By Brenna R. Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer
To many, Lewis and Clark are faint memories from a grade-school textbook. But later this month, history buffs will nudge those memories to life as they re-enact the famous explorers' journey along the Ohio River.
To celebrate the bicentennial of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark's exploration of the west, volunteers are retracing the 8,000 mile journey.
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On Aug. 31, members of the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles, Mo., launched a 55-foot keel boat in Pittsburgh - just as Lewis did 200 years ago.
The re-enactors are making their way down the Ohio River to Louisville, where Lewis met up with Clark. During the next month, they will visit river communities in Northern Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana
The first local stop will be in Maysville Sept. 23. The group will then head to Augusta, Point Pleasant, New Richmond, Covington, Union, Warsaw and Carrollton, following the same route and roughly the same timetable Lewis did in 1803, before arriving in Louisville on Oct. 14.
At each stop, they will establish an 1803-era camp. The keelboat will be on display, and the re-enactors will demonstrate how members of the expedition lived.
A towboat, chase boats and a barge holding a traveling Lewis and Clark exhibit will trail the keel boat.
The keelboat travels at about 8 to 10 mph, said Paige Cruz, Eastern Legacy coordinator for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That's better than in Lewis' day, when the Ohio River was so shallow that he had to hire teams of oxen to carry the boat and supplies to a deeper spot, she said.
Two of the largest celebrations in the area are in Clermont County and Boone County.
In New Richmond, on Sept. 27 and 28 there will be re-enactors, folk music, Shawnee storytellers, crafts and food.
At Big Bone Lick State Park near Union on Oct. 4, a Meriwether Lewis re-enactor will arrive with the Corps of Discovery II.
And at Big Bone Landing, the St. Charles re-enactors will arrive by boat for a primitive encampment. From Oct. 4-7, there will be an archeological dig, mountain man competitions, music, arts and crafts and food.
President Thomas Jefferson, who commissioned the expedition, also asked Lewis to stop at Big Bone and collect bones of the giant mammals that were preserved in the salt lick.
From Oct. 14-26, the second of 15 "Signature Events" will be held in Louisville commemorating Lewis and Clark's rendezvous.
The group will continue down the Ohio, arriving in Cairo, Ill., at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers on Nov. 15. The re-enactors eventually will travel up the Mississippi River to arrive at their winter encampment, Camp DuBois at Wood River, Ill., on Dec. 12.
On the web
Among Web sites with more details on Lewis and Clark events are www.lewisandclark.net, www.dnr.state.oh.us/lewisandclark/ and www.kytourism.com
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