Philadelphia Chapter Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation

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Philadelphia Ranks High as Nation Cybers-Up to Commemorate Lewis and Clark Bicentennial

Please use by January 12, 2003, or anytime through August, 2003 if you delete Web Sites for the time periods that have passed. 1000 words.
Note: Use the Media Kit on to pick up other releases during 2003-2006.

Norma M. Milner, publicity December 28, 2002
Philadelphia Chapter (one of 40 chapters in the nation)
Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Inc.
Anne Dean Mackintosh, webmaster
Frank Muhly, Founder
Philadelphia Chapter, LCTHF

Philadelphia Ranks High as Nation Cybers-Up to Commemorate Lewis and Clark Bicentennial

Late in December, 1802, Meriwether Lewis, then Jefferson’s personal aide at the President’s House in Washington, began corresponding with Henry Voight, a watchmaker and the “Coiner” of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. Lewis said he would need an accurate chronometer to determine his precise location on a secret expedition.

He also wanted some of the new “Jefferson Peace Medals” being struck in three sizes to take where he would present them to Indian Chiefs. He would pick up the medals in May, 1803, in Philadelphia, where he bought a chronometer from another clockmaker, Thomas Parker, at 13 South 3rd Street in what is today Old City. He then took it to Voight to have it adjusted.

A University of Pennsylvania mathematics professor and former navigational expert for the Revolutionary Army, Robert Patterson, helped him buy the chronometer with written advice sent to him by Andrew Ellicott of Lancaster who had spent three weeks refreshing Lewis’s skills in celestial navigation, building upon what Jefferson had taught him at the President’s House since 1801.

Patterson monitored Lewis as he practiced taking celestial readings from the May skies in Philadelphia in preparation for doing it on the trail. Using a book of trigonometric tables they carried with them, the explorers would translate these readings into latitude and longitude for the first detailed map of the West drawn by William Clark. In 1814, the map became part of the first edition of the Lewis and Clark Journals, published through the efforts of Nicholas Biddle who employed an editor, Paul Allen, to complete the long delayed job. Again Philadelphia was important, the site of the printing firm called Bradford and Inskeep. An historic marker marks the Biddle home at 7th near Spruce Street and also at his later home, Andalusia on the Delaware north of the City.

Letters took a week or more to get places then, going by coach or horseback. Lewis, riding horseback at 7 miles an hour as he covered the mid-Atlantic states, could not have imagined that 200 years into the future, something called a computer would bring instant communication around the world, and his name would be flying through cyber space in seconds.


The three year Bicentennial Commemoration of the epic Lewis and Clark Expedition opened at 11 am on Saturday, January 18, 2003, with a parade and music at Monticello in Charlottesville, VA, in the midst of an exposition.

The following Web Sites can inform the curious of what's planned when Bicentennial Fever, traveling exhibitions, and Signature events sweep the nation from 2003-06. The National Ad Council has promised up to $165 million worth of advertising to the national Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Inc. (LCTHF), a non-profit volunteer organization with 40 Chapters across the country. Organizers have agreed to call the Bicentennial a “Commemoration” rather than a “Celebration” out of respect for the American Indian position.

Kick-off Exposition: Jan. 14-19, 2003. Jefferson's West: music, scholarly speakers, environmental exhibits, American Indian events. A parade and concert on the West Lawn of Monticello on Saturday, Jan. 18 will officially open the Bicentennial. Also, premiere of National Park Service's interactive traveling museum "Corps of Discovery II: 200 Years to the Future" with support of the Bureau of Indian Affairs: Congress made Monticello a Lewis and Clark site on the Historic Trail in January. 2002

Poplar Forest, Jefferson’s retreat home. The next host to the Corps II traveling exhibit above. Dates and details will be announced on web site. Near Lynchburg, Poplar Forest was designed by Jefferson for his summer home.

New Museum opens at Harpers Ferry: March 28-30, 2003. Showing the first ever replica of Lewis's “Iron Frame Folding Boat” which later failed. Also rifles, knives and fishing gear ordered during his visit there. Corps II will also be on site for opening of a new museum to Lewis’s visit in 1803 which will be on-going.

Lewis Learns Celestial Navigation in Lancaster: (web site in preparation): Beginning April 19, 2003, Lancaster historic societies, the North Museum Planetarium, and the Sehner-Ellicott-von Hess House will offer tours, walks, exhibits about the three weeks that Lewis studied navigational skills with leading astronomer Andrew Ellicott, 200 years ago.

The Philly Connection: May and June, 2003, through August. Exhibits in the city tell the story of Lewis shopping and honing his skills. Saturday through Wednesday, August 9-13, 2003. Details of the National Meeting of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation in the Bicentennial year hosted by the Philadelphia Chapter at the Loews Hotel in Center City. Libraries, historic institutions offer public displays about the five mentors of Lewis and Clark, their Journals archived at the American Philosophical Society, their Herbarium of plant specimens held at the Academy of Natural Sciences, and portraits of Lewis and Clark. Site was partilly funded by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Webmaster Anne Mackintosh of Cherry Hill, NJ, is a retired teacher and computer advisor from the Haddonfield Friends School.

Lewis's keelboat replica: From mid-July to August 31, 2003, a replica of the keelboat that Lewis designed and had built at Elizabeth, PA outside Pittsburgh will be at the Pittsburgh History Center, 1212 Smallman Street, provided by Discovery Expedition of St. Charles, Missouri. Volunteers will pilot the unique craft down the Ohio River to Clarksville, Indiana where Lewis picked up William Clark, his slave York, and nine young military volunteers from Kentucky. It will continue to Camp Wood at DuBois, Illinois where the Corps of Discovery spent the first winter. It is being rebuilt. In the spring the expedition will continue up the Missouri to Ft. Mandan near Bismarck, ND, the second winter camp.

Signature Events over three years: January 18, 2003 to September 26, 2006.
The planning and overseeing of each event has been carried out by the National Council of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial. Links to local venues. The site also lists more than 70 members of the US Senate and House of Representatives in 21 states who belong to the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Congressional Caucus.

National Web Site: "Keepers of the Story, Stewards of the Trail," is the motto of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Inc. (LCTHF), an organization of 40 Chapters across the nation. The National Historic Lewis and Clark Trail now covers 11 states between the Mississippi and the Pacific and is part of the National Park Service's historic trail system.


Updated July 29, 2003