Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lewis and Clark State Historic Site- Hartford, Illinois

Since May of this year we have certainly seen many Lewis and Clark sites. There are a total of 53 sites marking areas of their journey from Illinois to Oregon. I think those two men would be amazed if they came back today and saw how hard we have tried to capture and remember the details of their exploration.  Wednesday we drove over to the Illinois Lewis and Clark  historic site which has a replica of Camp River DuBois. In 1803-1804 the Corps of Discovery established a winter camp there to begin the preparations for their journey to the Pacific Ocean. Initially the men were kept busy building the cabins in which they were to live for that period of time. The Illinois state historic site has a replica of that fort. Today we do not have any idea of its exact location, other than it was at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.
In this fort the expedition's men lived in cabins located at each of the four corners of the fort;  Lewis and Clark's cabin was  in the center. Their cabin had a large storage area which, besides the needed supplies for their journey, held about $700.00 worth of  Indian gifts. The visitor's center at this historic site had further details regarding their journey, as well as a replica of the boat which they built to hold the majority of their supplies.The replica is a full-scale 55 foot "cutaway keelboat". I had not realized that they built such a large boat for the trip! A mile from the interpretive center is two 150 feet high towers  from which one may view the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers in Grafton,Illinois and the Mississippi and Missouri rivers in Hartford, Illinois. The towers are connected by viewing platforms.
Below is a picture of the confluence of the rivers as seen from the towers.
This area is a major migratory pathway for many North American birds. Later in the day we rode our bikes along the levee and saw primarily egrets standing at the river's edge or flying overhead. This location will also be a great spot for eagle watching come January.

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