‘visits’ Blaine County Museum
Express Staff Writer
artist Ralph Harris portrays Capt. Meriwether Lewis in a replica of
Lewis’s 1804 infantry uniform. Express
photo by Peter Boltz
Ralph Harris led children from Hailey Elementary on a trip through time
Monday at the Blaine County Historical Museum.
Playing the role
of the explorer, Capt. Meriwether Lewis, Harris talked to children from
Mary Gin Barron’s fourth grade class about the Lewis and Clark
Expedition of 1804-1806. The Corps of Discovery was the first to explore
what is now the western United States, between the Mississippi River and
the Pacific Ocean.
Holding up a
leather bag, Harris asked the children what they thought it was.
purse," several said.
it is a purse," Harris said, "but the men in the expedition
called it a ‘possibles bag’.
it a ‘possibles bag’ because they stuffed it with as many things as
possible that would help them survive if separated from the main
Harris included in his bag the replica of a fire starter kit used by
expedition members, or glass beads that explorers used to trade with
explained to the children how the men in the expedition pulled a boat,
"filled with 40 tons of supplies and about the length of this
museum" up the rivers they traveled.
He told them it
would take the expedition two days to travel 11 miles, the same distance
from Hailey to Ketchum.
presentation coincided with an exhibit on the Lewis and Clark Expedition
on loan from the Idaho State Historical Society. Harris, himself, works
independent of the Society.
interested in playing the role of Lewis when he won the 1982 Idaho
Muzzle Loader stamp contest. "It got me started," he said.
The uniform Harris
wears in his role as Lewis is a replica of Lewis’s 1st
Infantry uniform, one of several the explorer took with him in 1804.
"It has taken
me this long [since 1982] to get to this replica of the uniform,"
he said. He mentioned the Smithsonian Institution and the Lewis and
Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center as just two of the
many institutions he’s researched to get the uniform as authentic as
And it is still
not complete. He said he was still working on getting the boots just