Did you learn about Lewis and Clark and their grand expedition in history class? Seeing it in text is one thing, but it is another thing to see it in person!
On a hosted trip to Kansas City, I was part of a group of travel writers. We learned about the expedition hands on when we stopped at Lewis & Clark Park at Kaw Point.
What is Kaw Point?
Kaw Point is the point of the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers. Here on June 26th of 1804 the Lewis and Clark Expedition camped for three days to rest. While at Kaw Point, they repaired their boats and explored. Today, Kaw Point is a 10-acre park that offers walking/biking trails. There is an outdoor amphitheater and much more plus access to the river. Besides the amazing history, there is a tremendous view of Kansas City!
Jim Stanley met us, and he was all decked out as a soldier of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. He took us , to the Interpretive Center and told the story of the expedition. The story begins on May 14, 1804. President Jefferson sent Captain Meriwether Lewis and Lt. William Clark, to explore a trail to the Pacific. With an initial crew of 51 men, they arrived at Kaw’s Point on June 26, 1804. Jim told us about being part of a group that reenacted the event.
The initial voyage included the dog Seaman, and this reenactment group also had a Lab called Seaman as well.
One part of the story that I understood, but that was upsetting was a story about a guard that drank too much whiskey along with his replacement. The two were court marshalled and the punishment was one hundred lashes for one and fifty lashes for the other. I guess they had to set a precedence, but wow!
Jim took us on the trails and we enjoyed the wheelchair accessible 1500-foot-long boardwalk,. We viewed both the Kansas and Missouri Rivers. I was taken with the “Bird Woman trail marker” placed in honor of Sacgawea which means “interpreter”. Although Sacgawea, better known as Pocahontas, was not at Kaw’s Point, she joined the expedition in April of 1804 at the Mandan Villages, in what is now North Dakota.
At the end of the trail is a metal replica of Lewis and Clark that screams for a photo op. Jim was thankfully glad to oblige! Here you can view so much of the City and the River alike. There is more information about the trails on their website at http://www.lewisandclarkwyco.org/about-the-park/hiking-biking-trail.
This is a natural rock Encampment Theater.
All limestone seats have names of those that were part of the expedition and include the Indians that were part of the crew as well. At the Encampment Theater, they provide reenactments, musicals, weddings, or other special events. It seats approximately 500! To find out what is playing, check out the website.
The Educational Pavilion offers information and also honors the local Indian Nations. Mike Calwell, who along with his team was instrumental in the building of park as well as all of the educational components, joined the group.
The website explains the importance of the Educational Pavilion. “The open-air Education Pavilion at the Lewis and Clark Historic Park at Kaw Point has interpretive signs about the Lewis and Clark expedition as well as a plaque describing the events of 1804. This plaza is a focal point in the 10-acre park, surrounded by the Confluence of Nations outdoor amphitheater.”
There is a wonderful section that provides flags representing flags from 19 regional Native tribes. The tribes include the Wyandot, Wea-and-Pianshaw, Shawnee, Seneca, Sac-and-Fox, Quapaw, Potawatomie, Peoria, Ottowa, Otoe-Missouria, Osage, Miami, Kick-a-poo, Kaskaskia, Kansa, Iowa, Delaware, Chippewa and Cherokee.
This was very touching and a great way to learn about both the history of the expedition and the tribes of the area as well.