Westward Journey Nickel Collection

The Westward Journey Nickel Collection is a great way for children in the U.S. to start a coin collection while at the same time learning about an important time in this nation's history. This is a great collection for younger children since it only involves four coins and will provide a sense of satisfaction after the child completes the set.

Level of Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

In celebration of the Louisiana Purchase and Lewis and Clark’s expedition, the U.S. government decided to make four new designs on the back of the American nickel. These nickels were only produced in 2004 and 2005, and are called the Westward Journey Nickels. The fronts of these nickels still have a picture of President Jefferson.

Here's how to do it...

Make a chart, either by hand or computer, with four spots for each of the four Westward Journey Nickels. Write in each name for the nickel: the "Louisiana Purchace/Peace Medal" nickel; the "Keelboat" nickel; the "American Buffalo" nickel; and the "Ocean in view!" nickel. Tape the nickel onto the slot as you collect them.

Please read on to learn some interesting historical information that each of these coins has to offer.

The Westward Journey Nickels

The “Louisiana Purchase/Peace Medal” Nickel

This was the first Westward Journey nickel, made in the spring of 2004. This nickel has an image of the Indian Peace Medal commissioned for Lewis and Clark’s expedition. These medals were given to Native American Chiefs as symbols of goodwill from the American government, who wanted to have good relations with the Native Americans. This coin shows two hands shaking in friendship, one hand with a military cuff, the other with beads and an American eagle (symbolizing Native Americans).

In 1803, the U.S. purchased land from France called “Louisiana,” which is not the same land as the state of Louisiana we know today. Rather, the Louisiana Purchase covered some 15 states from the Midwest down south. The purchase of this land opened up the possibility of exploring the west and to find a route to the Pacific Ocean.

The “Keelboat” Nickel

In late 2004 the U.S. mint released the next Westward Journey nickel, which shows an image of the keelboat which Lewis, Clark, and their team used to explore the Louisiana territory. They traveled through rivers in search of a northwest passage to the Pacific Ocean. On the coin you can see the images of Lewis and Clark standing at the front of the boat.

After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the U.S. Government was interested in exploring the west and all it had to offer. President Jefferson chose Lewis to lead the expedition, and Lewis chose Clark to help; the expedition lasted from 1804-1806.

The “American Buffalo” Nickel

In the spring of 2005 the U.S. mint released the next nickel in the Westward Journey collection, which shows an image of an American Buffalo. This image symbolizes the American Indians and the type of wild life Lewis and Clark encountered on their expedition through the Louisiana Territory. The Buffalo was of great significance to the Native American people. Not only were Buffalo a main food source, but they also used other parts of the Buffalo to make clothes, shoes, or other necessary items for themselves.

The “Ocean in View” Nickel

In late 2005 the next nickel was released which shows an image of the pacific coast. This nickel celebrates Lewis and Clark’s arrival at what they thought was the Pacific Ocean on November 7, 1805. Clark wrote in his journal: “Ocean in view! O! The joy!” which is the statement inscribed on the nickel. The explorers were actually about 20 miles from the Ocean when they made this claim; they are thought to have been near Pillar Rock, which is at the northern shore of the Columbia River.

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