60% Chance of showers as I departed Linton, but a slight east breeze and peddling kept me ahead on this 6 hr. 50 minute ride. For a bit of background, Dakota Territory was slit into North and South Dakota in 1889–86 years after President Thomas Jefferson bought the Mississippi River drainage area from French military leader, Napoleon Bonaparte in 1803. Napoleon, running short of cash, supposedly worried he would lose the major shipping port at New Orleans. Trying to protect his expanded French territory in Eastern and Western Europe, he quickly made a cash offer to the young country—the U.S. Likely, Napoleon’s enemy, England would have made a quick move to control New Orleans. For 3 cents per acre, Jefferson bought 828 million square miles for $15 million which basically doubled the size of U.S. Since Jefferson, a U.S. Founding Father, had served in France as Minister (ambassador) of the young country, he had likely heard about Pierre Gaultier De La Verendrye’s claiming the Mississippi drainage for France March 30, 1743. Interestingly, the Verendrye expedition placed an inscribed lead plate on a bluff overlooking what is now Ft, Pierre, SD two weeks before Jefferson was born.
Anyway, three school children found Verendrye’s lead plate February 26, 1913, a 109 years after President Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on the 1804 to 1806 journey to find a water route to the Pacific Ocean. The highway I took north on my departure from Pierre was Highway 1804. It is the same uncompleted road I brought into Bismarck today.
Up to the mid 1800s water was the main mode of travel. It took Lewis and Clark from September 29 to October 24, 1804 to travel upstream on the Missouri River from Pierre, SD to what is now Bismarck, ND. I made the fairly easy trip (210 miles) in four days by bicycle. It is no wonder pedals and chain driven rear wheel in the 1880s created the Bicycle Craze of the 1890s. It was the first efficient, mechanical mode of personal transportation.
Today I took a break on the front steps of another symbol of days gone by—an abandoned one-room country school south of Hazelton, ND. It was bigger than the two country schools I attended, but today’s Internet based learning requires no school structure. It makes me wonder how long schools named after President Jefferson will last.