Lewis and Clark NHT Visitor Centers and Museums
Bellefontaine Cemetery is a High Potential Historic Site on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.
Visitor Centers and Museums along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
Bellefontaine Cemetery contains the grave site of William Clark, who died in St. Louis on September 1, 1838. Located in the northern part of the cemetery above Meadow Lane and near the Broadway Avenue entrance is a 35-foot tall granite obelisk on a pedestal. At the base is a bust of Clark with the inscription: “William Clark – Born in Virginia August 1, 1770 – Entered Into Life Eternal September 1, 1838 – Soldier, Explorer, Statesman, and Patriot – His Life Is Written in the History of His Country.”
Clark, aged 69, died at the home of his eldest son, Meriwether Lewis Clark. He was buried in the family tomb at the farm of his nephew John O’Fallon, a wealthy St. Louis businessman. In the 1850s, after Bellefontaine Cemetery opened, Clark’s sons bought a large family plot on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River. The graves of William Clark, his wife Harriet, and several of their children were moved to the new cemetery. The memorial was unveiled in 1904 during the centennial of the expedition with funds donated by Clark’s youngest son, Jefferson Clark. Despite a family endowment, by the late 20th century the grave site had fallen into disrepair. Clark’s descendants raised $100,000 to rehabilitate the obelisk and celebrated the rededication with a ceremony on May 21, 2004, the bicentennial of the start of the expedition.