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Louis & Clark Scenic Byway

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Lewis and ClarkIn 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark began their famous journey of the West. While exploring Nebraska in their expedition, they closely followed the Missouri River in the northeast corner of the state. Today, Nebraska celebrates the pairís fabled journey along the Lewis & Clark Scenic Byway.

 

The byway begins just south of Blair, Nebraska and continues north along Highway 75 to South Sioux City for 67 miles. Highway 75 parallels the Missouri River, where a long history of Native Americans, trappers and traders have left their historical marks.

 

Traveling along one of Nebraska most scenic routes, you will experience lakes, rivers, heavily wooded areas, river bluffs, two Indian Reservations and some of Nebraska earliest settlements.

 

Though the scenic byway actually begins just south of Blair, you might want to begin your trip in Omaha, some 25 miles south of Blair, on Highway 75, and make your journey a fun and historically filled all day trip.

In Omaha, you can see Fort Omaha, at 30th and Fort Streets, which was the army headquarters during the wars against the Plains Indians, and the home of General George Crook. You can also experience a number of museums, including the Durham Western Heritage Museum, the Great Plains Black History Museum, and the Joslyn Art Museum. Visit the Lewis and Clark Landing to get a virtual taste of the cityís fine food and entertainments, and donít forget that Omaha is home to Father Flanniganís Boys Town, where Edward J. Flanagan started programs to help troubled children learn how to become responsible citizens. The village was made famous by the 1938 award-winning movie "Boys Town," staring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney. Lewis and Clark Landing.

Continuing north along Highway 75 you will soon see the signs pointing to Fort Atkinson State Historical Park just west of the scenic byway. It was at this site that Lewis and Clark met with Native Americans on the "Council Bluff" near the spot where Fort Atkinson was later located. Fort Atkinson was the first and largest military post west of the Missouri River, established in 1820 serving as a garrison for some 1,000 soldiers within its walls. Soon it became an important gateway to the fur region of the Upper Missouri River and the Rocky Mountains. In 1827, the fort was abandoned so that the military could concentrate its efforts further south where there was more traffic going west.

Next you will see the Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge, which covers approximately 3200 acres west of the Missouri River. The refuge provides nature trails, picnic areas, biking, fishing, canoeing, and bird watching.

Five miles east of Blair on US Highway 30, you can see another wildlife refuge --  the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge provides great sights of migrating ducks and geese. Lying in the Missouri River Valley, the refuge is also called home to all manner of wildlife including deer, cottontails, raccoons, coyotes, and fox squirrels.

SteamboatVarious trails weave throughout the refuge to allow visitors a chance to enjoy the plant and animal life. In addition to these natural features, you can see the hull of of the 178 foot Bertrand steamboat that lies buried in a pond and 200,000 cargo artifacts from the 1865-era steamboat. The Bertrand sternwheeler sank in the Missouri River on its way to deliver mining supplies to Montana in 1865. Fishing and boating are also available. Black Elk/Neihardt Park Home of The Four Winds can be seen in Blair commemorating two great men - Black Elk, a Lakota Sioux Indian chief and John G. Neihardt.

The park includes many reminders of the vision of Black Elk, most prominent being the Tower of Four Winds. This tower stands 45 feet high and includes a tall cross featuring a mosaic composed of approximately 50,000 pieces. The large mosaic features a messiah figure with outstretched arms, while smaller mosaics are located throughout the park. This monument stands as a reminder of Black Elk's vision of peace and unity for all people. The park is located at College Drive and 32nd Street in Blair.

 

 

 

Continuing onto Tekamah, you can see many historic sites in the town, such as the Tekamah City Bridge, John Henry Stork Log House, the E. C. Houston House, and the Spielman house owned by Delmar and Elaine Chamberlain. The Burt County Museum is located in the E.C. Houston House.

 

On the museum grounds you can visit a one-room schoolhouse and a 1908 house. The Pelican Point Recreation Area and Summit Lake State Recreation area both provide recreation opportunities for visitors and locals alike. Pelican Point State Recreation Area has a boat ramp for access to the MissouriRiver. There are picnic areas, opportunities to go fishing, and camping facilities available. Summit Lake State Recreation Area provides opportunities to go camping, hiking, boating, fishing, swimming, and picnicking.

 

The Winnebago Pow WowThe Omaha Indian Reservation is located along the byway north of Tekamah.  According to oral tradition, the Missouri River was the location where this tribe first settled and have remained in the area for over 400 years. A Harvest Festival Pow Wow is held every August in Macy.

 

The Winnebago Indian Reservation west of Winnebago is home to a Annual Homecoming Pow Wow held each July that celebrates the homecoming of its last great war chief, Little Priest and 75 of his warriors.  

 

The Pow Wow sports colorful clothing and beautiful singing and dancing in celebration of Little Priest, who was imprisoned in South Dakota along with his warriors after the Winnebago tribe had been uprooted from their Minnesota home and forced to live in South Dakota , and then later in Nebraska . Today, the tribe is is promoting tourism and has developed a large bison herd and visitors center where visitors can learn the cultural importance of bison to the Plains tribal culture.

 

The Sergeant Floyd MonumentSergeant Floyd Monument Park is located just before entering South Sioux City and commemorates Sergeant Charles Floyd, a volunteer engineer and US soldier on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Floyd had joined the Army in Kentucky on 1803 and accompanied the expedition through Council Bluffs, where they met with local Indian chiefs. In August, Floyd became ill with what many believe was a ruptured appendix. He died on August 20, 1804 and his grave was marked with a cedar post engraved with his name and date of death. Because his grave was located near the Missouri River, erosion caused much of his grave to be washed down the river.

 

Citizens of the area preserved many of the bones and placed his grave 200 yards east of the original burial site. The 100 foot high obelisk monument was completed in 1901 and registered as the first National Historic Landmark in 1960. Floyd was the only US soldier to die on the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

 

South Sioux City was once known as the "wildest little town on the Missouri " during Frontier days. Today the city features a metropolitan area, but still maintains  the friendly feel of a rural small town. Crystal Cove, along the Missouri River, has a boat ramp for fishing boats, swimming beach, picnic area, and a paved walking trail.  There are several historic buildings located in the city, including the Meisch House, built in 1888, which is an example of the "square" or "cubic" house. The Emmanuel Lutheran Church was the first Lutheran Church built in the Nebraska Territory. The O'Connor House is a historical two-story brick home, built by Captain Cornelius O'Connor for his wife and eight children.

 

Though the Lewis & Clark Scenic Byway ends at South Sioux City, if you havenít had enough scenic views, you can check out the Outlaw Trail Byway which begins here and travels through the "Old WestĒ to Valentine along Nebraska Highway 12.

 

Enjoy your trip along the Lewis & Clark Scenic Byway where you can share the path where trappers, traders, and American Indians once lived and traveled.

Scenic Attractions:

DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge - The DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge provides great sights of wildlife as well as the hull of the Bertrand steamboat that lies buried in a pond and 200,000 cargo artifacts from the 1865-era steamboat. 1434 316th Lane, Missouri Valley, Iowa 51555, 712-642-4121.

 

fort AtkinsonFort Atkinson State Historical Park - Fort Atkinson was the first and largest military post west of the Missouri River, established in 1820 serving as a garrison for some 1,000 soldiers within its walls. Volga River State Recreation Area, 10225 Ivy Road, Fayette, Iowa 52142, 563-425-4161.

 

Fort Omaha - Fort Omaha was the army headquarters during the wars against the Plains Indians, and the home of General George Crook.  Located at 30th and Fort Streets in Omaha, Nebraska. Run by the Douglas County Historical Society, 5730 N. 30 St, #11B, Omaha, Nebraska 68111-1657.

General Crook House Museum Phone - 402-455-9990

 

Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge - Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge is a satellite refuge to DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge opened in 1996. It is a joint federal and local conservation partnership to restore a portion of the Missouri River habitat that flows through a 2-mile-long channel paralleling the main flow of the river. The site, consisting of about 3,200 acres, is located on the west side of the Missouri River, 3 miles east of the town of Fort Calhoun, Nebraska. Located 8 miles north of Omaha, it attracts visitors from throughout the Omaha/Council Bluffs metropolitan area.  Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Box 69, Fort Calhoun, NE 68023, 402-468-4313.

 

Burt County Museum - Includes the The E.C. Houston House, C.D. Houston House, the Nolana one-room schoolhouse, and the surrounding grounds offer visitors a historic and charming glimpse into the rich heritage of the Burt County Area.  Free admission, donations appreciated. Hours: Open 1-5 p.m. Tues., Thurs., and Sat. or by appointment for larger groups. Located on Highway 75 at 319 North 13th Street, Tekamah, Nebraska. (402) 374-1505

 

Lewis & clark Interpretive Center Sioux City nebraskaLewis & Clark Interpretive Center - From the moment you arrive on the grounds of the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in Sioux City, you'll begin your journey back in time...back to the days when the Corps of Discovery made its historic journey up the Missouri River, traveling past present-day Sioux City. Interstate 29, Exit #149, Hamilton Boulevard, Larson Park Rd, Sioux City, Nebraska


Sergeant Floyd Monument - This 100 foot high stone obelisk memorializes Sergeant Charles Floyd, who died on the 1804Lewis and Clark Expedition. Overlooking a breathtaking view of the Missouri River on Highway 75 near Glenn Avenue, it is the first historic landmark registered by the U.S. Government in 1960. US Highway 75 & Glenn Ave, Sioux City, Nebraska

 

Sergeant Floyd Welcome Center & Museum - This dry docked former Missouri River inspection ship now houses a museum, gift shop and information center. Exit 149 off I-29 to South Larsen Park Road. Winter hours, Daily 9am-5pm. Free admission. 712-279-0198, Interstate 29, Exit #149, Hamilton Boulevard, Larson Park Rd, Sioux City, Nebraska

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Sioux City Art Center - This breath taking 45,000 square foot facility houses a three story glass atrium, six exhibition galleries to house traveling exhibits and a permanent collection gallery for the Center's 900 piece collection. Hours: Tue., Wed., Fri and Sat 10am-5pm, Thu noon-9pm, Sun 1-5pm. 712-279-6272, 225 Nebraska St, Downtown Sioux City, Nebraska .

 

Sioux City MuseumSioux City Public Museum - The Museum's exhibits include Sioux City history and Indian artifacts. Hours: Wed.-Sat. 9am-5pm, Sun. 1-5pm. 712-279-6174, 2901 Jackson St, Sioux City, Nebraska.

 


© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated March, 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fort Omaha Nebraska

Fort Omaha Vintage Postcard

 

Also See:

 

Corps of Discovery - The Lewis & Clark Expedition

 

 

Burt County Museum

The E.C. Houston historic home in Tekamah houses

the Burt County Museum. Photo courtesy Tekamah Nebraska Website.

 

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