“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Near Blair in Washington County, Nebraska — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

Up the Missouri

Up the Missouri Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 26, 2014
1. Up the Missouri Marker
Captions on the top right: William Clark’s drawings (left) of the 55-foot keelboat designed and built specially for the expedition.; The expedition spent almost two months in 1804 pulling its three boats up the Missouri River segment that now forms the eastern boundary of Nebraska (below). On their return two years later, they canoed the same stretch of river in one week.
Inscription.  During the summer of 1804, the river below looked very different. Unlike today’s course controlled by dams and dikes, the Missouri River that Lewis and Clark knew flowed wild and erratic. Strong currents, floating branches, embedded logs, submerged sandbars, and crumbling riverbanks formed imposing obstacles to the expedition.

A large keelboat and two smaller crafts, called pirogues, carried the explorers and their supplies. When conditions were favorable, the men raised sails to assist the keelboat up the river. But usually they rowed, poled, or towed them through dangerous currents, using back-breaking labor. Here, along the lower Missouri River, they averaged about 13 miles a day.

Legend accompanying the map on the lower right. Click on image to enlarge it.

July-August, 1804
1) July 11, 1804: Sixty days after leaving St. Louis, the expedition enters present-day Nebraska.
2) July 21, 1804: Some expedition members travel a short distance up the “Great River Platt.”
3) July 30 - August 3, 1804: Lewis and Clark council with the Missouri and Oto tribes at “Council Bluff,”
Up the Missouri Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 26, 2014
2. Up the Missouri Marker
north of present-day Omaha.
4) August 11, 1804: Expedition visits the grave of Blackbird, a former Omaha chief.
5)August 20, 1804: Sergeant Charles Floyd dies and is buried on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River.
6) August 25, 1804 Lewis and Clark visit “Hill of Little Devils” just north of present-day Vermillion, South Dakota.
7) August 30-31, 1804: Lewis and Clark council with a delegation of Sioux at “Calumet Bluff.”
8) September 3-10, 1806: Canoeing down river two years later, the expedition travels through present-day Nebraska, arriving in St. Louis on September 23.
Erected by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ExplorationWaterways & Vessels.
Location. 41° 30.802′ N, 96° 2.226′ W. Marker is near Blair, Nebraska, in Washington County. Marker is on DeSoto Avenue, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Blair NE 68009, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Lewis and Clark Expedition (within shouting distance of this marker); Steamboat Bertrand (approx. 0.7 miles away); Lewis and Clark Campsite Area (approx. 2 miles away); DeSoto Townsite
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(approx. 2.2 miles away); Fort Atkinson (approx. 4 miles away); Lewis and Clark Campsite (approx. 4.2 miles away); The Death of Marshal Suverkrubbe (approx. 4.3 miles away); a different marker also named Fort Atkinson (approx. 4.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Blair.
More about this marker. This marker is located in DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge at a riverside pullout off of DeSoto Avenue.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 30, 2020. It was originally submitted on September 4, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 352 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 4, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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Feb. 24, 2021