at the museum

The Lewis and Clark Expedition

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Before the 19th century began, mystery surrounded the Far West. Map makers knew very little about the shape, size or topography of the land west of the Mississippi. As a businessman, President Jefferson was interested in the rapid settlement and commercial development of the West, so he dispatched his personal secretary Meriwether Lewis and his friend William Clark to explore along the Missouri and Columbia Rivers as far as the Pacific.

They began their journey on July 5, 1803, from St. Louis, Mo. The purpose of the expedition was also to establish American claims to the region west of the Rocky Mountains, gather information about furs and minerals and identify sites for trading posts and settlements. As a scientist, the president also instructed the group to collect information covering the diversity of life in the West, ranging from climate, geology and plant growth to fossils of extinct animals and Indian religions, laws and customs.

Lewis and Clark’s expedition ended on Sept. 23, 1806, having covered 8,000 miles. (Source- America and Its People Volume 1).

A friend of the late Carol Zeeck gave the museum a wonderful display of many of the items Lewis and Clark took with them along with their discoveries. Included is a ceremonial uniform worn when meeting Native Americans and a peace medal featuring Jefferson to present to them. A plant press to record new findings, an ink stand containing powdered ink and a quill pen for recording their journey are also part of the display. The museum has a replica of the sextant used to record latitude and longitude for accurate readings of their locations and a compass for orientation. Several types of the fur pelts they discovered are displayed as is a tube of bear grease to keep the bugs off in the summertime and insulate them in the winter.

This is a remarkable record of an important era in American history and worth a visit to the Lake Preston Museum.

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