Missoula History & Museums: Lewis & Clark in Montana

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Lewis & Clark

During the early part of the nineteenth century, legendary American adventurers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, along with their entourage, crossed through Montana twice on their way to the Pacific Ocean and back. When visiting Missoula, you too can follow in the footsteps of these famous frontiersmen. Read More

In May, 1804, Lewis and Clark began their expedition of the newly acquired Louisiana territory. Sanctioned by the President Thomas Jefferson, the "Corps of Discovery" were attempting to be the first American overland expedition to reach the Pacific Ocean. Their journey through the unforgiving wilderness would be perilous, but their discoveries would forever change the face of the newly formed United States.

In the final months of 1805, the Lewis and Clark expedition would reach Montana. Their encounter with the Salish tribe of western Montana would prove to be mutually well-received. The men were the first Caucasians that the Salish had ever seen, and they welcomed the men with robes and peace pipes.

The Lewis and Clark team had difficulties communicating with the Salish people, resorting to multiple translations in order to express ideas. For instance, the team somehow misinterpreted the length of time the Salish said it would take to cross the Bitterroot Mountains. The exploration party spent fifteen days crossing the "tremendious mountanes," as Clark described the range.

There are a number of tour operators in and around Missoula that offer vacation packages that retrace Lewis and Clarks historic steps. Book one and become part of living history.