Lewis and Clark
Lewis and Clark
Captain Meriwether Lewis and Lieutenant William Clark led an expedition to explore the lands west of the Mississippi River. They traveled all the way to the Pacific Coast with the help of Native American guide Sacagawea.
In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson purchased a great area of land to the west of the United State from France called the Louisiana Territory. He needed someone to explore and map the region.
Map of the Louisiana Territory.
Thomas Jefferson turned to Captain Meriwether Lewis, who was Jefferson's private secretary at the time, to explore the land out west.
Lewis then asked his friend, Lieutenant William Clark of the US Army, to join the expedition.
List of Supplies
In preparing for the expedition, Clark was responsible for hiring and training the men, while Lewis gathered the equipment and supplies they would need.
List of Presents
Lewis and Clark, together with their team of over 40 men, began their expedition at the city of St. Louis on May 14, 1804. They packed lots of equipment for their trip including rifles, food, and warm clothing. They even brought lots of glass beads and trinkets so they could trade with Native Americans along the way.
Map of the Lewis and Clark Expedition showing the trail they took to the Pacific Ocean.
The expedition began by traveling up the Missouri River. They had one large boat called a barge and two smaller boats called pirogues. They were traveling against the current, so they had to use long poles to push the boats and sometimes used ropes to pull the boats from the banks.
Remake of a keelboat similar to what Lewis and Clark used at the start of their expedition.
Lewis and Clark met many Native American tribes along the way. Although there were some tense moments, they made friends and traded with many different tribes.
The Missouri River.
They even spent the first winter with the Mandan nation where they met a fur trapper named Toussaint Charbonneau and his Shoshone wife, Sacagawea.
A Mandan earth lodge. Lewis and Clark likely stayed in something similar to this.
Sacagawea joined the expedition as an interpreter. She helped the expedition in many ways as they traveled, including showing them edible plants and helping to keep peace and trade with different tribes. Without help from both the Native American tribes and Sacagawea, the expedition would have surely failed.
As the expedition continued up the Missouri River into what is today the state of Montana, it ran into the Great Falls. It took the men nearly a month to carry their boats around the Great Falls. This is a picture of the Great Falls today.
The Lewis and Clark expedition sets out.
The expedition stopped for two days at Traveler's Rest in Montana.
Black Eagle Falls
Lewis at Black Eagle Falls.
Lewis and Clark came to the Rocky Mountains. These mountains were much more difficult to traverse than they first expected
Sacagawea pointing the way to a pass through the Rocky Mountains.
When they finally made it across the Rockies, they met the Nez Perce people, who helped them with food and shelter.
It was in November in 1805, around a year and a half after leaving St. Louis, that they finally reached the Pacific Ocean. The Columbia River, shown in this picture, led them to the ocean.
The Pacific Ocean
They stayed that winter near the ocean and started home again in March of 1806. It only took them around six months for the return journey. They built a fort named Fort Clatsop.
Monument to Lewis and Clark.
They named this rock formation "Hat Rock" because it looked like a hat.
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