For immediate release:
March 3, 2016
INDIANAPOLIS — State Reps. Steven R. Stemler (D-Jeffersonville) and Ed Clere (R-New Albany) were joined by Lewis and Clark reenactors today to present legislation that would name the East End Bridge across the Ohio River as the “Lewis and Clark Bridge.”
House Concurrent Resolution 55, which gained overwhelming support in the House, urges the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to name the bridge after the two adventurers considered among the greatest explorers in world history.
Rep. Stemler, the resolution's author—and Rep. Clere, the measure's coauthor—were joined by four members of the Lewis & Clark Expedition Commission, two of whom dressed in period garb to tell the story of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.
Jim Keith, president of the commission, dressed as Lewis while Carl Kramer, a commission member, was dressed as Clark. The two were joined by commission members Phyllis Yeager and Jerry Robertson.
“We are humbled and thrilled that the legislative members recognize the importance and significance of Lewis and Clark in Indiana,” said Keith. “By naming the bridge crossing the Ohio River after Lewis and Clark, we can educate citizens of Indiana, travelers and tourists about how their historic journey began here in Indiana.”
Yeager added, “The naming of a federal bridge after Lewis and Clark should help get the federally-recognized National Lewis and Clark Trail extended to include Indiana’s role in the Eastern legacy.”
Lewis and Clark were co-captains of America’s most famous expedition. Captain Lewis hired expert pilots to navigate them through The Falls of the Ohio, a series of long and dangerous rapids that fall over the limestone ledges in the Ohio River between Kentucky and Indiana.
The two men recruited, enlisted, and trained the team leadership at the Falls of the Ohio. When the group began their expedition on the Ohio River to reach the Pacific, over one third of the permanent members of the Corps of Discovery were from the Falls of the Ohio area.
“The new bridge makes a physical connection between Indiana and Kentucky in the same way that Lewis and Clark connect the history of the two states,” Clere said. “Naming the bridge Lewis and Clark is an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate both our shared history and the bi-state cooperation that made both new bridges possible.”
Stemler added, “These two adventurers were acclaimed as national heroes for their dangerous and historic venture. This concurrent resolution will recognize their outstanding achievements as well as highlight the role that Indiana played in the exploration of America’s frontier.”
Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., Clark’s grandson, was the founder of the Kentucky Derby, a fact that helped The Falls of the Ohio area gain national attention.
This attention helped ensure that the Falls of the Ohio was awarded the 2nd Signature Event of the National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commemoration.
“For 200 years, the importance of the Falls of the Ohio had been almost forgotten,” said Stemler. “Naming this bridge after the intrepid adventurers will serve as a reminder of the rich historical heritage associated with the area.”