Note from your historian, Tom
July 27, 2013
- The Road Scholars begin arriving tomorrow,
but each year I come to St. Charles & St. Louis a little early to see the changes in
the Lewis and Clark interpretive infrastructure. Since I began in 2001
two different replicas of Camp River Dubois have been built, one large
interpretive center, two confluence parks, and a tall viewing tower. It
is fun to speculate on the beginning of the Lewis and Clark Trail. Many
places are beginnings of sorts, but Lewis himself told us:
from the L&C Interpretive Center at Hartford, IL
This tower at Hartford, IL lets us view the confluence of the Missouri
and Mississippi Rivers
Here's a longer view showing a litle more of the upstream Missouri
is where Lewis and Clark started their journey on May 14, 1804. The
tower was planned to be ready for the bicentennial but money ran out.
The town and many volunteers kept on going, however, and it was finally
opened for business on May 14, 2010. A very satisfying view after a long
wait. Our guide was Charlie Enright. Last year he and Hartford's mayor,
Jim Span, gave me a special tour in the pouring rain. Needless to say,
ths year was much better.
year our driver, Road Captain Marv, came with me and we visited the replicas of Camp
River DuBois, where the Corps spent the winter of 1803-1804.
right, I said replicas. This one in Wood River, ILwas built entirely by the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles. it is
thought to be close to the original location.
of the problems of modern interpretation of river sites is that rivers
are constantly changing. Here's a comparison of the historic and
modern confluences. We can no longer find the exact sites so the
best we can do is to build our interpretation nearby. Here we have two
replicas. The one in Wood River is probably closer to the original
location, but does not have the sense of confluence.
The state built
replica is closer to today's confluence, so it gives a better overall
idea of the situation in 1804.
This replica, down the road apiece and near today's confluence, was built by
the State of Illinois, as part of their L&C Interpretive Center. This
one has roofs slanted to the inside, while the other has them slanted to
The one spectacular thing about the Illinois L&C interpretive center is
the cutaway keelboat pictured below.