Friday, July 21, 2017

New Franklin and Boonesville, Missouri

The Corps of Discovery made their way up the Missouri traveling on average 15 miles a day. The troops rowed, poled and when all else failed got in the water and pulled the heavy keelboat upstream using ropes. 

The 2 smaller boats called pirogues were lighter and more responsive in the current and often led the way to point out dangerous places ahead.
There were many obstacles to avoid. Tangled driftwood, logs and whole trees floated toward them as they toiled. Sandbars blocked their way as they rounded curves in the river and occasionally part of the river bank collapsed causing further impediment.
While William Clark managed the crew and commanded the keelboat, Meriwether Lewis traveled on shore exploring the landscape, identifying plant and animal species and making note of things like fresh water springs and suitability of the land for a settlement or fort.
Crew members sometimes joined him ashore searching for game as the boats moved slowly up the river.
Both leaders faced dangerous situations early in their travels. Mr. Clark’s keelboat nearly capsized early in the journey when it became hung up on a sandbar and the current pushed it sideways.
Mr Lewis came close to losing his life when he fell and slid down a steep incline. He was fortunate to catch himself by plunging his knife into the ground before tumbling over a cliff.

view of the Missouri River from Harley Park in Booneville.
Our travels were much easier. We drove about 3 ½ hours to reach New Franklin, MO where we are staying for three nights. We are close to Arrowrock and Booneville both of which are points of interest on the Lewis and Clark trail.
Boonville is named after the famous Kentucky frontier woodsman Daniel Boone. He had moved in 1799 to a place on the Missouri river near where we are staying. There are records that the members of the expedition stopped here and interacted with the settlers from Kentucky, trading with them. There is no documentation that Lewis and Clark or any member of the corps actually met Mr. Boone who would have been 70 years old in 1804.
The journals of the explorers mention a large projection of rock with flint that can still be seen near Arrowrock. The local tribes used the flint in arrow and tool making. The highly visible bluff was an important landmark to early explorers.

Salt water springs in Booneslick, Missouri
They also made note of salt water springs near what is now called Booneslick after the sons of Daniel Boone. Nathan and Daniel Morgan worked the salt springs from 1805 to 1833 boiling the salt water to crystalize the salt then packaging it and sending it down the river to St Louis.

The presence of indian mounds in this area was also noted. There are 2 protected mounds in the town of New Franklin.

The small towns of Boonville, New Franklin, and Arrowrock have been fun to explore. Our RV park is located on the Katy trail a 238 mile long rails to trails path that winds through rural Missouri. We limited our bike excursions due to the 100+ degree weather that Missouri has been experiencing.

While exploring New Franklin we learned that the region was also the start of the Sante Fe Trail and that Kit Carson lived here in present day Howard County before heading west.

The journals of Mr. Clark note of this area:
“Found the countrey for one mile back good Land and well watered”
“Well timbered with oake, walnit Hickory ash, &c, the land still further back becomes thin and open, with Black and rasp Berries, and still further back the Plains Commence”

The troops certainly had my sympathy in William Clark’s description of their physical difficulties caused by insects and difficult living conditions.

“The party is much aflicted with Boils and Several have the Dicissentary, which I contribute to the water which is muddy”
Stephen Ambrose in his book Undaunted Courage attributes some of these problems to a diet consisting of only meat and cornmeal.

Leaving Pierre le Fleche (the Rock of Arrows) the team passed La Charette the last white settlement on the Missouri.
We are driving west too. Next stop Kansas City.

Arrowrock State Historic Site
39521 Visitor Center Dr
Arrow Rock, Missouri

Boone's Lick State Historic Site
Glasgow, Missouri

Clark's Hill/Norton Site
1700 Osage Hickory St
Osage City, MO


  1. Wow! Still in the trees. It won't be long and you will be in the grasslands! We saw one of those signs on the Columbia last weekend and it really sinks in to think about how far apart we are right now! That was an amazing voyage!

    1. It definitely was not an easy trip. I am amazed by their stamina, courage, and will to succeed.

  2. I've been through Boonville at least a couple dozen times as our daughter went to the University of Missouri in Columbia. Never knew that part of the history until I read it here. There is also a lot of civil war history for Missouri around the area.

    Legend has it either Lewis or Clark did know Daniel Boone. I was told that he had sold off his interest in the area and moved on. But, either Lewis or Clark told him about a landing where the Indians were friendly in the area of what is now called Westport in Kansas City. Daniel's son came to the area. His grave is now marked as a park. When I was a kid you had to know where it was to find it. Here is a link if interested:

    I've never researched the Boone family in Kansas City much but it surly would be interesting. I know his grandson start a business at what we call the old Boone Building (Kelly's bar). I've been told it is one of the oldest buildings in the city.

    1. Thanks Mark. It is great to hear local history and legends. It's too bad that Meriwether Lewis's journals for this early period of the journey have been lost. It would have been interesting to read what he had to say about the visit with the Kentucky contingent.