Following the Route of Levi Zendt

One of my favorite books is Centennial by James Michener. This novel was written to celebrate America’s Bicentennial, and traces the history of one geographical spot in Colorado. A primary character was Levi Zendt, a young Mennonite who leaves his Pennsylvania home and travels in a Conestoga wagon by barge to St Louis. There, he joined a wagon “train” to travel over the Rocky Mountains. He had to turn back, but started a trading post which founded the town of Zendt’s Farm, later renamed Centennial, Colorado. Forgive my long winded story, but my initial drive-about shadowed Levi’s route. I picked up the Ohio River in Pittsburgh and followed it to Cincinnati. I turned southwest to Louisville, crossing the Ohio into Kentucky and paralleling it the next 100 miles. The Ohio River and I then turned primarily west through southern Indiana and Illinois. It eventually flows into the Mississippi, which is crossed by bridge to enter St Louis and Missouri. It was fantastic to feel Zendt’s spirit along the way and imagine what it would be like to float downstream on a barge with a wagon and team of horses. The Arch was built as a tribute to the Levi Zendts who started their manifest destiny in St Louis

 

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