The story of Lewis and Clark is one of the most fascinating sagas in American history. It's my dream to one day travel along the Lewis and Clark trail from start to finish - Missouri all the way west to the Oregon Coast and back again. I've travelled sections of it but to do the whole thing? Magic.
A new blog post by the Smithsonian of DC has highlighted that Lewis and Clark have only become famous in the last 150 years. Indeed, for decades after their original journey (1804-6) their names were nearly forgotten. The third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, had always been curious about the 'West', a vast and relatively unmapped land. He wanted to learn more about his country, from the topography and the wildlife to Native American tribes. Once the Louisiana Purchase had been completed in 1803, Jefferson sent Meriweather Lewis and William Clark on an incredible mission to the west coast in an attempt to find a Northwest Passage. Although they failed in this mission, Jefferson - ever the pragmatist - worked hard to ensure it was not seen as such by the East.
Later expeditions failed to mention Lewis and Clark and it wasn't until the early twentieth century that their mission was 'rediscovered' by explorers and historians. The centennial celebration of their exploration was celebrated (particularly in Oregon) but it wasn't until the 1950s that they were remembered as heroes. More effort has also been made to focus on the interaction with Native American tribes and the instrumental contribution of Sacagawea, the interpreter and guide for the expedition.