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Reviving history in West Point, Kentucky

Development of new Lewis & Clark Education and Interpretive Center soon to engage audiences 

By Catharine Li

Image: Founding of West Point historical marker, erected in 2015 on the intersection of Elm Street and North 2nd Street. Photo by Lewis and Clark Travel.

Along the scenic banks of the Ohio River lies the quaint community of West Point, Kentucky—one of the oldest cities in the state—whose rich history is deeply interwoven with the story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. En route from the Ohio towards the Mississippi River, Lewis and Clark traveled westward to recruit the talent of John Shields, black smith and gunsmith, and the brothers Joseph and Reuben Field, hunters.

West Point, the home of these three noteworthy members of the Corps of Discovery, is now the heart of a larger effort to preserve, amplify, and share historical knowledge for a growing audience. As supported by the Lewis and Clark NHT, the Lewis and Clark Trust, and the City of West Point, a new Lewis and Clark Education and Interpretive Center is in development. 

“This facility will be a grand reminder that our little river town contributed to the shaping of the new world, instilling pride, and a thirst for historical knowledge for generations to come.”

– Richard Ciresi, Mayor of West Point, KY

Leading this initiative are Virtual Student Federal Service interns Adele Roulston and Kaitlyn Lung. The team is repurposing the vacant library in the West Point Independent School Building to house the Education and Interpretive Center. Roulston and Lung aim to create an immersive learning experience by designing interactive exhibits on the legacy of the Corps members, particularly focused on Shields and the Field brothers. 

“We recently connected with a philanthropy organization to donate the books in the library space as we move towards replacing the library with our Learning Center,” said Roulston. “We’ve also made contact with buckskin suppliers in order to make replica clothing.” 

Beyond the Education and Interpretive Center, the interns are creating a Lewis and Clark ‘Health Walk Trail’ to connect the school with various historic buildings located in the east end of West Point. 

Lung, who heads communications for the Learning Center, has worked diligently to engage with local, regional, and state entities to heighten outreach initiatives, welcoming participation from a variety of voices. 

“Many people are involved in making the project happen,” said Lung. “As we’ve progressed, communications efforts have started to require different types of expertise and more community involvement.” 

As the team prepares for the Learning Center’s implementation phase slated for next year, they are focused on building greater public familiarity with their mission. Through storytelling and educational enrichment, the Learning Center will promote sustainable, community-engaged tourism. 

“The value of increased tourism in the small community is significant,” said James L. Mallory, Vice Chairman of the Lewis and Clark Trust. “Tourism is a tool of education and the financial benefits derived from tourism in West Point and all along the Lewis and Clark Trail Auto Tour Route will assist in preservation of the historic exploration by Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery.”

To stay connected with the progression of the West Point Education and Interpretive Center, receive updates through social media accounts listed below. Additionally, read the Learning Center’s most recent newsletter communication by clicking this link.

Website: Lewis and Clark Education and Interpretive Center

Facebook: @Lewis and Clark Research And Interpretive Center at West Point, KY

Instagram: @westpointlc

Twitter: @westpointlc

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