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St. Louis Regional history comes alive in this joint production by KDHX and the Missouri Historical Society. Stories of our past are connected with the present in these well researched and entertaining short presentations about the people, places, and events that have shaped who we are and who we are becoming. 

Sep 6, 2022

In this episode, Adam Kloppe examines the life of one of the members of Lewis and Clark's expedition, who wasn't in any hurry to get back from the mission, taking side trips each time he was almost within site of St. Louis. Just press play to hear the whole story.

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Podcast Transcript: I’m Adam Kloppe, public historian with the Missouri Historical Society, and Here’s History on eighty-eight one, KDHX. ------

Most people have experienced some form of being homesick during a prolonged stretch away from home. For some of us it happens after a week, and some of us start to feel it after a month. But eventually almost everyone starts to miss the people and the things that they left behind. But there’s one man with ties to St. Louis who was built a little differently. If his actions tell us anything, it’s that he never felt homesick. That man’s name was John Colter. ------

Colter was born in Virginia around 1774. By 1803, he was already a skilled outdoorsman and hunter. After a meeting with William Clark he was recruited to join the Corps of Discovery—better known today as the Lewis and Clark expedition. In May of 1804, the expedition set off from St. Louis to explore parts of the continent that were then unknown to anyone in the United States. Over the next two years, as the expedition made its way from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean and back again, Colter demonstrated his skills in hunting, wayfinding, and communication with Native American peoples. ------

In 1806, the expedition was making their way back to St. Louis. They had been away for two years—anyone would be forgiven for wanting to get back home after so much time away. But that wasn’t John Colter. When the expedition made a stop in present-day South Dakota, they ran across two fur trappers making their way west. Colter asked for permission to join them. His request was granted and just like that, Colter was headed west again. -----

In 1807, Colter was finally headed back to St. Louis. But when he was only a few days out from the city, he bumped into St. Louis fur trader Manuel Lisa. With Lisa were several of Colter’s old friends from the Corps of Discovery, and they were going west to establish a trading fort. Colter couldn’t resist, and he headed west once again. While there, Colter undertook another mission of discovery, spending the winter of 1807-1808 exploring areas we today know as both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. ------

Finally, in 1810, Colter came back to St. Louis. He hadn’t seen the city in six years. He got married and settled down, but city life didn’t suit him. He bought a farm in Franklin County, where he lived the rest of his life. ------

Here’s History is a joint production of KDHX and the Missouri Historical Society. I’m Adam Kloppe, and this is eighty-eight one, KDHX St. Louis. ------