Bob helped get the L&C ball rolling

Bob helped get the L&C ball rolling by Bob Karolevitz I�ve often wondered how the Lewis and Clark keelboat carried all that stuff for the expedition.

I found out at the L&C interpretive center near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers where a replica of the five-ton vessel (with a cutaway side) revealed the food, tools, weapons, medicine, etc., which went on the journey.

Included, too, were all the peace medals, mirrors, beads, whiskey and other tokens of good will which were to be given to the Indians enroute.

Captain Clark and his men were said to have loaded and unloaded the keelboat�s hold time and time again until they got everything right.

I said to Phyllis: �We should have had them around when we packed the car for the trip. Not only did they get all the boxes and crates in, but it was a work of art when they finished.�

Actually, the 55-foot keelboat went with the Corps of Discovery to the winter encampment among the Mandan and Hidatsa tribes in today�s North Dakota. After that it went back downstream to St. Louis with specimens, maps and reports for Pres. Thomas Jefferson.

Once again the expedition�s gear had to be repacked in the two pirogues and smaller canoes � but that�s another story.

We saw the replica of the keelboat at site No. 1 of the Lewis and Clark Historic Trail near what was then Camp DuBois (Wood River), IL, north of St. Louis. I had been South Dakota�s representative on the Trail�s advisory council administered by the National Park Service, so I wanted to see the results of our work. I�d like to think that we got the Lewis and Clark ball rolling some 20 years ago.

I can recall the 1984 meetings of the council and the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation in Great Falls, MT. There we toured portage camps, took �white water� floats down the Missouri, enjoyed a pitchfork fondue, attended a mural dedication and visited other sites which the captains and/or their men saw.

I also remember the 1986 council session in Bismarck in which I reported that our state had no official committee because we were concentrating on the upcoming state centennial and construction of our multi-million dollar Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.

Then I added that at Yankton they had developed a civic celebration called Riverboat Days; but when I suggested that Lewis and Clark be worked into the festivities some way, I was shot down.

I told the council that the Riverboat committee members were of a younger generation, �so that unless there was an L&C Rock Band with a hit song titled We Proceeded On, Baby Baby, Baby, we�d never be successful in having the expedition featured.�

I was right, of course, but the civic celebration was successful without Lewis and Clark. I then sort of lost interest in the Corps of Discovery, although I was reappointed to the council in 1987 by Donald Paul Hodel of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Gov. George Speaker Mickelson wrote a nice letter on my behalf, incidentally.

Needless to say, the Trail has been properly designated, and thousands are now using it, from Site No. 1 to Site 80 where the whale was washed up on the Washington beach.

I just wish I had been more gung-ho, that�s all!

� 2004 Robert F. Karolevitz

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