Remember that song?
Not being able to decide if we were dumb or brave, off we went with map in hand, through a city that is torn up by road construction. But after taking a few detours we found our way and had a great afternoon visiting the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Well it really is a small world. As we walked in the door we were greeted by a friendly gal who was visiting with another couple and we waited for her to finish with them. She then asked where we were from and we told her Washington State and she exclaimed "well I'm from Tacoma and these people that were in front of you are from Bainbridge Island!" Excited that 4 of the 6 visitors for the day were from her home state, she insisted that the 5 of us and CoCo of course, have our photo taken to put on their website. We spent some time visiting about how we all ended up in Sioux City and then went on our way.
In January of 1803 Congress authorized $2,500.00 for scientific, geographic, commercial, agricultural and ethnographic discovery of the west. President Jefferson chose Meriwether Lewis, his personal secretary, to lead an expedition to the Northwest. That spring as Lewis readied for the trip he invited William Clark to co-command the expedition. The two men spent a year recruiting men to accompany them, gathering information and supplies. On May 28, 1804 twenty-nine men and Lewis' Newfoundland dog Seaman, who he had purchased for $20.00 in 1801, set out on their journey up the Missouri River for the Pacific Ocean. Three months later they make it to what is now Sioux City, Iowa. One of their men had been ill and the commanders decided to stop and see if they could nurse him back to health. Sadly, they no more than reached land when Sgt. Charles Floyd died of what they now assume was an appendicitis attack. Sgt. Floyd was the only man of the Spirit of Discovery to die on the entire 28 month journey. Finally arriving in Fort Mandan, North Dakota on Christmas Eve, the party holed up there for the rest of the winter talking with the many Native American tribes, trappers and mountain men to gain information and gather food and supplies to take with them. While in Mandan they recruited Toussaint Charbonneau and his wife Sacajawea, a Shoshone Indian as their interpreters for the trip. Leaving Fort Mandan on April 7, 1805 the party continued west to the headwaters of the Missouri River, struggled across the Continental Divide, and headed west along the Salmon, Snake, and Columbia Rivers to the Pacific. After many, many hardships, delays and setbacks Lewis and Clark finally landed at the mouth of the Columbia River, Astoria, Oregon. They built Fort Clatsop on the south shore of mouth of the river as their winter camp, almost starving to death and enduring the cold, wet, rainy and foggy winter. On March 23, 1806 the party begins their long journey back to St. Louis and arrive back in Sioux City on September 4th where they stopped once again to pay their respects at Sgt. Floyd's grave. On September 23rd they arrive back in St. Louis, having been given up for dead due to the long 28 month journey. What had taken them 3 months on their way up the river to reach Sioux City only took 2 weeks going back down the river, a distance of about 750 miles. The Interpretive Center tells the story of the "Spirit of Discovery" and includes many artifacts from that time period, some of which belonged to the Lewis and Clark Party. In total they had traveled 7,689 miles.
A paddle boat, so common on the river in the early days, named for Sgt. Floyd stands docked nearby. It has been turned in to a museum about Sgt. Floyd and the early days when many paddle boats traveled up and down "The Big Muddy" as the Missouri is nicknamed. Having read the history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition as children, it was fascinating to recall the story and see many of the things used by the expedition. And not only is it a small world but it seems that some things never change. The $2.500.00 appropriated by Congress for the expedition ended up costing $38,722.25...just like everything the government does now, seems to cost more than budgeted!