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Celebrating the sculpture, honoring history

Celebrating the sculpture, honoring history

Lewis and Clark monument sculptor remembers work 10 years later

June 8th, 2018 by Jeff Haldiman in Local News

Sculptor Sabra Tull Meyer, left, and daughter Sabra Johnson talk in front of the Lewis and Clark Trailhead Plaza monument on Thursday during the 10th anniversary celebration of its completion.

Photo by Mark Wilson /News Tribune.

In its 10 years of existence, visitors have come from as far as China.

The Lewis and Clark Trailhead Plaza at the corner of Jefferson Street and Capitol Avenue on the Jefferson Landing State Historic Site has exceeded all the lofty expectations of the supporters who made the monument possible.

That includes the sculptor, Sabra Tull Meyer.

Prior to a celebration Thursday at the Elizabeth Rozier Art Gallery in the Union Hotel, just down Jefferson Street from where the monument stands, Meyer reflected on what it took to get the sculpture completed.

"I had some of the re-enactors pose in their costumes to help me," she said. "When I walked into the room where the figures stood, sprayed with clay and ready for me to work on, I realized then I had quite a job ahead of me."

Located near the base of the Missouri State Capitol, the monument depicts Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, Clark's servant York, French interpreter George Drouillard and Lewis' dog, Seaman, looking out over the nearby Missouri River.

"The Lewis and Clark Task Force has made it a point to clean it twice a year and that's why it still looks so good today," Meyer said. "I occasionally come down from my home in Columbia to look at it, and I'm always kind of amazed because over the last 10 years, I've forgotten a lot of the hard work it took to put the monument together."

Meyer said they initially thought it might be a smaller project, with just a bust of Lewis and Clark, but as it progressed, the size grew and it became the focal point to the city's greenway trail system and the link to the state's Katy Trail with the pedestrian/bicycle bridge across the Missouri River.

"Ours is the only monument that includes Drouillard," she said. "There are Lewis and Clark sculptures from the East Coast to the West Coast, but ours depicts Drouillard and he was very important because he was a hunter, interpreter and fisherman. And he turned out to be very important to the expedition's success."

The $1 million park project, including the sculpture at more than $300,000, was possible due to large and small private contributions, a $700,000 enhancement grant from the federal highway commission, and innovative nickel and dime collections instigated by school children across the state.

Former Mayor John Landwehr read what he called "The Lost Letter," which he penned a few years ago to honor the explorers. He imagined what Lewis wrote to President Thomas Jefferson about the expedition's findings.

Landwehr read to the crowd, "As I lay awake at night, sometimes so far from the civility of home and your routine encouragement and sobered by the uncertainty of our task, I dare to wonder whether perhaps one or even 200 years from now, your statue — and dare say even Captain Clark's and mine — might appear somewhere amidst these scenic bluffs — a memorial to your visionary leadership and our meager efforts on your behalf."