Constructing a replica keel boat

Pure Nebraska
Published: Mar. 3, 2022 at 7:49 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - An effort is underway to build a replica of a boat that explorers Lewis and Clark would have used on their journey. It replaces an older one that used to be on site.

“This is a replica of the keel boat that was used by Lewis and Clark,” Missouri River Basin Lewis & Clark Visitor Center Executive Director Doug Friedli said. “They came up the river in July of 1804, and camped here in this area. They had three vessels, and one of them was the 55-foot long keel boat. There were 44 people in those three vessels.”

Friedli says he is replacing an older replica with this new one. “We had one on site that was used for a movie prop in the IMAX movie ‘The Great Journey West’, but it was never meant to set outside for 17 years,” Friedli said. “That one was in bad condition. We were fortunate to get some grants from local family foundations, and our local donors who have been very supportive. So, we are able to recreate and rebuild from scratch a brand new keel boat, that will be weather proof, and will last for years.”

The boat will be interactive. “When elementary students show up, this is where we start,” Friedli said. “We put them on the boat, and they are able to see and feel what it looked like 217 years ago. We talk about the journey, what kind of food would be involved, what kind of materials did they have in supplies, and who would they encounter. We really get the kids engaged.”

The boat will be ready by April 1. It is being built off-site in sections, the first section recently arrived. The next section will arrive in another 10 days. So by April 1, it will be complete and in place. “On this site, you can walk in the footsteps of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark,” Friedli said.

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