As Lewis and Clark made their way west, they observed and recorded plants, animals, geology, weather patterns and other scientific phenomena which would be of interest to President Jefferson and other scientists. As they traveled they could not help but be impressed by the simple beauty of the sights they saw. Just as their expedition was a scientific one, it also became an aesthetic one. When Lewis stood in awe at the foot of the Great Falls in Montana on June 13, 1805, he wished for the pencil of Salvatore Rosa (a famous artist) or the pen of Thompson (a well-known writer). He wanted to "be enabled to give to the enlightened world some just idea of this truly magnificent and sublimely grand object, which has from the commencement of time been concealed from the view of civilized man; but this was fruitless and vain." The words and journals of Lewis, Clark and their men may not have been up to the task of adequately describing every scene and object they encountered, but they spurred a curiosity and interest in the American West which has yet to subside.
The following pictures were taken along the Lewis and Clark Trail in 1975-76 by photographer David Muench for the National Park Service's Museum of Westward Expansion in St. Louis. Muench traveled the trail, arriving at the sites of the explorer's camps at the same time of year as they themselves were there. The result is an acclaimed series of photographs which show the beauties, from panoramas to tiny insects and flowers, seen by the explorers 200 years ago. Muench fulfilled Lewis' wish at the Great Falls in 1805, to "give to the world some faint idea of an object which at this moment fills me with such pleasure and astonishment . . . "
The Journey Photo Albums