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

Philadelphia Chapter
Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Inc.
PO Box 39634
Philadelphia, PA 19136
Contact: Norma Martin Milner

Please release from February 1 through April 15, 2003



Philadelphia: While temperatures are freezing, millions are using the web now to plan a summer vacation in a warmer clime. If you’re a regional or national Lewis and Clark fan, consider joining 800 like-minded folks from across the country for warmer days from August 9-13, 2003….at the regal Loews Hotel right here in Philadelphia!

The occasion will be Philadelphia’s Bicentennial Commemoration of the epic Lewis and Clark exploration at the 35th national meeting of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation (LCTHF).

An agenda for 2003’s unique 35th national meeting of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation (LCTHF) is now available at, courtesy of the Philadelphia Chapter, one of 40 in the nation.

Why should local folks register for such an event in Philadelphia, and why now? Because you’ll see a different view of Philadelphia from any you have usually seen…and the hotel quota is filling rapidly since the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commemoration began January 18, 2003. Momentum is burgeoning. Also, it’s more fun to stay in Philadelphia, as someone keeps reminding us, and you’ll never again stay at this price in peak season within the granite and limestone walls of the architecturally noted Loews (built as the PSFS Building in 1932). For a special rate, callers should mention that they are attending the Lewis and Clark annual meeting

Click on the web site for program of the meeting and registration forms.

The meeting’s theme will be “Quest for Knowledge: Meriwether Lewis in Philadelphia.” Hosts and planners of the meeting have been brainstorming for three years to offer participants an aura of the City that was known as the “Athens of America” in 1803. Its academic institutions and sophisticated shopping were tops in the new nation.

The city that had been our capital had 45,000 residents crammed into the area now known as Society Hill and Old City, with a mix of shops, stables, churches, and taverns. It was the largest city in the country.

Tom Davis of Ft. Washington, program chair of the Loews meeting, says “We want to offer a ‘sense of the place’ that met Lewis’s eyes when he arrived in the City early in May that year, with his letters of introduction from Jefferson. Interestingly, the weather was icy and snowy in May in 1803!”

Western hats and garb will mingle on Independence Mall with outfits that Meriwether Lewis would have seen near the State House in 1803 when he was here. Since his mission here was still basically a secret, he would have worn plain clothes like other middle class men of the time. Old City and Society Hill will be recipients of new historic markers mentioning his name linked with some we have heard for their other historic contributions, but not usually for this. Historians have skipped over the Philadelphia preparation period for almost 200 years.

You may register for the meeting until July 1, 2003, the deadline for signing up or until spaces are filled. Forms may be downloaded from the web site. A children’s program, when child is accompanied by an adult participant at the meeting, is also described on the Site. Pre-and post meeting tours by Impeccable Meetings of Holland, PA can lengthen your experience.
And through the summer, there will be spill overs in the city for non-members to enjoy. (List available. Email

Our revered libraries, academies of learning, and institutions will be offering exhibits related to the months of April, May and June when Lewis trod the streets of Lancaster and Philadelphia at the direction of Thomas Jefferson. The President sent him to shop for supplies and scientific instruments for the arduous journey and to cram with scientific minds of the American Philosophical Society (APS) so he could bring back the most new data about the land, flora, and fauna that lay beyond the Mississippi. His order also required celestial readings that would make it possible to figure latitude and longitude for a map to fill in the open spaces across the West.

This meeting is expected to be the largest since the beginning of the national organization in 1969. Annual meetings of the national Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation (LCTHF) have been growing in popularity ever since the first one in 1970 at St. Louis, Missouri when only 13 members attended. Last year in Louisville 450 came to see the Falls of the Ohio where Lewis picked up William Clark, his slave York, and nine new volunteers, all young men from Kentucky.

The Bicentennial is to be called a “Commemoration” out of respect for the viewpoint of Native Americans whose lives where changed forever by subsequent happenings. The four year event opened on January 14 with five days in Charlottesville and a kick-off parade and concert at Monticello on January 18. That was 200 years from the date that Jefferson submitted his tiny budget ($2,500) to Congress for the secret military exploration.

It was December, 1802, when Thomas Jefferson told his personal secretary at the President’s House in Washington he would be handed the plum of military explorations. After finally obtaining that $2,500 financial commitment from Congress at the end of February, 2003, he sent Capt. Lewis here to polish his scientific skills with members of the American Philosophical Society, (APS), and to outfit the expedition.

Because the trek had key beginnings in Philadelphia, researcher Frank Muhly has called our City “the Keystone of success to the Lewis and Clark Expedition.”

Landmark buildings that we can still see today are the early State House, now Independence Hall, the First Bank of the United States (where Charles Willson Peale’s portraits of Lewis and Clark are hanging), Congress Hall, Carpenter’s Hall, and Philosophical Hall, (now home of APS) all in Independence National Historical Park.

The Pine building of the Pennsylvania Hospital (completed in 1803 and at the rear of the complex today), and Christ Church were also on the scene. A replica of the City Tavern, at 2nd and Walnut Streets, a favorite of members of the Continental Congress, maintains a menu and beverages true to the times.

Lewis had come from Lancaster after spending three weeks in April training with the leading authority in celestial navigation, Andrew Ellicott, who had completed the surveying of the new capital city of Washington. He was on his way to see Robert Patterson, a mathematics professor at the University of Pennsylvania who had taught navigational skills to the Revolutionary Army. Patterson would take Lewis to what is now Old City to buy his chronometer and sextant, scientific instruments to record the positions of the sun, moon, and stars while his Corps of Discovery struggled westward. The data would be used to calculate the latitude and longitude for detailed maps of the West.

During parts of May and June in Philadelphia, Lewis also met with three physicians from Pennsylvania Hospital who gave him advice in their specialties. They were Benjamin Rush who listed medicines to buy and gave Lewis the infamous “thunder clappers” or purging pills used liberally on the trek, Caspar Wistar who covered anatomy and told Lewis to look out for fossils, particularly of mastodons, and Benjamin Smith Barton who was also professor of Botany at the University of Pennsylvania and taught Lewis how to collect and press plants. They added to Jefferson’s draft list of questions for Lewis to answer about the West. Jefferson incorporated all these into the instructions that Lewis carried as he left Washington on July 5, 1803.

“Our Philadelphia Chapter has local membership from the four states of PA, NJ, DE, and NY and often has members from other states,” says webmaster and membership chair Anne Mackintosh of Cherry Hill, NJ. “Fans can join any chapter whose agenda or locale interests them and Philadelphia has great appeal.” Individual dues for the local Chapter are $17, households are $25. These also require national membership and provide accident insurance for field trips or national meetings. A special informational membership at $17 without insurance or national membership requirement is available.

To attend an annual meeting of the LCTHF, which is usually a four or five day event somewhere along the Lewis and Clark trail, registrants must also be members of the national Foundation. Annual dues are $40 for individuals and may be paid with the meeting registration fee.

Foundation members receive an informative quarterly magazine, “We Proceeded On” full of new research and articles on various aspects of related history. They also get insurance which is in force for annual meetings and official field trips. Visit for details.

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Updated January 25, 2003