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Lewis and Clark State Historic Site plans festivities for anniversary of explorers’ journey

The Lewis and Clark State Historic Site will celebrate the start of the explorers’ famous journey with three days of special events, including unique educational activities for children and a free festival for people of all ages.

More than 800 fourth-graders will take part in the site’s annual Education Day on Friday, May 12. They’ll learn firsthand about the Lewis and Clark Expedition by doing many of the same things the troops did to prepare.

They’ll fold a flag, start a fire with flint and steel, make rope and try their hand at pottery. The students also get to learn about one of the expedition’s boats, learn to march and drill military-style, make a bead necklace or candle to take home, and meet the expedition dog, Seaman.

Then on Saturday and Sunday, May 13 and 14, the site holds its 15th annual “Point of Departure” celebration marking the expedition’s official start.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days, historic interpreters at the reconstructed Camp River Dubois will portray members of the expedition, soldiers in the War of 1812 and the British First Regiment of Foote.

Artisans will show how people of the period made candles, furniture, iron tools, guns, cloth and more. They’ll also demonstrate medical tools and techniques of the era and give tours of a white pirogue boat like the one used by Lewis and Clark.

The celebration includes a display of rocks and minerals and an exhibition of Lewis and Clark artifacts by Jim Duncan and Ken Porter.

William Clark and his men arrived at what would become Camp River Dubois on December 12, 1803. In the spring the camp became a beehive of activities as final preparations were made for the trip west. The Corps of Discovery left camp and formally began the expedition on a rainy Monday afternoon, May 14, 1804.

Lewis’ field notes read “The mouth of the River Dubois is to be considered as the point of departure.”

For more about the site and the explorers, visit

The site is operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. IHPA protects the state’s historic resources, which contribute to education, culture and the economy. IHPA sites include ancient burial mounds, forts and buildings erected by settlers, and homes connected to famous Illinoisans.

Learn more about IHPA at, on Twitter and on Facebook.

Event sponsors: Phillips 66 / Lewis & Clark Society of America / Village of Hartford.