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Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

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Trail Description

Reinactment at the Lewis and Clark Trail

Harper's Ferry National Historical Park
PO Box 65
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425
Phone: (303) 535-6298

The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail extends over 3,700 miles, passes through many states, and includes more than 100 sites from Illinois to the Pacific Coast. For directions to specific sites or locations along the Trail please contact the site you plan to visit or Trail headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail is part of the National Trails System of the United States. In 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark began a voyage of discovery with 45 men, a keelboat, two pirogues, and a dog. They departed from Camp Dubois, located in what was to become the U.S. state of Illinois.

President Thomas Jefferson had long dreamed of what lay to the west of the young United States – the animals, plants, and minerals, and a route for eastern trade. The President had privately requested Congress to fund the expedition shortly before the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Lewis and Clark were ordered to write accounts of all they did, each species encountered, details of cultures they met, maps of the land—everything. They traveled over a three-year period through lands that later became 11 states.

Most of the trail follows the Missouri and Columbia Rivers. Much has changed in 200 years but trail portions remain intact. At 3,700 miles (5,950 km), the trail is the second longest of the 23 National Scenic and National Historic Trails. It begins at Hartford, Illinois, and passes through portions of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

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