September 23, 1806
Thomas Jefferson announced the signing of the Louisiana Purchase agreement to the American people on July 4, 1803. Plans were made to send several missions to the west, including the Corps of Discovery. The goal for the Corps was to find a direct water route to the Pacific Ocean across the newly acquired territory. President Jefferson also instructed Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark to declare US sovereignty along the way.
The route chosen headed up the Missouri River, across the Rocky Mountains and on to the Pacific Ocean via the Clearwater River, the Snake River, and finally the Columbia River.
Though the Corps of Discovery reached the Pacific Ocean, they were unable to find continuous water across the continent. Lewis and Clark drew about 140 maps of the land, established relations with over two dozen native tribes and described more than 200 plant and animal species previously unknown to European Americans.
Upon reaching the Pacific Ocean, Lewis and Clark allowed what may have been the first American female and slave voting rights when determining the location of the winter fort. Sacagawea, a Shoshone Indian woman who served as both a guide and interpreter for the Corps, and York, Clark’s slave who accompanied them, both helped decide upon a move to the southern bank of the Columbia River (present day Astoria, Oregon).
The return trip began as the weather broke on March 23, 1806. The Corps of Discovery split into two parties on the way home in order for Captain Lewis to explore the Marias River. After joining together again at the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers, the Corps made a quick trip down the mighty Missouri. Lewis and Clark arrived in St. Louis, Missouri on September 23, 1806, marking the end of a two year journey across the continent.
The Lewis and Clark expedition was officially a military operation, and the Corps of Discovery spent a great deal of time hunting and catching enough food to fill thirty men. It wasn’t always easy, nor was it tremendously appetizing. Throughout the trip, the Corps consumed a documented 1,001 deer, 190 Indian dogs, 12 horses, 43 grizzly bears, 35 big-horned sheep, 48 plovers, 113 beavers, 16 otter…the list does not end there. Rather than share black bear or grouse recipes with you, instead we’ll celebrate this day with a local favorite from South St. Louis.
Three Monkeys Spinach Artichoke Dip
3 lbs Frozen Spinach
3 lbs Cream Cheese
1 lb shredded provolone cheese
4 14 oz cans of Artichoke Hearts (coarsely cut)
1 Tbs. Dry Basil
3 Tbs. Vegetable Seasoning
1/2 Tbs Tabasco
1 cup Ground Parmesan Cheese
Combine all ingredients in a kitchen mixer and mix on medium until completely combined. If mixer is to small you may mix in batches. Empty into large aluminum pan, cover with foil, and bake in oven at 400 degrees stirring frequently to avoid burning on the outside. Bake until warm throughout and serve with seasoned tortilla chips.