"" Writer's Wanderings: Road Trip 2015 - Lewis & Clark Trail

Friday, September 25, 2015

Road Trip 2015 - Lewis & Clark Trail

Either just before or just after the Theodore Roosevelt National Park stop, we began to notice signs along the highway indicating that we were on the Lewis and Clark Trail. I remember looking at that once before but had forgotten all about it until I saw the signs.

While my Facebook post commented that the pair did a nice job on the road construction, I knew that there was much more to their expedition than imagining a paved highway. They actually set out on May 14 1804 to discover a waterway across the continent. The expedition group was called the Corps of Discovery and included others beside Lewis and Clark who headed the trip across the continent from Washington DC to Chinook, Washington on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

Thomas Jefferson was instrumental in getting Congress to fund the expedition. He had tried several times before to get an expedition to explore the West. He had quite a sense of adventure himself.

Meriwether Lewis had been secretary to President Jefferson when chosen by the president to head the Corps of Discovery and explore the west. Lewis went to school for a year before the expedition set off to study the sciences, medicine, and navigation.

William Clark had been in the Army in Ohio with Meriwether Lewis and when Lewis was appointed by the president to lead the expedition, he chose Clark as his co-leader. Clark was instrumental in mapping the territory they covered.

York was perhaps one of the least known of the expedition's members. He was a black man, a slave of William Clark. He made significant contributions in hunting for food and serving as a scout. He was also a bit of a good luck charm when dealing with the Indians who had never seen a black man before.

Of course the most famous woman of the expedition was Sacajawea. She was the only woman and traveled with a baby. She was married to a Frenchman who was hired as a translator and was said to have guided the expedition when in fact she was more of a fellow traveler. Clark mentions in his diary that she was a token of peace in dealing with the Indians. They did not see the expedition as a war threat since they were traveling with a woman in their party.

We picked up the trail in North Dakota and followed it through Montana. On the way home, we follow part of the trail through South Dakota as well. Thankfully our travel is a lot more comfortable than theirs.

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