Sgt. Floyd Memorial Encampment: The Blacksmith

Aug 27, 2021

Dean Slader, practicing blacksmith at Lewis and Clark Encampment re-enactment in Sioux City

The early 19th century camp site of the Lewis and Clark Expedition was artfully recreated last weekend as part of the annual Sergeant Floyd Memorial Encampment outside of the Sergeant Floyd River Museum. Floyd died in what is now Sioux City; the only man to die on the trip.

Siouxland Public Media’s Mary Hartnett visited the site of the recreated camp and spoke with the Corps of Discovery’s blacksmith.

As the wind blows and the interstate traffic whizzes by, re-enactors demonstrated some old world skills and brought the history of the encampment to life. One of those reenactors was former history teacher Dean Slader, who could easily pass a 19th century blacksmith.

Slade says a blacksmith with the Corps of Discovery would be fixing all kinds of things.

“They did repair weapons, they did repair tooling, and fixtures. They produced ironwork for the Mandan Indians, and they had corn, and so on, to keep the party alive, and they wanted the ironwork, we produced those items and kept the party alive.

Sgt. Floyd Monument, Sioux City

The event also commemorates the death of Sgt. Charles Floyd’s on August 20, 1804. He was the only member of the Corps of Discovery to die during the journey. A committal ceremony took place Saturday evening at the Floyd Monument that overlooks I-29, the Missouri River and beyond from the high bluff. 

The view from the Floyd Monument, early Saturday evening

For Siouxland Public Media, I’m Mary Hartnett.