Lewis and Clark Historic journey visits Gorge

October 26, 2005

Communities along the Gorge are gearing up to commemorate the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery sojourn along this section of the Columbia River.

On Oct. 30, Cascade Locks will welcome a 200th anniversary re-enactment of the Corps of Discovery.

From Oct. 28 through Oct. 31 the interactive exhibit “Corps of Discovery II: 200 Years to the Future” will be at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. The visit comes some 200 years after local tribes watched the first American white water crazies —- also called the Lewis and Clark Expedition — shoot down the Columbia River.

“Corps of Discovery II” features a variety of exhibits and hands-on activities as well as a large performance venue for speakers, song, dance, cultural lectures and activities, all to explore the epic American story of Lewis and Clark.

Marine Park in Cascade Locks, hosts the Oct. 30 visit by the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles, Mo., arriving as part of its re-enactment of Lewis and Clark’s travels.

“This event has been long-awaited,” said Captain Randy Holmstrom of the Sternwheeler Columbia Gorge. “The Sternwheeler captains have been refining their Lewis and Clark expedition narrative for over 20 years.” Now the re-enactors are coming to dinner.

The Discovery Expedition, a volunteer group now in its third year of the re-enactment, will arrive before 11 a.m. on Oct. 30 to set up camp and will leave the following morning around 9 a.m.

The event will be enhanced by a Sternwheeler Lewis and Clark package, which includes a one-hour cruise aboard the Sternwheeler Columbia Gorge at 3 p.m. and a salmon bake at Marine Park’s Gorge Pavilion from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

“On the Sternwheeler cruise, we will take passengers by sites where the original Corps of Discovery camped, west of the Bridge of the Gods,” explained Captain Holmstrom.

“This stretch of the Columbia River in those days was well-recorded as the Corps maneuvered through the chutes and rapids.”

Captain Holstrom said that if Lewis and Clark were to visit Cascade Locks today, they would find that it looks very much the same as it did when they first paddled through in their canoes in the early 1800s. The Sternwheeler Columbia Gorge is an authentic, triple-decker paddle wheeler, a replica of boats that cruised the waters of the Columbia River in the late 1800s.

The Discovery Expedition has completed over 4,100 miles on the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers, followed by the Snake and Columbia rivers, making this the longest military re-enactment in American history and a significant component of the nation’s National Bicentennial Commemoration of the original expedition.

The Bi-Centennial Expedition has traveled as far as they could by river in pirogues, then crossed the mountains and are continuing the arduous journey on horseback, in dugout canoes and by foot. As they proceed on they will continue to tell the Lewis and Clark story by presenting live camp site displays, campfire story telling and individual presentations until they reach the Pacific Ocean in November. Along the way, special attention will be paid to the inclusion of the vast contributions of Native American tribes.

The Discovery Expedition combines the efforts of 238 volunteers from 38 states, blending the world of yesteryear with the world of today. Approximately 45 expedition travelers, including support staff, will participate in the re-enactment in Cascade Locks.

The discoveries enroute and the ability to put volunteer history buffs, curious townfolk, tourists and students together for a step back in time is a gift to behold, and is the primary goal of the Discovery Expedition.

“The Dalles was at the end of a difficult run down two sets of narrows the Corps of Discovery made on Oct. 24 and 25, 1805,” said Betty Boyko, who is assistant superintendent of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and Corps of Discovery II.

“The captains had met the Wishram-Wasco Indians below Celilo Falls and admired their canoes enough that Capt. Lewis traded for one. Their campsite at the end of the second day was at the mouth of Mill Creek in present-day The Dalles.”

“The Discovery Center overlooks the Columbia River and is a natural spot for Corps of Discovery II,” said Kevin Crisler, manager of the mobile Lewis and Clark exhibit traveling the United States to commemorate the bicentennial of the original 1803-06 expedition.

“The Dalles will be our 71st stop on the tour that began back in January 2003,” Crisler said.

Admission to Corps II is free. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 28-31. Corps II will be set up in the parking lot at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, 5000 Discovery Dr.

Corps II includes a walk-through tour, with audio or printed script, that offers visitors an overview of the original 1803-06 journey from Monticello to the Pacific Ocean and return. Corps II also has a two-thirds scale keelboat, a 16-foot diameter Plains Indian lodge and an explorer camp complete with a 25-foot dugout canoe.

“With two school days on the schedule, about 1,800 school children have signed up to attend Corps II,” said Renee Walasavage of the Discovery Center.

The central element of Corps II is the “Tent of Many Voices,” a nationally recognized venue in which Lewis and Clark stories of many cultures are told. The tent seats up to 200 people for music, dance, story telling, first-person historians and ranger programs.

In The Dalles Corps II program will feature several regional and national Lewis and Clark presenters including Ron Craig as York from Film Works Northwest, Craig Rockwell of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as Capt. William Clark, and Ken Karsmizki, director of the Discovery Center, talking about Lewis and Clark Campsites.

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