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Archive for Saturday, May 29, 2004

Re-enactors face same weather as Lewis, Clark

May 29, 2004

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— Just like the real deal 200 years ago, re-enactors of Lewis and Clark's sojourn westward are finding their early passage by water anything but smooth sailing.

Just days into their Missouri River voyage, the actors and their three vessels, one sprawling 55 feet in length, have been buffeted by violent storms.

Torrential rains swelled the river and sped it up, sending debris downstream like torpedoes the three 1800s-style boats managed to dodge.

And speaking of current: Lightning at one point Wednesday night apparently hit one of the group's two canoelike pirogues, luckily harming no one or nothing.

Despite it all, the re-enactors were on schedule.

"We're braced for the weather," said Scott Mandrell -- a school teacher portraying Meriwether Lewis in the bicentennial redo -- told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Messages left on the group's satellite telephone and on cell phones of Mandrell and Bud Clark -- William Clark's great-great-great grandson -- were not returned.

Despite the trials of nature, the group remained on schedule five days after shoving off from the St. Louis suburb of St. Charles, where 200 years ago the real Lewis and Clark began their 8,000-mile adventure through the uncharted wilds of the West and back again.

Two centuries ago during their 28-month trek through what was the Louisiana Territory, William Clark and Lewis braved broiling summer heat and occasionally violent storms.

On Nov. 7, 1805, Clark thought they had reached the Pacific Ocean, but they actually were at the Columbia River's estuary -- still 20 miles from the coast.

Fierce Pacific storms, rolling waters, and high winds pinned the explorers down for three weeks, misfortune Clark logged as "the most disagreeable time I have experienced."

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