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212 Lewis and Clark Expedition Map 1804-1806

  • 4025

The Official Lewis and Clark Map

Following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, President Thomas Jefferson initiated an exploration of the newly purchased land and the territory in the West. Jefferson selected Meriwether Lewis to lead the Expedition; Lewis in turn sought the help of William Clark who was an adept frontiersman. Jefferson’s objective was for the team, the Corps of Discovery, to find a water route linking the Columbia and Missouri rivers, which would potentially connect the Pacific Ocean with the Mississippi River system, creating access between the newly acquired western land and eastern U.S cities. Jefferson also wanted information about the flora, fauna, and peoples of the region.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition launched officially from Camp Wood, just outside St. Louis, in the May of 1804, and headed northwest on the Missouri River to Fort Mandan, a trading post, where the Corps of Discovery camped for the winter, and later departed for the expedition to the Pacific. Harsh weather, dangerous waters, hunger, and fatigue were some of the challenges the team faced. However, along their journey, Lewis and his men were aided in their mission by many of the native peoples, like the Mandans, who traded with them, providing much needed supplies for the winter. The group also added Sacagawea and her husband, French Canadian explorer Toussaint Charbonneau, both of whom served in part as interpreters and guides.

The expedition reached the Pacific Ocean in November of 1805, where they built Fort Clatsop in present-day Oregon. The journey took them up the Missouri River to present-day Three Forks, Montana, to the Shoshone Indians territory, over the Bitterroot Mountains, and downriver to the mouth of the Columbia, where they spent the winter. In 1806, Lewis and Clark split up in an attempt to explore other routes and territories; Lewis and his men confronted hostile Blackfoot Indians along the way. Both men regrouped at the Missouri River, and travelled onward and reached St. Louis in September of 1806. The tumultuous expedition covered roughly 8,000 miles.

The Corps of Discovery recorded their adventure in journals which described their contact with Indians, the landscape, rivers and creeks, campgrounds, and unknown creatures of the West. William Clark drew a series of maps detailing some of his discoveries, which later proved valuable to other explorers who ventured west. In the end, the men fulfilled Jefferson’s objective and paved the way for further exploration of the region.  

All sizes are approximate.

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