Bill to study Lewis and Clark trail extension reaches president's desk

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A bill to study whether to extend the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail eastward to the Atlantic Coast is on the desk of President Bush, U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson announced Wednesday.

The proposal, sponsored by Emerson, a Cape Girardeau Republican, and included in a bill along with other similar measures designed to recognize historic and cultural locations, was passed Tuesday, Emerson said in a news release issued by her office.

The expanded trail, which would be known as the Eastern Legacy Trail, would extend the National Park Service-maintained historic trail from the Camp Wood site in Illinois across from St. Louis along the path explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark used as they recruited members of the Corps of Discovery in the summer and fall of 1803.

The band of explorers reached Cape Girardeau on Nov. 23, 1803. They attended a horse race with Louis Lorimier, founder of the town, and Lewis commented in his journals on the beauty of Lorimier's daughter. The Red House Interpretive Center in downtown Cape Girardeau, modeled on Lorimier's trading post, would be one site expected to gain additional tourist visits if the trail is extended.

"We host a lot of Lewis and Clark history in the states included in this legislation," Emerson said in her news release. "The preparation and planning for this tremendous expedition originated in many states east of the Mississippi, and there are even more historic firsts which occurred along the explorers' route to the expedition's official beginning in St. Louis."

Lewis and Clark took their band of explorers up the Missouri River and across the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean shortly after the Louisiana Purchase became official. The journey included scientific explorations, diplomacy with native tribes and helped establish the U.S. claim to the Pacific Northwest.

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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