The 350th Expedition Anniversary

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In the weeks leading up to the 350th Expedition Anniversary of the expedition of Marquette and Jolliet in Prairie du Chien on June 16-18, 2023 the Courier Press will be highlighting the history of Marquette and Jolliet and the events that will be taking place over the three day celebration.
Historic overview of the travels of Marquette and Jolliet
With hopes and dreams of mapping a water route to the heartland of North America, two canoes embarked from the Straits of Mackinac on May 17, 1673, and headed south and west. The expedition party numbered seven with leadership by Fur Trader Louis Jolliet and Jesuit Missionary Jacque Marquette. From their combined years of interaction with the indigenous nations of the Great Lakes they had garnered information about the existence of the Mississippi River and ways to get there. Information that was of great importance to the government of New France and their ambitions for advancing their culture and influence.
After a brief stop at the Jesuit Mission at Green Bay, the party began their arduous journey up the Fox River to the most distant point known to the Frenchmen - a Mascouten Indian village near modern Berlin, Wisconsin. Native guides again helped the party navigate their canoes toward a key portage with a river they would name Meskousing.
From this point on all that was being witnessed and described and recorded were “firsts” for non-native explorers. All of the knowledge they had gained from Native contacts and guides proved accurate. Marquette recorded in his journal “we arrived at the mouth of our River; and at 42 and half degrees Of latitude, We safely entered the Missisipi on The 17th of June, with a Joy that I cannot Express”.
They had completed the map from Montreal to the Mighty Mississippi and we go on to map key Rivers including the Des Moines, the Missouri, the Ohio, the Illinois and the Arkansaw. For the interest of New France, it was a remarkable achievement rivaling the discoveries of Lewis and Clark and the Lunar landing on the Moon.
The map made by Jolliet and Marquette, both literally and figuratively, would bring French speaking fur traders, missionaries, and explorers into the waters of the nation’s heartland. French names like Prairie du Chien, LaCrosse, Prairie du Rocher, Saint Genevieve, and scores of others give testament to their ambitions and endurance.
For more information follow ‘350th Expedition Anniversary Prairie du Chien’ on Face Book.

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