Community to celebrate fifth anniversary of monument

Five years ago, the Lewis and Clark monument was installed as an enduring tribute to the Corps of Discovery Expedition’s 200th anniversary by the Jefferson City Lewis and Clark Task Force.

But it was not the end; volunteers continue to polish the five, heroic-sized bronze figures and provide docents for personal historic insight on site.

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the task force will celebrate the anniversaries of the namesake military expedition’s recorded stop near the Capitol’s bluff and of the monument’s installation.

“It’s us thanking the community for being with us all five years and knowing the spirit is still alive,” said task force President Janet Maurer. “The purpose of the monument was for the story of Lewis and Clark’s journey to live on.”

The simple but dignified event will be in the Capitol Rotunda in case of inclement weather.

Fiddling for the Corps by Michael Bloemke and Bob Volkart will kick off the event.

Members of the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles will be involved. And Columbia sculptor Sabra Tull Meyer will discuss her work.

Eve Pearlmutter, an Eastern Algonquin and member of the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles, will recite the prayer she wrote for the monument unveiling, which reflects on the 21 waters Lewis and Clark touched on their journey.

More than 5,000 visitors have stopped at the monument during the docent weekend tours 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and 2-4 p.m. Sunday, mid-May through mid-September since 2009.

Visitors have come from across the globe and Mid-Missouri to see the interactive monument either as a destination or a stop on their longer journey.

Among the visitors also have been architects who wonder at the unique setting and design, specifically how the figures are intended to be touched.

Children like to sit on York’s lap, and the nose of Seaman, the Newfoundland dog, is quite shiny from so many people rubbing it, Maurer said.

“It makes you study them a little bit more; provides a more personable touch,” she compared with other statues on the Capitol grounds.

With native stone and plants surrounding the figures, it has been the site of scouting ceremonies, special event photos, family gatherings and a respite for downtown walkers, Maurer said.

“And the dogs love the dog fountain,” she added.

Although the state Capitol grounds crews maintain the site plantings and other general upkeep, the task force volunteers wax the figures twice a year. Different shades and contrast of bronze were used to provide additional dimension to the rugged travelers’ appearance, Maurer said.

The volunteers include intellectual historians and artsy do-ers, but they all share a love of the story that sent the Corps of Discovery at President Thomas Jefferson’s direction to explore the Louisiana Purchase.

For eight years, the task force planned and organized bicentennial-related events, including re-enactments and festivals.

The monument represents for them the hard work invested to commemorate the trip that changed a nation.

“I don’t think organizer Sally Sprague and artist Sabra Tull Meyer knew how great it would be; it’s spectacular,” Maurer said.

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