Nowadays, Lewis and Clark are lionized and mythologized as American heroes, but their reputation was not always so grandiose. The expedition was initially considered a failure after their return, they were virtually un-talked about in the 1800s. In the early twentieth century they gradually began to molded and shaped into figures of American myth (in particular by a large, World’s Fair-style 1905 expo in Portland that bore their name) but it wasn’t until the sixties that they actually became popular. The painting below, Lewis and Clark on the Lower Columbia by Charles Marion Russel, is from 1905 and shows the first glimmer of Lewis and Clark as mythological figures, as opposed to strictly historical figures.
This live event was part of Stumptown Stories, a monthly lecture series that focuses on Portland and Oregon history.