Although it was 1806 when Lewis and Clark returned to St.
Louis after their journey across the country, it was not until 1905
that they were celebrated as national heroes. In the Footsteps
of Lewis and Clark examines how public attitudes toward their
explorations and the means of commemorating them have changed, from
the production of the Lewis and Clark Exposition in 1905 to the
establishment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail in
1978 and the celebrations of the expedition's bicentennial from
2003 through 2007.
The first significant stirrings of national public interest in
Lewis and Clark coincided with the beginning of a nationwide
fascination with transcontinental automobile touring. Americans
began to reconnect with the past and interact with the history of
Western expansion by becoming a new breed of "frontier explorer"
via their cars. As a result, early emphasis on local plaques and
monuments yielded to pageants, reenactments, and, ultimately,
attempts to retrace the route, promoting conservation and
recreation along its length.
Wallace G. Lewis details the ingenuity that inspired the
establishment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail,
opening a window to how America reimagines, recreates, and
remembers its own past. In the Footsteps of Lewis and
Clark will appeal to both scholarly and armchair historians
interested in the Western frontier as experienced by both Lewis and
Clark and those retracing their steps today.
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