Many people know the Lewis & Clark Expedition went through Iowa on their quest toward the Pacific, but few know that Sioux City is the burial place of Sergeant Charles Floyd, the only member of the Corps of Discovery to die during the expedition. Sgt. Floyd was a non-commissioned officer from Kentucky who joined the Corps of Discovery as a quartermaster. He became ill and eventually died on August 20th, 1804. Based on descriptions from journals of Lewis and Clark expedition members, modern physicians believe the cause to have been appendicitis. In honor of Sgt. Floyd and of the expedition as a whole, each year Sioux City hosts the Sgt. Floyd Memorial Encampment and a reenactment of the burial of Sgt. Floyd.
The 2017 Sgt. Floyd encampment will be held Saturday, August 19th from 10 am-4 pm and Sunday, August 20th from 10 am-3 pm on the grounds of the Sgt. Floyd Riverboat Museum and Welcome Center on the Missouri Riverfront. The museum sits just a few minutes from downtown Sioux City and is housed in an actual riverboat named the Sgt. Floyd with has been decommissioned, dry-docked and converted into a museum. Admission to the encampment and museum are both free.
Highlights of this year’s encampment are scheduled to include:
A 1804 living history tent village with a blacksmith and other re-enactors from the Omaha based Discovery Corps, Inc. re-enactment group and featuring period authentic firearms, uniforms, tools, and more
A family scavenger hunt both days (which is a new addition to this already fun event!)
Crafts and activities for kids from 10am-1pm Saturday. In past years this has included activities like learning to write with a feather quill and making paper hats in the style of the hats of the Corps of Discovery
A presentation by local historian Bev Hinds about lesser known members of the expedition at 2 pm Saturday. Hinds leads the local chapter of the Lewis and Clark Heritage Trail Foundation and is one of the nation’s leading experts on Sacajawea and other members of the expedition.
A burial re-enactment will be held on August 19th at 6 pm near the Sgt. Floyd Monument, a 100f ft tall Egyptian style obelisk built of sandstone which sits atop a bluff overlooking the Missouri River. The Discovery Corps, Inc. re-enactors and Sioux City based Sgt. Floyd Memorial Honor Guard put on quite a show with the burial, in full uniform, and encourage visitors to bring lawn chairs as seating is limited. The burial reenactment is also free to attend.
To find out more about the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the Corp of Discovery’s time in the Sioux City area, be sure to also visit the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and Betty Strong Encounter Center just a few feet east of the Sgt. Floyd Riverboat Museum and Welcome Center, or online, visit Sioux City History online.