical terrain. Along the morning route, we stopped to view the 620 feet high Multnomah Falls, second highest falls in the U.S. and the giant Bonneville Dam and Locks on the river. Later, we enjoyed clear views of Mount Hood, second highest point in the states.
Two things that we were told we would see on the trip have eluded us. We have seen absolutely no rain and experienced no temperatures below 45 degrees. Our rain gear, winter clothing, heavy coats and bug spray remain unpacked and unused. The only snow we've seen has been at a distance and on tops of mountains. The weather has been absolutely grand with only a little morning fog today.
Those of us who have traveled much along Highways 98 and 49 in Alabama and Mississippi in recent years have seen many wide-load trucks hauling huge, generators from their assembly plant in Florida. We've seen numbers of them scattered on the high plains, mounted on their towers and turning in the wind to generate electricity. Traveling down the Columbia we've been surrounded by miles and miles of wind farms rising above the bluffs and mountains along both sides of the river. We've been told that there are more than 40,000 of these generators in use along the river valley with more going up each month. The fifty-four ton generators are mounted on towers 200 feet tall and twelve feet in diameter. The windmill-like blades are one hundred feet in length. Near Astoria, while crossing the Columbia on a high bridge, we could look down on the port at Kelso where the tower sections and blades were being off-loaded from a sea going ship. At the same port we saw acres and acres covered with piles of huge fir and pine logs that we were told are regularly loaded and shipped to ports in China and Japan.
Our picnic lunch stop was at a pleasant river park west of the port at Kelso. There we met Tom Laidlaw and had an entertaining presentation/performance related to the Corps' arrival at the mouth of the Columbia. He was dressed as Meriwether Lewis and, guided by Lewis' journals, described and mapped his arrival and days exploring the coastline and river and selecting a location for winter quarters. After lunch Tom boarded our Coach of Discovery and guided us to many of the points described by L&C, using a reproduction of Clark’s map of the area. At several points we were able to dip our toes in the Pacific waters. He gave another animated presentation at dinner in the character of a settler who later followed the Oregon Trail and was much involved in the area history.
Late afternoon, we crossed over the western-most high bridge that spans the Columbia River's ship channel, into Astoria, Oregon. I've felt badly in the past at accounts of people having to sleep under bridges. We found our night spent under the bridge to be most enjoyable. However, we spent ours in a modern new Holiday Inn. From our fourth floor window, we could watch ships traveling up and down the channel as the sun descended into a placid Pacific Ocean to our west. The accommodations, meals and programs just seem to get better each day for our party.
Some of us relaxed after the evening program in the hotel's saltwater pool and hot tub; others strolled along the beach beyond the hotel's patio.
Tomorrow, we explore the Oregon coast south of Astoria and sites related to the Corps’s expedition, including a restoration of their 1805 winter quarters at Ft. Clatsop. Then our expedition returns to Portland for our final evening and closing party at the Airport Clarion Hotel.
Not knowing our time and travel constraints of tomorrow, this may be the last correspondence back to eastern civilization before we return home. Tuesday looks to be a busy day and evening. We'll leave our hotel by nine on Wednesday to catch The Cascades, our train to Seattle. There we board Amtrak's Empire Builder train to travel the Northern Pacific's route across the northern tier to Minneapolis and Chicago. Five others of our group are also returning on that train.
If all goes as scheduled, we'll arrive in Chicago by 4 pm. Friday and leave at 8 pm aboard the City of New Orleans, bound for Jackson MS and home. We'll close our journals officially Wednesday night but will be exchanging our completed versions with members of our party later. It may be sometime before this journalist gets around to completing and correcting his journal. Even so, we'll treasure memories of the trip and new friends for a long, long time.
That is in keeping with the outcome of the journals of Lewis and Clark that have been our guides these weeks. Lewis never completed the official journals before his mysterious 1809 death at Grinders Stand on the Natchez Trace in Tennessee. They were finally edited and published in 1814. By then, several of the men of the Corps had published and sold their own journals to an eagerly awaiting public. It was almost one hundred years later that historians and the public began to recognize the true significance and impact of the work of the expedition's two heroic leaders as revealed by their journals.
Proceeding West - The end of the Expedition andReflections - Journal Entries Nine
TUESDAY, September 28 - The closing two days of our Roads Scholar program were as exciting and as smoothly organized and orchestrated as the sixteen preceding ones. Tuesday, September 28 dawned with Astoria encased in heavy fog as seems to be typical for the coastal area. It burned away by mid-morning while we drove and toured the historic small town. Astoria was founded by 1810 as the first U.S. Settlement on the west coast. A fur trading company heavily financed by John Jacob Astor gave it a starting industry and its name. It quickly became a sea port for Pacific cargo and fishing vessels. A monument tower commemorating the city's 100th anniversary was erected on the highest hill overlooking the port in 1910 It towers 162 steps above the base. Our Coach of Discovery reached the tower and associated park still shrouded in fog. Those of us who climbed to the top experienced a magnificent view as the fog rolled out to sea and the port and land and sea for miles around were gradually revealed.
The best seemed to have been saved for last this day. Coming down from the mountain top, we rode a few short miles south of Astoria to Ft. Clatsop National Park. Here we walked among ancient Douglas fir and ponderous ponderosa pines that might well have been standing and spared in December of 1805 as the Corps of Discovery hewed similar trees to build the winter quarters that they named for a neighboring tribe of Indians. The park's reconstruction of the fort is accurate to the plans described and drawn by William Clark and authentically furnished and supplied. Again, we were entertained by a sizable class of school children excitedly involved in a hands-on history learning experience. We Road Scholars, who had delved into the intricacies of the Corps' activities for eighteen days, could sense the same excitement felt by these young scholars.
Our ride back to Astoria took us by the port where a world class cruise ship was docking and turning its thousands of tourists loose on the town. Fortunately we had a private dining room of the famous and historic Silver Salmon Grill reserved and servers waiting to serve us another memorable meal. We took the occasion to recognize and thank Marvin Diener for his dedicated service as driver of The Coach of Discovery. Additionally, he made so many more contributions to the enjoyment of the travelers with his vast knowledge of birds, weather and history and for his theatrics in skits with Tom Laidlaw. After we unload in Portland, Marv will be driving to San Diego to return our luxury coach to a sister Gray Line company there.
Following our last lunch and another brief walk through downtown, we boarded our coach for the last ninety miles to Portland and the end of the trail. Again, we enjoyed a scenic drive at the end of a beautiful day and trip. Unloading our coach at the Portland Airport Clarion Hotel was bittersweet as we parted from our great friend and driver, Marv, and from the comfortable Coach of Discovery. Together, they had safely transported us the 3,221 miles from St. Charles to the Pacific and to Portland.
Dinner and a parting party wound down our day...except...a Frank Sinatra impersonator- vocalist was entertaining in the lounge and several of our party helped him close down the show around midnight.
WEDNESDAY, September 29 - Everyone was on their own after breakfast and good byes. Most were flying out later in the day. A few would spend more time in Portland. Five were taking the Empire Builder from Portland in the evening. We opted to take a taxi into Portland for brief sightseeing, then catch the north bound Amtrak Cascades train to Seattle. The route offered some beautiful views as it followed along the eastern shore of the streams and of the Puget Sound, with the Olympic Mountains to the West. The route passed through scenic Vancouver, Olympia and Tacoma. There was little time to see much except downtown Seattle before boarding the Seattle section of the Amtrak Empire Builder to start the homeward journey.
It had been years since we had experienced the luxury of a dining car and thoroughly enjoyed a delicious steak dinner with an interesting couple traveling east. We crossed through several ranges of mountains before we bid the day adieu and settled into our room for the night. Sometime after midnight, the section of the Empire Builder from Portland was joined behind our Seattle section in Spokane and the train continued eastward. Don Popejoy, who hails from Spokane and who had assured us that he would be waiting with champagne, was nowhere to be found. He must have known that our Amtrak steward had already placed a bottle in our room along with chocolates and a bag of goodies.
THURSDAY AND FRIDAY, Sept. 30 and Oct 1 - As we sped across the Northern tier of states aboard Amtrak's “Empire Builder” there was time to sit back and reflect on the highlights of our Journey of Rediscovery. Not since 1962 had we traveled by train in the U.S. We could not help but compare the ease and comfort of train travel to the arduous and challenging journey made by the Corps of Discovery. Since meals were included in our room rate, we indulged our appetite to the fullest- literally. The weather was clear and beautiful for the entire trip. Windows of our roomette on the second deck offered exceptional views of the countryside, but a short walk early Thursday morning to the observation lounge car offered even more magnificent views through the overhead glass as we raced through the Rockies and Glacier Park.
A stop at East Glacier gave a first opportunity to step off the train and walk about. The Park entrance and its grand old log hotel glistened in the early morning sun. Towns that had formerly been only dots on maps to us became places with identity and a character to be remembered. As Empire Builder slowed to pass through them our high perch allowed a birds' eye view of homes and businesses, streets, parks, churches and people going about their routines. We kept a map close by to see what lay ahead. One by one those dots sped by; dots with names and now with faces and memories - names like Libby, Whitefish, Cut Bank, Glasgow, Wolf Point, Williston, Minot, Devils Lake, Grand Forks, Fargo, St. Cloud, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Red Wing, and La Crosse. And then we reached more familiar territory where the dots grew bigger and had such names as Minneapolis-St Paul, Wisconsin Dells, Milwaukee and Chicago.
It was a pleasant surprise to find how closely our train adhered to its schedule. After three days of travel, it reached Chicago within minutes of the scheduled arrival time. There we said last goodbyes to the five friends who had traveled with us and had a pleasant three hour wait before boarding “The City of New Orleans at eight pm for the last leg of our trip home.
SATURDAY, OCT 2 - We slept soundly through our third night aboard a train as we traveled smoothly through Illinois Kentucky and Tennessee and awakened shortly before rolling into Memphis for a brief stop. Hills lessened and disappeared as we sped through familiar Mississippi landscape to Jackson where the Dunn family awaited to drive us the ninety miles home to Hattiesburg.
Over the course of these twenty-two days, we traveled 7,965 miles, not counting hikes and climbs and boat trips on the Missouri. That included 1,436 miles by air, 3,221 aboard the Coach of Discovery, 3,143 on the three trains and 165 miles by auto from and to Hattiesburg. Along the way, we crossed the Missouri River forty-seven times (one last time by train) between its mouth at the Mississippi and its headwaters in Montana. Downloading our cameras we discovered we'd taken 1273 photos and over three hours of video. Ninety per cent or more will need to be discarded - no short or easy task. The Road Scholar trek carried us through parts of eleven states. Travel to and from covered six more.
It has truly been a travel of much new discovery for this writer. Complacently, we thought our self to be reasonably well informed about the historic events surrounding the acquisition and exploration of the Louisiana Purchase. Quickly, it became evident that there was much, much more than the meager historical facts needed to flesh out the full story. The political intrigues and interactions of men of the Corps and those in high governmental positions played a significant and little known part in the exploits surrounding the expedition. The Corps of Discovery's expedition is, without doubt, one of the greatest stories of American adventure and ingenuity. Over our travel, we delved into so many stories and experiences of the members of the Corps, often through their own written words. The leaders revealed a cockiness and self assuredness that lent courage and confidence to the entire group. Such loyalty and friendship and universal harmony has seldom been experienced by such a sizable group over such a long and dangerous expedition. Their devotion to purpose and to President Jefferson's instructions hopes of discovery deserve praise. Their expedition opened the way for the nation's western expansion. The leaders and their President had good intentions that the native Americans of the west be accepted and adapted and assimilated into the expanding nation. Later, the nation's leaders and its swelling population of settlers hungering for land, disregarded those good intentions. For the native Indians, the expedition marked the beginning of the end of their way of life. It marked the opening of an era, later seen by many as one of national shame, for the young nation. Yet we still feel pride and admiration for the members of the Corps. Recognizing that they were products of their times and valiantly carried out the tasks and mission to which they committed their lives, we honor and uphold them as heroes. An inscription chiseled on the grave monument of Sgt. Charles Floyd is appropriate for every member of the Corps: “Graves of such men are Pilgrim Shrines – Shrines to no class or creed confined”. They could hardly have envisioned or comprehended the effects that their successful expedition set in motion.
This Elderhostel program was an experience that will be long remembered for us. It reawakened a diminishing interest and inspired us to delve deeper into our nation's history and heroes. It provided a wealth of new material and ideas to research and write more of our “History's Mysteries”. We heartily recommend the Road Scholar program, “Lewis and Clark: a New Nation's Journey West” to anyone looking for an educational and inspiring adventure in travel, with a great deal of fun and fellowship included. Elderhostel West, Inc. customarily offers two opportunities each year in August and September to would-be participants.
David and Bettye Arnold
Some websites of interest for more information:
www.lewisandclarktrail.com - Official publication of the National Lewis and Clark Trail Society
nps.gov/nr/travel/lewisandclark - National Park Service guide to all national parks, monuments and landmarks related to the Lewis and Clark led Corps of Discovery Expedition
ClarkandLewis.com - This is a photo and daily travel map presentation
of previous Lewis and Clark tours on which Tom Laidlaw served
as historian. The August 2010 tour closely
http://lewisandclarkjournals.unl.edu/ - This website makes available
the full text of the celebrated Nebraska edition
of the journals of the Corps edited by Gary E. Moulton.
Back to the WPC Home Page