By Ron VandenBoom
The coming of the Lewis and Clark bicentennial has Montana preparing in a big way for what some estimates say will be an influx of 25 million visitors to the state.
While some might think 25 million (a figure that brings about one out of every 10 Americans to Montana) is too optimistic, there is no doubt Montana is planning big for a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Included in the planning is a website created for the Montana Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Commission that was created by the 55th Montana Legislature to aid in preparation for the celebration that is scheduled to take place from 2003-06.
To visit the site, type in www.montanalewisandclark.org.
The site is new and still under construction. Many areas currently have little or no information available to the surfer, but this is understandable considering we are still three years away from the celebration.
Despite this, the website still offers surfers some early information about the upcoming festivities and will eventually offer a wide array of details concerning what visitors can expect to see and do when they come to Montana. These are also events that will appeal to Montanans as well.
The site offers a "Resource Library" that will provide an ever expanding list of speakers, entertainers, reference materials, and American Indian resources. The list also includes exhibits, tours and tour companies, paintings, artifacts, and other Lewis and Clark-related material.
Don't be surprised if some of these areas come up with an "object not found" message when you click on them. While some have the names and phone numbers of people offering their services, organizations with something to offer, or items ready for viewing, the site has not yet expanded its database to include something in every area. Remember, this is a site in development that in years to come will offer a great deal, but currently has some holes.
A current events calendar is also a part of the site. Each area of Montana that is planning some kind of an event is listed in the site directory. Again, don't expect to find much yet in this section, but check back often to see what each community in the list is doing and when it expects to do it. It might be something you want to include in your vacation plans.
One of the best sites for learning more about Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery is www.pbs.org/lewisandclark.
Public Broadcasting is well known for producing some of the best documentaries in the business and "Lewis and Clark," a film by Ken Burns, was no exception. The PBS Website can give you a great deal more information about the famous expedition.
Take control of the expedition and make the decisions yourself by clicking on the "Into the Unknown" section. From the time you leave Ft. Mandan until you reach the Pacific Ocean, the choices are yours to make and are based on the actual experiences of Lewis and Clark as they and 33 remaining members of the expedition trekked into the great unknown. Make a wrong decision and you will be told the consequences.It's fun and adds some real-life experience to surfing.
The site also has an archive that allows the surfer a brief glimpse into the expedition through maps, Real Audio interviews with the experts, compilations of excerpts from the journals, and a timeline.
The Native American pages give the surfer a chance to learn about the lifestyles and cultures of many of the more than 50 Indian tribes encountered on the trip. Click on the name of the tribe on the map and learn about the expedition's encounter.
Learn more about Lewis and Clark on the Internet before the big celebration begins.