What Did
Pike See?

The Story of the River

Lt. Pike’s first expedition was along the Upper Mississippi River. Charged with exploring the source of the Mississippi, Pike mapped the river and chose sites for future forts.

Our Goal

The Iowa Mississippi River Parkway Commission wants to teach others the story of the River, by sharing its history in a fun and engaging way with travelers and fellow Iowans.

Pike’s Diaries

We plan to read Pike’s own diaries to provide an active history of his journey combined with video and imagery of the places he explored.

Iowa Great River Road


General Zebulon Montgomery Pike left St. Louis in the summer of 1805 on an expedition, in part, to explore and survey the upper Mississippi River making at least five encampments in Iowa as they sailed, and pulled, their boat north in an attempt to determine the source of the river.


The focus of the “What Did Pike See” initiative is to produce a historical video utilizing Pike’s firsthand accounts, along with accompanying visual aids such as recorded footage and images of the locales visited.

Additionally, complementary print materials are being developed to complement key points of the video, and both the visual and print components will be made available for exhibit at all 18 Iowa Great River Road Interpretive Centers. Furthermore, the video will be integrated into the Iowa Great River Road website for easy access.

We welcome gifts of any amount! Thank you very much for supporting the work of the Iowa Mississippi River Parkway Commission.

What Did<br />
Pike See?

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Great River Road Interpretive Centers

Learn more about the Mississippi River and the Great River Road by visiting one of 18 designated interpretive centers along the route.


Follow the Mississippi River between Iowa’s southern and northern borders on the Iowa portion of the Great River Road National Scenic Byway.