Meriwether Lewis and William Clark's trail blazing expedition departed from St. Louis 201 years ago, on May 14, 1804. In a span of twenty-eight months, they covered 8,000 miles, journeying to the Pacific Ocean and back again.
"The object of your mission is to explore the Missouri River & such principal stream of it as by its course and communication with the waters of the Pacific Ocean, whether the Columbia, Oregon, Colorado or any other river may offer the most direct & practicable water communication across this continent for the purpose of commerce." With these words, President Jefferson set in motion the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804 - 1806. This amazing multimedia site is my don't-miss-it pick of the day.
In celebration of Lewis and Clark's bicentennial anniversary, the Missouri Historical Society took their museum exhibit on a coast-to-coast tour. But you don't need to live near any of the five tour cities to enjoy the virtual exhibit. Like Lewis and Clark, you will get to meet people different from you ("in mind and time") and learn from them. Most unique clicks are the ten themes (such as World of Women and Discovering Language) and the searchable image gallery.
This Lewis and Clark site is chock full of adventures for explorers of all ages. Elementary kids should head directly to Go West Across America for a virtual Lewis and Clark expedition based on the children's book of the same name. Others will enjoy the cyber campfires, which provide a snapshot into the explorer's world. "The whol face of the country was covered with herds of Buffaloe," noted Lewis on April 25, 1805. Can you imagine the plains covered with 60 million bison?
In 1803 Congress approved an appropriation of $2500 to fund the Lewis and Clark expedition, which Jefferson named the Corps of Discovery. Over the next four years, the Lewis and Clark team traveled "thousands of miles, experiencing lands, rivers and peoples that no Americans ever had before." Now, thanks to this great PBS site, it's your turn to lead the expedition. Into the Unknown is an interactive game (and my favorite click of the entire site) which lets you make decisions such as when to continue up the river or to stop and wait out the storm. Other great clicks are the free Lewis and Clark screen savers, the native American perspective, and the expedition time line.
"Among the many successes of the 1804-06 Lewis and Clark expedition were the important strides made in the mapping of the U.S. interior." This Smithsonian exhibit explains the importance of maps, shows one of the original maps that Lewis and Clark carried with them, and describes the mapping that took place during their journey. "They prepared about 140 maps on the trail and collected some 30 maps from Indians, fur trappers, and traders."