In 1803 President Thomas Jefferson requested funding from Congress to support the “Corps of Discovery” that was to conduct a scientific expedition that would explore the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase while possibly claiming additional territory in the name of the United States. President Jefferson asked his private secretary, Meriwether Lewis, to lead the expedition. Lewis, in turn, asked William Clark to co-lead the expedition as Clark excelled as both a draftsman and frontiersman.
While the textbook version of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, claims that it began in Cairo, Illinois, where William Clark joined Meriwether Lewis, it actually started in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There Lewis had the large keelboat built and set out on his epic adventure on the Ohio River on either August 30th or 31st of 1803. On March 12, 2019, the National Park Service recognized this fact and extended the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail nearly 1,200 miles to include the Ohio River portion of the eastern states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana.
Interpretive signage has been erected throughout the southwestern Pennsylvania region to highlight the events that were recorded in his journal.