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State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release July 23, 2009

Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

WHTC hosts Lewis & Clark White Catfish Camp

Event commemorates Corps of Discovery visit to Council Bluffs in 1804

(COUNCIL BLUFFS) – The Western Historic Trails Center hosts its annual Lewis & Clark White Catfish Camp this week to commemorate the Corps of Discovery explorers who made camp near Council Bluffs during their historic journey up the Missouri River in 1804.

The event features re-enactors from eight states, panel discussions, educational opportunities, keelboat rides, rope-making lessons, Maid-rite sandwiches and more. The Western Historic Trails Center is at 3434 Richard Downing Avenue in Council Bluffs. Event hours are 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday, July 25, and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, July 26, 2009. Admission is free and open to the public. Call 712-366-4900 for more information. Visit www.iowahistory.org for a schedule of events and activities.

White Catfish Camp has its roots in July 1804 when Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery made camp near present-day Council Bluffs. The five-day stop was an opportunity to repair equipment and make astronomical observations. On July 24, 1804, one of the explorers, Silas Goodrich, caught an albino catfish, giving the camp its name.

Following are some of the activities scheduled for this year’s event:

  • Keynote speaker Peyton “Bud” Clark, shares his experiences recreating the travels of his great-great-great grandfather, William Clark, during the 2003-2006 bicentennial commemoration of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
  • Panel discussion with Matt “Sitting Bear” Jones, Bat Shunatona and Truman Black, three Otoe-Missouria tribal members, offering different personal perspectives of their tribe’s encounters with Lewis and Clark.
  • Bev Hinds of Sioux City outlines the story of Sgt. Charles Floyd from his life before the Expedition to his death and multiple burials in “Charles Floyd: One of the Nine Young Men from Kentucky.”
  • Jim Peterson of Vermillion, S.D., explores the few areas of the Missouri River that remain unaltered during his presentation, “Remnants of the Missouri of Lewis and Clark: Bends, Beaches, Bars And Reaches.”
  • Kira Gale signs copies of a book she co-authored: “The Death of Meriwether Lewis: A Historic Crime Scene Investigation.” The book discusses whether or not Lewis committed suicide or was murdered.
  • Dale Clark and his Newfoundland Dog wander the grounds visiting with participants. Little was written in the Expedition journals about Seaman, the Newfoundland owned by Lewis. Clark describes many features of this breed that may have made the dog a valuable member of the Corps.
  • Historian Jeff Barnes of Omaha, author of “Forts of the Northern Plains,” describes the six local forts constructed by the military beginning in 1819.
  • Darrel Draper of Omaha discusses “George Drouillard: Hunter, Interpreter and Sign-Talker for Lewis and Clark,” focusing on Drouillard’s story from arrival at the Platte River in July 1804 to his role in facilitating the first council with the Otoes and Missouria at a place called Council Bluff

Participation in White Catfish Camp by Matt “Sitting Bear” Jones, Dale Clark, Jeff Barnes and Darrel Draper is made possible by the Nebraska Humanities Council. Bev Hinds’ participation is supported by Humanities Iowa, a nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

In addition, the WHTC welcomes Mouth of the Platte as a co-sponsor of White Catfish Camp and this year’s regional meeting of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, a national non-profit organization that promotes Lewis and Clark scholarship and stewardship of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. The foundation has nearly 40 chapters throughout the country and publishes “We Proceeded On,” a journal that focuses on continued research into expedition history.

Mouth of the Platte will hold its annual picnic at about 4:30 p.m., Saturday, July 25, 2009, in conjunction with White Catfish Camp. The picnic is open to the public for $10 cash or check payable at the serving line. More information is available at the Mouth of the Platte Web site www.mouthoftheplatte.org or by calling 402-871-5971.


The State Historical Society of Iowa is a trustee of Iowa’s historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa’s past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa’s historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state.


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