at Lewis and Clark State Park

Preamble to the Conceptual Development Plan

Significance and History

Lewis and Clark State Park is located in the Missouri River floodplain of northwestern Missouri. It is situated on the bank of an oxbow lake created when the river changed course. The Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804-1806 (known as the Corps of Discovery) encountered this lake on July 4, 1804. Captain William Clark recorded the following in his journal:

"Saw great numbers of Goslings to day which Were nearly grown, the before mentioned Lake is
clear and Contain great quantities of fish an Gees & Goslings, The great quantity of those
fowl in this Lake induce me to Call it the Gosling Lake,..."

Although the continual shifting of the river's channel makes identification uncertain, the oxbow lake that Lewis and Clark named Gosling Lake is thought today to be the 365-acre Lewis and Clark Lake bordering the park. In 1934, Buchanan County sportsmen donated approximately 50 acres adjacent to the lake (then known as Sugar Lake) for the creation of Sugar Lake State Park. Four years later, on the centennial of William Clark's death, the park was renamed Lewis and Clark State Park to commemorate the Corps of Discovery's expedition. Subsequent acreage was purchased from 1971 to 1981, and then again in 2000 when 68 acres were acquired. Also in 2000, 35 acres were acquired in a trade with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The park currently consists of 189 acres, one of the smallest state parks in the system; however, its size is not a reflection of limited recreational opportunities. The resources located within the park make Lewis and Clark State Park a desirable destination for history buffs, nature lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts alike. In addition to its association with the Lewis and Clark expedition, the park's history also includes a connection with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Initial development of the park was made possible through the efforts of the CCC, the WPA, and the Missouri Game and Fish Department, predecessor of the Missouri Department of Conservation. All that remains of their handiwork is the picnic shelter, an earthen dam and a fish kettle (fish hatchery pond). The park was once the site of a hatchery operation managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation; however, all but one of the abandoned fish kettles have been filled and are reverting to wetland habitat, providing opportunity for interpreting both the natural and cultural history of this area.

Recreational facilities at the park include a 70-site campground with shower house and laundry facilities and a day-use area with picnicking, swim beach, playground equipment, and a boat ramp. Fishing and bird watching opportunities also abound. As part of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commemoration, located southwest within the park is a signature feature that includes a screened and bermed interpretive walk leading visitors to an interpretive plaza showcasing a compass rose, seat walls and interpretive panels interpreting the Lewis and Clark expedition.


The mission of Lewis and Clark State Park is to provide outdoor recreation compatible with the resources; to interpret the park's historical connection to the 1804 Corps of Discovery expedition; and to preserve, restore and interpret the park's Missouri River floodplain ecosystem. 

Approved by

Douglas K. Eiken, Director, Division of State Parks, 08/03/05
Frank St. Clair, Field Operations Supervisor, Northern Parks District, 07/27/05
Lana Woody, Parks Manager, Northern Parks District, 07/25/05
Richard Klein, Park Superintendent, Lewis and Clark State Park, 07/22/05