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Missouri River passing the limestone bluffs of Rocheport
Photo by Jane Phillips, courtesy of www.rocheport.com

On June 7, 1804, the Lewis and Clark Expedition passed through the area of modern day Rocheport, Missouri. Clark noted this area in his journal:

. . . a Short distance above the mouth of [a] Creek, is Several Courious paintings and carving on the projecting rock of Limestone inlade with white red & blue flint, of a verry good quallity, the Indians have taken of this flint great quantities. We landed at this Inscription and found it a Den of Rattle Snakes, we had not landed 3 Minites before three verry large Snakes was observed on the Crevises of the rocks & killed . . .(DeVoto 1997, 7)

Manitou, buffalo, and person on a rock near Big Manitou Creek, that William Clark drew in his journal, June 7, 1804 (Moulton 2:284), traced by Larry Grantham, March 9, 1990
Courtesy of Larry Grantham,
Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Near the mouth of Moniteau Creek Clark also observed "uncouth paintings of animals," known as manitous--a French version of an Algonquian word for spirit--which he sketched in his journal before continuing on. These petroglyphs are no longer visible.

After completing their journey to the Pacific Ocean, the explorers retraced their steps and passed through Rocheport again on September 19, 1806. The Rocheport Historic District, with its significant collection of 19th-century frame and brick buildings, is an example of a Missouri river town whose growth paralleled the fortunes of steamboat transportation on the river.

The Rocheport Historic District is located 12 miles west of Columbia and two miles north of Hwy I-70. Visit the website for further information.

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