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Elmira Man Finds Rare Historic Journal
September 5, 2013
ELMIRA -- (WENY) Thirty years ago Art Thompson found this book in his mom's attic. Like a lot of people who find an old beat up book, he just threw it aside. That was until a friend noticed it and told him it's worth more than $20,000.
Thompson said, "look carefully in your attic!"
It's a rare first edition journal by Patrick Gass, one of the Sergeants on Lewis and Clark's expedition to the Pacific Northwest. Published in 1807, the first account ever published of the Lewis and Clark journey.
"We never really had any interest in Lewis and Clark before this, but we do now," said Thompson.
Art and his wife decided to retrace the steps of Lewis and Clark. The journey took old Lewis and Clark two years and took the Thompsons only a month. It led them to Washburn, North Dakota, home of the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, where Art decided to donate his attic find.
"A donation like this doesn't come along very often,
we just had a gentleman that came in, heard about the donation and asked to see the book! So it's stimulating visitation here at our little place of Lewis and Clark history in North Dakota," said Kevin Kirkey, Interpretive Resource Manager at the Lewis and Clark Fort Mandan Foundation.
But just how did this book end up in his families attic?
Thompson added, "there was a name on the trip, a gentleman by the name of John B. Thompson. Was he related to us? This was all stuff we found out
along the trip. So now the question is, is it possible that the book was in our attic because John B. Thompson is related to us? And it came from Patrick Gass?"
So now at 67, Art is going on an adventure of his own.
We don't know, but we will know. "The journey has just begun for us."
The journal is expected to arrive the museum tomorrow.