Jan 31st, 2012 | By | Category: Senior Travel

Seniors Join Footsteps of Lewis and Clark

I invite seniors to explore the Lewis and Clark Trail for an exciting journey filled with history, natural beauty and an opportunity to meet interesting people along the way. Explore the Lewis and Clark Trail by following the tracks of the Corps of Discovery as they discovered a continent very much inhabited.  Congress established the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail in 1978, and communities along the route have planned activities to honor the expedition.

President Jefferson – Find a water route to the Pacific
In 1803 Thomas Jefferson dispatched Lewis and Clark to find a water route across North America, explore the uncharted 800,000 square mile West and to find the elusive Northwest Passage.  What they discovered was mind-boggling: some 300 species unknown to science, nearly 50 Indian tribes, and the Rockies. Take this National Geographic journey and discover along with these explorers what they encountered. The Lewis and Clark expedition, aptly named the Corps of Discovery, included Sacagawea, a 16-year old Shoshone woman carrying her infant boy, who served as an interpreter and guide on their journey. Even Lewis’’ pet dog, Seaman, went along.

The Corps of Discovery began making its way up the Missouri aboard a 55-foot-long (17-meter-long) keelboat and two smaller pirogues. As they traveled, Clark spent most of his time on the keelboat, charting the course and making maps, while Lewis was often ashore, studying the rock formations, soil, animals, and plants along the way.

The Lewis and Clark Trail is a cultural destination that covers over 4,600 miles, crosses three time zones, and showcases some of the most beautiful and rugged areas of America. The expedition traveled over 8,000 total miles back and forth over a period of 2 years, 4 months and 10 days. When the expedition reached the Pacific, Clark estimated they had traveled 4,162 miles from the mouth of the Missouri to the Pacific. His guess was within 40 miles of the actual distance. In seeking an all-water route to the Pacific Ocean, the Corps of Discovery navigated the Missouri River upstream through the Dakotas and across present-day Montana. They proceeded to cross the Rocky Mountains and then continued down to the Columbia River, reaching the Pacific Coast a year and a half after setting out.

Seniors, Meet The Explorers

Meriwether Lewis was born August 18, 1774, near Charlottesville, VA, and was a boyhood neighbor of Thomas Jefferson. Meriwether’s father died when Meriwether was only five years old. He then went to Georgia for a few years only to return to Virginia to run the family farm and to continue his education. A native Virginian, Clark, born August 1, 1770, was 4 years older than Lewis. In capability and background, he and Lewis shared much in common. They were relatively young, intelligent, adventurous, resourceful, and courageous. Born leaders, experienced woodsmen-frontiersmen, and seasoned Army officers, they were cool in crisis and quick to make decisions. Clark joined the military at age 19, eventually attaining the rank of Captain. Ensign Meriwether Lewis was among men assigned to Clark. The two struck up a lasting friendship that would lead to their co-commanding the Corps of Discovery. These journal entries are samplings of some of the entries made by the men.

From Missouri to Oregon

So start off in Missouri and end up in Oregon.    Idaho and Montana invite seniors to come and hike, bike and canoe the river and walk the same path that Lewis and Clark walked. You’ll enjoy planning your Corps of Discovery travel with the resources included here, and learning more about the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  Drive along the same trail and stop and enjoy the many centers (80) that focus on that memorable journey. If you start off driving from the east coast you have complete information on miles including maps of precisely where you are and where you are going.  Because they traveled by river, and rivers have shifted their courses and been altered by dams, the “trail” is not exact.

Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery have been referred to as “the writingest” group of explorers to undertake a major overland expedition. The same thing can be said for their mapmaking. They prepared about 140 maps on the trail and collected some 30 maps from Indians, fur trappers, and traders. Most of the maps were drawn or compiled by William Clark. While Meriwether Lewis was not a cartographer, he carried out much of the celestial observation. He was tutored in this activity by some of America’s leading scientists, mathematicians and surveyors.

This route was created to celebrate the anniversary of the Corps of Discovery’s 1804-1806 historic journey and offers cyclists the opportunity to follow the path of the intrepid explorers.  It includes seven map sections detailing the 1804-1805 westbound trip, roughly following the Missouri and Columbia rivers, and one map section showing Clark’s 1806 eastbound return along the Yellowstone River.  This is a preview of a DVD of 1,200 photographs of the Lewis and Clark Trail as it appears today.  So set the stage now for a journey through time and space and enjoy the history associated with it. jeb

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