Lewis & Clark camped at the mouth of the Grand River near current-day Brunswick, Missouri in 1804 and explored the nearby terrain, dubbed Captain’s Hill, returning in 1806. This area would supply international fur demand in Europe during the 1800s.
Lewis & Clark Official Campsite of
June 13, 1804
Visitors to Brunswick can camp, fish, canoe and kayak in the vicinity of Lewis & Clark’s official campsite of June 13, 1804, located at the Brunswick Access to the Grand River, one block south of Brunswick’s downtown commercial district and two miles from the Missouri River.
The confluence of the Missouri and Grand Rivers was a natural host for the Lewis & Clark expedition in 1804.
On June 13, 1804, the expedition camped at the mouth of the Grand River. Sgt. Patrick Gass was captivated by the beauty of the prairies he saw: “This is as handsome a place as I ever saw in an uncultivated state.” The captains climbed a nearby hill, near present-day Brunswick, and enjoyed “a butifull prospect of the Serounding Countrey.”
For a fascinating read, see the field notes for June 13, 1804 from the Journals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition.
According to the Encyclopedia of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Lewis & Clark made their way back near Brunswick on September 17, 1806, where they met Captain John McClallen, “who informs them that the Spanish had been trying to locate and stop their expedition and that many in the United States had assumed they were now dead.”
Alongside the official campsite marker at Brunswick Access, the Missouri Department of Conservation erected the ‘Old Dorion and the Fur Trade’ waymark about the international impact of the fur trade along the river at that time. Hunting and trapping remain popular outdoor sports in the Brunswick area.
Old Dorion and the Fur Trade Waymark
“12th of June, Tuesday (1804)
…2 Caussease Came Down from the Soux nation, we found in the party an old man who had been with the Soux 20 years & had great influence with them, we [prevailed] on this old man Mr. (Dorion) to return with us, with a view to get Some of the Soux Chiefs to go to the U.S. purchased 300 lb. of Voyagers Grece @ 5$ Hd. made Some exchanges & purchuses of Mockersons….”
According to Waymarking.com, “Meeting traders allowed Lewis and Clark to do some bartering, both for provisions and for valuable information. Since the 1740s, French, Spanish and English traders traveled the Missouri River to trade with the native tribes for furs. The fur trade was a, profitable venture, and President Thomas Jefferson wanted more commerce for the United States.
Opening up trade with the Upper Missouri tribes was one mission of the expedition, and Meriwether Lewis had spent the winter studying the fur trade with Auguste Chouteau, a wealthy St. Louis trader. It was a stroke of luck to meet Pierre Dorion, Sr., who shared firsthand knowledge of the Yankton Sioux. Agreeing to accompany the expedition, Dorion knew the Sioux language and would lead a peaceful meeting.
Beaver pelts were in great demand in Europe, and North American tribes wanted to trade for the wool blankets, iron, brass and guns. Furs were shipped to St. Louis and sold to London, Amsterdam and Paris for use in manufacturing hats. As President Jefferson envisioned, the fur trade grew quickly as an American industry, bringing people and prosperity to the territory.
Pierre Dorion, Sr., was born before 1750, most likely in Quebec. In the 1780s, Dorion traveled up the Missouri River to the Yankton Sioux and became a trader. Later on, he traveled with a delegation of Yankton Chiefs to St. Louis for Lewis and Clark.”
Lewis & Clark’s ‘Captain’s Hill’ Waymark
The Manitou Bluffs Chapter of the Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Inc. received a grant from the Foundation to erect an interpretive sign at the overlook of the confluence of the Grand and the Missouri Rivers. The sign describes the site where Lewis and Clark climbed a hilltop on June 13, 1804 near the present day town of Brunswick.
Lewis & Clark ‘Captains’ Hill’ Location
17309 Hwy 24
Brunswick, MO 65236