Lewis and Clark Unite on the Banks of the Ohio River
By Walker Robinson, age 13, Kentucky
Scholastic Student Reporter
After a day of wind and cold, Louisville, Kentucky, was blessed
with a warm, sunny day for the reenactment of Meriwether Lewis's
arrival on the banks of the Ohio River. Lewis came to Louisville
on October 14, 1803, to meet up with his co-captain for the Corps
of Discovery expedition, William Clark. On October 14, 2003, actors
dressed in period clothes reenacted the events in the rain. The
next day, they did it again for the public, but this time under
clear blue skies.
The reenactment began when a wooden boat was spotted about 500
yards from Riverfront Park in downtown Louisville. The keelboat
docked to cheers from fourth-graders dressed as villagers from the
Lewis disembarked and shook hands with William Clark. They then
marched to a stage set up for the bicentennial ceremonies. The stage
filled with dignitaries, including Kentucky Governor Paul Patton,
members of the Mingo and Shawnee tribes, and a fife and drum band
for a final salute of fireworks and sparklers.
The reenactment of the Lewis and Clark meeting was a huge event
for the citizens of Louisville. Prior to the reenactment, the local
fire department showed off its new fireboat by shooting water into
the river. To start the pre-reenactment ceremony, the 3rd Infantry
Old Fife and Drum Corp. from Ft. Myers, Virginia, played marching
tunes. The infantry division was dressed in traditional military
uniform for the time. They also played the National Athem.
After the music, Louisville Mayor Jerry E. Abramson gave an introductory
speech to the audience of more than 1,000 people. A pre-recorded
presentation explained how the Eastern Legacy states of the expedition
(Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia,
West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, and Delaware) were so important to
the journey and how the Shawnee, Mingo, and Chickasaw tribes played
a central role. Each state and tribe was honored by a flag on stage.
The 3rd U.S. Infantry Lewis and Clark Color Guard presented the
American flag. Representatives of the Shawnee and Mingo nations
performed their flag songs.
Thomas Jefferson, played by Clay Jenkinson, also addressed the
"I should tell you before I begin that although I purchased the
Louisiana Territory from Napoleon Bonaparte in 1803, I am also considered
by some to have been the foremost architect of our westward expansion,"
he said. Just as Jefferson's words began the expedition in 1803,
his words ended the ceremonies on the Ohio River in 2003.
Meriweather Lewis, William Clark, the 3rd Infantry
Fife and Drum Corps, and members of the Shawnee and Mingo tribes
gather with Kentucky dignitaries to celebrate the 200th anniversary
of the Lewis and Clark expedition. (Photo: Suzanne Freeman)
The 3rd Infantry Fife and Drum Corps play the National
Anthem at the Louisville celebration of the 200th anniversary of
the Lewis and Clark expedition. (Photo: Suzanne Freeman)
Meriwether Lewis comes ashore in his keelboat during
a reenactment of his meeting with William Clark on the banks of
the Ohio. (Photo: Suzanne Freeman)
Thomas Jefferson, played by Clay Jenkinson, explains
why he chose Meriwether Lewis to lead the Corps of Discovery 200
years ago. (Photo: Suzanne Freeman)