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The United States signs the Louisiana Purchase Treaty and buys Louisiana Territory from France on May 2, 1803.
On May 2, 1803, the United States and France sign the Louisiana Purchase Treaty, (which was antedated to April 30, 1803). With the stroke of a pen, the United States, a new and rather small nation, doubles in size, adding nearly 828,000 square miles -- an enormous swath of land that stretches across the entire central portion of present-day United States. France sells the land "for a song" -- about four cents an acre. The Louisiana Purchase is the achievement of America's third president, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826). Jefferson had already planned the Lewis and Clark Expedition to explore the vast, unknown land west of the Missouri River, much of which had belonged to France. By the time the Louisiana Purchase is announced to the tiny nation on July 3, 1803, Meriwether Lewis is already on his way to Pittsburgh to obtain supplies for the historic journey, which will now proceed across lands belonging to the United States.
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Lewis and Clark Expedition enters Washington state on October 10, 1805.
On October 10, 1805, Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Volunteers for Northwestern Discovery enter what is now the state of Washington, at the confluence of what they call the "Koos koos ke" (Clearwater River) and the "Kimooenem" or "Lewis's River" (Snake).
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Lewis and Clark reach the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers on October 16, 1805.
On October 16, 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition reaches the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers at present-day Pasco, beginning the final leg of 4,000-mile journey of exploration from St. Louis, Missouri, to the Pacific Ocean.
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Lewis and Clark begin descending the rapids of the Columbia River at Celilo Falls on October 22, 1805.
On October 22, 1805, Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery encounter Celilo Falls, at the beginning of a 55-mile stretch of the Columbia River that will prove to be the most difficult and dangerous part of their journey through the Pacific Northwest.
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Lewis and Clark camp near Salmon Creek in Clark County on November 4, 1805.
On November 4, 1805, the Corps of Discovery led by Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809) and William Clark (1770-1838) camps on the Columbia River in what is now Clark County, beside a Chinookan Indian house near the entrance of Salmon Creek. The expedition has come nearly 4,000 miles from the mouth of the Missouri River, and is nearing its goal -- the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the Columbia River.
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Lewis and Clark prematurely celebrate their arrival at the Pacific Ocean on November 7, 1805.
On November 7, 1805, thinking he can see and hear the Pacific Ocean in the distance, William Clark writes his most famous journal entry: "Great joy in camp we are in view
of the Ocian
, this great Pacific Octean which we have been so long anxious to See." In fact, the Lewis and Clark Expedition is still 20 miles from the sea.
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Lewis and Clark Expedition reaches the Pacific Ocean on November 15, 1805.
On November 15, 1805, Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Volunteers for Northwestern Discovery reach the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the Columbia River, one year, six months, and one day after leaving St. Louis, Missouri, in search of the legendary "Northwest Passage" to the sea.
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In first election by Americans in the West, the Corps of Discovery votes to winter on the south side of the Columbia River on November 24, 1805.
On November 24, 1805, the Corps of Discovery, led by Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, votes to spend the winter on the south bank of the Columbia River. All members of the expedition are allowed to participate. This is the first election by Americans in the West, and the first election to include a woman, a Native American, and an African slave.
File 7539: Full Text >
Homeward bound, the Lewis and Clark Expedition leaves Washington state on May 5, 1806.
On May 5, 1806, after taking an overland shortcut from present-day Wallula to the vicinity of Clarkston, the Lewis and Clark Expedition leaves the confines of what is now Washington state. From here, the explorers will continue east, ending their 8,000-mile "voyage of discovery" in St. Louis, Missouri, four months later.
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Tri-Cities celebrates the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition beginning on October 14, 2005.
From October 14 through 17, 2005, the Tri-Cities celebrates the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark had explored the area 200 years before, in 1805. People from across the Columbia Basin celebrate the anniversary of that historic event at Sacajawea State Park, located in Pasco at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers, and at Columbia Park in Kennewick. Descendants of the tribal peoples who greeted Lewis and Clark's Corps of Volunteers for Northwest Discovery join in and share their perspective.
File 7605: Full Text >