Department of Parks
Bicentennial Celebration of William Clark’s Return to the Ohio Valley
In September 1807, President Thomas Jefferson sent famed explorer William Clark – of the storied Lewis and Clark expedition – to the Ohio Valley area for the first organized paleontological expedition in the United States.
It is a watershed event in scientific and archeological history, as the expedition at Big Bone Lick would unearth some of the most significant artifacts in U.S. history.
When Clark arrived at Big Bone Lick in September 1807, he employed a small team of laborers and collected enough bones that, in three weeks' time, he was able to ship three huge boxes to the President. Jefferson had a room in the White House for the display of the Big Bone collection. The collection was divided and various sections of it went to the National Institute of France in Paris, to Philadelphia and to Jefferson's personal collection, which was unfortunately ground into fertilizer by a careless servant.
Exactly 200 years later, the Friends of Big Bone, Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, Boone County Library, and Big Bone Lick State Park are partnering together to commemorate the occasion with a comprehensive, educational and exciting weekend for the whole family.
Thursday September 27
In partnership with the Boone County Library, the Friends of Big Bone are bringing in Churchill Clark - the great, great, great, great grandson of William Clark - to share stories about Lewis and Clark's famous journey. Churchill compare what the original expedition members encountered, to what the re-enactors encountered 200 years later. This talk is geared toward school children but open to all ages!
The talk will begin at at the Scheben Branch in Union, KY.
Friday September 28
In partnership with the Cincinnati Museum Center, Friday the Friends of Big Bone will provide an exciting and educational event for everyone interested in history and science. Starting at at the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal participants will be able to do the following:
- Explore the Museum of Natural History & Science during special evening hours, where Museum Center staff and Friends of Big Bone Lick will be available to interpret exhibits of significance to the anniversary and the area ()
- Enjoy a screening of the popular OMNIMAX film, Lewis and Clark: Great Journey West in the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX Theater (7 p.m. screening)
- Hear from a direct descendant of William Clark, his great-great-great-great-grandson Churchill Clark who has led re-enactments of the exciting expedition ( lecture/presentation)
Other – arguably more significant – items were also secured by Clark at that time and are now in the collections of Cincinnati Museum Center, including the first “Paleo-Indian” point ever discovered. Those artifacts will come to new life with special interpretation the night of this event.
In addition, the museum will have on display a letter from William Clark to Cincinnatian James Findlay, dated September 21, 1807, while Clark was excavating Big Bone Lick. In it, Clark apologized for not visiting his Cincinnati friends.
A special computer kiosk in the museum detailing the expeditions and finds from Big Bone Lick will also make its debut that night.
Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West premiered in the OMNIMAX theater in 2002 and was quickly regarded as an audience favorite. The film follows the Corps of Discovery, led by the famous captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, into the uncharted territory of the American West. Travel through raging rivers, buffalo-filled prairies, sub-zero temperatures and rugged mountains. Meet the Native Americans, including Sacagawea, who assisted the small expedition on their 8,000-mile journey.
Visitors will see history come to life when they meet Churchill Clark. His tales of adventure on the recreated expedition that followed the footsteps of his brave descendent are sure to captivate history-lovers of all ages.
Regular admission fees apply to the museum and the OMNIMAX that evening. The lecture, held in Museum Center’s Reakirt Auditorium, is free and open to the public. Seating is limited and subject to availability.
Saturday and Sunday September 29 and 30
In partnership with the Cincinnati Museum Center and Big Bone Lick State Park the Friends of Big Bone will be participating in the Great Outdoor Weekend for the second year.
Visitors to the Park will tour a public trail at Big Bone Lick State Park, which is known as the birthplace of American vertebrate paleontology, with paleontologists and historians from Cincinnati Museum Center and the Friends of Big Bone. Interpretive commentary on the Ice Age, fossil mammals, and Native Americans will be provided. Bring your fossils and artifacts to be identified by our staff.
In addition, to honor the 200th anniversary of William Clark’s return to Big Bone after the completion of the Corps of Discovery in 1807, there will be a reenactment of Clark’s encampment and excavation of the site for President Jefferson with Churchill Clark being our special guest on Saturday.
For more information on the event or about Museum Center, please call (513) 287-7000 or visit www.cincymuseum.org.
For more information about the Friends of Big Bone Lick, please call (859) 689-5631 or visit www.friendsofbigbone.org.
For more information about the Boone County Library, please call (859) 384-5550 or visit www.bcpl.org.
For more information about the Big Bone Lick State Park, please call (859) 384-3522 or visit www.parks.ky.gov/findparks/recparks/bb/
The Kentucky State Park System is composed of 53 state parks plus an interstate park shared with Virginia. The Department of Parks, an agency of the Commerce Cabinet, operates 17 resort parks with lodges -- more than any other state. Each year, Kentucky parks draw 7 million visitors and contribute $317 million to the economy. For more information on Kentucky parks, visit our Web site at http://www.parks.ky.gov