Lewis & Clark center in ND gets rare journal
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A man from Elmira, N.Y., has donated a rare first-edition journal to the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center at Washburn, N.D.
The journal was written by Patrick Gass, a sergeant on the famous expedition to the Pacific Northwest that was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson more than 200 years ago. Art Thompson's copy came from a trunk in his mother's attic more than 30 years ago.
Thompson, 67, and his wife, Connie, who traveled the route of the Lewis and Clark Trail from St. Louis to the Pacific, chose the interpretive center as the book's home for two reasons: Gass' carpentry skills were instrumental in the building of Fort Mandan near present-day Washburn, and the interpretive center didn't have a copy of his journal.
"We knew the staff would appreciate it as much as we did and make it available," Thompson told The Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/1fBwqG2 ).
The 1807 edition will be the oldest and most valuable book in the center's collection, Center Director David Borlaug said. First editions of the Gass journal have sold for as much as $20,000.
Thompson said the value of the book to him and his two living sisters was not the most important consideration.
"To us, it was more important to have some say in where it ends up," he said.
Borlaug said the Gass book will be among the center's top tier of Lewis and Clark artifacts, which include a button from William Clark's uniform and a hasp from one of Clark's field notebooks.
"To have a first edition of the first book of the expedition gives us real bragging rights," he said.
The book will be housed in the center's new library, which is being dedicated Sept. 21.