What lay west of St. Louis in the year 1804? Nobody knew. Of course, there were guesses and rumors and wild tales. The West was alive with terrible monster! It was dotted with rock-salt mountains where nothing could grow! It was peopled with fierce Indians!
President Thomas Jefferson would have none of these tales. He wanted true information about the West-and there was only one way to get it. He would men to explore "the interior parts of North America." To lead the expedition, the President chose his secretary, Meriweather Lewis. Captain William Clark was was to share the responsibilities of the journey.
It would be hard to find two men more unlike than the quiet well-educated Lewis and the friendly never-silent Clark. Yet between them, they led thirty-three men through an unmapped country, across sky-scraping mountains, and on to the distant shores of the Pacific-the first explorers to travel across our country to the western ocean.
This was a truly American adventure, for many races and nationalities were represented. Without the aid of Sacajawea, the Indian "Bird Woman", the troubles of the expedition would have been multiplied. The strongest member of the party was York, a Colored man with the strength of two. There were Germans, Irishmen, Scots, Frenchmen, Northerners, and Southerners.
Here is the story of an expedition that most people thought would surely fail. How it succeeded, in spite of every danger, makes a spine-tingling tale about the adventure-loving men of young America.
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