Skip to comments.Virtual bike ride across America following the Lewis and Clark route
Posted on 09/10/2018 1:35:25 PM PDT by fugazi
Usually I post "This Day in Military History" articles, but today I am adding something new in case anyone here is interested in Lewis and Clark and our nation's history...
In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson tasked Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and their Corps of Discovery to find the most direct & practicable water communication across this continent. On May 14, 1804, the explorers shoved off for their first leg of what would become one of the greatest stories in American history a nearly 4,000-mile journey through the immense wilderness of the Louisiana Purchase to the Pacific Ocean and back. To learn more about their expedition and our nations history, I will be (virtually) following Lewis and Clarks route as closely as modern roads allow on my PRO FORM Le Tour de France stationary bike. As I come across interesting locations and historic events, I will share them here.
My first leg starts out just north of what was (in Lewis and Clarks day) the unincorporated settlement of St. Louis. At the time, St. Louis was a mere four decades old and also went by the name Pain Court, which was French for without bread, as the remote fur trading settlements lack of proximity to agriculture meant bread was often scarce. Just a few miles upstream, near modern-day Alton, Ill., the Corps of Discovery spent the winter of 1803-4 at Camp Dubois, which overlooked the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.
The original site of Dubois (then part of Indiana Territory) was lost to the migrating Mississippi riverbed, so I begin my virtual ride in modern-day Wood River, Illinois. On a rainy May 14, 214 years ago, a shot from the keelboats swivel gun marked the beginning of the journey as Lewis and his men shoved off from the riverbank. In two days they rendezvous with Capt. Lewis at St. Charles, who had been wrapping up last-minute business in St. Louis.
While I am unencumbered by tons of gear and don't have to fight river currents or concern myself with ambushes, my rides are limited to when I can find the time, so I will roughly be keeping pace with the Corps of Discovery, who put in somewhere between 10 and 15 miles per day on average.
Due to time constraints, the 32-mile trip from Dubois to St. Charles took me two days. I ended Day One's ride just south of the town of Portage Des Sioux, which was established in 1799 by the Spanish government in response to rumor that the Americans would build a fort 12 miles downstream near Alton. The way the world used to work was that your empire was only as large as your ability to project your power, and states were continually expanding and contracting based - or disappearing altogether - based on their strength. The French laid claim to the territory in 1699, then ceded it to Spain in 1762. Hoping to rebuild the French empire, Napoleon acquired the area in 1800, but with war looming with Britain, turned around and sold Louisiana Territory to the United States, expanding our western border from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains for just $15 million - roughly three cents per acre.
The second leg took me through 17 miles of pool-table flat farmland between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers before cruising into St. Charles, one of the oldest European settlements west of the Mississippi. Founded by French Canadians in 1769, the site was originally called Les Petites Côtes (the little hills), before being renamed San Carlos del Misuri (Saint Charles of the Missouri) by the Spanish. In 1821, just 15 years after Lewis and Clark returned from their journey, St. Charles becomes home to Missouri's first state capitol, occupying the upper story of a hardware store.
The rest of the post, with pictures, is here: http://www.victoryinstitute.net/blogs/utb/2018/08/15/lewis-and-clark-virtual-ride-day-one/
ping! I actually planned to this route (as much as possible) via motorcycle last year around this time. I followed the missouri into the Dakotas but made a left turn due to wild fires in Montana and oregon. went down to the 4-corners area instead.
Nice nickname... I am thinking the same thing: after I finish my virtual ride, taking a REAL ride. There is some incredible scenery along the way.
I wonder if any adventure cyclists have ever ridden the route for real.
Lewis and Clark journals are one of my favorite reads...Hope you have a fantastic adventure. Just imagine doing it with a baby.
Are you drafting behind a virtual Sacagawea ? ;-)
Yes, Sacagawea was awesome; she did everything that everyone else did but with a baby on her back. And it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that they might not have made it without her. Babies must have been made of way tougher stuff 200 years ago because I can’t imagine taking an infant along with me hundreds of miles through the wilderness.
Well, daycare wasn't much of an alternative back then. ;)
Unfortunately, my trip will not be accompanied by beautiful native ladies. Apparently the soldiers in the Corps of Discovery had plenty of “foreign relations” with the indians along the way. They also collected a fair amount of venereal diseases.
Just avoid Chicagau and Rue Louis and you should be OK.
Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose is a good read.
As a Bicyclist, I want to read this - but later.
Sad that we don’t seem to know for sure what happened to her.
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