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One of the most significant and dramatic explorations in American history, the journey of Lewis and Clark, stands as a true epic in documented exploration of the West. From 1804 to 1806 Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led the Corps of Discovery on an 8,000 mile journey into the unknown. Starting at the meeting of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, they traveled by foot, boat, and horseback all the way to the Pacific Ocean and back.

This is the story of that exploration, complete with diary excerpts, encounters with Indians, the sometimes beautiful and sometimes threatening landscape, and a summary of the objectives and accomplishments of this extraordinary team.

Beautiful photography, live re-enactments, illustrated maps and rare photographs make this historical adventure come to life and one that will entertain and educate all age groups for years to come.

An excellent program. Highly recommended. - Video Librarian

It is such an engaging piece of work that from a schoolmans vantage point, the subject it presents deftly complements the social studies curriculum in both history and geography. Not only does the video provide a sound insight into the historical significance of the expedition, but it provides a sweeping and dramatic overview of the power of the landscape through which Lewis and Clark and company traversed. -Social Studies Teacher, New Trier High School, IL

Blue Ribbon Winner - American Film & Video Festival Bronze Apple Award - National Educational Film & Video Festival

The Historic Expedition of Lewis and Clark - Study Guide

In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark, along with the Corps of Discovery, to explore the path of the Missouri River, which ran through much of the Louisiana Purchase. Meriwether Lewis had been Jefferson's private secretary - William Clark was Lewis' friend and an officer in the US Army.

The pair spent six months preparing for the journey at Fort Wood in the Illinois Territory, across from the point where the Missouri River met the Mississippi River. On May 4, 1804, the expedition started, sailing west up the Missouri River - the longest in North America. The traveling party on three boats consisted of forty-five members, including Clark's black servant named York and Lewis' dog named Seaman. The boats were powered by winds in their sails, as well as oars, poles pushing along the river bed, and men pulling with ropes.

The travelers reached the village of La Charette, west of St Louis, and it would be the last settlement of white people they would see for two years. By August, Lewis and Clark met with the first Native Americans they would come across in their trip, members of the Oto and Missouri tribes. The expedition lost its first and only member at that point, as Sgt. Charles Floyd died from a ruptured appendix and was buried on a high bluff. A monument was dedicated to him in 1901.

By September, the expedition encountered the Teton Sioux Indians - fierce warriors and great horsemen. The Teton Sioux twice tried to stop the Corps of Discovery from continuing up river, but backed down when facing swivel guns and rifles. In November, the expedition reached the villages of the Mandan Indians, a group of four-thousand natives who were enemies of the Teton Sioux. Preparing for a three-month stay in the winter, Lewis and Clark built Fort Mandan on the land.

With maps that showed little about the territory, Lewis and Clark hired a French-Canadian fur trapper and interpreter named Toussaint Charbonneau to help them along their way. His teenaged Shoshone Indian wife, Sacagawea, came along, pregnant with her first child.

By April, the expedition had reached the Yellowstone River, a tributary of the Missouri. Lewis and Clark soon came to a grand sight - the Great Falls of the Missouri River. Although beautiful to look at, the falls forced the group to build wagons to carry their canoes eighteen miles around them - a trip that took twelve days.

In July, the group came to three forks of the Missouri River - Lewis and Clark named each of the branches for the President, as well as the Secretaries of Treasury and State. The area was originally Sacagawea's home and she was reunited with her brother, a chief of the Shoshone tribe. A trade for much-needed horses was easily made.

Lewis and Clark crossed over the Continental Divide at Lemhi Pass, seeking the Columbia River. Soon, they found the Lemhi River, then the Salmon River - a river the Shoshone called "impassible," full of dangerous rapids. They were right and the expedition moved up the Bitterroot River, following its path to Lolo Creek and on to the Lochsa River - named by the local Indians for its rough waters. Unable to travel on the Lochsa, Lewis and Clark took to land for more than one hundred miles through the Bitterroot Mountains. It was the toughest portion of their trip. At one point, they ate horsemeat, dog meat, and candles to survive.

Reaching the Clearwater River, the group met the Nez Perce Indians, who gave them food and helped them build canoes. While their trip on the Missouri River had been upstream, Lewis and Clark now enjoyed the downstream current of the Clearwater, leading to the Snake River, which led them to the Columbia River. Once there, Lewis and Clark saw the snow-capped peak of Mount Hood and Mount St. Helen's, as well as Beacon Rock - and the tides of the Pacific Ocean.

It was November of 1805. They built Fort Clatsop and spent more than three months there, planning their return trip. Lewis and Clark broke camp in March of 1806, returning along the same route from which they came and arrived back in St. Louis on September 23, 1806, where people of the area welcomed them warmly.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition lasted two-and-a-half years and traveled more than eight-thousand miles, During that time, they found there was no easy water passage to the Pacific Ocean. They detailed four-thousand miles of landscape, described the cultures of more than fifty Indian tribes, discovered hundreds of plant and animal species, many never seen before by science.

Members of the expedition scattered once they returned. York was freed by Clark and became involved in the freight business. Sacagawea died at age twenty-five in 1812. Lewis was named governor of the Upper Louisiana Territory and died, likely by suicide, from gunshot wounds in 1809, at age thirty-five. Clark became the first territorial governor of Missouri and later headed Indian Affairs for the western territory. He died at age sixty-eight in 1838.


1. Why did Jefferson send Lewis and Clark on their expedition? To explore the trail of the Missouri River.

2. TRUE or FALSE: St. Louis was the last settlement of white people Louis and Clark would see for two years. False - It was La Charette.

3. TRUE or FALSE: Sgt. Charles Floyd was one of several members of the expedition to die along the way. False - He was the only member to die along the way.

4. The __________________ Indians were known as fierce warriors, while the ______________ Indians were their enemies. Teton Sioux Indians - Mandan Indians

5. Why did Lewis and Clark hire Toussaint Charbonneau and his teenaged Shoshone Indian wife, Sacagawea? To help navigate the uncharted area and act as interpreters with local Indians.

6. How did Lewis and Clark solve the problem of the Great Falls of the Missouri River? They built wagons to carry their canoes around the falls.

7. Which of these government positions were not named as a fork of the Missouri River by Lewis and Clark? a. President of the United States b. Secretary of State c. Secretary of Indian Affairs d. Secretary of the Treasury Answer c.

8. TRUE or FALSE: The trip through the Bitterroot Mountains was the toughest portion of Lewis and Clark's trip. True.

9. Name two geological landmarks seen by Lewis and Clark one they reached the Columbia River. Mount Hood, Mount St. Helen's, and Beacon Rock.

10. TRUE or FALSE: The Lewis and Clark Expedition lasted three-and-a-half years and traveled more than nine-thousand miles. False - It was two-and-a-half years and eight thousand miles.

Approx. 35 Minutes 2009 Marshall Publishing and Promotions, Inc. A Kaw Valley Films Production UPC 894190001912 ISBN 978-1-9636134-05-2