Do You Know About the Greatest Backpacking Trip in U.S. History?

With the following video, Trailiac announced that it would begin celebrating one of the greatest backpacking trips in the history of the United States.   

With nearly a month of travel and tweets behind us, I'd like to share what I've learned.

I’ve read several books about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, but this project is causing me to dig deeper than a casual reader.  I’ve looked at online sources of the journals and compared them to print sources.  I’ve dug out current-day maps of the Missouri River.  I’ve searched for old maps of Missouri.  This project has revealed the following tidbits:

  • Lewis did a lot of hiking while the boats made their way up the Missouri River
  • The men’s discipline problems disappeared soon after they left the last town, St. Charles, MO
  • The lower Missouri River saw a lot of rain 212 years ago
  • The Corp of Discovery camped on islands most nights.  For protection?

Writing Challenges

  • The authors’ spelling is inconsistent and, at times, difficult to interpret.  Abbreviations are sometimes guesswork
  • Some of the journal entries are a lengthy series of descriptions about passing a creek x yards wide, seeing an island, and noting the river’s high banks.  These details are important for those who followed by boat soon afterward, but few of today’s readers care about these geographic details
  • Some of the journal entries are full of interesting activities.  Converting these daily entries into a tweet-sized messages has been a struggle. 

Response to Tweets

  • To date, there has been little or no engagement in the tweeted journal entries.  Perhaps followers are quietly enjoying the tweets
  • There have been so few retweets and likes that I now wonder whether anyone cares about a travel journal written 200 years ago. How could this be?

And yet, I still enjoy the daily duty of summarizing a journal entry into a tweet-sized message for @Trailiac’s Twitter followers.

Plans for future Tweets

  • Ignore my doubts, and the little engagement, and continue to tweet journal entries.
  • Make greater use of hashtags and photos
  • Simply enjoy the project

Follow @Trailiac on Twitter to join the celebration of one of the greatest backpacking trips in U.S. history.

We’d like for more followers to enjoy the Lewis & Clark journal tweets. What changes would you recommend?