On Sept. 23, 1806, Lewis and Clark finished their famous expedition to the Pacific and started the return trek to St. Louis. We take a look at their journey and other landmark expeditions throughout history.
LEWIS AND CLARK EXPEDITION
The Lewis and Clark expedition – commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson – was carried out on a mission to explore the uncharted territory across the American west. It came in the wake of the success of the Louisiana Purchase treaty in 1803 (the purchase of Louisiana from France). This voyage, undertaken by a group of explorers called the Corps of Discovery under the leadership of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, covered 8,000 miles, starting near St. Louis, passing through the Continental Divide and finally reaching the Pacific coast.
(Pictured) Painting of Lewis and Clark on the Columbia River in North America.
Lasting from May 1804 through September 1806, the Lewis and Clark team charted the expansive territory for scientific and economic purposes. The explorers traveled along the rivers of Ohio, Missouri, and the Mississippi, studying and documenting the geography, flora and fauna, and setting up trade relations with the local Native American tribes. The voyagers were accompanied by Sacagawea, a Lemhi Shoshone woman, who played a key role in communication and interpretation.
(Pictured) Sacagawea guides the explorers.
1953 MOUNT EVEREST EXPEDITION
Edmund Hillary (L), a mountaineer and explorer from New Zealand, and Tenzing Norgay (R), a sherpa from Nepal, created history on May 29, 1953, as they scaled the highest peak on Earth – Mount Everest. Before them, there had been eight unsuccessful attempts to reach the summit, which stands at 29,029 feet (8,848 meters) above sea level. Organized and financed by the Joint Himalayan Committee, the expedition was led by Colonel John Hunt.
A total of 350 porters, 20 sherpa guides and five tons of luggage were divided into two teams for this British expedition. One group was led by British mountaineer Charles Evans and the other by Norgay, while Hillary was attached to the latter. Evans’ team was the first to reach within 328 feet (100 meters) from the summit but became too exhausted and climbed down. Hillary and Norgay persisted in their climb and eventually reached the summit. They took some photos and buried a few candies and a cross in the snow before climbing down.
(Pictured) Norgay photographed by Hillary on the peak of Mount Everest; Edmund Hillary (R) climbs over a crevasse as Norgay follows behind.
APOLLO 11 AND THE FIRST MOON LANDING
On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 became the first manned spaceflight to land on the surface of the moon. American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the lunar module on the moon, while Michael Collins piloted the command module in lunar orbit. Six hours after the landing, Armstrong first set foot on the moon’s surface, uttering the famous words, “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”
(Pictured) Aldrin, photographed by Armstrong, stands beside the American flag on the moon.