The lone member of Lewis and Clark’s expedition died in present-day Sioux City. The story of Sergeant Charles Floyd Jr. highlighted the short time the Corps of Discovery was in the area. Originally, expedition members sought to meet with the Omaha tribe. However, the men never found the Native Americans. Instead, they ended up having a council with Otoes and Missouris.
Floyd complained of being sick on July 31. He kept a journal during the expedition. He felt better the next day. However, on August 19 he felt ill again. He died on August 20. He likely suffered a ruptured appendix, which would not have been diagnosed during that time.
The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center along the banks of the Missouri River highlights Sgt. Floyd’s story. The interpretive center tells the story of the expedition to the area.
The Corps arrived in Sioux City in late July and stayed until early September. During this time, the Corps sought the councils with area tribes, Floyd’s illness and death, as well as the desertion of a soldier.
Floyd’s death was given proper treatment for the area they were. The Corps held a funeral and buried Floyd.
Floyd’s body was buried three times before finally being laid to rest near a monument in his honor. A 100-foot tall oblisk – resembling the Washington Monument in Washington, DC – was built atop a bluff in 1901. The Floyd Monument was recognized in 1960 by the Department of Interior as the first national historic landmark. The monument is now part of a park, where visitors can pay respect to Floyd while taking in a nice view of the Missouri River.
Meantime at the interpretive center, a few miles north of the Floyd Monument, the expedition’s story continues to be told. Following Floyd’s death, Lewis and Clark wanted Patrick Gass to assume Floyd’s role. An election was held by the Corps, and the recommendation was confirmed.
It was during the Siouxland visit that a Corps member killed the expedition’s first bison.
The team had to deal with a soldier’s desertion. Moses Reed was supposed to return to a previous camp to retrieve a knife. He ended up deserting. Two days before Floyd’s death, Reed was returned to the camp. He was ordered to run a gauntlet, suffering up to 500 whiplashes. Reed was subsequently discharged.
The interpretive center offers visitors more than just the story of Lewis and Clark. The center’s Traditional Native Games consists of several exhibits by Lakota artist Mike Marshall of Rosebud, South Dakota. The exhibit focuses on Lakota games.
The Betty Strong Encounter Center focuses on the connections before and after the expedition. It offers visitors photo and art exhibitions, as well as programs.
Outside the center, statues of animals Corps members observed during their travels are displayed. A prairie dog in South Dakota, bison, bears and deer were among the animals the men encountered along their journey.
The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center takes an interesting look at the Sioux City stop along the expedition. The Sergeant Floyd Monument offers a respectful memory of the Corps’ lead Non-Commissioned Officer. We recommend visiting it when in the area.