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Discovery Center history curator to be featured on TV documentary

Discovery Channel to air Search of Lewis and Clark program

The Discovery Channel will air the world premier of "The Search for Lewis and Clark" on June 16 at 9 p.m. PST.

The documentary is a compilation of 15 years of Lewis and Clark archaeological research by Ken Karsmizki, curator of history at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center.

The documentary juxtaposes the backbreaking labor of the Expedition with the labor-intensive work of the archaeological search. Comparisons between the historic explorer and the modern explorer come to life through the elation of discovering the unexpected.

"My hope is the Discovery Channel program on the search for Lewis and Clark will be a moving experience as the viewer reflects on the history of the expedition," said Karsmizki. "This will be an educational experience as the film documents the way archaeologists work and the tools they have at their disposal."

When Thomas Jefferson became president in 1801, the United States' western border ended on the eastern banks of the Mississippi, and two out of every three Americans lived within 50 miles of the Atlantic Ocean. In 1803, the United States paid France $15 million for the Louisiana Territory, more than 800,000 square miles of land that extended from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains and from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada. The Louisiana Purchase represented a great unknown, and two men were assigned the task of exploring this vast American wilderness: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.

Until now, virtually no physical trace had been found of Lewis and Clark's epic journey. Karsmizki, has spent the last 15 years on the trail of the two explorers and has announced the first discovery ever of a Lewis and Clark site.

Karsmizki used intensive archival research to establish target areas, geophysical surveys to search these areas, and methodical archaeological excavations to find the evidence that sheds more light on the historic expedition.

Filming of the documentary began in May 2001 at a site in North Dakota where Karsmizki believes Lewis and Clark may have spent the winter 197 years earlier. Filming also took place in Montana, South Dakota, Colorado, Oregon and at NASA's Stenis Space Center in Mississippi.

Karsmizki will also present "Staring Down the Odds: the 15 Year Search for Lewis and Clark" at the Discovery Center in The Dalles on June 15 at 2 p.m.

The presentation of slides and narrative is the first program in a series of three this summer featuring Karsmizki's research along the Lewis and Clark Trail. This series will explain why Lewis and Clark research has become the focus of his career, how his methodology developed, and why this work is important in protecting our cultural heritage.


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