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The Very Serious Archaeological Quest For Lewis And Clark's Poop

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Andrew Becraft
/
Flickr
Lewis and Clark made it to the Pacific, depsite taking loads of mercury-laden "Thunderbolt Pills" to cure all of their ailments.

The South has its Civil War battlefields. The Northeast has colonial-era sites. But what do history nerds in the Northwest have? We have Lewis and Clark.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set out in 1804 to chart their way across a great divide, the unmapped North American continent.

It’s a story that can look very different from the point of view of Native Americans rather than whites, but it remains a major part of the founding myth of the Pacific Northwest. And yet, we have very little tangible evidence of their journey; moving water and growing trees would have wiped out most traces over the last two centuries.

But Burke Museum Executive Director Julie Stein wound up involved in a unique bit of detective work to turn up evidence of Lewis and Clark’s outpost near the Pacific, along the Columbia River. It was, to put it bluntly, an all-out quest to find the historical figures’ poop. 

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