White Catfish Camp commemorates Corps of Discovery and the Mormon Battalion trek to California July 26-27

For immediate release July 15, 2008


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

(DES MOINES) –The Western Historic Trails Center will host its annual Lewis & Clark White Catfish Camp Living History Weekend this month to commemorate the Corps of Discovery explorers who made camp near Council Bluffs during their historic journey up the Missouri River in 1804 and the Mormon Battalion trek to fight in the Mexican-American War.

The combined event will be 9 a.m.-6 p.m. July 26-27, 2008 at the Western Historic Trails Center, 3434 Richard Downing Avenue in Council Bluffs. Admission is free and open to the public.

The Mormon Battalion will kick off the celebration at 9 a.m. on both days. In 1846 the Mormon Battalion mustered near what is now Iowa School for the Deaf and marched south about 2,000 miles to participate in the Mexican-American War. The group will reenact the Battalion Trek voyage and illustrate the connections between the Battalion Trek and Lewis and Clark explorations.

In addition, WHTC will feature the Lewis & Clark and Mormon Pioneer trails in activities throughout the two-day event.

“It’s going to be a fun-filled weekend for the entire family,” said WHTC Site Manager K.C. Hummel.

White Catfish Camp has its roots in July 1804 when Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery made camp near present-day Council Bluffs, Iowa. 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.

Both re-enactor camps will open for public visitation at 9 a.m. each day. Presentations will occur in the Trail Center theatre.

Following is the event schedule:

Saturday, July 26

10-10:50 a.m.
Fr. Tom Coenen – 1905 Lewis & Clark Centennial Celebration, featuring his vintage postcard collection

11-11:50 a.m.
Kevin Henson – a virtual tour, “The 1846 Mormon Battalion Trail: Iowa to California”


1:30-2:20 p.m.
Michael McDonald to share his musical tribute to the Corps of Discovery of Lewis and Clark

2:30-4:30 p.m.
Panel Discussion – “Remembering the Pioneers of the Winter Quarters Era: The People, Places, and Paths They Trod: 1846-1863”

  • Moderator: Terry Latey Pioneer Research Group of Winter Quarters Early LDS Database Administrator
  • Gail Holmes – “Overview of the history of Winter Quarters: Kanesville”
  • Kevin Henson – “Mustering the Mormon Battalion at Council Bluffs”
  • Bob Sharp – “The Cemeteries of the Middle Missouri Valley”
  • Dr. Van Orden – “Gathering, Writing, and Publishing Family-Based Histories from the Pioneer Period”

Sunday, July 27

10-10:50 a.m.
Kira Gail to map out several Lewis and Clark “day trips” within 25 miles of the Metro area

11-11:50 a.m.
Kevin Henson – “Pomp’s Circumstances: The Life of Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, Sacajawea’s Son”


1:30-2:20 p.m.
Mathew “Sitting Bear” Jones (Otoe/Missouria Tribal member) – “Lewis and Clark Meet the Otoe or the Council Bluff Encounter”

2:30-3:20 p.m.
Kevin Henson – “When Johnny Came Marching Home”
Battalion Members Return to Council Bluffs

*Lunch may be purchased at noon from Wynema Morris and family, of the Omaha tribe, at the Native American food stand outside the Lied Historical Building. For more information, call the Western Historic Trails Center at 712-366-4900.




The Western Historic Trails Center is operated by the State Historical Society of Iowa, 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. Please visit www.iowahistory.org or call 515-281-5111 for more information.


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