"Camp River Dubois" Lewis And Clark State Memorial Park by yooperprof

Lewis & Clark Wintered Here in 1803-04

The Illinois Lewis & Clark State Memorial Park is located just south of the town of Hartford, which itself is on the Mississippi near St. Louis - in between Granite City and Alton, if you wish to be precise. The good people of Illinois built an interpretitive center here, in order to explain what the expedition did here and why this was a significant place in their journey. As they proudly point out, the Corps of Discovery spent more time in Illinois than in any other State - with the exception of North Dakota. (Of course, it should be added that neither Illinois nor North Dakota were anywhere near statehood in 1803-04.)

Why here?

Contrary to popular belief, the expedition did not spend the winter of 1803-04 in the city of St. Louis. The Louisiana Purchase - the cause of the entire expedition - was still being "processed," and the "corps of discovery" was not permitted within the bounds of St. Louis, still legally under French control. The eastern bank of the Mississippi was undeniably territory under American authority, however. Lewis ordered the construction of suitable lodgings that would enable the men under his command to pass the cold winter months in a reasonable amount of comfort. But it was nothing fancy - nor permanent - and no actual archeological traces of the camp itself have ever been found. (The reconstruction at the site is based upon drawings in Captain Clark's journal.)

Convergence Point

This site was chosen because it was just downriver from the convergence of the great Mississippi and Missouri rivers. The expedition was charged with the mission of exploring the Missouri basin, with the hope of finding a water-passage to the Pacific Ocean. The Missouri doesn't quite reach the Pacific, but it's still an impressive river all the same.

  • Last visit to Lewis And Clark State Memorial Park: Jun 2004
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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