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Lewis and Clark Expedition’s departure to be observed in program at Cultural Heritage Center

The anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition setting off from Camp Dubois will be commemorated in a program at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.

Lonis Wendt of Vivian will provide background about the Corps of Discovery and describe some of the remarkable places along the Lewis and Clark Trail at 7 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, May 14. Everyone is welcome to attend the free program.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition departed from Camp Dubois, located about 12 miles north of St. Louis, Mo., at 4 p.m. on May 14, 1804, “under a jentle brease,” William Clark wrote in his journal.

About 44 men in a keelboat and two smaller boats called pirogues headed up the Missouri River that day, bound for the Pacific Ocean. Among the expedition’s objectives, as commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson, were to explore and map the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase; to establish an American presence in this territory; to study the area’s plants, animals and geography; and to establish trade with American Indian tribes.

The expedition entered what is now South Dakota in late August 1804 and left it in early October. The explorers would travel through South Dakota again in late August 1806 on their way back from the Pacific Ocean. The expedition would travel about 8,000 miles over land and water before returning to St. Louis on Sept. 23, 1806.

“Wendt has a wealth of knowledge about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He makes history interesting with the details he gives about that time period and the expedition,” said Catherine Forsch, president of the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation. The foundation is the nonprofit fundraising partner of the South Dakota State Historical Society. It sponsors the program as part of the History and Heritage Book Club.

Wendt has been interested in history for most of his life. His many newspaper articles about South Dakota and Western history have included some about the Corps of Discovery.

He and his wife have explored the Lewis and Clark Trail from Monticello, Va., to Fort Clatsop, Ore., revisiting remarkable places several times and making new discoveries. Since 1998, Wendt has presented more than 150 programs about the Lewis and Clark Expedition to schools, teachers and other adults.

During the May 14 program, Wendt will provide background about how the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 happened. He will share a PowerPoint presentation to show and describe some of the remarkable places along the middle Missouri River and west when traveling the Lewis and Clark Trail.

“Undaunted Courage,” Stephen Ambrose’s book about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, is sold in the Heritage Store at the Cultural Heritage Center.

People can join in the program from locations other than the Cultural Heritage Center. They need a laptop or desktop computer with a camera, mic and speakers, and an internet connection using Google Chrome as their browser. Arrangements to join the program need to be made at least two days in advance by calling 605-773-6006.

About the South Dakota State Historical Society
The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing and administrative/development offices. Call 605-773-3458 or visit www.history.sd.gov for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call 605-394-1936 for more information.

About the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation
The South Dakota Historical Society Foundation is a private charitable nonprofit that seeks funding to assist the South Dakota State Historical Society in programming and projects to preserve South Dakota’s history and heritage for future generations.