Today in 1804, Lewis and Clark left St. Louis for their trek to the Pacific Coast. Clark wrote in his journal:
"Set out from camp River a Dubois at 4 oClock PM and proceed up the Missouris under Sail to the first Island in the Missouri and Camped on the upper point opposit a Creek on the South Side below a ledge of limestone rock called Colewater made 4 1/2 miles, the party consited of 2, Self one frenchman and 22 men in the boat of 20 ores, 1 Serjt. & 7 french in a large Perogue, a Corp and 6 soldiers in a large Perogue, men in high spirits . I determined to go as far as St. Charles a french village 7 Leags. up the Missourie, and wait at that place untill Cap. Lewis Could finish the business in which he was obliged to attend to at St. Louis and join me by land from that place 24 miles; by this movement I calculated that if any alterations in the loading of the Vestles or other changes necessary, that they might be made at St. Charles."
The exploratory enterprise, which continued through 1806, mapped the vast new territory west of the Mississippi River acquired by the U.S. in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson, the expedition also cataloged plant and animal life, established relations with Indian inhabitants, and collected information about their culture.
At one point in time, I became intrigued by the journals of Lewis and Clark. They are available online here.