Philadelphia Chapter Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation

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Thank you letter to the Editor of the Philadelphia INQUIRER from Norma Milner

Dear Mr. Walker Lundy, and the many other editors listed on your masthead:

I am writing on behalf of the officers, the board, and the members of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation. We were busy last week with our "Yo, Meriwether!" Walk through Philadelphia after the Inquirer had excited us for several days with new photos by Tom Gralish and his own story as he relived the epic journey through his lenses, "From Here to There." Thanks to you, every reading person here now knows that the trek began in Philadelphia. Thank you for that!

And thank you even more for giving Lewis and Clark cyber-space wings they never could have imagined. Your spilling over of the story into your web pages with many more photos and addresses of educational spots on the internet will help dedicated fans follow their own discovery trail through the summer. Thanks for the listing of all of the places they can visit during this special year.

And indeed you have helped make this a special year. Have you wondered why the Bicentennial began in 2003, when we learned in school that the expedition dates were 1804-06? Add 200 and you get next year. However, the efforts of sites in the East to be recognized made the national planners decide to add this year to the Bicentennial as the "readiness" year, if you will.It began at Monticello in January.

An Inquirer story was partially responsible for this change. By Michael Vitez on April 28, 2002, with photos by the same Tom Gralish and a headline that read "Working to Get Philadelphia on the Lewis and Clark Map," the story outlined the efforts of lifelong Mayfair resident Frank Muhly to tell the world about the contributions of Phladelphia to Lewis and Clark History.

The Inquirer story was given credit, with some other efforts, for the addition of 1803 to the Bicentennial by the magazine We Proceeded On, the national foundation's quarterly published in Pennington, NJ. Muhly won an award for his efforts which included the publication of supportive brochures funded by the National Park Service.

What would have been a rather distant Bicentennial happening in the West next year, has become something we Easterners can take pride in, and commemorate in our museums, institutions, gardens, and libraries. And again we must thank you, the Inquirer.

Last week you provided us with a study outline for schools, tripled hits on our web site (our webmaster Anne Mackintosh, a Minnesotan, too, by the way, let me know that we have had more hits on our site through the first 10 days of May than in any entire month since its inception four years ago) and covered a vast amount of material masterfully.

You may have helped us towards fulfilling our agreed upon contract with the Loews Hotel for August 10-13 when we will host the national meeting of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation for more than 40 chapters in the nation. Inviting our newly won local fans to join us, of course.

There may be something more you can help us with. Wouldn't it be fine if Congress would add the Eastern Legacy sites to the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail? That would be all sites east of the Mississippi with Lewis and Clark history, such as Monticello, Washington, D.C., Harpers Ferry, Lancaster, Elizabeth, Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh, and the Ohio River Valley down and including Louisville where Lewis finally picked up Clark with his slave York. Two of these, Monticello and Harpers Ferry, have already been named historic "sites" on the trail.

There is a move afoot now to do this. Events are happening today which may move us closer. I will send news of this when appropriate.

I mentioned the series to everyone in my everyday life, grocery clerks, friends, the postman, my dentist, my family, and my email list of friends. Almost all of them had seen it. When I called the city Civil Affairs to get a police escort for our Walk through the City, I mentioned it to the woman on 686-1776. "I'm reading it now!" she said in amazement.

This morning I read the announcement of your retirement, Mr. Lundy. We will miss you, but we wish you well. The paper is definitely so enticing to read it beckons from the doorstep every day, Lewis and Clark or not.

Norma Milner


Updated May 26, 2003