Tuesday, September 19, 2000

Lewis and Clark travel along Ohio

Crew re-enact 1803 trip down river

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A group of middle school students on a field trip encountered some explorers Monday making their way down the Ohio River. These men wore regal military uniforms, the same red, white and blue type that infantrymen wore in the early 1800s.

        A captain stepped off a small boat and announced to the group that he was Meriwether Lewis. He introduced his friend, William Clark.

        With a 20-member crew, the group is called Lewis and Clark Discovery Expedition of St. Charles, based in Missouri. It stopped in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky as part of a re-enactment of the 1803-06 Lewis and Clark expedition, which had huge historical significance for the United States.

        “This is the trial run for 2003,” said Skip Jackson, a Cincinnati native and crew member. “That's the beginning of the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition.”

        Expedition 2000 is a 626-mile journey on the Monongahela and Ohio rivers from Elizabeth, Pa., to Louisville. With this trip added to previous ones, the Discovery Expedition group will have re-created the Lewis and Clark journey from Pennsylvania to South Dakota.

        From 2003 to 2006, the group plans to make the entire trip (from Washington, D.C., to the Pacific Ocean) just as Clark and Lewis did.

        The purpose of these voyages is not to explore the United States but to teach schoolchildren and communities about the importance of the first expedition and the impact it had on America.

        “America was a nation in flux,” said Scott Mandrell, who portrays Lewis in the expedition. “There were Irish and English and Dutch. They didn't think of themselves as one tribe.

        “When Lewis went west he wanted to redefine what being American was.”

        While many use St. Louis as the starting point of the expedition, Lewis actually started in Washington and headed to Pennsylva nia, where he had his famous keelboat made, and came downriver to meet Clark in Louisville.

        “Lewis and Clark joined there to become (two) of the greatest partners in American history,” said Jim Holmberg, curator of special collections at the Filson Club, Kentucky's privately supported historical society.

        The sixth-graders from Summit View Middle School in Kenton County were taking a riverwalk tour when they saw the men in period clothing get out of the boats. A dozen or more of them asked questions and listened as the man portraying Capt. Lewis told stories.

        “We did a lot of studying about Lewis and Clark in the fifth grade,” said Jill Baker, 11. “They were really detailed in what they talked about.”

        She knew about the Revolutionary War and the Louisiana Purchase, but not specifics about the men's uniforms and the dog named Seaman that accompanied the expedition.

        “It was cool how they looked like what (the men) did when it really happened,” said classmate Steven Dummitt, 11.

        The men camped out in Rabbit Hash downriver and enjoyed an old-fashioned meal at their campsite. They will continue on their journey this morning past Markland Lock and Dam and then on to Carrollton. The group will end their trip in Louisville on Thursday.

Explorers saw frontier Ohio, Ky.

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