Purchased for $20 in 1803, Seaman was a loyal and devoted member of the Corps of Discovery. From the journals of Meriwether Lewis:
" a bear came within thirty yards of our camp last night and eat up about thirty weight of buffaloe suit which was hanging on a pole, my dog seems to be in a constant state of alarm with these bears and keeps barking all night" – June 27, 1805
Some were curious "last night we were all allarmed by a large buffaloe bull, when he came near the tent, my dog saved us by causing him to change his course" – May 29, 1805
And other guests desired to travel with the Corps " walking on shore this evening I met with a buffaloe calf which attached itself to me and continued to follow close at my heels untill I embarked and left it. It appeared allarmed at my dog which was probably the cause of it’s so readily attaching itself to me" – April 22, 1805
Seaman Statue in Danger - Flooding threatens Ft. Mandan sculpture
By early June, Fort Mandan – the Lewis & Clark wintering post on the banks of the Missouri River in Washburn, North Dakota – was prepared for the tens of thousands for seasonal visitors; but not prepared for the US Army Corps of Engineers warning that Fort Mandan could face complete inundation due to unprecedented flooding that threatened the Fort and Seaman’s Overlook (see Newf Tide, 3rd qtr., 2006).
Staff and volunteers sandbagged Fort Mandan and the 1400 lb. Seaman was moved, via crane, temporarily to the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center two miles from Fort Mandan.
The Fort is closed for the entire season and donations are requested to restore Fort Mandan and return Seaman to Seaman’s Overlook when the floodwaters recede. Donations may be sent to the Lewis & Clark Fort Mandan Foundation, PO Box 607, Washburn, ND 58577. Or call 877-462-8535 to use a credit card.
The NCA has donated $1000.00 to help restore Seaman to his place at Seaman's Overlook.
Read More about modern Newfs celebrating the heritage of Lewis and Clark
Based on an article that appeared in Newf Tide written by Mary Jane Spackman
Many Newfoundlands are named
Scannon in honor of the Newf that accompanied Captain Lewis on the Lewis and
Clark western expedition. Captain Lewis himself identified the dog as being
"of the Newfoundland breed" in his journals.
Historical interest in the dog
was peaked by the 1916 publication of Sergeant John Ordway’s journal of the
expedition. In Ordway’s journal, there are many references to the Newf and his
contributions as a fishing and hunting dog. Historians began to take notice, and
the Newf’s likeness began to appear in artwork about Lewis and Clark. It is
speculated that Scannon was a last minute addition to the group as a mascot, and
was apparently acquired in Philadelphia.
When historian Donald Jackson
was doing a study of Lewis and Clark place-names in Montana, he found that
Captain Lewis, on the return trip in 1806, had named a northern tributary of the
Blackfoot River "Seaman’s Creek." Mr. Jackson’s research on names
had found that the explorers had been very direct and simple in the names they
had chosen. Often they would select names that related to expedition supporters
or participants, or perhaps names that dealt with incidents during the
expedition. Mr. Jackson could find no reason for the selection of the name
"Seaman." He then sought to solve the mystery of the name.
Mr. Jackson first believed
that the name was misspelled and that it should instead be "Scannon’s
Creek," named in honor of the Newfoundland mascot. Instead, after
requesting that the American Philosophical Society research the original
journals of the expedition, he found that the creek was correctly named and that
the true name of the Newfoundland was Seaman. Once the error was identified, it
was apparent throughout the various journals that the name Scannon was
incorrect. An "m" can easily be read as two "n’s", and
both Clark and Ordway contributed to the confusion by writing the dog’s name
as Seamon. In addition, ink has a tendency to spread over time, allowing some
letters such as an "e" to appear years later as a "c."
The name Scannon could have
continued on for years if Mr. Jackson had not been a man of detail. It is a
credit to Mr. Jackson that we now know the correct name for one of the most
famous members of the Newfoundland breed.
The basis for this article is "Among
Sleeping Giants: Occasional Pieces on Lewis and Clark" by Donald
Jackson. My thanks to Lou Palmisano for forwarding this information to me.