When North America was first being colonized, the settlers made their homes along the coast of the ocean and the shores of the nearby rivers. This was done because it made communication with England possible. Even when America was becoming a country most settlers did not dare venture very far from the ocean or connecting waterways. Everything of importance was by water.
As the population kept growing, bit by bit people moved farther from waterways, and early westward expansion began.
In 1776 the thirteen English colonies became the United States of America. On early maps drawn of the United States, the western boundaries of the states extended forever. No one knew much of what lay beyond the thirteen states.
During the time between 1776 - 1803 the United Sates grew and new states were added. The people slowly moved west. In 1803 the third president, Thomas Jefferson, bought a huge piece of land from Napoleon.
This land was known as the Louisiana Purchase and it doubled the United States in size.
In 1804 Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were commissioned by President Jefferson to see how far the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase territory extended. They headed an expedition of about thirty men, called the Corps of Discovery. They set out on the Missouri River from St. Louis on May 14, 1804.
As they traveled along, the captains wrote in their diary about all the amazing sights they saw. They made a map of what they had discovered and continued to add to it. In November of 1804 they stopped at an Indian village to trade. Since it was starting to get cold, they decided to build their winter fort near the village. The fort was named Fort Mandan.
Lewis and Clark set out again in the spring. They acquired a...