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Lewis and Clark Bicentennial
A Rediscovery

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September 24 - 25, 2001

"We came to a high snowy part of the mountain where was a spring of water, at which we halted two hours to refresh our horses."

That small reference to a spring in Capt. William Clark's journal entry for Sept. 15, 1805, is the inspiration for the NPR/National Geographic Society's latest Radio Expedition.

As the nation prepares for the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark's great journey of discovery 1803-06, the Radio Expeditions team takes listeners on a trail ride through some of the toughest terrain the explorers faced in their entire three-year trek. On Morning Edition, Sept. 24.

In the Clearwater National Forest, high in the mountains of northern Idaho, the team goes in search of the long-lost spring that sustained and revived Lewis and Clark on one of the most difficult days they faced: the original party -- wet, fatigued and hungry -- rode in the bitter cold and rain up the steep, narrow trail.

"Several of the horses lost their footing and slipped -- one rolled over and over for forty yards till his fall was stopped by a tree," Clark wrote.

Jeff Fee, a U.S. Forest Service archaeologist, believes he has located the spring, a site mentioned in the journals of Clark and three other members of the Corps of Discovery. Fee has also found a number of trees that bear human markings from 200 years ago as well as trail signs that guided the Nez Perce Indians in their travels, and which guided Lewis and Clark as well.

While the precise location of the spring is not written in the journals, Fee says, "it's written in this earth, in this land, on the trees."

Bud Moore, an 83-year-old retired Forest Service ranger, accompanies Radio Expeditions on the challenging ride. He remembers the spring from the times he traveled the area's trails decades ago. "It feels kind of familiar," Moore tells Chadwick as they spot a trickle of water under an alder bush. Moore scoops up a handful and sips. "It's cold water...good water."

In Part Two of the report, Sept. 25, Radio Expeditions talks with Lewis and Clark historian and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Stephen Ambrose about plans for the bicentennial, which is expected to draw millions of Americans to the visit the trail. Ambrose, co-chair of the advisory board for the National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Council, says the original expedition "never could have done what it did without the help of Native Americans."

Allen Pinkham, the official tribal liaison for the Bicentennial Council, says the anniversary brings about mixed feelings for Native Americans. "We should always talk about the past to better understand why things occurred, and why we ended up where we are right now," he says.

Other Resources

PBS's Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery

Clearwater National Forest

The National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Council

Discovering Lewis and Clark

Lewis and Clark in Idaho (state of Idaho)

Echoes of a Bitter Crossing: Lewis and Clark in Idaho (Idaho Public Television)

A biography of Bud Moore

map of Idaho See an enlarged map of Idaho
Map: USDA Forest Service


map of Clearwater See an enlarged map of Clearwater
Map: USDA Forest Service


Jeff Fee and Alex Chadwick Jeff Fee and Alex Chadwick
Photos: Carolyn Jensen, NPR


Bud Moore Bud Moore



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