On May 14, 1804, members of the Lewis and Clark expedition launched their 55-foot-long keelboat and two smaller boats onto the Missouri River. Hauling camping gear, navigational tools, medical supplies and rifles, they embarked on a journey to explore lands newly acquired by the United States. Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark kept a journal in which they noted the route, weather and landscape; recorded the discovery of new plant and animal species; and documented their encounters with Native American tribes. Their account of the expedition paints a picture of what the West was like at the 19th century.
Choose a place below and read what the explorers had to say, in their words, about the land and its inhabitants.
Journal exerpts from "The Journals of Lewis and Clark," edited by Bernard DeVoto. Copyright (c) 1953 by Bernard DeVoto, renewed 1981 by Avis DeVoto. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Photo: Badlands of North Dakota, courtesy Philip Greenspun.