Remember how much fun “Cakeway to the West” was?!? I loved the public art scavenger hunt that celebrated the 250th birthday of St. Louis. You can imagine my excitement, then, when earlier this year, I heard that St. Charles, MO, home of many of our family’s favorite memories, was going to be celebrating their 250th birthday in a similar fashion, with 3-foot-tall sculptures of Lewis and Clark’s dog, Seaman, displayed around their town! When we were in St. Charles for Legends and Lanterns over the weekend, we found several of the dogs:
My favorite was the one at the Embassy Suites and St. Charles Convention Center, and it wasn’t because it was the location of my second place win in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch apple dessert contest, but because it had an American highway motif:
I don’t know if we’ll have the opportunity to see more of these sculptures before the year is over, but I’m really happy we visited the ones that we did!
I won’t lie…in some ways, this year’s edition of summer school felt very disorganized. We did a little bit here, and a little bit there, which is very unusual for us….usually, I pick a week or two to focus on our topic for the summer. But we went on several fun field trips (to the St. Louis Mississippi Riverfront/Gateway Arch, Camp River Dubois, the Confluence Tower, and Faust Park), read a lot of books, watched a documentary, did a craft, and enjoyed a pioneer dinner. So it may not have been as organized as I prefer, but we still learned a lot, and had some fun in the process!
Camp River Dubois, at the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site, is another place we visited in 2014 because there was a cake on display there. We didn’t go through the museum then, however, so it was the first place on my list for our summer school studies this year!
There is actually no archeological evidence of where Lewis and Clark wintered on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River before starting out on their westward journey, so the museum dedicated to Rivière Dubois is just based on a guess. The village (no longer accessible to the public), and the cabin at the site are replicas, but they still give visitors a good idea of what the camp would have looked like. We especially liked the garden out back, which had plants like tobacco, cotton, flax, and “walking” onions.
Our next stop was the visitors’ center. We watched a very informative movie about the westward journey, and then went to tour the museum. There were a lot of signs and maps, which conveyed a great deal of information.
There were also many items on display, showing how the exhibition traveled and lived, and what kinds of things they took with them and found on their journey.
The highlight of the museum was the full-size replica keel boat. I had no idea how truly huge that kind of boat was!
And we saw another statue of Lewis and Clark, with their trusty dog Seaman.
This is a fantastic little museum, with tons more information than you might expect given its size. I’m so glad we finally had a chance to go through it!
We have only been to the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower once before, and that was a short trip…we were checking out the Cakeway to the West cake that was there. Ever since, Turkey has hoped to go up in the tower, and I decided that this year’s Westward Expansion themed summer school would be the perfect opportunity to finally see the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers from above!
Even at the ground level, the towers are impressive. One is named for Lewis; the other for Clark:
The tower is 180 feet high, with viewing platforms at 50, 100, and 150 feet:
As you would expect, the highest platform is the best for viewing the confluence of the rivers, and that view to the west is basically straight ahead from one side of the deck:
If you look a bit toward the south of the confluence, you can make out both the St. Louis and Clayton skylines:
A more northerly glance provides a look at Alton:
And then there’s straight down!
The view from the other side of the deck is…not as interesting:
There’s a cool area of native prairie plantings at the base of the tower:
This was a fun little field trip. There is a fee to go up, but we received a discount because we visited the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site at Camp River Dubois the same day. It was a windy day, so that made our visit to the top extra interesting! I imagine it would also be great to visit in the fall, and see all the colors along the rivers, and especially in the winter, when you might glimpse a bald eagle flying overhead!