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December 12, 2000

Governor Ryan Announces Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission

SPRINGFIELD -- Marking the 197th anniversary of the arrival of the famous expedition at their Illinois winter camp, Governor George H. Ryan today announced that he will form a commission that will prepare Illinois to celebrate the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial in 2003 - 2004.

The focal point of Illinois' observance will be the $7 million Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center now under construction near Hartford, which will be Site Number One on the national Lewis and Clark Heritage Trail.

"This anniversary gives us a tremendous opportunity to promote Illinois' role in one of the most important journeys of exploration in American history," said Governor Ryan. "The visitors who will come to the Metro East area during the Bicentennial and afterwards will also make a significant contribution to the economy in this region."

The Illinois Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission will coordinate Illinois' observance of the anniversary and focus the nation's attention on Site Number One as the 200th anniversary draws near.

On December 12, 1803 the first members of the Lewis and Clark expedition arrived at what would become their winter camp in Illinois near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, very close to where the Interpretive Center is being built. The expedition departed from that camp in May 1804 after spending the winter gathering supplies and volunteers.

Governor Ryan also noted today that construction on the new Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, which began this fall, is proceeding on schedule.

"This new museum will commemorate the beginning of Lewis and Clark's Journey of Discovery in 1803 - 1804," said Governor Ryan. "Lewis and Clark began near this point, and we intend to focus international attention on this spot in 2003 - 2004 as the nation celebrates the 200th anniversary of their journey."

The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center is being funded by a $4 million federal appropriation secured by Congressman Jerry Costello, and a $2.94 million appropriation from the Illinois General Assembly. The parking lot is being designed and constructed for $350,000 through the Illinois Department of Transportation's Park Road Program. The construction is being overseen by the Illinois Capital Development Board, and the facility will be staffed and operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Construction is expected to be complete by late 2002.

The Interpretive Center is a 14,000-square-foot building with a brick, stone and wood exterior. The focal point will be a full-size, 50-foot-tall keelboat replica inside the building. A movie depicting the Lewis and Clark journey that will be shown in the facility's theatre is also part of the project.

The building was designed by Nagle Hartay Danker Kagan McKay Architects Planners, Ltd., of Chicago. The exhibits are being designed by Gerard Hilferty & Associates, Inc., of Ohio and the movie is being produced by Donna Lawrence Productions, Inc., of Kentucky -- both firms worked on the award-winning exhibits and audio-visual programs at nearby Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site.


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