Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Sioux City

7/31/2017Sioux City sits on the borders of three states. We are staying in North Sioux City which is in South Dakota but are crossing the state lines back into Nebraska and Iowa when ever we go out for a drive.

The Big Sioux River joins the Missouri here. The river landscape is dominated by the bluffs of the Loess Hills. The hills are unusual landscape formations that were created by the wind  (like sand dunes). The result is a loose packed soil that crumbles easily so is prone to erosion, especially along the river banks.
The Corps of Discovery experienced difficulties in August of 1804 that had little to do with their river travel.
The expedition had entered Sioux territory and the men were on high alert.
Private Moses Reed had deserted the group and Private John Newman was charged with “mutinous actions”. Both were Court Martialled and disciplined.
Sergeant Charles Floyd, a 22 year old Kentuckian, had been sick with abdominal symptoms for a few weeks.
July 31st Floyd wrote in his journal:
“I am verry Sick and Has been for Sometime but have recovered my helth again.”
August 19th Clark wrote:
“Serjeant Floyd is taken verry bad all at once with a Biliose Chorlick we attempt to relieve him without success as yet, he gets worst and we are much allarmed at his Situation, all attention to him.”

Sergeant Floyd Monument in Sioux City
The young man died on August 20th. Symptoms suggest that he had appendicitis and peritonitis.
Sergeant Charles Floyd was buried with full military honors “on the top of a high round hill overlooking the River and Countrey for a great distance”
The grave of the explorer has been moved several times.
When the Corps of Discovery came back down the Missouri in 1806 they visited his burial place and found that it had been disturbed. They reburied him and restored the cedar marker which identified the grave site.
This likeness of Sgt. Floyd was made by a forensic artist, using a plaster cast of his skull as a guide.
Citizens of Sioux City reburied him in 1857 600 feet back from an eroding shoreline that had exposed his remains.
Floyd’s grave was rediscovered in 1895. Floyd's journals had been located in 1894 and his story had become important to the history of the city. His remains were transferred to urns and a plaster cast was made of his skull. The urns were covered with a marble slab and an obelisk was built over the site. The 100 foot tall monument on a bluff overlooking the river can be seen from US-75. It is a National Historic Landmark.
Sgt Floyd River Museum and Welcome Center
The Sergeant Floyd , a retired Army Corps of Engineers inspection boat, serves as the Sgt. Floyd River Museum and Welcome Center. We were told by Welcome Center volunteers that all of the Army Corps of Engineers Missouri River boats have been named after members of the expedition.
The dry docked boat is located on Sioux City’s waterfront in Larson Park. It has 2 decks of exhibits about the Missouri river, including an interesting one about Sergeant Floyd.
The museum features a display of Sergeant Floyd in uniform. The face of the explorer has been recreated by a forensic artist using the plaster cast of his skull made in 1895.
Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and Seaman
Larsen Park is also home to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center which houses one of the best interactive displays about the expedition that we have seen.
The building was designed to fit into the landscape and is surrounded by trees and a sculpture garden. The statue of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and Seaman is impressive and is mounted on a rise adjacent to the interest. The figures are shown gazing into the distance over the bronze animals in the sculpture garden and beyond them toward the river.
The explorers continued up river making note of the flatter landscape Patrick Gass wrote in his journal:
“This is the most open country I have ever beheld, almost one continued prairie.”
Spirit Mound
View from the top of Spirit Mound
On August 24th William Clark makes note of a conical form in the center on an immense prairie. The regions Native Americans told stories of tiny beings “Deevels with sharp arrows”  that would kill anyone approaching the hill. The next morning Lewis, Clark, Seamon and 9 others from their crew set off to climb the hill. The 6 mile hike was made difficult not because of devils but due to an extremely hot day that fatigued and dehydrated the men. Clark mentions in his journal that they Seaman was so “heeted and fatigued” that he had to be sent back to camp.
He also wrote:
“From the top of this Mound be beheld a most butifull landscape; numerous herds of buffalow were Seen feeding in various directions”
Flowers and grasses on the Prairie at Spirit Mound
We located Spirit Mound in Vermillion South Dakota. Its gentle hill remains the highest point in the landscape. Walking the trail to the top through prairie grasses and flowers is a unique experience. We have followed the Missouri for over 700 miles and have spent time at designated historic sites but the river has changed the landscape so much that most of those sites are approximations. Here on the top of Spirit Mound we stood in the actual footsteps of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center
900 Larsen Park Rd
Sioux City, Iowa

Sgt Floyd River Museum and Welcome Center
1000 Larsen Park Rd
Sioux City, Iowa

Lewis and Clark Visitor Center at Gavins Point Dam
55245 NE-121
Crofton, Nebraska

Sergeant Floyd Monument
2601 S Lewis Blvd
Sioux City, Iowa

Spirit Mound
31148 SD-19
Vermillion, South Dakota


  1. There's something about standing on a place where history occurred, Bonnie. It's almost too much to take in.

    1. It is indeed. I am in search of wagon ruts of the pioneers too Jim. We think there are some in the direction of Rapid City.