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Our Lewis and Clark Journal – Day 6

August 13, 2013

Day 6: Louisville, Kentucky (William Clark’s Birthday)     [August 1]

Today is William Clark’s birthday, and we are in Louisville, KY for the Presbyterian Big Tent Conference. Louisville was also the Clark family home. A residence still exists on the south shore of the Ohio River in Clarksville, Indiana, near the Falls of the Ohio River. The Lewis and Clark expedition really began when Lewis met up with Clark at the 4th Street wharf in Louisville (known today as Waterfront Park) and the two shook hands. The City of Louisville was founded by George Rogers Clark, William’s older (and at least in Louisville, better known) brother. There is a large statue of George in the park overlooking the Ohio River Falls, a limestone fossil formation millions of years old.

Clark Bridge

In honor of the Clarks and of Louisville, August and I got up early and walked across the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge from Kentucky to Indiana and back. To our South we could see the River Falls (and the canal which eliminated the need for portage) and watched the longest freight train we have ever seen cross a rail bridge. In the opposite direction (and visible in this picture) we saw the John F. Kennedy Bridge, completed in 1964, the first structure to be named after the recently assassinated president.

 George Rogers Clark

Besides the statue of George Rogers Clark, pointing over the river toward his home and toward the “Indiana” territory he secured for the nation during the War of Independence, Waterfront Park includes several other interesting features. Laid out in the concrete tile work through out the park is a map of the Ohio River from its source in Pennsylvania down to Cairo, Illinois where it enters the Mississippi River, so that guests can walk the through river history. Accompanying this map are descriptive tiles for each city or town along the river, as well as the name of every canal or lock (the Ohio drops some 425 feet from Pittsburg to Paducah). The Native American name “Ohio” means “the beautiful river.”

Set further back from the river is a commemorative statue of York, William Clark’s slave and childhood companion. Louisville was also home for York, and the statue included the fullest description of the man and his contributions to the Corps that we have yet seen.

 York in Louisville

For lunch, August and I shared a piece of Louisville Chess pie a la mode: imagine pecan pie with chocolate chips and other nuts inside.

Read: Rosalyn Schanzer, How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis and Clark. Published by National Geographic Society, this children’s book is an illustrated version of the Lewis and Clark journals.

The INDEX of blogs from Our Lewis and Clark Journey can be found here.

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