Saturday, May 14, 2016
May 14, 1804 – The Corps of Discovery led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark departs Camp Dubois, Illinois, and begins its historic journey to reach the Pacific Ocean via the Missouri River, the Rocky Mountains (via Lemhi Pass), and the Columbia River.
They would not return until September 23, 1806.
On November 7, 1805, William Clark wrote in his journal, "Ocean in view! O! the joy!" It had taken the expedition nearly a year to cross Montana, the Idaho panhandle, and Washington state, and would be another 13 days until they actually reached the Pacific Ocean.
Their return journey took less than six months. In part, that's because they knew the way, and were able to cut nearly 300 miles off their return trip by cutting through the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana and crossing the Continental Divide at Lewis and Clark Pass.
Camp Dubois was at the confluence of the Wood and Mississippi rivers in Illinois, about two miles north of the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi. Because the course of the Mississippi River has changed, the fort's location is now underwater. The current Lewis and Clark State Historic Site in Hartford, Illinois, is a recreation.