Lewis and Clark Spirit Mound Learning Center grand opening set August 25 at Over Museum

Lewis and Clark Spirit Mound Learning Center grand opening set August 25 at Over Museum The grand opening of the Lewis and Clark Spirit Mound Learning and Information Center at the W.H. Over Museum in Vermillion will take place on Friday, Aug. 25.

Demonstrations, featuring crafts that were essential to the Corps of Discovery, will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. Crafts include blacksmithing, woodcarving and rope making. In addition, several people will demonstrate the crafts of the native people who lived in the area.

Buffalo burgers, pork sandwiches, barbecues and smoothies will be served on the front patio starting at 4:30 p.m. The meal will double as a tailgate party prior to the Vermillion High School vs. West Central football game which begins at 7:30 p.m. in the DakotaDome.

The Vermillion Area Chamber of Commerce will sponsor the meal, catered by Hy-Vee, Texas Bar-B-Que, Bliss & Crew BBQ and Barista's Brew.

Welcome ceremonies begin at 5 p.m. with a flag raising ceremony and blessing of the food. The dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony for the Lewis and Clark Spirit Mound Learning and Information Center will take place at 6 p.m.

The evening program follows at 6:45 p.m. Special features of the information center will be highlighted, as will the historical and cultural significance of Spirit Mound. Speakers include: Wayne Evans � Spirituality of Spirit Mound; Steve Bucklin � Jefferson's vision and motivation; Kurt Hackemer � The Lewis and Clark Expedition; Tom Gasque � Lewis and Clark near Vermillion; and Norma Wilson � poetry reading.

The Lewis and Clark Spirit Mound Learning and Information Center is funded through matching grants from the South Dakota Department of Transportation and the National Park Service, along with contributions from private donors and Friends of the W.H. Over Museum.

Learning center visitors will be able to use a touch screen computer for information about the Corps of Discovery and its work. The interactive computer will give people different options to decide on their own journey with Lewis and Clark.

Designed by University of South Dakota graduate student Joel McKinney, the software that is available at the learning center's computer kiosk will also be available over the Internet for students and visitors to access at home or in the classroom.

The learning center is also graced with a 20-foot mural painted by Vermillion artist Jeff Freeman. It will depict Lewis and Clark and other members of the Corps of Discovery climbing Spirit Mound. The mural features the Missouri River as well, along with insets that depict the boats the Corps of Discovery used, compass inserts and the explorers' journals.

"I also wanted to capture that amazing landscape we have here," Freeman said. "Not just the real landscape, but a widely stretched, more fantastic landscape."

Plant and animal life recorded in the explorers' journals, including rabbits, antelope, a herd of buffalo and a large flock of birds, are also included on the mural.

A display case, built by Alex Mehaffy, a retired USD mathematics professor, will contain special artifacts relating to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, including a first edition copy of the first published journal (1807) written by Patrick Gass, a Jefferson Peace Medal, an example of one of the many trade items expedition members were instructed to give out, and a Kentucky rifle from the period.

On Saturday morning a small group will walk to Spirit Mound starting from Cotton Park along the Vermillion River, similar to Lewis and Clark's trek. Participants will cross the Vermillion River by canoe and eat lunch at one of the farms along the way.

There is still an opportunity to sign up for this nine-mile walk. A small charge includes drinks, snacks and lunch, a t-shirt, a field guide to Spirit Mound and transportation from Spirit Mound back to Cotton Park. To register, call the W.H. Over Museum at 677-5228. The number is limited to 40 persons.

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