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Historical exhibit aims to boost pavilion

When completed, the pavilion will house the boat used in William Least
Heat-Moon’s ‘River-Horse.’
Thursday, January 1, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 12:03 a.m. CDT, Sunday, May 25, 2008

Inside a locked glass case at the Walters-Boone County Historical Society Museum are a handwritten manuscript and two copies of “River-Horse: Across America by Boat,” author William Least Heat-Moon’s nautical account of how he retraced the 19th-century expedition by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.

The case and the items in it, including two Ed Richardson watercolor studies used for the book’s cover,are the centerpieces of an exhibit called “The Missouri River: Exploration into Discovery.” The exhibit, which opened in mid-November, is part of an effort to generate interest in a pavilion being constructed on the north side of the historical society’s facilities on Ponderosa Street.

When it’s completed, the pavilion will house Nikawa, the boat that Least Heat-Moon used to travel the course of Lewis and Clark from New York Harbor to the Pacific Ocean in 1995.

The pavilion, loosely based on the structure that houses a boat once owned by Ernest Hemingway in Cuba, will showcase Nikawa in glass and feature a changeable information wall.

“We see the pavilion as a permanent outside exhibit to get people to think about river issues,” said society board member Cathy Salter. “The information wall will be an opportunity to discuss historic and contemporary river issues as they change.”

The historical society hopes the exhibit will speed up construction of the pavilion, which has been delayed by lack of funding. To date, the historical society has secured only about a third of the estimated $75,000 needed to build the pavilion, which was originally planned to be open next fall.

Current fund-raising efforts include the sale of Least Heat-Moon’s book, autographed by the author.

About 120 copies of “River-Horse,” were donated by publisher Houghton-Mifflin and are available through the historical society for a $100 donation.

“We would like to have at least 75 percent of the money we will need raised before we start construction,” said Debra Thompson, director of the historical society museum. “Unfortunately, the economic state of the world has changed our time schedule.”


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