Philadelphia Chapter Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation

Home Page Chapter News Chapter Membership Philadelphia Connection Especially for Educators More about Lewis and Clark The Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation 2003 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia
Information about upcoming meetings and activities, highlights of previous events, minutes of past meetings, and news of interest for Chapter members

UNTIL DEC. 24, 2002 (856)-829-3142


Here's another feather in Philly’s cap. This one's been forgotten for years by history books and prepping for its Bicentennial from 2003 to 2006 is underway!

Conduct your own poll. You will find maybe one in 20 who will know about a link between Meriwether Lewis and Philadelphia or any Mid-Atlantic States. Check your old encyclopedia, your history book. Same findings. I mentioned this to a friend my age who I knew was a savvy fellow. A week later, I saw him across the WaWa. “You were right,” he shouted, as other customers stared. “Even the Britannica didn’t mention Lewis in Philadelphia!”

In this pre-Bicentennial year, the all-volunteer Philadelphia Chapter of the national Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation (LCTHF) is working to educate the public about this previously neglected Philadelphia connection, and invite schools, libraries, and historic societies to correct this omission as they plan commemorations of the expedition in 2003-2006. The chapter will make periodic announcements of exhibits, lectures, and events as they are scheduled.

An anticipated 800 or so visitors both from this region and from the 32 Lewis and Clark Chapters across the country are expected to attend the annual meeting of the LCTHF in the Bicentennial year at the Loew's Hotel, August 9-13, 2003. Locals who join LCTHF may take advantage of the special rate at the hotel and attend the meeting which will feature an exhibit of selections from the Journals at the American Philosophical Society and a reception, lecture, and exhibit of archived plant specimens at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

Eighteen scholarly papers will be delivered. Noted speakers will include Dayton Duncan who wrote the script for the Ken Burns TV special. Walking tours and bus trips will be conducted to historic homes and merchant sites related to Meriwether Lewis’ visit here and to the printing of the Lewis and Clark Journals. A children’s program will be offered. Partial attendance will be available.

A special dinner at the City Tavern on Saturday night, August 9, for 140 contributors will be available for a traditional colonial meal with musical accompaniment from Jefferson’s library will be offered for early registrants at the Loews Hotel. Loews is already taking registrations for the national annual meeting. Visit the web site for details.

The Philadelphia Chapter is seeking new members and volunteers from its four membership states, PA, DE, NJ, and NY, to join in the fun and hard work of putting on this major event of the three year Bicentennial Commemoration. (The term “Commemoration” is to be used rather than “Celebration” in recognition of the impacts upon the native tribes first encountered by the explorers.)

For details, click on or write to: Philadelphia Chapter, Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Inc., PO Box 39534, Philadelphia, PA 19136.

Free Publication Available
The Chapter’s web site also explains how to get a free brochure, The Eastern Legacy of Lewis and Clark, created with a grant from the National Park Service. Send an SASE (business size) to Philadelphia Chapter, LCTHF, 3206 Disston Street, Philadelphia, PA 19149. For 50 free copies, send written request and a check for $6.00 to cover postage.

The brochure shows the routes Lewis took to Harpers Ferry, Philadelphia, Lancaster, PA and Elizabeth near Pittsburgh while gathering supplies and knowledge for the journey. The horseback and wagon routes he used were essential to the preparation for that first military exploration of our American West. Part of Lewis’s route lies along America’s First National Road which has recently been listed among the top 20 historic roads in our country by the Department of Transportation.

The Chapter has received a grant from the National Park Service to publish a second free brochure for the public called Lewis and Clark in Historic Philadelphia. Send a SASE (business size with stamps for two ounces) to obtain a free copy. For 50 free copies, send written request to Disston Street address above. No postage needed

The chapter is seeking private funds for a booklet of maps with walking tours of Lewis and Clark sites in four quadrants of Philadelphia which can be used by tour guides, schools, and individuals. The Chapter wants to raise a total of $6,000 to make these available for the Bicentennial Commemoration years.

In Philadelphia, Lewis studied with academic members of the American Philosophical Society (APS) selected by Jefferson. They were: surveyor, astronomer and mathematician Andrew Ellicott of Lancaster and navigation expert Robert Patterson of Philadelphia who taught Lewis celestial navigation and helped him buy his chronometer, sextant, and horizons for determining latitude and longitude; Dr. Benjamin Rush and Dr. Caspar Wistar of the Pennsylvania Hospital who tutored him on medicines, anatomy, archaeology, and fossil hunting, and botanist Dr. Benjamin Smith Barton of the University of Pennsylvania who covered plant identification, collection, labeling, and preservation of specimens as well as what was known of native peoples at the time.

Lewis also bought 3,500 pounds of supplies here with the help of the military at the Schuylkill arsenal, army supply offices, and local merchants. He returned to Washington through Delaware County, Wilmington, and Baltimore in the month of June, 1803 after arranging for his purchases to travel by wagon to Elizabeth, PA.

During Lewis’ intensive training in Philadelphia, a constant stream of letters back and forth from Lewis to Jefferson and from the mentors to Jefferson also made its way over the horse-powered postal trails of the time, passing from the “President’s House” in Washington through Baltimore and following the Delaware River into Philadelphia. Donald Jackson’s Letters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, with Related Documents, 1783-1854, is a valuable resource.

Lewis left Washington on July 5, 1803, the day after the Louisiana Purchase was announced. He traveled back to Harpers Ferry to be sure his impedimenta were on the way, and when they were not, he arranged for another wagon to take them. He himself then took primitive roads to Elizabeth, PA to wait for completion of his keelboat. He later picked up William Clark and his slave York in Indiana Territory.

After a winter period at Camp DuBois in Illinois (also east of the Mississippi), the Corps of Discovery was finally given a send off from St. Charles Village just north of St. Louis, and the expedition as we all studied it in school was underway at last.
Not copyrighted: by Norma Campbell Milner, 1500 words, release until December 24, 2002. If cut, please keepWeb Site address. Thanks.

SIDEBAR: How to Get More New Publications on the Eastern Connections

Two publications described below could be useful in planning walking tours for tourists, essay and art contests for schools and museums, or for use in classrooms and exhibits for the 2003-2006 Commemoration. Philadelphia institutions archive more artifacts than any other American city.

1. Contributions of Philadelphia to Lewis and Clark History, a revised edition of a work by Paul Russell Cutright of then Beaver College, published by the national magazine, We Proceeded On for the 1982 national annual meeting of LCTHF. The Chapter has updated it and provided color illustrations and cover. A carefully researched map has been added by Frank Muhly, who founded the Philadelphia Chapter in 1975. In 1972 when Boy Scout leader Muhly joined the national LCTHF he was the only member living east of the Mississippi. His two sided map shows where Lewis bought his interesting list of 300 supplies in relationship to what’s found on each site today. It includes locations of homes of the mentors, and major architectural sites which Lewis would have seen in 1803.

The reprint, with map is $17.95 including S&H. It will provide funds for Bicentennial activities of the Chapter. Order from Philadelphia Chapter, LCTHF, 6010 Cannon Hill road, Fort Washington, Philadelphia, PA 19034.

The Free Library of Philadelphia has recently agreed to add limited copies to the collections of its library branches. The Chapter would like to see them used in schools to conduct essay and art contests. While there is lots of art about the Western part of the expedition, meeting the Indians, toiling up the mountains, on the plains, there was very little artwork done on Lewis in Philadelphia.

2. A 2003 Bicentennial Calendar (with a bonus month of December, 2002) is a mini-journal showing what happened each day…a timeline of events in the saga of Lewis and Clark. This first in a series of four calendars to cover years 2003-06 covers connections of Philadelphia and the Eastern States to the preparations for the Expedition. Produced and photographed by Richard Prestholdt of Bridgewater, NJ, it is for readers too busy to pour over the newest 13 volume set of the Journals. Click on

Send check for $14.95 plus $3.50 S&H to Prestholdtimages, PO Box 6291, Bridgewater, NJ 08807.

Prestholdt will donate $5 of each sale to the Philadelphia Chapter for Bicentennial activities. Excellent for schools, broadcast media and the press as well as for history buffs.

Updated October 29, 2002