Purple flowers blooming with the Missouri River in the background

Quick Facts

Location:
Fontenelle Forest Nature Center, 1111 Bellevue Blvd. North, Bellevue, NE 68005
Designation:
National Natural Landmark
OPEN TO PUBLIC:
Yes
MANAGED BY:
Fontenelle Forest
White Catfish Camp is a High Potential Historic Site on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

On July 22, 1804, the expedition made camp at a site approximately ten miles upstream of the Platte confluence, on the east side of the Missouri River. One of the men caught what was likely a channel catfish, which inspired the encampment’s name – White Catfish Camp. They stayed until July 26, replenishing food, refitting equipment, and attempting to contact the Otoe and Pawnee tribes. Clark wrote, “This being a good Situation and much nearer the Otteaus town than the Mouth of the Platt, we concluded to delay at this place a fiew days and Send for Some of the Chiefs of that nation to let them Know of the Change of Govern­ment, The wishes of our Government to Cultivate friendship with them, the Objects of our journy and to present them with a flag and Some Small presents.” A party sent overland located an Otoe village near the confluence of the Elkhorn and Platte rivers, but found it empty. The expedition again stayed at this camp during the return journey on September 8, 1806.

The exact location of White Catfish Camp is unknown. Although Lewis and Clark camped on what is now the Iowa side of the Missouri, the site is now most likely submerged by the river channel. The Iowa side of the river is privately owned, but on the Nebraska side Fontenelle Forest (a National Natural Landmark) pro­vides public access via an excellent system of hiking trails that include Lewis and Clark interpretive wayside exhibits.

Lewis and Clark NHT Visitor Centers and Museums

Visitor Centers and Museums along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail