A young man was sitting on he banks where the two great river’s converged, the Mississippi and the Missouri Rivers. St. Louis, Missouri was where the Corp of Discovery embarked from just a year earlier led by Captain Meriwether Lewis and Lt. William Clark. As this young officer reflected on the task at hand he wondered how the Lewis and Clark expedition up the Missouri River was going.
Lt. Zebulon Pike was the young man on the river bank. He had assembled a group of twenty men to travel up the mighty Mississippi River in search of the river’s origin. This was to be a year long trek into the unknown of some pretty wild country. The assembling of the needed supplies and boats was complete. Lt. Pike mustered his men to have a meeting on the eve of the expedition. Lt. Pike gave his men a very inspirational speech about the importance of their mission and how they were a team that needed to rely on one another. Sleep that night for most of the men did not come easily.
At daybreak the expedition embarked for the north country that lie ahead. After several uneventful weeks of grueling work to get the expedition up river Lt. Pike spied a wonderful site. There was another river pouring into the Mississippi from the west. There was a high bluff that overlooked the merging of the two rivers. Lt. Pike looked around at his men and said “Now this is the perfect place for a mighty Fort”. The river flowing into the Mississippi is now know as the Minnesota River. This is the site in which Fort Snelling was built. The area would later be developed as the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Although Lt. Pike’s expedition up the Mississippi River was considered a failure because he wrongly identified the source tf the Mississippi River. It was also very successful because of the discovery and possession of the land that is now the major metropolitan area of Minnesota with a storied history. Lt. Zebulon Pike was better know for his second expedition exploring the southwest lands of the Louisiana Purchase. However, his first expedition up the Mississippi River is appreciated by the people of the great state of Minnesota.