Seaman (dog)

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Dog Statue (Columbia County, Oregon scenic images) (colDA0060a).jpg
Statue of Seaman at Columbia View Park in St. Helens, Oregon
SpeciesDomestic dog
BornPittsburgh, Pennsylvania (purchased)
Years active1803–1806
Known forParticipation in Lewis and Clark Expedition.
OwnerMeriwether Lewis
OffspringNone known
Weight150 lb (68 kg) (estimated)
Statue of Seaman with Lewis and Clark in St. Charles, Missouri
Left to right, York, Seaman, Lewis, Clark, and Sacagawea with her baby Pompey, statue by Robert Scriver, in the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretative Center, Great Falls, Montana.

Seaman, a Newfoundland dog, is one of the most traveled dogs in human history. He was a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the first trip from the Mississippi River to the Pacific coast and back. He was the only animal to complete the entire trip, which took 3 years.[1]

Seaman was purchased specifically for the expedition in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by Captain Meriwether Lewis, while he was in the city awaiting completion of the boats for the voyage starting in August 1803. He chose a Newfoundland, whose estimated weight was 150 pounds (68 kg) and for which he paid the high price of $20 (equivalent to $346 in 2020). Working dogs, strong and easy to handle—Lewis describes Seaman as "docile"[2]—, he chose a Newfoundland because they did well on boats, and were able to assist in water rescues.[3]

Seaman on the expedition[edit]

Seaman did many things to help the explorers, and they became somewhat fond of him.

I made my dog take as many [squirrels] each day as I had occasion for, they wer fat and I thought them when fryed a pleasant food. dog...would take the squirrel in the water and kill them and swimming bring them in his mouth to the boat.[4]: 274

He also retrieved geese and deer, and once killed and retrieved an antelope swimming across a river.[4]: 274

According to Lewis and Clark's report, some Native Americans were impressed by the dog's "sagacity" (wisdom).[5]: I, 384 The dog "patrolled all night" to warn of bears,[5]: I, 233 and once had to drive off a buffalo in their camp while the men slept.[4]: 274–275

A modern commentator on the Expedition remarked that "Lewis seems to have been happiest when he was alone on shore with his gun, his notebook, and his dog Seaman."[4]: 65

During the expedition, around May 14, 1805, Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark performed surgery on one of Seaman's arteries in his hind leg that had been severed by a beaver bite.[1] In early 1806, as the expedition was beginning the return journey, Seaman was stolen by Indians and Lewis sent three men to retrieve the dog. Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery ate over 200 dogs, bought from the Indians, while traveling the Lewis and Clark Trail, in addition to their horses, but Seaman was spared.[6]

The final reference to Seaman in the expedition journals, recorded by Lewis on July 15, 1806, states that "[T]he musquetoes continue to infest us in such manner that we can scarcely exist. for my own part I am confined by them to my bier at least 3/4 of the time. My dog even howls with the torture he experiences from them."[7][8]

Seaman after the expedition[edit]

Seaman survived the expedition, and Lewis took the dog home with him. He is reported to have refused food and died of grief after Lewis's premature death.

After the melancholy exit of Gov. Lewis, his dog would not depart for a moment from his lifeless remains; and when they were deposited in the earth no gentle means could draw him from the spot of interment. He refused to take every kind of food which was offered him, and actually pined away and died with grief upon his master's grave!

Seaman's inscribed collar was once in an Alexandria, D.C., museum:

The greatest traveller of my species
My name is SEAMAN
the dog of captain Meriwether Lewis
whom I accompanied to the Pacifick Ocean
through the interior of the continent of North America[9]

The mistaken name "Scannon"[edit]

Due to a transcription error in Lewis' journals, the dog was once thought to have been named Scannon. However, during Donald Jackson's 1984 study of Lewis and Clark place-names in Montana—every expedition member got something named after him—he found that Lewis had named a tributary of the Blackfoot River Seaman’s Creek (now Monture Creek) and concluded that the true name of the dog was "Seaman".[10][8][11]


In 2008, Seaman became the official mascot of Lewis & Clark College's Pioneers.[12]

Monuments to or including Seaman:

  • A sculpture of Meriweather Lewis accompanied by Seaman is on permanent display at the White House.[13]
  • A tablet, similar to a tombstone, stands in front of the Custom House in Cairo, Illinois.[14] link

Creative literature about Seaman[edit]

  • Yates, Laura Lee (2016). Bound for the Western Sea : The Canine Account of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Paonia, CO: Undaunted Press. ISBN 9780997349108.

Children's books about Seaman[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Seaman". National Park Service. Archived from the original on June 19, 2012. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
  2. ^ Lewis, Meriweather (September 11, 1803). Journal.
  3. ^ "Central Montana's 3 Famous Dogs". Central Montana Tourism. June 26, 2018. Archived from the original on August 21, 2021. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d Tubbs, Stephanie Ambrose; Jenkinson, Clay Straus (2003). The Lewis and Clark Companion. An Encyclopedic Guide to the Voyage of Discovery. New York: Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 0805067256.
  5. ^ a b Lewis, Meriwether; Clark, William; Allen, Paul (1814). History of the expedition under the command of Captains Lewis and Clark, to the sources of the Missouri, thence across the Rocky Mountains and down the River Columbia to the Pacific Ocean. Performed during the years 1804-5-6. By order of the government of the United States. Prepared for the press by Paul Allen, Esquire. Philadelphia: Bradford and Inskeep.
  6. ^ a b "Seaman - Lewis' Newfoundland Dog". Lewis and Clark Trail. Archived from the original on April 13, 2021. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
  7. ^ "Seaman". Public Broadcasting System. Archived from the original on November 8, 2020. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
  8. ^ a b "Seaman". Montana Kids. Montana Office of Tourism. Archived from the original on February 25, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
  9. ^ Holmberg, James (February 2000). "SeaMan's Fate? Lewis's Newfoundland dog likely survived the expedition and accompanied his master on his last, fateful journey" (PDF). We Proceeded On: 7–9.
  10. ^ Duncan, Dayton. "Answers To Your Questions". Lewis and Clark - The Journey of The Corps of Discovery. Archived from the original on October 5, 2014. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
  11. ^ Jackson, Donald (July 1995). "Call Him a Good Old Dog, But Don't Call Him Scannon" (PDF). We Proceeded On: 5–10.
  12. ^ "Seaman, the Newfoundland Dog Explorer". Gentle Newfoundland Dogs. Archived from the original on April 19, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
  13. ^ Nowak, Matt (May 2000). "Lewis Bronze on DIsplay in White House. Statuette of 'Lewis the naturalist' includes his faithful Seaman" (PDF). We Proceeded On. 26 (2): 31.
  14. ^ "Graveyards of Illinois - Cairo City Cemetery". Graveyards. Archived from the original on February 22, 2012. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
  15. ^ "Sacajawea Interpretive, Cultural, and Educational Center". National Park Service. 2021. Archived from the original on August 21, 2021. Retrieved August 20, 2021.

Further reading[edit]

Teaching material[edit]

External links[edit]