Philadelphia Chapter Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation

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Philadelphia Chapter members participated in the "Yo, Meriwether" Walk on Thursday, May 8, 2003.
Calling attention to the arrival of Meriwether Lewis in the city in 1803, Chapter members joined Academy of Natural Sciences staff, Corps of Discovery II members, and other interested people for the day-long walk.

Report by Norma Milner

"Lewis," played by Dick Prestholdt in a striking green shirt, vest, and pantaloons...the business style of 1803, and I in my vest with our Chapter emblem on the back, each parked in a building on 2nd Street across from the City Tavern on Thursday, May 8. By 8:30 am we were meeting in the Penn Welcome Park.

It was a bit overcast, but the weather was perfect! We quickly caught a cab and on the way traded thoughts on how the walk might evolve. As we left the cab, I told the cabbie why we were dressed that way and what we were talking about. He grinned and said he was glad to know because he has only been in America one month, and had a lot to learn. We were launched!

In the 30th Street Station by a few minutes after 9:00, we took time to see "The Spirit of Transportation" a wonderful bas relief mural on the wall behind the ticket windows. It seemed to set the feeling for the day. We sat near the Market Street entrance, and Jim Shaw soon joined us. He had come on the train from Jersey. At 9:45 we ventured outdoors to find a full circle of Walkers waiting. It was wonderful to find that six members of the Corps II staff were joining us! We took role, discussed how cold and blustery the Day was when Lewis came to town and how he must have taken the ferry across the Schuylkill River.

We looked at the view of the City and imagined what the countryside has been like that day. As we looked across the bridge we saw our leader Rick McCourt approaching He had been at the Academy of Natural Sciences at 9:00 am showing Gerard Baker the Lewis and Clark Herbarium in its newest housing after Gerard had been interviewed at 7:30 by Brenda Jorette at WHYY. At a few minutes of 10, Rick and Earle Spamer, ANS archivist, came striding off the Bridge with our member Tom Gralish, who was winding up his week of wonderful photographic reporting on the Lewis and Clark trek in the Inquirer.

Since we has a few young Corps II staff members from other parts of the country, Rick suggested that we tell them what "Yo," meant. This was the first time that several of them had been in Philadelphia! What a way to begin. Just then two officers from the city Civil Affairs division of the police arrived in plainclothes, one to walk with us, and one to ride along in a car. They stayed with the walk to Love Park and then went off to other duties. We appreciated knowing they were along.

We left at 10 am, 24 strong. The timing was incredible! For that, I must thank our chapter member Jean Higgs, who weeks before had walked the route and made notes on the times required between stops and recommendations to make it more efficient. We made each stop on the "Trail" almost to the minute all day!

We basically followed the route on our web site. We stopped in at the College of Physicians to preview its excellent exhibit, "Only One Man Died" and were greeted by Gretchen Worden, director of the Mutter Museum. We Proceeded On to the Academy where an exciting press conference was shaping up. President and CEO Jim Baker greeted us. See the list of other attendees below! The city's media came out in force although the day was busy news day. Our Walkers were able to preview the new exhibit just opened. It is called "The Literature of the Lewis and Clark Expedition" from the Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Rick McCourt's alma mater.

Charles Willson Peale was a special guest, courtesy of Christian Johnson, Cherry Hill, NJ. He met the walkers at the Academy of Natural Sciences where President Jim Baker noted that "he was responsible for starting the concept of a natural sciences museum," and later at the explorers' portraits that he painted now hanging in the First Bank of the US at Independence National Historic Park (see the end of the walk.)

We had with us members of the Student Conservation Association (SCA), two of whom are videographers who tape all the proceedings of Corps II as it moves through the almost four-year Bicentennial. Tapes are forwarded to the Peter Kiewit Institute at the University of Nebraska in Omaha, where they will be edited into a comprehensive internet program of the countrywide commemoration. Our videographer for the day was Sandy Bagelman who hailed from Philadelphia before joining the Corps II adventure as an intern. She videotaped the Walk from beginning to end for posterity. And for our grandchildren! The second videographer, Jesse Hassler, got to carry about 70 pounds of equipment all the way!

Emerging from the ANS among TV cameras and reporters, we headed down the Parkway, explaining that our lunch stop was about 15 minutes away. Many weren't able to bring food, so we told them how to "forage" from pushcarts and quick stop spots along the route. At Love Park we spread out on stone benches to eat and enjoyed the fountain, while a few raindrops began to fall. Our two- year- old Owen got out of his stroller and investigated the pool thoroughly with his grandmother Anne Mackintosh.

From the park, we easily circled City Hall, pointing out the Masonic Grandlodge which will have a special exhibit this summer from mid-July to mid-August (refer to the list of summer exhibits here on our web site.) Like the original Corps of Discovery, we took a vote on which way would be best to go... to the Library Company.

A shortcut down 13th Street won out. We arrived to view two books from the collections, one by Simor duPratz on the History of Louisiana which Benjamin Smith Barton lent to Lewis to carry with him. After the expedition, he returned it to Barton with an appropriate inscription. The book was acquired from Barton's estate for $2.50, said a label. At the annual meeting of The Library Company members on Monday night following, the display included a worn but rare copy of the 1814 Journals, and a British copy of the same including a large fold out of Clark's map that accompanied some editions.

A second book on display finally solved the mystery of who made the air gun that Lewis carried with him and used to awe Indian tribes. It is listed in the estate catalog of Isaiah Lukens, Philadelphia clockmaker and artisan. The catalog describes item 95 as being the very same air gun and called it "a great curiosity." Later at the Athenaeum on Washington Square, Executive Director of the research library Roger Moss displayed a portrait of Lukens by Rembrandt Peale with the 15 star and 15 stripe flag carried by the explorers on their expedition. He then showed the visitors a 16- foot tall clock made by Lukens's father in the reading room. The Walkers enjoyed the hospitality of the two special libraries and exhibits they offer. They are both free to visitors.

The Walkers paused at the Post Office at 9th and Market Streets, former home of both the University of Pennsylvania and its Provost, mathematician Robert Patterson, who would have been the first person that Lewis visited after his arrival. A historic marker will be installed at that corner later this year telling that Patterson helped Lewis to buy his celestial navigation instruments in Old City according to specs in a letter written by Andrew Ellicott of Lancaster, the country's Surveyor General.

We also paused at the beautiful plaza beneath the Rohm and Haas building on Sixth Street where Mahlon Dickerson, Lewis's guide to the city in 1803 and 1807, lived in a town house. Dickerson, a native New Jerseyan and a lawyer of Lewis's age, later moved back to Morris County, NJ, and became a NJ Senator, Governor of that state, and Secretary of the Navy under Andrew Jackson.

Our last two stops were in Independence National Historic Park where we observed the construction as we walked over to the American Philosophical Society's Library Hall on 4th Street. There Roy Goodman, curator of printed materials, showed us an exhibit related to a forerunner of Lewis and Clark, the Michaud expedition, and the reading room. Examples from the Journals will be on display in the lobby cases from mid-July through the summer.

Still 24 strong ( a couple of walkers came and went during the day) we arrived at the portrait of Meriwether Lewis, our goal. There, INHP Ranger Karie Diethorn, curator of the present exhibit of 14 portraits called "Victory over the Wilderness-1750-1825," greeted us with thoughts on this early period of our history. We then enjoyed the commentary of Charles Willson Peale, played by Christian Johnson of Cherry Hill, and painter of a number of the sitters, including Lewis and Clark.

Now only 11 strong, but really a little weak, we repaired to The City Tavern, with "Lewis" and "Charles Willson Peale" in tow...and in proper attire. A couple of us had "shrubs," a Colonial drink of fruit preserved in vinegar and mixed with champagne, rum or bandy. Thomas Jefferson beer was popular as well as Merlot, coffee, and cider.

After my exertion, I also had to have something to eat. The appetizer crab cakes were heavenly. City Tavern is an exact replica of the watering hole used by the Continental Congress, and dress is of the period as is the menu.

Thanks to all the wonderful, tough Walkers! The company was so good, I was amazed that I made it without noticing my feet. It's about three miles, or as Frank and Rose pointed out, 38 blocks! And Dick and I just walked across the street to our cars and gave some folks a ride to their home bases. Ahhh.

Here is the list of "Yo, Meriwether!" Walkers: May 8, 2003
Academy of Natural Sciences:
Walk Leader, Rick McCourt
Archivist Earle Spamer
Tracey Meyers
Sharon Smith
Cathy Neskie
Marie Gilbert

Philadelphia Chapter members
Richard Prestholdt, playing Lewis in business clothes of 1803 (on a secret mission)
Tom Gralish, member and photographer, Philadelphia Inquirer
Geri Peevers
Thomas J. Connor, Jr.
Jim Shaw
Anne Mackintosh (our webmaster) and her 2-year-old grandson, Owen, in a stroller
Jennifer Hubbard
Candy Curry
Norma Martin Milner

Corps of Discovery II Walkers (National Park Service)
Ranger John McCarthy
Ranger Gene Finke

Student Conservation Association (SCA interns)
Ranger Heidi Dietz
Ranger Ehren Gross
Sandy Bagelman, videographer
Jesse Hassler, videographer
Sarah Rowe

Philadelphia Botanical Club members
Joanne Ford
Donna Wilhelm
End of active walkers.

Hosts at stops along the Walk
Gretchen Worden, College of Physicians and Director of the Mutter Museum
Dr. Jim Baker, CEO and President, Academy of Natural Sciences
Ronda Hagins, Acting V.P., Development and External Affairs, ANS
Carolyn Belardo, Communications Specialist, ANS (both in red, made all arrangements)
Jim Green, Assistant Librarian, The Library Company
Roger W. Moss, Executive Director, The Athenaeum
Roy Goodman, Curator of Printed and Pictures, American Philosophical Society
Ranger Karie Diethorn, Curator of portrait exhibition, First Bank, INHP

Attending the Press Conference at the Academy of Natural Sciences, held during the Walk
Corps II Superintendent Gerard (Yellow Wolf) Baker, also Superintendent of the Lewis and Clark National Historical Trail, NPS in Omaha, NE.
Corps II Assistant Superintendent Scott Tucker
Jeffrey Olson, Public Information Officer, NPS and Corps II
Dr. Jim Baker, CEO and President, Academy of Natural Sciences and his wife Emily Baker
Dr. Mark Hochberg, CEO of the College of Physicians
Special Guest, Charles Willson Peale by Christian Johnson of Cherry Hill, NJ
INHP Superintendent Mary Bomar
Phil Sheridan, Public Information Officer, INHP
Valley Forge National Historical Park Superintendent Arthur Stewart
VFNHP Deputy Superintendent Barbara L. Pollarine
VFNHP Public Information Officer David Moore

Norma M. Milner


Additional Photos by Jeff Olson, Public Information Officer, Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, Corps of Discovery II Project

At the Academy of Natural Sciences, Rick McCourt and Earle Spamer show Herbarium specimen pages to Gerard Baker, Mary Bomar, and Scott Tucker.

At the Library of the Amercan Philosophical Society, Rob Cox and Roy Goodman display some of the original journals and maps for Gerard Baker and Scott Tucker.

 

 

 

Photos by Norma Milner

The Walk begins at 30th Street Station.

The youngest Walker carries the 15-star flag.

Walkers enter the College of Physicians.

Gretchen Worden (here with Dick Prestholdt as Meriwether Lewis) welcomes the group to the College of Physicians.

There was time to visit the exhibit "Only One Man Died."

Next stop: the Academy of Natural Sciences

Some would go to the exhibit "The Literature of the Lewis and Clark Expedition."

Some would go the press conference.

Jeff Olson (left) introduces Jim Baker, Mary Bomar, Gerard Baker, and Arthur Stewart at the press conference.

INQUIRER photographer Tom Gralish with Meriwether Lewis.

Roy Goodman, Gerard Baker, Dick Prestholdt, and Rick McCourt at the press conference.

Rick McCourt and Jim Shaw stop for lunch in Love Park.

At the Library Company, John McCarthy and Norma Milner speculate on how the air gun worked.

A library company treasure

Dick Prestholdt studies the portrait of Isaiah Lukens at the Athenaeum.

Charles Willson Peale listens to a talk about the portraits he painted.

The Walk's end-- time for refreshment.

What a great Walk!

 

Updated June 22, 2003
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