NOAA 2004-R441
Contact: Ben Sherman
NOAA News Releases 2004
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On May 16, 2004, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the state of Illinois will celebrate the bicentennial of the Corps of Discovery Expedition, led by explorers Meriweather Lewis and William Clark 200 years ago. NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey will set a commemorative marker near the gates of Camp River Dubois Fortress Replica where the legendary explorers spent five months during the winter of 1804 preparing for the start of their westward journey on May 14, 1804. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The ceremony, held as part of the Signature Event for the Illinois Bicentennial for Lewis and Clark, will be at
1 p.m. on the Liberty Stage at the Festival Grounds in Hartford, Ill.

Equipped with only a few basic surveying tools, Lewis and Clark literally measured their way across unknown territory. Beginning at Wood River, Illinois, in 1804, Lewis and Clark spent the next two years traveling through newly acquired territory that now includes Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. They reached the Pacific Ocean in 1805 and traveled back in 1806.

In January 2003, the Corps of Discovery II Expedition began retracing the steps of Lewis and Clark. The National Geodetic Survey placed a marker at Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia, the home of Thomas Jefferson and symbolic starting point of the expedition. Jefferson initiated the Corps of Discovery Expedition with a letter to Congress in 1803. The design of the marker is based on the Jefferson Peace Medal, a memento that Lewis and Clark presented to American Indian leaders as they traveled west. The commemorative expedition will continue through 2006.

“Jefferson had an image of America as a land of small property ownership and well-defined boundaries,” said Charlie Challstrom, director of the National Geodetic Survey. “Lewis and Clark executed this vision, measuring their way across America with only a few basic surveying tools and resources at hand. Today, the geography of America continues to be more accurately depicted through NOAA and National Geodetic Survey use of advanced positioning technology.”

Each commemorative marker is located using a Global Positioning System device. The coordinates derived are a part of the National Spatial Reference System, which serves as the nation’s geodetic reference framework for latitude, longitude and elevation. The National Geodetic Survey establishes and maintains National Spatial Reference System, providing the foundation for transportation and communication systems, boundary and property surveys, land record systems, mapping and charting, and a multitude of scientific and engineering applications.

As a surveyor, Thomas Jefferson had a vision for a clear delineation of the United States coastline to reduce shipwrecks while expanding commerce and industry. Jefferson created the Coast and Geodetic Survey, to focus on the importance of geodesy, the science of measuring the size and shape of the earth, and the nation’s coasts. After a federal reorganization in 1970, part of Coast and Geodetic Survey became National Geodetic Survey, falling under the NOAA umbrella.

NOAA’s National Ocean Service, which includes the National Geodetic Survey, is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation’s coasts and oceans. It balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission to promote safe navigation, support coastal communities, sustain coastal habits and mitigate coastal hazards.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

On the Web:


NOAA National Ocean Service:

NOAA National Geodetic Survey:

NOAA’s Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Web site:

National Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Web site:

Pictures of commemorative marker:
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High resolution: