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This was a reply from a to a request asking about "reenactments", "buckskinning" and "living history". Our new friend was interested enough to write me and ask how to get involved. How I got involved and how have I kept my interest alive and still take part in such activities after all these years? This reply was written 10 years ago but still applies today.



"Reenactments", "Buckskinning" and "Living history".

Hi Frank,

Welcome to ďliving historyĒ, whether your interests lie in just the rendezvous that are so popular today or the history that originally started the system, or the men that ventured into the unknown in a search for a better life and possibly becoming wealthy men.

As your search for information grows, your direction may change several times, this is normal and everyone has experienced it, a word to the wise - do the research on several time frames your interested in before spending much money, this can become very costly going in different direction trying to find what you like. I have always liked the quotes of our forefathers, they always seem to fit the situation, like;

  • "You may make mistakes, but you are not a failure until you start blaming someone else."                                                                             Thomas Jefferson

After a time of involvement youíll want to try following in one of the folks footsteps that you have read about, usually near where you live. I'm still doing this after 50 plus years of research. Beginning involved in this adventure will take you to many places like "Tavern Cave" the place Lewis & Clark stayed in on the Missouri River, (never thought we would ever find this place as most historians donít know itís exact location) and we found it in strange way.

While we where on a canoe trip from Bonnet's Mill MO to Ft. de Chartre ILL, one of the members had gotten wet a few days before and had really got sick, unable to do anything other than sleep. We made it to Washington MO, saw several folks at a small park along the Missouri River and stopped and asked for directions to the local hospital. They where kind enough to take our friend to the hospital and then returned with news that he would be kept over night to be watched. Well these gentlemen where interested in us, our canoes, our clothing and equipage - all being of the 1780-1800 style.

Turns out one of them is the State Historian that is really into the Lewis & Clark's travels and period. The other local is just an old farmer that has been around antiques most of his life and didn't think a hell of a lot about them. We get invited to go with the historian, turns out he and his father have worked for the State of Missouri as "Right-A-Way" agents, and have a half dozen old buildings (1750's) setup on their property and one is Ft. Charlette (Lewis & Clark had stopped there on their way West). The building has been moved to the new location, but still looks down over the Missouri River as it had done a 100 years before. Upon arriving at their home we are blown away at the site, it's as good as most forts we see today and it's private, with anything you can think of in the way of original camp, home and trade items from the 1750 to the mid 1800's. I mean lots of everything, lanterns, iron and brass pots, copper items, the stuff we look at in historical magazines. If you like swords and flint pistols he has some real beauties. Anyway now that I got your attention and your starting to think about Washington MO, his name is Crosby Brown, he's listed in the phone book and everyone in town knows him, it worth the trip just to visit Crosby and see his home and trading post, antique collectors go crazy there.

Back to "Tavern Cave", our friend is retrieved from the hospital with a bag full of drugs and all kinds of advise. We gather him and his stuff and Crosby asks if we would like to see "Tavern Cave", this is the cave that Lewis & Clark stayed in for a period of time when one of the members was sick and resting. At that time it was within a few hundred yards of the Missouri River, but over the years with work on the river it's now approx. 3 miles away, probably why it has survived our society of fools that seem to destroy such places.

The cave is a loaf shaped cavern, with a 18-20 foot ceiling and probably 60 foot long and 30 feet deep. It was at one time above the river level, but over the years with flooding in the area has been wet more than dry and the bottom has dropped down from looking at the rock walls and different colors of soil, probably 5-7 feet lower than when L & C where there. This was the reason for the names scribed into the walls being in the 10 foot range from floor level we figured. ORDWAY's and several others from the group, as well as some French names - much earlier by the dates are seen, the latest was a name had a 1864 date (probably a Civil War character). The best part no damage has been done to them and the locals try and keep an eye on their treasure.

Many of the AMM members, as well as other groups and individuals have traveled in the footsteps of the "Corps of Discovery". Some write about their travels, other just talk about their experiences among friends and at party encampments. I'm an AMM member, but have never traveled as a group with the AMM members on these trails. But as a member of a small group of adventurers have traveled from Ft. Benton MT to Ft. de Chartres ILL and all points in between. Then in another group years before have traveled from Phila. PA to Ft. Osage, both groups where doing approx. 1805-1810 time periods, equipage, food, etc.

This has taken myself a 30 year period of a few weeks to a month at a time compared to the couple of years of the original adventure. There are several that have done the whole experience from sea to shining sea in following in the footsteps of L&C or other greats. Have talked to several new groups wanting to start the same trips and contacting me and others for advice on what to expect. Original routes have changed in various places with the river and Corp of Engineer changes, as well as private land and gaining access from owners can be a problem.

Myself I need to travel down the Columbia River to the coast to have completed the total experience, really don't know if that will ever happen now do to my age. God Bless anyone following in our forefathers footsteps whether it's Lewis & Clark or another traveler of the past.

This is just one example Frank of where this living history experience will take you. If your still interested we can continue on. Just remember itís how much effort are you willing to put out to be rewarded with good living history experiences, take care.

Buck Conner


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updated  03/10/2010


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