Fort Steuben Visitor Center with insight into a historic expedition | News, Sports, Jobs

FREE EXHIBITION – The Fort Steuben Visitor Center is hosting “Reimagining America: The Maps of Lewis and Clark” February 7th – March 4th. Steubenville is the only place in Ohio where you can see the free exhibit celebrating the famous duo’s three-year exploration of the lands west of the Mississippi River.

STEUBENVILLE — Almost 220 years have passed since Meriwether Lewis rode his boat past Steubenville en route to Indiana and his meeting with William Clark and beginning their three-year exploration of the lands west of the Mississippi River, better known as the Louisiana Buy.

“Stewbenville”, Lewis wrote in his diary on September 6, 1803: “A small town on the Ohio River in the State of Ohio, about six miles beyond Charlestown in Virginia and 24 beyond Wheeling – is a small, well-built, thriving place inhabited by several respectable families five years after it was a wilderness.”

“It’s an important part of our history” So said Paul Zuros, executive director of historic Fort Steuben. “The expedition started in Pittsburgh – Meriweather Lewis came down the Ohio River just in front of the fort.”

The Fort Steuben Visitor Center will host a national touring exhibit celebrating the Lewis and Clark Expedition. “Rethinking America: The Maps of Lewis and Clark”, Beginning February 7th. It’s the only time the exhibit will be in Ohio.

Developed by the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, it uses large format reproductions of historical maps, photographs and explanatory text to show what America was like before Lewis and Clark’s voyage and what it was like after.

“We’re the only location in Ohio with this exhibit,” said Zuros. “(The) exhibit is produced by the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, a national organization promoting knowledge of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It’s touring all over the country – after leaving here, it’s going out to Oregon.”

The collection of 15 plaques tells the story of how the famous explorers mapped the West and explored the 827,000-square-mile Louisiana Purchase. The panels will cover seven topics, including Mapping the Indigenous Way, Mapping the Scientific Way, and Mapping the Practical Way — areas of interest to both educators and history buffs and as springboards for programs on discovery, exploration, and mapmaking techniques, said fort officials.

The exhibit, which is free and runs through March 4, adds another dimension to the permanent exhibit and activities that historic Fort Steuben is presenting at the Expedition.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to come to the fort, see this exhibit that they won’t see anywhere else and learn more about this important expedition.” Said Zuros, pointing out that Lewis was camping on Brown’s Island and as he was coming down the river about two miles south of Steubenville, he had run into some “riffles” (shallow, faster-moving water where rocks break through the water’s surface).

“The river was much wilder back then” he said. “Their boats ran aground on the rocks, so Lewis had to go back to Steubenville to hire teams of oxen to pull them off the rocks. They lost a full day of travel because of this issue, so Lewis wasn’t happy.”

Historic Fort Steuben is a partner site on the Lewis and Clark National Heritage Trail.

“Since 2003, Historic Fort Steuben has offered opportunities to learn about this important part of American history,” said Zuros. “We have an extensive display and selection of books about the expedition and we are now part of the National Park Service’s Historic Trail and Junior Ranger program. We recently added a thermoformed plastic tactile map to help junior rangers and other visitors who are visually impaired or have low vision find the trail. Expedition route and coasts are reset. A braille label lists the states the trail passes through.”

Visitors can find free brochures and maps with the display, and purchase adult and children’s books about the expedition, as well as the NPS Passport books, at the fort’s museum shop.

Zuros said several visitors stopped at the fort over the summer “Especially because they followed the Lewis and Clark National Historical Trail.”

“We have a National Park Service stamp on people’s passport books.” he added. “This is a program developed by the NPS. So if you visit a visitor center that is part of the NPS, each will have a stamp with the location and date. Valet sells books, we have them too – they make great souvenirs.”

The exhibition is open from February 7th to March 4th, Monday to Saturday.

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