Trails Through History: Lewis and Clark Trail


By Carla Charter

The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail which was established as an amendment to the National Trail Act became one of the country’s first historic trails in 1978. The trail runs through 11 states.

Sites include a variety of locations with connections to Lewis and Clark. These sites include visitor’s centers, museums, landscape locations identified through Lewis and Clarks journals, city parks with statues, historic markers and even water experiences including a boat trip up the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.  There visitors can see the White Cliffs which Lewis and Clark described in their journal. “Their journal gives us a real tangible connection to 200 years ago, according to Ashley Danielson, Volunteer and Partnership Specialist, Lewis and Clark National Historic trail.

Meriwether Lewis, the personal secretary of President Thomas Jefferson, was chosen to lead the 1804 expedition.  Lewis chose William Clark to accompany him on the trip.  The purpose of the expedition was to map and survey the land which became known as the Louisiana Purchase, to establish diplomatic relations with the people who inhabited these lands and to document the plants and animals. Sacajawea, a Native American woman, along with her husband Charbonneau, a French trader and their infant son Pompey “Pomp” joined the expedition, during the first winter which Lewis and Clark spent at Fort Mandan, in North Dakota. Sacajawea translated for the expedition for the rest of the journey.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the National Trail System. There is more interest in where events took place and to see those landmarks according to Danielson.

More information on the Lewis and Clark trail can be found at www.nps/lecl


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