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An Epic Journey Re-imagined
An Epic Journey Re-imagined

It took Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery two years, four months, and ten days to reach the Pacific Ocean after leaving their winter camp in St. Louis. Along the way, the group mapped and surveyed thousands of landmarks; made countless zoological and botanical discoveries; met with members from dozens of Native American tribes; and proved plausible the Jeffersonian ideal that the United States could one day stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Following in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark is a dream of many modern day explorers and much has been done to preserve their route and interpret many of the known locations where they spent time. The National Park Service has designated the historic route a National Historic Trail and has entered into partnerships with stewards of related historic sites throughout 11 states and over 3,700 miles of designated trails, roadways, and waterways. Supporting this effort, the Lewis and Clark Heritage Trail Foundation was established by private citizens interested in preserving the Corps of Discovery’s legacy and inspiring future generations to experience Lewis and Clark’s journey for themselves.

In 2014, members of the Next Exit History team began conversations with the Lewis and Clark Heritage Trail Foundation (LCHTF) about how we could assist them in taking this amazing historic journey and re-imagining it for today's traveler. One of the biggest challenges facing the National Park Service in their management and promotion of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail is the coordination of outreach efforts between all of the individual land managers responsible for preserving and operating the dozens of public historic sites and museums along the trail. The LCHTF saw the potential for a tool like Next Exit History to assist the NPS in tying all of these sites together under one digital platform.

Next Exit History allows for the digitization of information and the ability to lead modern-day explorers to sites unknown or off the beaten path. It allows the conversation to go beyond a sign, beyond an image and create a dialogue and an experience that is unique and engaging. The LCHTF created a backpack with in the app which groups sites around a theme or story. The Lewis & Clark Trail Interpretive Centers Backpack within the app lists 25 sites which include Interpretive Centers, landmarks and parks dedicated to telling the story of their journey. Through this backpack, travelers can find the sites nearest them using GPS location and create their own path of discovery . It also allows for the interpretation and promotion of less accessible sites that were an important part of the journey without the need for permanent or costly signage that can be invasive and would need maintenance. And with emerging technologies, immersion is going deeper everyday.