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    Lewis and Clark, and River Navigation
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2003 Dec 3, 01:07 +0000

    Bruce Stark copied some interesting stuff about navigating the Missouri
    from a newspaper article-
    >Here are the more interesting parts:
    >>VANCOUVER, Washington???
    >Where parts of the Missouri River run nearly straight today it corkscrewed
    >200 years ago, so much so that Lewis and Clark at least once had to coax their
    >boats up 36 miles of it to get 1200 feet farther west. Months later, on the way
    >home, William Clark commented that the river looked nothing like it did
    >before. Today, most of it bears no resemblance to when it was home and
    >highway for
    >the Voyage of Discovery. . . .<
    >>Martin Plamondon II, a professional mapper, has spent 30 years using old and
    >new maps, coordinating grids, and heading out on foot to follow the often
    >fuzzy descriptions, to show what the country looked like when the explorers
    >passed through it and what it looks like today. . . . <
    >>Plamondon, 58, says Clark was not always the best judge of distance. "At age
    >26 or 27 (when he began his project) I assumed that when Clark said
    >three-quarters of a mile he knew how far that was." Plamondon said. "He
    >was almost
    >always 40 to 45 percent off in his estimates." . . . <
    >[since virtually all the dead reckoning was done using estimated distance
    >that's an important piece of information]
    >>He said Meriwether Lewis, who took over mapmaking duties briefly, was a
    >disaster.  Virtually nothing is where he said it was. . . . <
    >These quotes are from a fairly long article in the Eugene Register Guard. It
    >mentions that Gary Moulton calls Plamondon's maps "real jewels." Other experts
    >seem to think equally highly of them. I think this is important information.
    Thank you, Bruce.
    I've come across Plamondon's mapping in Oxford, where there are two volumes
    of his maps. Not very useful to me just yet, as so far I am poking into
    Lewis and Clark's journey up the Mississippi, from Cairo to St Louis, and,
    from memory, Plamondon's maps don't start until the official start of the
    expedition, near St Louis. But they will come in very handy if and when I
    start to follow their oarstrokes up the Missouri.
    As I seem to remember, Plamondon's maps don't provide a grid of latitude
    and longitude,  but they are intended to relate the old topography of the
    Missouri in L&C's time to present-day geography. Then, from modern mapping,
    lat and long could be obtained.
    For modern mapping, I have Vol 5 of the Times World Atlas (1957), but these
    maps of the Missouri/Rockies are at about 30 miles to the inch, and I would
    prefer a bit more expansion. Can anyone recommend suitable maps, at say 15
    or 20 miles to the inch? A grid of lat and long would be an essential
    With considerable help from Hans Heynau, I have managed to unravel several
    types of navigational blunder that L&C made in trying to determine their
    positions, though their raw data seems to be remarkably accurate. It may
    allow a more precise re-evaluation of their positions. Would a progress
    report on these initial findings be of any interest to list members?  I
    have no wish to burden the list with stuff that represents only a minority
    interest. How many, I wonder, are interested in these technical details of
    the Lewis and Clark story? If you are one, please say so.
    As an alien, who has never even seen the Missouri, it seems a bit odd to be
    involving myself in the travels of two American icons.
    contact George Huxtable by email at george@huxtable.u-net.com, by phone at
    01865 820222 (from outside UK, +44 1865 820222), or by mail at 1 Sandy
    Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.

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