HARTFORD — The Lewis and Clark State Historic Site will celebrate the start of the explorers’ famous journey this weekend with three days of special events, including unique educational activities for children and a free festival for people of all ages.
More than 800 fourth-graders will take part in the site’s annual Education Day on Friday, May 8. They’ll learn about the Lewis and Clark Expedition by doing many of the same activities as the troops.
They’ll fold a flag, start a fire with flint and steel, make rope and — new this year — try their hand at pottery. The students also get to learn about one of the expedition’s boats, visit a woodworker and leatherworker, learn to march and drill military-style and make a bead necklace or candle to take home.
Then on Saturday and Sunday, May 9 and 10, the site will hold its 13th annual “Point of Departure” celebration marking the expedition’s official start.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days, historic interpreters at the reconstructed Camp River Dubois will portray members of the expedition, soldiers in the War of 1812 and the British First Royal Regiment of Foote.
Artisans will show how people of the period made candles, furniture, iron tools, guns, cloth and more. They’ll also demonstrate medical tools and techniques of the era and give tours of a white pirogue boat like the one used by Lewis and Clark.
The celebration includes a display of rocks and minerals, an exhibition of Lewis and Clark artifacts by Jim Duncan and Ken Porter and a sale of used books on a wide variety of subjects.
William Clark and his men arrived at what would become Camp River Dubois on Dec. 12, 1803. In the spring the camp became a beehive of activity as final preparations were made for the trip west. The Corps of Discovery left camp and formally began the expedition on a rainy Monday afternoon, May 14, 1804.
Lewis’ field notes read “The mouth of the River Dubois is to be considered as the point of departure.”
For information about the site and the explorers, visit www.campdubois.com.