The Perilous Afterlife Of The Lewis And Clark Expedition

The explorers who set out two hundred years ago were in danger for three years. Their legacy was in danger for decade after decade—and it was Meriwether Lewis who almost killed it.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and the other members of the Corps of Discovery, thoroughly fed up with the long, rainy winter they had spent on the West Coast, left the home they had built for themselves, Fort Clatsop, in what is now Oregon, late in March 1806 and paddled into St. Louis six months later, on September 23. Of the two captains, Clark was the only one keeping a journal by then. Lewis had stopped writing when one of their men, Pierre Cruzatte, who was blind in one eye, had mistaken him for an elk and shot him in the buttocks.

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Comparing Notes With Lewis And Clark

A present-day adventurer canoes the Upper Missouri to find that time and fortune have erased signs of its later history, restoring the wilderness the Corps of Discovery penetrated nearly 200 years ago

History unspools like film rolling slowly backward in the Missouri Breaks, a 149-mile corridor of stark cliffs and tawny bluffs along the Upper Missouri River in central Montana. On the eve of the Lewis and Clark Expedition’s bicentennial, this is the last undeveloped stretch of the 2,700-mile waterway that carried the explorers west to fulfill President Jefferson’s charge of finding the Missouri’s source and to track a water route to the Pacific.

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