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Following the Lewis and Clark Expedition

The year 2004 marked the 200th anniversary of the expedition, or journey, of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.

Lewis and Clark made the expedition, after the United States bought land from France in 1803. Called the Louisiana Purchase, the land doubled the size of the United States. President Thomas Jefferson chose Virginians Lewis and Clark to explore the new territory. They had to follow the Missouri River west and find a route to the Pacific Ocean. With more than 40 teammates and their dog, Lewis and Clark began their expedition near St. Louis, Missouri, on May 14, 1804.

Along the Route

On the way, the group came across many American Indian groups. An American Indian woman named Sacagawea (sak uh guh WEE uh) served as a guide for the explorers.

The group explored and mapped the Louisiana Territory for more than two years. During that time, they saw plants and animals that were new to them, such as grizzly bears, porcupines, and prairie dogs. The group returned on September 23, 1806. In two years, they had traveled more than 8,000 miles!

Today, communities along the route are planning festivals and building monuments. The activities are all part of the 200th anniversary, or bicentennial, commemoration that began in 2003.

“This is a real opportunity for people to use Lewis and Clark to look 200 years into the past,” a historian told USA Today.