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Home Travel Guide Travel Guide Topics Travelin' Grandma Lewis & Clark Bicentennial - I

Lewis & Clark Bicentennial - I

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Travelin' Grandma... on the road with Myrna Oakley
Exploring the Lewis & Clark trail across the U.S.

On the Trail with Lewis & Clark, Part I        

    The 200th anniversary of the Lewis & Clark Expedition is upon us, I tell the grandkids, and we need to think about places to visit between now and 2006. “Wow, all the way until 2006?” asks P.J.
    “Yes, but the celebration begins officially in January 2003 at Monticello,” I explain.
    “Where is Mon-ti-cello?” asks Bradford.
    “This is Thomas Jefferson’s home in Virginia,” I say, “he was President in 1803 and he had the idea for the expedition starting from the East Coast.”
    “Did Lewis & Clark come all the way to Oregon?” asks Marisa.
    “They sure did,” I say, “even Clark’s dog Seaman came along with them. And they didn’t get back home until 1806.”
    The party had started from Camp Du Bois in Illinois and journeyed mainly by river routes through sections of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. According to Clark’s journal, they covered 4,132 miles in 554 days finally arriving at the Pacific Ocean near the Long Beach Peninsula.

“Lewis and Clark covered 4,132 miles in 554 days finally arriving at the Pacific Ocean.”

    On November 7, 1805 William Clark wrote in his journal: “Great joy in camp we are in view of the Ocian. . .” For the record, the party was still some twenty miles from the Pacific Ocean but they finally arrived at the mouth of the Columbia River on November 15 and set up several camps on the north side of the river, the Washington side. Although Clark scouted up the Long Beach Peninsula some 9 miles for a possible winter headquarters site, the party backtracked upriver and, on the advice of Clatsop Indians about more abundant food sources such as deer and elk, they started crossing to the Oregon side of the river on November 26.
    By December 7 the whole party of 31 members was hunkered down at the Fort Clatsop site on the Oregon side of the river, and near present day Astoria. They began cutting trees and building their winter quarters and they were under cover from the wind and rain by December 26.

“...even Clark’s dog Seaman came along with them, I say”

    Planning your Corps of Discovery travel itineraries across the U.S. is easy. Check these sites for Bicentennial events and activities that range from 2003 through 2006:

Fort Clatsop National Memorial – Visit the reconstructed fort and see living history programs  (92343 Ft. Clatsop Road, Astoria, OR 97103; 503-861-2471;

Pacific County Friends of Lewis & Clark – Walk the Discovery Trail to the ocean and attend a large Destination 2005 event planned by both Clatsop County (Oregon) and Pacific County (Washington). Contact Ilwaco Heritage Museum (115 SE Lake Street, Ilwaco, WA 98640) and browse the website, www.lewis

Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation (

National Coast Trails Association – Lectures, hikes, and kayak trips in Pacific and Clatsop counties (888-920-2777, www.coasttrails .org).

Discovering Lewis & Clark – A multi-media site incorporating the entire route from east to west (

Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Site – This official national website ( lists Signature Events, activities, and other happenings from 2002 to 2006 for the eleven states encompassing the journey, plus other states involved in preparation for the journey.

First Signature National Bicentennial Event – January 18, 2003 at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home in Virginia (
Additional travel and lodging information is available from the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Center in Seaview, 800-451-2542, 360-642-2400, and

For other states along Lewis & Clark’s route, contact individual state tourism offices and specific town and city visitor centers.

– Myrna Oakley authors two northwest travel guides, Oregon: Off the Beaten Path and Washington: Off the Beaten Path, by Globe Pequot Press.


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