Lewis & Clark and Corps of Discovery:
At Camp Du Bois in Wood River
When the Corps of Discovery proceeded up the Mississippi,
it was not entirely clear as to where the winter encampment
would be. The Spanish in possession of St. Louis refused
locating there. The corps docked at Cahokia and met a
prominent French citizen, Nicholas Jarrot, who owned 400 acres
surrounding Riviere du Bois (Wood River). It was determined
that this would be an ideal location for the camp.
On December 12, 1803 the flotilla pulled into Wood River.
There on the South bank camp was set up on high ground not too
far from the keel boat or the wagon trail to Cahokia.
Immediately work began constructing the fort. At the four
corners, cabins were built for the enlisted personnel. A
longer building housed the officer’s quarters as well as the
supply room and hospital. A palisade wall constructed in the
space between protected the camp from wandering strangers,
Indian bands and wild animals.
While Lewis researched routes to the west and gathered
supplies in St. Louis, Clark remained with the troops. Being a
U.S. Army unit, discipline and vigorous training became a part
of the daily life. Soldiers drilled, practiced marksmanship
did guard duty and kitchen police. They practiced personal
hygiene care and making clothing, hunted game and gained a
respect for authority. Infraction of orders brought court
martial and if found guilty, retribution by back lashings, or
running the gauntlet - severe but effective.
Significant indeed for the huge success of the mission was
the five month wintering at Camp Du Bois. In addition to
training, the troops learned teamwork, pride in
accomplishment, enhances their morale and esprite de corps.
These were ingredients so necessary in overcoming obstacles
and difficulties throughout the long journey.
Today’s Camp Du Bois Site includes:
- Replica of Fort
- Hqs b Co., Ill Terr. Rangers
- Historical Lewis & Clark Trail
- Camping Sites
- Comfort Station with Showers
- Water & Firewood available
- Hqs Corps of Discovery 2003-2004
- Lake with Docks
- Boat Launching Pad
- Musket Shooting Range
- Camp Du Bois Rendezvous
- Children’s Easter
- Art Fair
- Musket Shoot Competition
- Candlelight Theater
- Pioneer Christmas
- Open House