Explorers break new ground – but it doesn’t necessarily have to be physical ground or limited to the Old West. Jonas Salk, the discoverer of the first polio vaccine, was an explorer. So were historian Arthur Schlesinger, astronaut Neil Armstrong, film-maker Ken Burns and baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson.
That spirit of discovery manifests itself today in our own search to understand who we are, where we have been, and how we as a society might approach the future. The knowledge that Lewis & Clark acquired on their voyage of discovery changed the world. On the following pages you can explore more details about their epic journey. In fact, you can learn about all sorts of people and events which altered the course of history. And just to add a little spice, there is an entire section of tantalizing “What Ifs” of American history. Explore with the fur traders or Custer or Teddy Roosevelt, follow in the footsteps of William Becknell as he pioneered a new trade route to Mexico, or Francis Parkman as he chronicled one of the first emigrant wagon train expeditions to Oregon Country. Thrill to the last great gold rush in American in the Black Hills of South Dakota, walk in the moccasins of the native tribes who were at first squeezed out and then nearly annihilated as Euro-Americans thirsted for land and riches. What are you interested in? Pick a category above for a list of articles, research papers, and What Ifs about that particular aspect of the history of the West. Leave a comment if you wish, or suggest a topic you’d like to read more about. Or if you can’t wait, there’s a full list of the What Ifs in the “footer” at the bottom of the page. Whether you are an armchair traveler or interested in joining an excursion to the past, your own voyage of discovery begins here.