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SIOUX CITY | Life-sized bronze sculptures of Plains animals command attention on the grounds of the Sioux City Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and Betty Strong Encounter Center on the Missouri riverfront, at 900 Larsen Park Road.
The largest is a 1,000-pound buffalo that is joined by a leaping white-tailed deer, two inquisitive coyotes and a life-sized bronze grizzly bear and elk.
The animal sculptures are at home with “Spirit of Discovery,” the Center’s 14-foot bronze sculpture of Capts. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, with Lewis’ black Newfoundland dog, Seaman.
Each sculpture evokes stories of Lewis and Clark, Native peoples and natural resources encountered during the Corps of Discovery’s 28-month journey to the Pacific Ocean and back.
Murals and interactive exhibits help explain events of the journey that occurred in and around present-day Sioux City, from late July to early September 1804, including the illness, death, and burial of Sgt. Charles Floyd.
The American bison recalls the expedition’s unsuccessful efforts to meet with Omaha leaders in mid-August 1804 in the present-day Sioux City area.
The Omahas, who had been ravaged by small pox, may have deliberately avoided the newcomers out of fear of additional exposure to disease.
The nonprofit cultural complex opened in 2002 to commemorate the bicentennial of the Corps of Discovery. The Betty Strong center opened in 2007. The buildings, which cover almost 20,000 square feet, represent a total investment of $8.5 million and are sustained by Missouri River Historical Development Inc.
It is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday; an from noon-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.