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Lewis & Clark Exploratory to Open at New Location in Albemarle - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Lewis & Clark Exploratory to Open at New Location in Albemarle

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Lewis and Clark's journey to discover the wilds of the western United States will soon come alive in Albemarle County's Darden Towe Park.

Construction crews are wrapping up work on the new Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center. 

Construction ran into multiple delays. The center put most of its programs for kids and school groups on hold for the better part of two years in order to focus on building the new river-front facility.

"The journey has been very similar to the expedition," said Alexandria Searls, executive director of the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center.

The Albemarle County explorers' journey westward took a total of two years, four months and nine days.

"This week marks the same amount of time that the Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center has been under construction," said Searls.

Crews hit rock, which stalled work for nearly six months and added to the center's total cost.

Searls expects to start moving the exploratory center from its home in an old barn to the $1.5 million facility in June.  

"People are going to come into the building, get oriented, and then go out on adventures. We teach the skills of exploration," said Searls.

Replicas of the boats Lewis and Clark used to travel west will cover the center's lawn and a green roof and terrace will give visitors a view of the Rivanna.

"It'll always be about the river. It'll always be about boats. It'll always be about adventure," said Fran Lawrence, president of the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center Board.

Exhibits on Lewis and Clark and a library will fill the indoor space. 

Lawrence says the decade-long planning process is creating a facility the community can be proud of. 

"It's been a really long time, but I think the time we've used well - both to design the perfect place and also to develop a program that's viable and exciting," said Lawrence.  

Searls hopes the center's new home will serve as a hub for central Virginians and visitors to discover the history of exploration. 

"We really want to be an outdoor link," said Searls.

Virginia Department of Transportation funds, grants and donations are paying to build the center.  

The nonprofit still needs to raise $240,000.  To donate or learn more about the center's programs, click here.

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