Site Marks Lewis & Clark Bicentennial

By: Charles Bowen

When it comes to anticipating The Next Big Thing, there’s always a question of whether our fickle readers will get excited about whatever we’re trumpeting. It has never been clear who sets “the agenda” for the American public; it is fairly obvious that it’s not always the newsroom. And, bully pulpit aside, it’s usually not the government either.

So with that handicapping in place, let’s make a prediction that there’s a pretty good chance Americans will get excited this year about Lewis and Clark. This year is the 200th anniversary of the launch of the explorers’ legendary Corps of Discovery and its three-year journey to explore the uncharted West.

In early 1803, at the direction of President Thomas Jefferson, captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark left on an expedition westward in hopes of mapping a transcontinental water route to the Pacific Ocean. The rumored “Northwest Passage” was not found, but the data that did come from this historic trek changed the fledgling nation’s view of itself. Now the National Council of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial has been created as a coalition of agencies to mark the 200th anniversary with activities all across the country.

At the group’s Web site, you can find the calendar for 15 signature events that trace the expedition’s route, beginning last month at Monticello, Jefferson’s home in Virginia, and ending Sept. 23, 2006, in St. Louis, Mo. Stops in between will include Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Nebraska in July and August of 2004, where there will be an outdoor re-enactment of the meeting between the Lewis and Clark expedition and the Otoe and Missouria tribes; and Fort Clatsop National Memorial in Astoria, Ore., in November 2005, where, in 1805, Clark wrote in his journal that the Pacific Ocean was in view.

Learn more about this national observance by checking out, where the introductory page provides quick links to press releases, calendars, and travel ideas. The “Signature Events” option at the top of the navigation bar provides a nice mixture of history and tourist events, making it a must if your travel writer is planning a broad-view story.

If you’re looking for events near your area, start by clicking the “Events Calendar” link. On the resulting page, you have options to search by date or state. With the latter, an interactive map enables you to zero in on regions of interest, seeing calendars of events already on the books.

Other considerations for using the official Lewis and Clark site in your writing and editing:

1. For travel writers, the “Traveling the Trail” link in the left column of the site’s pages will be especially useful. Clicking on it produces a screen of details on sights of interest in locations along the route taken by the explorers. For instance, there’s information on the gravesite of William Clark in St. Louis, the location of Fort Atkinson in Nebraska, where the adventurers held their first council with Native Americans, and the Sacajawea Monument in Mobridge, S.D.

2. Need to find someone in your region to quote for a story? Click the “Agencies & Contacts” link to find local adviser contacts in key states along the trail, with addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses.

3. And for an overview of the site’s growing resources, click the “Site Map” link in the navigation bar of the introductory page.

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