Lewis and Clark in Kentucky: Danville

Historical Marker #2216 in Danville commemorates the visit from Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, leaders of the Corps of Discovery Expedition to the Pacific Ocean and back from 1803-1806. Danville's location on the famed Wilderness Road brought many people to this early Kentucky town.

With documentation from that period being scattered at best, it is not known how often the two explorers and some of their fellow travelers visited Danville. Clark, having lived in Kentucky since 1785, and having traveled through the area any number of times, certainly visited Danville more often than his partner in discovery. However, in late 1806, both men visited Danville. On their journey eastward to Washington, D.C., to report on their successful expedition, Lewis and Clark stayed together as far as Louisville. Clark, wanting to spend more time with family after an absence of three years, remained in Louisville until mid-December. Lewis, with several expedition veterans, including Mandan chief Sheheke, interpreter Rene Jesseaume, and their families, continued on to Washington in mid-November. They took the Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap. While there is no known record of them visiting Danville, they almost certainly traveled through town, given their route. 

When Clark left for Washington about a month later, he stated he was stopping in Danville to visit nephews in school there. The boys attended Joshua Fry’s private academy in the town. While not definitely known, Clark almost certainly was accompanied by his enslaved African American and fellow expedition veteran York.

The marker was dedicated December 6, 2001 and reads:

Lewis and Clark

In Kentucky



In December 1806, William Clark,

Coleader of the Lewis and Clark

Expedition to the Pacific Ocean,

Visited his nephews in school in

Danville. Clark was en route to

Washington to report to President

Jefferson and other government

Officials about the journey. Over.


Lewis and Clark

In Kentucky



It is likely that Expedition

Coleader Meriwether Lewis visited

Danville in November 1806 with

Expedition veterans and a Mandan

Indian delegation while traveling

The Wilderness Road eastward to



Presented by the Ohio River Chapter-Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, National Park Service, Ky. Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Commission, Boyle Co. Fiscal Court, City of Danville