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   from the issue of April 22, 2004

Books point out highlights of Lewis, Clark trails


As many as several million people likely will retrace the famous trek across the West made by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark when the bicentennial of their journey begins this spring, the National Park Service estimates.

With assistance from two publications by Robert F. Diffendal Jr., UNL professor emeritus, and his wife, Anne P. Diffendal, a historical consultant and former archivist, these latter-day “explorers” can locate Great Plains sites of geologic interest that Lewis and Clark described in their journals.

Over the last three years, the Diffendals conducted extensive research along the Corps of Discovery’s route, visiting all the identifiable sites noted in the explorers’ journals from the Missouri River in southeastern Nebraska to the Yellowstone River in Montana. This research culminated in two publications that catalog sites people can visit without intruding on private land, said Bob Diffendal, a former research geologist with the state geological survey component of UNL.

Lewis and Clark and the Geology of the Great Plains, their major publication, opens with a general discussion of the geology of the Great Plains as modern science now understands it. It then outlines an array of sites travelers can explore. It presents them with modern explanations and photographs alongside quotes from the journals of Lewis and Clark that describe these areas.

This arrangement, the former Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources research geologist said, gives visitors a chance to see the sites the explorers passed and compare their observations with current understandings of sediment, landforms, waters, minerals and other resources.

“People can say, ‘Wow, that is what they are talking about,’” he added.

A second, shorter publication, titled Lewis and Clark and the Geology of Nebraska and Adjacent States, sticks to this format but only canvasses sites in or near the Nebraska reach of the Missouri River. This publication surveys 21 sites, including six key locations across the river in Missouri, Iowa and South Dakota.

To buy the books

Lewis and Clark and the Geology of the Great Plains costs $20 plus $3 shipping, and Lewis and Clark and the Geology of Nebraska and Adjacent States costs $15 plus $2 shipping. Nebraska residents should add city and state sales tax. E-mail requests to; or mail to: Map and Publication Sales; 104 Nebraska Hall; P. O. Box 880517; Lincoln, Neb, 68588-0517.



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