New signs mark historic Lewis & Clark trail

Floyd Ard, with Public Works’ Right-of-Way Division, installs a historic marker on East 4th Street.

4,900-mile route draws tourists to 16 states

COVINGTON, Ky. – Three new street signs featuring the silhouettes of two buckskin-clad explorers signal Covington’s inclusion on a historic route that stretches almost 5,000 miles through 16 states and retraces one of the most famous – if not the most famous – expeditions in U.S. history.

The brown signs – recently placed on Ky. 8 and specifically on West 5th Street, East 4th Street, and Highway Avenue – are part of an expansion of The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, the route blazed by explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark during their famous exploration of the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase.

Covington’s Public Works department received an official trail marker from the Lewis and Clark Trust, replicated it twice, and then installed all three signs earlier this month. The Trust promotes and preserves the trail in cooperation with the National Park Service.

“The new signs will enhance tourism throughout Covington, bringing attention to our city and our own historic preservation efforts,” said Keith Bales, assistant director of Covington’s Neighborhood Services Department.

The trail follows the route taken by the explorers from 1803 to 1806 as they surveyed the Louisiana Purchase. The trail runs 4,900 miles from Pittsburgh, Penn., to the mouth of the Columbia River near Astoria, Ore.

Traditionally, the expedition was said to have started in St. Louis, but preparations actually started in Pennsylvania and the keelboat used during the expedition’s first year was launched from that point. To reflect those facts, 1,200 miles were added to the route in May 2019 as the Ohio River became an official part of the trail, increasing educational and recreational opportunities for tourists to discover throughout the communities along its path. Kentucky was one of the first states to install signs on that additional route.

James Mallory, vice chairman of the Lewis and Clark Trust, Inc., said travelers seek an “authentic” experience in the communities along the trail.

“As people travel the Lewis and Clark trail, they want a cultural experience, an authentic experience, and small local businesses provide that to them,” Mallory said. “They want to visit local museums, local wineries, breweries, to visit the farmer who sells produce in front of his farm.”

To learn more

A website, Lewis and Clark Travel, tells travelers about places to stay and eat along the route, which includes 6,157 miles of roads and 1,439 miles of water trails. The website also lists local attractions and experiences, such as Covington’s Behringer-Crawford Museum. (Note the website includes a way to submit more local attractions and tourist-related businesses.)

More information about the trail itself is available through the National Park Service.

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