L&C stamp.jpg
Lewis & Clark Official US Stamp
WHOwere the members

of the

Corps of Discovery?

WHATwas the purpose of the Journeyof Discovery?

The Journey of Discovery was a trip from the middle of the United States (Indiana) to the Pacific Ocean and back again. It was made by a special group of volunteer soldiers of the United States Army who were led by Captain Lewis and Second Lieutenant Clark. It took place between May 1804 and September 1806.

WHENdid the journey take place?
2 Years
4 months
10 days

It took the Corps of Discovery two years, four months and ten days to travel from their winter camp near St. Louis, to the Pacific Ocean, and back again to St. Louis.

  • Start - They left Camp Dubois, near St. Louis, on May 14, 1804

  • Middle - They arrived at the Pacific Ocean in early November of 1805.

  • End - Returning to St. Louis required far less time. The Corps departed Fort Clatsop on March 23, 1806 and arrived in St. Louis on Sept. 23, 1806.

WHEREdid they go?
Total Miles = 7,689 miles

  • Captain Meriwether Lewis began the expedition on August 30, 1803 in Pittsburgh PA.

  • Second Lieutenant William Clark joined the expedition on October 13, 1803 at Camp Dubois (in present-day Indiana).

  • From there, they sailed down the Ohio River towards St. Louis.

  • In spring 1805, they continued to the headwaters of the Missouri River, struggled across the Continental Divide, and headed west along the Salmon, Snake, and Columbia Rivers to the Pacific.

  • They landed at the mouth of the Columbia River, Astoria, Oregon.

  • In total, they had traveled 7,689 miles (13,532,640 yards; 40,597,920 feet).

  • The expedition then ended on September 23, 1806 upon their return to St. Louis from Oregon.

WHYdid they make this journey?

In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson ordered that a Journey of Discovery take place to explore the land he had just purchased from France called the Louisiana Purchase. The group of soldiers and civilians were to travel across other land owned by Spain all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The purpose of the Journey was to:

  1. See if there was a way you could travel all the way to the Pacific Ocean by water.

  2. Look for the sources of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

  3. See if there was gold and other minerals in the land.

  4. Meet and make friends with the Native American tribes who lived on the land.

  5. Create maps of the journey.

  6. Send back samples and animals found along the way.

  7. Gather as much information as possible.

HOWdid they travel?

The Corps of Discovery traveled by boat, horse and walked for more than 7,689 miles across the continent of North America.

  • They used a keel boat, 2 piroques (a small flat boat) and canoes to travel by river.

  • They rode horses they purchased along the way.

  • They walked most of the way.


  • Wrote descriptions and took samples of 178 plants

  • Wrote descriptions and drew pictures of 122 animals.

  • Met 50 or more Native American Tribes

  • Created 146 Maps

Most Important Animal Discovered
Buffalo Head.png
Buffalo Photograph by Ray Tysdal
  • The Buffalo, also called a bison.

  • The tribes of the US plains used every part of the buffalo to survive.

  • They ate the meat, used the hide for clothing and tents and used the horns for ornaments.

  • Click here for more information.

Other Interesting Facts



Jean Baptiste

  • Sacagawea was the Lemni Shoshone wife of the French trapper, Charbonneau.

  • She had been kidnapped from her family and sold to him when she was 16.

  • She had her baby at 17.

  • She carried the baby for the entire journey. He was 55 days old at the start.

  • She named her baby “Jean Baptiste” and Lewis nicknamed him “Pompy”.

  • She had a second child, called Lisette. It is not know if the child survived infancy.

  • She died at the age of 25.

  • William Clark adopted both Jean Baptiste and Lisette.

  • Jean Baptiste was educated in St. Louis and went to Europe at 18 to work for a German prince.

Other Interesting Facts


  • York was a slave, owned by William Clark.

  • He had been purchased when Clark was a boy. They were the same age.

  • They had grown up together and York took care of Clark.

  • York was a very big man with deep black skin.

  • The Native American tribes had never seen a black man before, so they were very curious about him.

  • They valued his deep black color and enormous strength.

  • They accepted him and the other men in peace.

  • York was the first black man to walk all the way across the continent north of Mexico and see the Pacific Ocean.

  • At the end of the journey, York was still a slave. It wasn't until ten years later that Clark granted his freedom.

Other Interesting FactsSeaman
  • Seaman was a dog, owned by William Clark.

  • He was a Newfoundland dog, with long black hair.

  • Newfoundland dogs are very strong and great swimmers.

  • They protect their owners.

  • Seaman proved important to the Corps when they were attacked by a bear. Seaman stood between the men and the bear and chased the bear away, saving their lives.

  • Seaman survived the journey and lived a long life.

After the Journey

  • William Clark became a territorial governor and died at the age of 68 in St. Louis.

  • Meriwether Lewis died at the age of 35 in Tennessee under suspicious circumstances. He may have committed suicide or was murdered. The mystery of his death remains.

  • Click on this link to find more details - http://www.history.army.mil/LC/the_people.htm

  • Sacagawea stayed with her husband. She had a second child, Lisette. Sacagawea died at the age of 25. William Clark adopted both her children. It is not know if her daughter survived infancy.

  • Toussant Charbonneau received $500.33 and 320 acres of land. Sacagawea received nothing.

Student Handout