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On The Trail Of Lewis & Clark

Eleven cities, no waiting: The Lewis & Clark Bicentennial stamps were released on May 14th in 11 cities important to the 1804 expedition. Virtual Stamp Club members fanned out across the country to attend the events, and reported back in our message board. Here are some excerpts:
Tom (Torno):
Saint Charles, Missouri improvised their ceremony site. It was originally to be held in front of the Lewis and Clark statue in Frontier Park on their riverfront. Due to ALOT of rain and uncertain weather, they moved to the boardwalk of their old train depot. It was crowded, but since the temperature dipped to the upper 40's, I don't think anybody seemed to mind. They are having a big "signature event" for the bicentennial on the grounds with many tents showing the kind of life that those living in 1803 had. I think the mud will pose problems for their weekend.

One of the dignitaries who spoke is the great, great, great, great grandson of William Clark. He proudly spoke of his ancestor and introduced his red-headed grandson (also named William Clark).

Lewis & Clark pushed off from Camp Dubois (the interpretive site at Hartford) exactly 200 years ago today in rain...now we all have a sense of what the expedition's beginning must have been like!! But, only a few people watched the boats push off, in contrast to the hundreds of folks at the site for all sorts of reenactment activities this weekend.

The Iowa ceremony was held in the Southern Hills Mall a shopping center in where else, the southern hills neighborhood of Sioux City. While it was sunny/clear and 45F outside, the ceremony was your typical mall weather of 72F with Muzak in the air.

There was very little said at the ceremony about Lewis & Clark. Most of the comments were just lists of names of the folks who helped plan and run the event...

However, there were two highlights at the ceremony. One was a group of men in L&C uniforms known as "The Sergeant Floyd Honor Guard." A group very similar to civil war reenactment soldiers. Sgt. Floyd was the only L&C Corps member to die on the trip and he is buried in Sioux City on a bluff above the Missouri River and busy Interstate 29, with a riverboat casino clearly visible from his grave. The group stayed in the mall the rest of the day to shows their L&C stuff & weapons to anyone interested.

The second highlight was the Opening Prayer offered by Doran Morris, a Native American religious leader from the indigenous Omaha Tribe. He offered a prayer for all at the event in the Omaha native tongue and burned cedar wood as traditional blessing. He also reminded the audience of the Omaha's long history of being a very peaceful people and that they were never a war loving tribe. He reminded us that before Lewis & Clark his people owned all the land in the area...and that after Lewis & Clark, they soon owned nothing.

I made it to Great Falls, but didn't stay but for a bit of the ceremony which started late...Well-organized and the weather cooperated until late in the game. BIG crowd. Nice facility, and the surrounding Communities got involved in a big way. Lots of schoolbuses, and organized activities for the kids. To my mind, a big boost for stamps and covers.

To say that the ceremony at Hartford, Illinois, was a bit of a mess is a hell of an understatement. Let me just say that if Lewis & Clark had planned the Corps of Discovery as well as this ceremony, the frontier today would be about a block west of where I parked my rental car for the St. Charles, Missouri ceremony! ...

There were problems at both Hartford and St. Charles in setting up lines for sales and cancellation that didn't cause chaos. I know there was rain and flooding, but one would think that some of the organizers would have thought, "What do we do if we get rain?" After all, it was raining when the Corps of Discovery left Camp Dubois (at the south end of what is now Hartford, Illinois) 200 years ago.

I would have made it to the opening ceremony in Hartford if not for the parking fiasco, yet I am thankful for it. Upon learning that we had to drive to the vacant K-Mart lot, I decided to seek out the actual Hartford P.O. to see what was happening there. Turns out there were quite a few people filing in and out of there seeking L+C stamps. I stayed there for about an hour getting some covers serviced and not once did I here a complaint about the extra $1.55 for the prestige booklet.

For more reports, more details, and to add your report or join the discussion go to our Message Board

Which of the 11 cities did VSC members consider to be the first day city? According to our unscientific poll (shown at xxxx), it was St. Charles, Mo. There's discussion right here.

Details on the stamps? Right here.

Is the $1.55 surcharge for the prestige booklet fair? That story here.

Lewis & Clark pictorial postmarks? Right here.

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