Contributions of archeology to the Lewis and Clark trail


Archeology has faced special challenges in identifying campgrounds along the way, but has benefited from recent advances in technology. Unlike a Civil War battlefield or a visit to a historic house before the war, the expedition route produces very little physical evidence. The Lewis and Clark campsites have been difficult to validate, because the explorers left few traces. In 2004, the Lewis and Clark authors, Legacies, Memories, and New Perspectives, had a grim view of the role of archeology in the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial. me

This article will paint a brighter picture by reviewing the literature to date to explore some of the relatively recent developments in route archeology. It focuses on sites in Montana, Idaho, Oregon and the Columbia River Basin and Washington at Station Camp. It will also highlight new scientific techniques used to locate the camps and explore how these findings have helped save some of these sites from destruction.
cheapest tickets
The National Park Service has always supported archaeological research and advocated for the preservation of the trail. Their website lists the efforts of the Lewis and Clark Trail Commission, the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation Inc., and other public and private organizations that have tried to locate and preserve the trail. Modern Americans can only see a few places along the way as Lewis and Clark did. The NPS website has photos that show more pristine views of many of the sites.

NPS lists sites in Montana and other states such as Site 32, Fort Mandan, and Site 34, Fort Clatsop that are archeologically relevant. ii

Sites in Montana that have had some archaeological research include:

Site 3, Lemhi Pass; Site 4, Lolo Trail; Site 14, Beaverhead Rock State Park; Site 15, Bozeman Pass; Site 16, Buffalo Jump at Arrow Creek; Site 17, Disappointment in the camp; Site 18, Union of the Marias and Missouri Rivers; Site 19, Mountain Gates; Site 20, Great Falls Portage; Site 21, Lewis and Clark Pass; Site 22, Lewis’s fight with the Blackfeet site; Site 23, Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument; Site 24, Pilar de Pompeyo; Site 25, Rattlesnake Cliffs; Site 26, Ross Hole; Site 27, Three Forks of the Missouri; and site 28, Traveler’s Rest. iii

Buffalo Jump, Traveler’s Rest, and the Lower Great Falls Portage site were particularly rewarding for archaeologists.

Buffalo Jump at Arrow Creek

In the beautiful White Cliffs section of the Missouri Breaks, members of the Lewis and Clark expedition were probably the first American citizens to view and record a buffalo jump site where dead animals were still in place. On May 29, 1805, on the journey west, the Lewis and Clark expedition encountered that leap. It was on the north side of Missouri along the base of a 120-foot-high cliff that reached almost to the edge of the water. The men observed and smelled the carcasses of more than 100 dead and rotting buffaloes, which the wolves were devouring.

The site was identified in 2463 as 24CH240 by a team from the Missouri Basin Interagency Archaeological Rescue Program, which surveyed sites in this part of the river. The rescue team found only two pieces of bone fragments, some others that the private owner had also observed. iv

page 2

Rest of the traveler

At Traveler’s Rest, in the 1990s, aerial infrared photography showed evidence of teepee rings. Historical research matched the latitude and longitude coordinates recorded by Lewis and Clark with the same Lolo Creek location. Dan Hall and others used magnetometer equipment to find changes in the magnetic properties of soils. They also found fire-cracked rocks, coal, and a solid puddle of lead. These findings indicate that this place suffered intense heat believed to be the result of a large military-style kitchen fire. They knew that the expedition melted their empty lead powder cans to make musket balls, hence the lead puddle.

Sites in other states discussed in this article include Site 32, Fort Mandan, and Site 34, Fort Clatsop. Archaeologists later found signs that a trench had been dug about 300 feet from the fire area, in accordance with Army regulations at the time governing the location of the latrines. Tests with a mercury vaporizer confirmed the presence of mercury in the trench and not in the surrounding soil. Lewis had noted in his diary that at least two of the men were ill at the time of the trip and received medications, which contained large amounts of mercury that would pass through the body and remain at the site. v These pills, known as Dr. Rush’s Thunder Clappers, contained sixty percent mercury, which does not break down.

These discoveries were significant because this area was surrounded by a rapidly developing residential area, and the camp was designated one of the nation’s most threatened historical sites in 1999. That notoriety helped attract a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, allowing the purchase of 15 acres. it is believed to be the heart of the camp. saw

Lower Portage site of the Great Falls

Also in the 1990s, at the Lower Portage site of the Great Falls of the Missouri River in Montana, Dr. Ken Karsmizki studied one of the areas, marked by the remains of 12 fires. The explorers’ diaries count the 12 days they spent in this camp. Three of the fires were found equally spaced in a line, suggesting an organized camp. The archeomagnetic dates of the charred remains are consistent with an occupation by Lewis and Clark. They also dated by radiocarbon with a broken wooden stake discovered vertically in the ground until 1810 ± 40, and site bison bones until 1810 ± 50. Members of Group C of D prepared a large quantity of dried fish, meat, and pemmican. (dried bison meat mixed with fat), while camping in Great Falls. Karsmizki added a fifth site, one he hoped would dump remnants of an iron-frame folding boat that the party abandoned at the Upper Portage of the Great Falls because they lacked the materials (pine pitch and fur sewing needles) needed to make the container is airtight. vii

Articles on camping archeology in We keep going They include the Elusive Iron Boat Search, the Yellowstone Canoe Camp, the Fort Mandan site in North Dakota, and the Search for Camp Wood / Camp Dubois, just outside of St. Louis. While the search for Iron Boat by Ken Karsmizki is fascinating and he received letters to the editor, it is too complicated for this article. Aid received at NASA’s Great Falls will be discussed later.

Yellowstone Canoe Camp is worth a visit due to recent developments. Ken Karsmizki’s article in WPOvol. 21 no. 4, “In Search of the Invisible, Some Efforts to Find Expedition Camps,” is a compelling discussion of the difficulties archaeologists have encountered up to 1995. It is also an excellent review of archeology up to that point. The lack of specific data in the notebooks, the change of course of the rivers, the historical fires and floods, poorly drawn maps and erosion, recent intrusions into the land and the unreliability of local informants were problems in all excavation sites, not to mention resources and funding.

Despite the problems encountered, the author remains optimistic that archeology will eventually take historical facts out of the realm of history and folklore and base them on material reality.viii

page 3

Yellowstone Canoe Camp

The camp on the Yellowstone River Island is a site being investigated as the possible site of Clark’s July 1806 canoe camp. Archaeologist Tom Rust began researching the island in 2011 when historian and cartographer Ralph Saunders convinced Rust that he had located the site of the canoe. His study of the original maps, historical surveys, and aerial photographs assured him that his calculations had found the site, although eight other sites had been considered for the camp along a 12-mile stretch of the river between Columbus and Park City.

Rust investigated the island with a magnetometer and soil resistance meter to assess disturbances and soil compaction. The hope was that the survey could reveal old campfire sites, a latrine, a butchery area, and even crowded roads as the men moved through the camp. Their efforts were rewarded when they had multiple hits from metal detectors and found a perfectly round lead ball believed to be shot. The isotope analysis matched an artifact from Traveler’s Rest. They also found mercury deposits in latrine pits, which matched what had been found at Traveler’s Rest. A belt buckle and bone discovered in the same area at the same depth and some lead next to what looked like a fire pit, tested to an acceptable date range, were further evidence that it was the Camp. from Canoas.

This site is environmentally interesting because the Yellowstone River had moved considerably. Fortunately, when the river moved, even forming a new channel and then jumping again, the island appears to have been spared from damaging floods that could have erased any evidence of the expedition. ix

Cougar Rapids Bar

On their way back home in May 1806, the Lewis and Clark expedition camped near Kamiah expecting the snow to melt in the Bitterroot Mountains. Meriwether Lewis sent Sergeant John Ordway and two other men to the Snake River on this route to exchange salmon with the Nez Perce, food needed to cross the mountain. Ordway wrote about the side trip in his diaries. “We passed a large cabin and descended through the worst hills we ever saw on a road,” reads the newspapers. And upon their arrival in the village, “At last they invited us, spread out robes for us to sit on, and put roasted salmon in front of us and some of their white bread they called ‘uppah’. This cabin is one hundred feet long and twenty feet long. wide and all in one. ”

State archaeologist Dr. Ken Reid of the Idaho State Historical Society led the project to investigate a site at Cougar Rapids Bar. They found the depression in the cabin and the slope where they were probably waiting while the fish were prepared. Using high-tech instruments to look below the surface, Dr. Reid’s team traced the edge of the multi-family home and the homes, or chimneys, running through the middle. Dr. Reid and his team dug small test pits in the home and the raised mound to the side of the house, and found carbon artifacts dating back to the early 1800s. They also found half a blue glass bead, two brass studs, and a small arrowhead. This evidence combined with the descriptions of the village in Ordway’s journal, plus other research on possible routes to the Snake River, make Dr. Reid very sure that this is where Ordway and his men spent two nights exchanging salmon. . X

The Rock Fort and Station Camp sites, and Fort Clatsop on the west side of the trail have also had new developments. Karsmizki’s proven methodology is a lengthy process of map and log analysis, geophysical survey and interpretation, test excavation, and, if warranted, extensive excavation and laboratory analysis. This analysis includes dendrochronology, radiocarbon dating, archeomagnetic dating, lead isotope analysis, and fauna analysis at numerous laboratories in the United States and Canada. NASA and the United States Air Force have assisted in this search.

page 4

Rock fort

In an interview with an Oregon journalist, John Compton, in July 2010, Ken Karsmizki spoke about his research at Rock Fort and NASA’s help with the project. He pointed out that the Discovery Corps’ latitude calculations were not accurate, and that maps of the same area were different. He said: “They (C de D) wrote about a million words in their newspapers, but nine journalists would see things in different ways, especially at distances. People changed their minds halfway about the environmental characteristics The same thing happened everywhere. ” Karsmizki had to see the progression of the maps and look at the details. NASA offered to help with four satellites to use sensors to map The Dalles now, which they could overlay on Lewis and Clark’s map. What coincided was Mill Creek and the bank of the Columbia River. They then used ground penetrating radar and put thirty-six holes in a grid in the area they believed to be the site. When nothing was found, they shifted their efforts to three depressions, because Clark had written that they were in an artificial fort built by rock walls and feared the attack. The area was excavated and had seven feet of fill on top of the historic surface. They were even able to find a dog skull and leather straps.

Unfortunately, the Columbia River has only one site, Rock Fort, which is now not underwater due to dams. It is located in The Dalles, near the Union Street underpass and is in public hands. It was a good location because it had no buildings, and the infill cover may have preserved it for excavation. xi

NASA combined precision satellite imagery with detailed historical maps to help Karsmizki locate camps. In some cases, technology can reduce a potential excavation site from several square miles to a matter of acres. NASA’s Directorate of Earth Science Applications provided the images to Karsmizki and his team. Marco Giardino, acting deputy director of ESAD at Stennis, said NASA scientists could create a 360-degree view of the area where explorers were traveling and archaeologists could get the same view they would have from an airplane. Color is extremely important in locating historical sites. For example, a slight difference in the shade of wheat in a large field may indicate the location of an outpost. xii

Station Camp Fort Vancouver

The Lewis and Clark Discovery Corps spent just 10 days here in 1805. Historians called the site “Station Camp” because it was Lieutenant William Clark’s main reconnaissance station to produce a detailed and accurate map of the mouth of the river. Columbia and surrounding areas. Dr. Wilson, as Principal Investigator, incorporated a variety of scientific techniques into the research design to establish site chronology and obtain additional data on artifacts, including carbon-14 dating, ground penetration radar, analysis of magnetometer and isotope analysis. Dr. Wilson is an archaeologist with the Western Pacific Regional Office of the National Park Service, based at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. It was also the primary link to Native American tribes that have ancient claims to the Middle Village site. He received the John Cotter Prize for his work. John Cotter was one of the founding fathers of historical archeology in the United States. xiii

His work was environmentally significant to the trail because his research was the foundation for the park’s interpretive developments at Station Camp / Middle Villages and a project that involved the Chinook Nation, Washington State, and the National Park Service. It also involved students and the public, thereby increasing awareness of the importance of the site to history.

page 5

Fort Clatsop

Fort Clatsop, near the Columbia River, about five miles south of present-day Astoria, was the 33-member 1805 Discovery Corps winter camp and the first physical evidence of the US on the Pacific coast according to Stephen Beckham, a historian at Lewis and Clark College. The fort became critical to American claims in the region.

Occupied for just over three months, the original fort probably burned down in the 1850s to make way for a pioneer’s garden. In 1955, the local community built a replica of Fort Clatsop (named after a local tribe) to celebrate the expedition’s 150th anniversary. In 2005, Fort Clatsop burned the ground again just a month before the Lewis and Clark bicentennial celebrations began at the site.

A federal arson investigation found that the rebuilt Fort Clatsop was the victim of an accidental fire started by a lost ember in a functioning home. Investigators can be forgiven for momentarily considering archaeologists as suspects. Although some excavations were conducted at the camp site in the 1950s, the destruction of the replica has now given National Park Service archaeologist Doug Wilson the opportunity to properly excavate the site using modern methods, including remote sensing. Its crew has already identified around 20 percent of the site undisturbed by the concrete foundations of the rebuilt fort, including several deep coal-filled wells, possible remains of holes dug for the fort’s stockade. “We turned this tragedy into a real opportunity,” says Wilson. xiv

NASA was also involved with this site. Satellite data included the 30-meter Landsat thematic Mapper and IKONOS data from 1-meter space imagery xv

NASA changing the face of the West and archaeological research

The goal of NASA scientists and other researchers working on a special project for the bicentennial was to collect remote sensing images from satellites and aircraft to create accurate three-dimensional maps and visualizations of the Lewis and Clark camps and camping pitches and produce Una collection of satellite images available on the Internet. In addition to archaeological investigations, landscape management objectives include evaluating the effects of forest fire disturbance regimes on ecosystems, monitoring wetland change, measuring urban sprawl, tracking noxious and invasive weeds, and mapping vegetative mosaics to Lewis and Clark key camps such as Fort Clatsop (winter 1805-1806).

The trail project was developed through a NASA Space Law Agreement, involving the talents of GCS Research, a geospatial information technology company in Missoula, Montana and the TechLink Center at Montana State University (MSU) . “The lasting value of the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery expedition is in the diaries and maps they created. They represent a snapshot of the natural history of North America two hundred years ago. NASA’s remote sensing data sets represent another snapshot in time, “said Weston, Technology Manager at the MSU TechLink Center. xvi

In 2003, NASA, GCS Research and their technology partners were building the first phase of the Lewis and Clark Geosystem, which includes a combined asset remote sensing geodatabase of a variety of existing geospatial resources for the Lewis and Clark Trail. DigitalGlobe’s QuickBird images were included in Lewis and Clark’s raster catalog. xvii

page 6

Another product developed during the Lewis and Clark project was the virtual and accurate representation of various Corps of Discovery historical sites, especially Fort Clatsop. These virtual products enhanced scientific research and served to educate and inform the public about the project and its results. Upon completion of the project, thirty different NASA remote sensing data sets were processed. Hyperspectral data offers new opportunities for future archaeological discoveries. Hyperspectral images divide the spectrum into many more bands than the human eye can detect. The objective of hyperspectral images is to obtain the spectrum for each pixel in the image of a scene, in order to find objects, identify materials or detect processes.

Remote sensing technology and image analysis are undergoing a profound shift in emphasis from broad classification to the detection, identification, and condition of specific materials, both organic and inorganic.

These new technologies offer archaeologists even more opportunities for research and analysis. One possible area where hyperspectral data can be very valuable is phytoarcheology, which is defined as the analysis of the relationship between vegetation and archeology. Three specific areas of phytoarcheology can greatly benefit from hyperspectral imaging:

1) Identification of specific plant species that are associated with archaeological sites;

2) comparative plant physiology or determination of plant stress or vigor; and

3) Creation of a vegetation variability index.xviii

Travelers who follow the Corps of Discoveries are seeking the experience. Fresonke and Spence in Lewis and Clark, Legacies, Memories, and New Perspectives put it perfectly. “They are not reaching a single tourist destination; instead, they are encountering a whole new landscape that is not visible from jets or four-lane highways … Following the Captains route is a personal journey of discovery, a tourist odyssey that unites landscape and history as described by Lewis and Clark magazines “.xix

Now, many years later, the trail is once again appreciated for the beauty and wonder Lewis and Clark saw on it. As Ken Karsmizki expected in his 1995 article for We Proceeded On, archaeological research has played an important role in preserving the trail by identifying the camps and providing scientific evidence of their material existence. Archaeologists have not only advanced in the profession of historical archeology with the help of recent technology and NASA, but have also helped the National Park Service and many other public and private organizations to reclaim the way for future generations of explorers. of trails.

I Kris Fresonke and Mark Spence, Lewis and Clark, Legacies, Memories, and New Perspectives, (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2004) 247.

ii Lewis and Clark, Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings, National Park Service

iii Montana Archeology: A Public Book Project on Montana, Lewis and Clark Archeology and Archeology, February 7, 2009. (Source: Dr. Dee Taylor Readings; Vol. 3, No. 2 Archeology in Montana ” Brief history of Montana Archeology, “)

iv Ibid.

v Kathleen A. Dahl, “The Archeology of Traveler’s Rest,” Trail Watch, an academic blog exploring the interpretation of the Lewis and Clark expedition and bicentennial in museums, historical sites, interpretation centers, and popular media.

I saw Sherry Devlin, “Investigators pinpoint the exact location of the traveler’s rest – Camp Lewis and Clark was incorrectly mapped years ago,” Missoulian, January 26, 2004.

vii Jessica E. Saraceni, “Finding Lewis and Clark”, Archeology 51 no. 1, (January / February 1998)

page 7

viii Kenneth W. Karsmizki, “In Search of the Invisible: Some Efforts to Find Expedition Camps,” continued on 21, no. 4 (November 1995): 4-12.

ix Brett French, “Evidence Constructs Yellowstone Island was Clark’s 1806 Canoe Camp”, Billings Gazette, April 27, 2014. ind. .

xi Kenneth W. Karsmizki, “Lewis and Clark Rock Fort”, Localite (part 3 of 3) July 2010.

xii “NASA satellite will search for Lewis and Clark stops”, USA Today Health and Science, 09/20/2001

xiii “Dr. Wilson Receives the 2011 Cotter Award”, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, April 4, 2011,

xiv “Insider: Fortunate Fire”, Archeology 59 no. 1, (January / February 2006)

xv Kenneth W. Karsmizki, Joe Spruce, Marco Giardino, “Archaeological Remote Sensing: Searching for Fort Clatsop from Space” July 30, 2002, NASA Technical Report Server.

xvi Leonard David, “Lewis & Clark Revisited: Satellite Archeology Excavates The Past”, GeoCommunity, January 2002,

xvii Alex Philip, “GCS Research and DigitalGlobe Partner at Lewis and Clark Geosystem Project”, Directions Magazine, April 23, 2003.

xviii Marco J. Giardino, “A History of NASA Remote Sensing Contributions to Archeology,” Journal of Archaeological Science, 38 (2011) 2003-2009.

xix Fresonke and Spence, 240.

Possible images that could be included in various points of the article.

Landsat 5 and historic aerial photography in black and white with the Lewis and Clark trail line. The combination of images shows changes in the Missouri River near the Desoto National Wildlife Refuge north of Omaha. IMAGE CREDIT: GCS Research

One of the first existing photographs of Rainbow Falls, which was the second highest only after Great Falls in the series of five in this part of the river. This view captures the untamed aspect of the country, as it must have appeared in 1805-6. (Montana Historical Society).

This photo of Rainbow Falls, taken in 1944, contrasts sharply with the one above. Just upriver from the falls is the Montana Power Company Dam. In the summer and dry months of the year, much less water falls on the falls than shown here, and large portions of the rocky ledge of the falls are bare and devoid of the beauty of the falling white water. (Montana Power Company (1944)).

When Ryan Dam releases little water, deep down, the Great Falls shrink to a trickle. (National Park Service (Appleman, 1964).)

Lewis and Clark, Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings, National Park Service

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *