SIOUX CITY | Nearly 40 fiberglass versions of Meriwether Lewis's Newfoundland dog, Seaman, are dotted throughout Siouxland, a testament to a public art project of the Sioux City Arts Center.
The 5-foot-tall Discovery Dogs pay tribute to the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1804. They've found homes in Sioux City; Onawa, Iowa; Dakota City, South Sioux City and Dakota Dunes.
The mention of Seaman first appears in the expedition's journals on Sept. 11, 1803, when Lewis notes the breed and qualities of "my dog," including his talent for catching and retrieving swimming squirrels. It is believed Lewis paid $20 for the dog.
Through the fundraising project, artists turned Seaman into a caricature of President Thomas Jefferson -- who sent the Corps of Discovery on its journey 200 years ago -- a Loess Hills dog, a pool shark, an Uncle Sam and even an energetic newspaper reporter carrying a camera, notebook and tape recorder, with a pencil tucked behind one furry ear. The latter is outside the Journal's office on Pavonia Street.
Launched in 2004, the project allowed businesses and individuals to sponsor a dog for slightly more than $2,000, which covered the cost of fabrication, production and shipping, plus a stipend to the artists. Smaller concrete statuettes, at 18 inches, were auctioned.