Before I begin, I have to apologize to the reader. Traveling from NY State, my first stop was the replica of the Lewis and Clark Expedition's 1803-1804 winter quarters, across the Mississippi from St. Louis. When I arrived, I immediately searched for the camcorder that surely had been packed. I still haven't found it, although a friendly passerby did point out the pair of socks that fell from the suitcase while I was searching through it. I also brought along a digital camera, but relying on the camcorder I didn't think to charge the digital camera battery before setting out this morning.
Bottom line: No images for this blog entry.
Fortunately, the Lewis & Clark State Historic Site - Camp River Dubois in Hartford, IL, is a mainly indoor site (so images aren't needed too badly), with the important exception of the replica of the fort itself.
I walked in expecting to see "another museum", but soon realized that the exhibits there are modern and comprehensive. For those unfamiliar with expedition history there is an excellent video presentation that is given in a small auditorium near the entrance. The staff are knowledgeable and happy to answer questions.
For me the best part of the interpretive center is the full-size replica of the keelboat. I was told that it was built by Butch Bouvier of Iowa, who has built similar replicas for other sites. It's actually half of a keelboat, open along the center lengthwise, so that you can see how it looked on the deck and how the lower deck was packed with provisions for the voyage. Until I saw that replica, I had no appreciation for the tremendous exertion that must have been required to push that huge vessel upstream. Examples of provisions packed, wrapped and waiting to be loaded were set alongside the boat, together with sample lists of goods brought on the voyage. Simply keeping track of all those supplies and instruments must have required a tremendous management effort, along with supervising the unpacking and repacking of those goods in proper order.
The replica of the fort (outside of the museum) is quite realistic-looking, and staff dressed in garments worn during that era wait inside, ready to answer questions. On the return trip I hope to stop there again, in order to take a few photos.