The following article appeared in first issue of The Orderly Report, a Membership Newsletter of the Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Inc. (Vol 1, #1, November, 2001) The newsletter is sent with the quarterly magazine publication, We Proceeded On.
Membership in the national organization is separate from membership in the local chapter. We encourage everyone interested in Lewis & Clark to join the LCTHF and receive its outstanding magazine, and be eligible to attend the annual national meeting. 500 people representing 46 states attended the 2001 meeting in Pierre South Dakota.
The 2002 meeting will be July 28-31, in Louisville, Kentucky. 2003 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 2004 in Bismarck, North Dakota. 2005 in Seaside/Astoria, Oregon. 2006 in Monticello.
NEW MOUTH OF THE PLATTE CHAPTER IN POLITICAL CONTEST OVER NAMING RIVERFRONT PLAZA IN OMAHA, NEBRASKA "LEWIS & CLARK LANDING"
by Kira Gale, President, Mouth of the Platte Chapter
The Mouth of the Platte Chapter, which received its charter at the meeting in Pierre this August, was organized during a political contest over the naming of a riverfront plaza in downtown Omaha. The site was the location of an ASARCO Lead Refinery plant which closed in 1997. It's toxic residue was subsequently capped, and a new name was sought for the area. The Lewis & Clark buffs submitted the name "Lewis & Clark Landing" in a contest sponsored by the Omaha Parks & Recreation Department. Most of the 350 entries were from schoolchildren. Local labor union officials submitted the name "Union Labor Plaza," and were strongly committed to honoring the site "which always had working people on that piece of ground." Merits of the two top choices were debated during the elction of the Mayor of Omaha andseven member city council.
The chapter grew out of a study group, which met once a week for six months at the Western Historic Trails Center across the Missouri River in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The group, led by Co-Captains Kira Gale and Darrel Draper, studied the Lewis & Clark Journals on a day by day basis. About twenty people participated. Members of the study group testified at city council meetings. Bob Hastert delivered a speech, with volume 2 of the Moultonedition of the journals in hand, citing William Clarkís walk on July 27, 1804 exploring the site of an ancient village of the Otoe Indians on mounds. The mounds were collapsed earth lodges covering 200 or 300 acreas in todayís downtown Omaha.
The naming contest received extensive media coverage in local television, and was the subject of front page news stories, editorials and cartoons in the Omaha World-Herald, which endorsed the name "Lewis & Clark Landing." There were numerous letters to the editor and call-ins to radio talk shows. The out-going city council voted to name it "Union Labor Plaza." After five members were voted out of office, the new city council favored the name "Lewis & Clark Landing." A compromise was reached by new Mayor of Omaha Mike Fahey. The 23 acre Lewis & Clark Landing will include plaques and statues honoring labor.
Lewis & Clark Landing lies adjacent to the new Omaha convention center-arena in the process of being built. The Midwest Regional Office of the National Park Service has plans to relocate to the riverfront development area near Lewis & Clark Landing. "The new office will house the headquarters of Gerard Baker, Superintendent of the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail and Dick Williams, Trail Manager. More staff members are being added to handle the bicentennial commemoration and the Corps of Discovery II Project."
The chapter credits the naming controversy with getting the chapter off to a strong start. They now have 130 members, and hold monthly programs at Canigliaís Original Restaurant near the riverfront site. The study group has resumed meeting at the Western Historic Trails Center.