Lewis & Clark State Historic Site

Saint Louis

Gateway Arch National Park commemorates Saint Louis’s role in the westward expansion of the United States. The Lewis & Clark Expedition departed from St. Louis. Situated at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, Saint Louis was the ideal location from which to explore America’s new territories.

In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson signed the Louisiana purchase. The new territory doubled the size of the United States. Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on a mission to explore the new lands. Lewis and Clark set out from Camp Dubois in May of 1804 to establish a route up the Missouri River to the Pacific. They returned to St. Louis in 1806.

Lewis & Clark State Historic Site

Lewis & Clark State Historic Site celebrates the famous expedition. The park sits across the river from Saint Louis in Illinois at the approximate site of Camp River Dubois. The Expedition camped and trained there the winter before their departure in May of 1804. Staying east of the Mississippi kept them in US territory until the Louisiana Purchase was finalized in March of 1804

The site’s large Interpretive Center features a 15-minute film, a reconstructed cabin and life-size keelboat. The numerous hands-on exhibits and displays tell the story of how Lewis and Clark sailed up the Missouri River on May 14, 1804. For nearly two and a half years, they navigated the river, explored the new territory and established outposts. They returned to Camp River Dubois on September 23, 1806

The Lewis and Clark State Historic Site opened in 2002. As the Point of Departure, it is the first site on the Lewis and Clark National Trail. Because the rivers have altered course over the past two centuries, the park is actually south of the original camp. That site is now inaccessible.

St. Louis Posts

Location: 1 Lewis and Clark Trail, Hartford, IL
Designation: State Historic Site
Date designated/established: February 22, 2018
Date of my visit: July 14, 2022

14 thoughts on “Lewis & Clark State Historic Site

  1. Kings On the Road

    We’ve visited Lewis and Clark sites from Virginia to Montana to Oregon but not this one. We’ll definitely visit next time we’re in the area. Interesting post. Thanks.

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