Due to their exploration of the American west in 1804 Lewis and Clark are two of the most famous American frontier explorers in history. On this page we list interesting facts about
their famous journey of exploration including why they made this great journey, where they explored, what dangers they faced, and who helped them navigate through the
unknown wilderness. Hopefully both kids and adults will find the information below helpful in understanding these famous men and their amazing journey.
Basic Lewis and Clark Facts
These two explorer's full names are Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809) and William Clark (1770-1838).
United States president Thomas Jefferson commissioned U.S. Army Captain Meriwether Lewis to explore and map the Louisiana Territory which had just been purchased from
France. In 1804 very little was known about this territory which encompasses most of the western United States. Jefferson was interested in trade routes, establishing
relations with the Indians of the region, and in learning about the animals and plants found in this area.
Lewis brought his childhood friend William Clark on as co-leader of the expedition.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition, also referred to as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, involved a crew of over 33 men and women.
The expedition started on May 14th 1804. It would last two years, four months, and ten days ending in September 1806.
The explorers traveled from Saint Louis Missouri to the Pacific coast in Oregon and then back to Saint Louis; a round trip of 8,000 miles (12,874.75 kilometers).
The members of the expedition faced many dangers including starvation, illness (and lack of medical care), wild animals, drowning (while river crossing), exposure
(especially to cold winter temperatures).
When reaching the Pacific coast the explorers built Fort Clatsop, along the Columbia River in Oregon, which served as their winter camp from December 1805 to March
Interesting Lewis and Clark Facts
In order to prepare Lewis for the scientific exploration portion of his journey President Thomas Jefferson spent numerous hours meeting with him and gave him full
access to his extensive library of science books at his private home; Monticello.
Lewis and Clark were greatly aided by their Indian guide and interpreter Sacajawea (also spelled Sacagawea) who was a Shoshone Indian. They wrote about her important
contributions to the journey. To honor her the US put her image on a dollar coin issued in the year 2000.
It is an amazing fact that on such a dangerous expedition only one man died. The expeditions quarter master Sergeant Charles Floyd died on August 20th 1804 from an
unknown illness; the Floyd River in northwestern Iowa is named in his honor.
The expedition encountered several Indian tribes on their journey including the Cheyenne, Chinook, Crow, Shoshone, and the Walla Walla; to mention just a few. Thomas
Jefferson instructed Lewis to establish good relations with the Native Americans. However the explorers carried with them advanced weapons to show their military
During their journey through the western United States the Lewis and Clark expedition created approximately 140 maps of the region.
Upon the two explorers return from their journey they achieved immediate fame and were treated as heroes by the public. President Jefferson who also appreciated their
job made Lewis governor of the Louisiana Territory and made Clark the Indian agent for the West.
To honor these two famous men and there expedition the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail was created.