» posted on Monday, May 30th, 2016 by Linda Burton
A Monumental Walk
May 30, 2016 Linda Burton posting from Jefferson City, Missouri – The bunny is still there. Remember the bunny I mentioned, who held so still as I approached the Lewis & Clark Trailhead Plaza three years ago? Bunny was intent on clover today and paid me no mind. I was determined to get a good picture of Mr Lewis and Mr Clark and had brochure in hand to explain every detail. The monument is called the Corps of Discovery and the sculptor was Sabra Tull Meyer; the entire work consists of five figures – four men and a dog; the figures all together weigh 2000 pounds. There is so much interesting information in the brochure I won’t even attempt to paraphrase; I’ll give it to you straight. Four men and a dog!
Information provided by City of Jefferson Lewis & Clark Task Force. The four men constituted the “Captains’ Mess” during the up-river voyage in 1804. Pictured in order going left to right are York, Meriwether Lewis, Seaman, William Clark, George Drouillard. Are you familiar with York, and Drouillard?
York was William Clark’s companion and slave. He was a valued member of the Expedition as a swimmer, hunter, and provider. He impressed the Indians, who called him “Big Medicine,” as black is their color of strength and courage. The bronze figure of York sitting is six feet tall.
Meriwether Lewis is depicted wearing the hat called “Chapeau Bras.” It was worn by whoever was the “officer of the day” for the Expedition. The hat alternated between Lewis and Clark. The waterproof linen hunting coat features capelets and fringe for the purpose of shedding water and protecting the military uniform. The bronze figure of Lewis is nine feet six inches tall.
Seaman is a Newfoundland dog belonging to Lewis. Seaman is depicted with a duck he captured that day for Lewis’ dinner. He frequently alerted the camp to marauding grizzlies hunting at night. His barking altered the path of a charging buffalo heading for Lewis’ tent, which might well have trampled Lewis badly. The bronze figure of Seaman is four feet two inches tall.
William Clark, co-captain of the Expedition, is depicted using a sextant to determine the latitude of the Expedition that day. The Journal entry of the day is behind Clark on the rock. The text is legible and tells of the day the Expedition passed what is now Jefferson City, June 4, 1804. The bronze figure of Clark is eight feet tall.
George Drouillard was a hunter and translator for the Expedition, a valuable resource. He was misnamed Drewyer by Lewis and Clark, who did not speak French. He was half French Canadian and half Shawnee. He resided in or near Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The bronze figure of Drouillard kneeling is six feet tall.
Flowers and grasses planted in this area are native to Missouri or represented by their domesticated counterparts – 20 trees, 526 shrubs, 1,000 prairie-grass plugs. Also on site is a Tulip Poplar sapling from the original tree planted by Thomas Jefferson at his home in Monticello.
This is fascinating stuff! I left the Plaza and walked to the back of the capitol, to revisit the Signing of the Treaty monument that overlooks the Missouri River. James Monroe was still comfortably seated, and appears to be relaxed, though likely about to burst with that “three cents an acre” deal he’d just pulled. The Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark, the Missouri River, think of that. The river is flowing wide and wild today from recent rains; peering over the rail were two young boys with their grandparents, a first-of-the-summer school’s-out trip. “Are you boys studying up on your history?” I asked. “You’ve come to the right place.”