Lewis and Clark's legacy flows into the Capital City
Sun, 12 May 2013 01:54:38 GMT —
The pair that opened up the west for exploration began their historic journey in St. Louis on the Missouri River.
The Missouri River has changed over the past 200 years, but who better than Lewis and Clark to paint a picture of the capital as a unique river city.
In early June of 1804, Lewis and Clark stopped in what is now Jefferson City.
Bill Stine, a leader on the Lewis and Clark Task Force, is an expert on the pair's travels.
"They stopped at the mouth of the Moreau River, and then they came up through here...something really bad happened. At the mouth of Gray's Creek which is just off of Highway 179 going out of town, they broke the mast on their keelboat. So they stopped at a place called Sugarloaf Hill and spent the night," Stine said.
A Lewis and Clark memorial sits facing the river on the southwest side of the Capitol, and serves as a reminder of their memorable expedition.
Water from the 21 major rivers that they encountered on their way west flows from an upper waterfall - a symbol of their friendship with Native Americans.
Austin Tao, the designer of the memorial project, visited the site this spring and still admires the legacy of Lewis and Clark.
"No one knew what was between here and the Pacific Ocean, and what they encountered was just amazing, and they were able to make it back. Of course they had a lot of help from the native Americans. Without them I don't think they would have made it," Tao said.
The Missouri River looked much different back then, as the crew described through their journals.
"The river was much wider, shallower in some places, treacherous in other places. Lots of stumps, and snags unimproved. Things hanging over the river, which, like the sycamore tree that got Lewis and Clark's keelboat mast. So it was completely different from when the Corps of Engineers came through," Stine said.
While Clark was the navigator, Lewis documented plants, animals, and the familiar rock bluffs we still observe today.
A famous painting of the explorers in their keelboat can be seem in history books and exhibits, and it was done across from Jefferson City on the Callaway County side of the Missouri River.
Lewis and Clark's mission from Thomas Jefferson ultimately united the west with with east, all the while giving Jefferson City a rich legacy and a namesake that will live on for centuries to come.