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In the Footsteps of Lewis and Clark

Early Commemorations and the Origins of the National Historic Trail

By Wallace G. Lewis

Publication Year: 2010

Although it was 1806 when Lewis and Clark returned to St. Louis after their journey across the country, it was not until 1905 that they were celebrated as national heroes. In the Footsteps of Lewis and Clark examines how public attitudes toward their explorations and the means of commemorating them have changed, from the production of the Lewis and Clark Exposition in 1905 to the establishment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail in 1978 and the celebrations of the expedition's bicentennial from 2003 through 2007. The first significant stirrings of national public interest in Lewis and Clark coincided with the beginning of a nationwide fascination with transcontinental automobile touring. Americans began to reconnect with the past and interact with the history of Western expansion by becoming a new breed of "frontier explorer" via their cars. As a result, early emphasis on local plaques and monuments yielded to pageants, reenactments, and, ultimately, attempts to retrace the route, promoting conservation and recreation along its length. Wallace G. Lewis details the ingenuity that inspired the establishment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, opening a window to how America reimagines, recreates, and remembers its own past. In the Footsteps of Lewis and Clark will appeal to both scholarly and armchair historians interested in the Western frontier as experienced by both Lewis and Clark and those retracing their steps today.

Published by: University Press of Colorado


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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p. vii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiii

This book grew out of my fascination with both Lewis and Clark and the history of automobile tourism in the West. The now famous Lewis and Clark trail markers that began to appear along two-lane highways in the late 1960s seem...

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pp. 1-13

The official opening of the national Lewis and Clark Bicentennial in January 2003 ushered in nearly four years of commemorative events and activities that dwarfed all earlier attempts to recognize the expedition’s historical significance...

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1: Monuments

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pp. 15-40

On June 1, 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt tapped a telegraph key in Washington, D.C., to officially signal the opening of Portland, Oregon’s, Lewis and Clark Centennial and American Pacific Exposition and Oriental Fair...

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2: Tracing the Route

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pp. 41-75

As described in Chapter 1, monuments and statues—once the traditional means of commemorating individuals idolized by the public—were eventually erected to honor William Clark and Meriwether Lewis. But the fascination that cast its spell...

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3: The New Explorers

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pp. 77-105

As Chapter 2 indicates, most of Lewis and Clark’s path from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean and back follows, crosses, or closely parallels the highway system that developed during the 1920s and 1930s. Easy automobile...

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4: The 1955 Sesquicentennial

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pp. 107-127

What I have termed the “standard model” of understanding Lewis and Clark—glorifying the explorers as forerunners of civilization—informs the array of celebrations that marked the 150th anniversary...

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5: The National Commission

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pp. 129-157

Public opinion had begun to swing in favor of preserving wilderness and cleaning up parklands by the time John F. Kennedy became president. A new vision of “wilderness” as something human beings would define...

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6: Commemoration and Authenticity on the Trail

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pp. 159-168

Even before the U.S. Congress officially added the Lewis and Clark trail to the National Scenic Trail system, interest in the history of the expedition was heightened by the nation’s bicentennial, celebrated in 1976. Within a few years...


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pp. 169-187


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pp. 189-200


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pp. 201-229

E-ISBN-13: 9781607320272
E-ISBN-10: 1607320274
Print-ISBN-13: 9781607320265
Print-ISBN-10: 1607320266

Page Count: 248
Illustrations: 32
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 664571204
MUSE Marc Record: Download for In the Footsteps of Lewis and Clark

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