Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, Junior Billiken

The path I will be taking down the Missouri River follows in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark on their return from the Pacific Ocean in the Spring and Summer of 1806. I try to make it a habit of reading as much as I can about the places I’ve travelled and lived in my life and certainly this trip is no different. I’ve been exposed to the stories of Lewis and Clark my whole life as their influence is obviously huge in my home of St. Louis, MO. The main branch of the library we went to as kids was the Lewis & Clark Branch. In the past year, I read Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose, which might be the most well researched account of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s lives, with a focus on their exploration of the Louisiana territory and beyond. I’ve also been reading the journals of Lewis and Clark.

At some point, probably in high school, I learned that Sacagawea‘s son went to my high school – St. Louis University High School. Lewis and Clark’s expedition returned to St. Louis in 1806, Sacagawea died in 1812. After that Jean Baptiste Charbonneau lived with William Clark and attended St. Louis Academy – the precursor to St. Louis University and St. Louis U. High. SLU and SLUH claim their founding as 1818 and was located at Market and 3rd street in St. Louis, now the site of the Gateway Arch, where my journey will conclude.

One thing I treasure about living in St. Louis is its rich history and the crazy connections between people, places and families that is innately St. Louis. I’ve had the experience of being on the other side of the world and meeting someone from St. Louis, or meeting someone with a connection to St. Louis only to realize you have mutual acquaintances. However tenuous the connection, across many generations and over 200 years, I still think it is pretty cool to be able to retrace the steps of a fellow alumni as he traveled down the river on the famous expedition as a 1 year old.



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