Our next stop was Sioux City, where we had an interest in the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Sioux City is also famous among pilots as the site where Captain Al Haynes brought United's Flight 232 back to Earth in July 1989, after a catastrophic, complete hydraulic failure. Having no conventional flight controls, he steered by using differential thrust. By any conventional estimates, this accident should have been fatal to everyone on board. Because of the calm, clear thinking of Capt. Haynes and his crew, and the unusual readiness of the people of Sioux City, 184 people survived the crash. The people of Sioux City have named a street for this extraordinary man.
Walking around Sioux City, we encountered a headless woman and a bronze eagle. We also saw a tree that appears to be growing upside-down. The prairie dog guards a park on the Missouri River.
Sgt. Charles Floyd was the only member of Lewis and Clark's expedition who did not return home alive. This monument is also Floyd's tomb, and people still leave flowers for him two hundred years after he died. The flag is the Star Spangled Banner (15 stars and 15 stripes), which was our young country's flag during the expedition. From a sign near the monument,
Sergeant Charles Floyd was one of the outstanding members of the Lewis &
Clark Expedition. Born in Jefferson County, Kentucky, sometime between the
years 1780 and 1785, his father and uncles served with George Rogers Clark
during the Revolutionary War. The younger Floyd, along with other handpicked
frontiersmen, joined Lewis & Clark at the Falls of the Ohio and was appointed
one of three sergeants for the expedition.
On August 19, 1804, after ninety-eight days of toil up the Missouri River, Sergeant Floyd became violently ill. Captains Lewis and Clark diagnosed his ailment as a "bilious colic." Modern medical authorities now believe it was a complication of appendicitis, a condition without cure in Floyd's day. The captains wrote: "...Serjeant Floyd as bad as he can be no pulse & nothing will Stay a moment in his Stomach or bowels." Lewis and Clark could not save him.
The boats pulled up to the east bank (at the southern edge of present Sioux City, Iowa) just before noon on Monday, August 20, 1804. Floyd whispered, "I am going away..." and died. He was carried by his comrades to the highest bluff in the vicinity and buried with full honors of war, Capt. Lewis leading the service. The spot was marked with a red cedar post carved with Floyd's name and the date. Sergeant Floyd was the first US soldier to die west of the Mississippi River and would be the only member of the expedition to lose his life. The bluff and nearby stream were named in his memory.
Two years later, the returning expedition visited Floyd's Bluff. They found the grave disturbed, perhaps by wolves. They refilled the grave and replaced the marker. Nineteen days later, they reached St. Louis to a hero's welcome.
By 1857, the Missouri River had eroded Floyd's Bluff and nearly destroyed the
grave. Concerned citizens from the new town of Sioux City recovered Floyd's
remains and reburied them 200 yards east of the old site, away from the
In 1894, the publication of Charles Floyd's recently discovered journal revived interest in his gravesite. His remains were exhumed, reburied in sturdy urns, and marked by a large marble slab. The Floyd Memorial Association was formed, committed to erecting a permanent monument. Through the efforts of Congressman George D. Perkins, former editor of the Sioux City Journal, Congress appropriated $5000 and a like amount was granted by the State of Iowa. These funds were matched by donations from private citizens. The cornerstone was laid on August 20, 1900, the anniversary date of Floyd's death.
Captain James C. Suskind and Captain Hiram M. Chittenden of the US Army Corps of Engineers supervised the design and construction of the monument. The remains of Sergeant Floyd were again unearthed and placed in the concrete core of the lower courses of the monument, his fourth burial. The dedication of the monument took place Memorial Day, 1901.
Visitors to Sioux City's Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center are greeted by Pat
Kennedy's sculpture Spirit of Discovery, made in 2002. Left to right:
William Clark, Lewis's Newfoundland dog Seaman, and Meriwether Lewis.
The Garden of Discovery is outside the center. This commemorates one of the
expedition's less-celebrated purposes, to collect information about natural
history and botany from west of the Mississippi.
Jefferson made sure Captain Lewis was trained to describe and collect the plants he would encounter. Many of these plants would be new to science but were known to the Indians. Although many of the specimens Lewis collected were lost, more than two hundred survived the expedition, and have been kept at the Lewis & Clark Herbarium in Philadelphia.
Inside the Interpretive Center: objects carried for trading, including tobacco, thread and beads, and Jefferson's peace medallions; Indian artifacts; and military equipment such as the men carried to the Pacific Ocean two hundred years ago.
The Motor Vessel Sgt. Floyd was constructed at the Howard Shipyard of
Jeffersonville, Indiana, and launched on May 31, 1932. The Floyd has
been used by the Missouri Division of the US Army Corps of Engineers as a
Survey and Inspection vessel. During its active duty time, the Floyd
spent many years following the water trail of the Lewis & Clark Expedition.
The Sgt. Floyd is now a tourism center and river museum that contains displays regarding the Lewis & Clark Expedition as well as demonstrating the history and use of the Missouri River through the years.
This is a model of the keelboat Rocky Mountains, which was used in
William Ashley's 1823 expedition.
On March 10, 1823, a brigade of over 100 fur traders, trappers and hunters under the command of Gen. William Ashley of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company departed St. Louis for the trapping and trading territories of the Upper Missouri River. Passing Floyd's Bluff in early April, the two-keelboat flotilla proceeded without incident into the Arikara Indian villages of North Dakota. There, at 3 AM on June 1, 1823, after a day of peaceful trading, the Arikara launched a night attack on the sleeping boatmen. Fifteen of Ashley's men were killed, many more wounded, and the expedition driven back in disarray. Leaving the survivors and the keelboat Rocky Mountains on an island downstream from the village, Ashley and the keelboat Yellowstone Packet retreated over 400 miles downstream to the US Army post of Ft. Atkinson, near present-day Omaha. The resulting 400-man campaign of American troops under the command of Col. Henry Atkinson against the Arikara, although near bloodless in result, became in 1823 the first organized march of United States soldiers into the Upper Missouri River territory since the Lewis & Clark Expedition of 1804.
This model represents a typical Upper Missouri keelboat of the 1820-1830 decade, being double-ended and nearly flat of bottom. Length represented is seventy feet with a beam of twelve feet. Materials used in the construction were basswood, aspen, red gum, and birch, with cherry pegging. Hardware is brass.
Standing on Floyd's Bluff in Iowa, watching the sun set over Nebraska, the observer can see four important modes of transportation: the Missouri River, the railroad, interstate highway, and the Sioux City airport. The airport isn't exactly obvious in the photo, but its beacon is visible about 15% of the way in from the right edge, on the horizon.
Our short-term goal was to reach Moab, Utah, but this requires crossing the
Rocky Mountains. It's better to do that flight early in the morning, so we
wanted to spend the night somewhere just east of the Rockies. We chose Rawlins,
Wyoming. On the way there from Sioux City, we flew over Alliance, Nebraska,
Carhenge. Carhenge is a faithful
replica of England's Stonehenge; but it's made
of cars, not stones. The cars are welded together and painted grey. The
heelstone is a 1962 Cadillac. It was built by Jim Reinders (who is also
responsible for the Tar Cars in the parking lot of Hamden Plaza in
Connecticut) and was dedicated at the summer solstice, 1987.
At first the people of Alliance didn't like their new landmark very much, but they warmed up to it after the tourists started to arrive and spend.
on to Rawlins