Response to Questions
This entry is in response to comments and questions raised by some readers at the end of the last entry. I thought this might be of general interest.
Tourism everywhere is on the rise and makes up a large part of many states' and communities' industry and revenues. What is now called "heritage tourism" is big business, and so the states and their agencies, like humanities councils and historical societies, are willing to spend a great deal of money to upgrade facilities, replace old interpretive signs, etc.
As for L&C in particular: all along their route, the number of visitors has increased or is expected to increase 25-30 percent over a normal year. When I went to the planning workshops, some presentations were on mundane but crucial things like the anticipated need for more bathrooms and parking areas, as well as inexpensive souvenirs like refrigerator magnets, which tourists collect. There are millions of western history buffs out there buying the books and merchandise, even if they are not "doing the Trail." So while it may seem that in some parts of the country the L&C bicentennial is no big deal, here are huge numbers of people who think otherwise.
The centennial of the expedition and of the Louisiana Purchase was commemorated—in those days, unabashedly "celebrated"—by two enormous world fairs, one in
Here in the Northwest, the L&C expedition and other westward migrations like the
How interest in the country's past relates to concerns for its future . . . well, I'll have to think about that! Perhaps we invest so much interest and energy in the interpretation of our past because we can't bear to face the future. In a way, it’s a form of procrastination.
As for the Columbia River: I've traveled along many of the big rivers of our country and nothing compares to the lower
The other thing that's different about the rivers flowing into the Pacific from the coast mountain ranges is how fast they're flowing and how relatively straight they are, unlike the somewhat sluggish and meandering (once) lower
I read once that the Amazon pushes fresh water out into the
Another river tidbit: L&C went right past the