Dubuque County Historical Society Images

The Pathfinders

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Henry Rowe Schoolcraft

Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, an explorer and ethnologist, is most noted for his discovery of the source of the Mississippi River and for his writings on Indians of the North American Plain. In the early 19th century, Schoolcraft led an expedition through present day Missouri and the Ozark Mountains. He later served as a topographer on an expedition to the Lake Superior region and the Upper Mississippi, publishing a journal of his travels in 1821.

In 1832, Schoolcraft again explored the upper reaches of the Mississippi River, discovering and naming Lake Itasca as the river's true source. The name "Itasca" came from Schoolcraft's combining the words "veritas" and "caput" which translate to mean "true head." His Narrative of an Expedition...To Itasca Lake, the account of the journey to the great river's source, was printed in 1834.

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