Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center
Today, our destination is the International Peace Garden near Dunseith, North Dakota, but on our way, we decided to stop at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in Washburn, North Dakota.
The Lewis & Clark Expedition was an epic journey that covered more than eight thousand miles, took more than two and a half years, met more than 50 different Native Tribes, discovered 122 new animals and 178 new plants. Their mission was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson and approved by Congress in January of 1803.
President Jefferson had extensive instructions for Meriwether Lewis to explore the Louisiana Territory and beyond. These instructions included finding the source of the Missouri River, with hopes of finding a direct water route to the Pacific Ocean. Jefferson also wanted to learn everything possible about the land and people as well as the wildlife and vegetation.
Meriwether Lewis knew he would need assistance to succeed in this huge undertaking and asked his friend William Clark to co-captain the Expedition with him. As these men prepared for the journey, they had much planning to do to enter into a territory that they knew nothing about.
The information and displays were very interesting and we were able to easily trace the Expedition route up the Missouri River, over the Rocky Mountains, to the Pacific Ocean and back. We learned about the cultures of the Indian tribes they met and the animals and plants they recorded. We really got to experience the struggles and successes as these early explorers traveled by boat, foot, and horses across the uncharted heartland of North America.
After visiting the Interpretive Center, we drove about two miles down the road to see a replica of Fort Mandan, where Lewis & Clark spent the winter in 1805. What was really interesting was that the Fort was rebuilt to the exact specifications as documented in Lewis & Clarks journals right down to the cottonwood logs. The rooms were furnished with historically accurate reproductions that recreated their living conditions.
The Geographical Center of North America
After visiting the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, we made our way to the Geographical Center of North America in Rugby, ND.
In January 1931, a U.S. Geological survey determined the center of North America in Pierce County. The center is marked with a monument that is pyramid form in shape. It is 21 feet high, 6 feet wide at its base and setting on a heart-shaped foundation. It was built across the highway, northwest of its present location by W.B. Paterson and E.B. Patterson with assistance from local Boy Scouts and other young men in the community. Completed in 1932, the monument is one of many fieldstone structures built in native stones. We stood at the base and we were truly in the center of it all.
International Peace Gardens
We arrived at our campground around 4:00. The weather has started to change. The temperature is hovering around 65 and the trees are displaying their fall colors, mostly different shades of yellow. It’s a far cry from the mid 90 degree temps we had at home.
International Peace Garden – Sunday, September 30, 2012
Our Tailgunner, Rich examined our coach and put our Fantasy RV Tour stickers on our coach and truck. We went in to the town of Bottineau, ND today to do some laundry and pick up some last minute things before heading into Canada. At 3:00 we had our first get-together with all of our fellow caravaners. We started with food and drinks before our Fantasy team of Tom & Vicky Sprott and Rich and Cheryl LaBrake introduced themselves. After we had time to eat and visit with the other people at our table, everyone introduced themselves to the group. Tom went over the trip log for the first day of travel on Tuesday to Dauphin, Manitoba. Tomorrow we will have a tour of the Peace Gardens and a welcome dinner at our campground.
On a personal note, today is my (Bill) mother’s 88th birthday. I had a chance to call her and wish her a happy birthday. Cell service is not available in our campground so I called her from Dunseith, ND.