America as we know it was built on exploration. How would we even know there was land to discover if we didn’t take the time to go check it out? How would we even know the earth was round? Although, that ridiculous debate is for another day.

Two men were literally at the forefront of it all. And there’s a good chance you know them by name.

These two were down for an adventure

It wouldn’t be a U.S. history class without learning about Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.

After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Thomas Jefferson assigned his assistant the job of exploring this new land to the west. His assistant? None other than Meriwether Lewis.

Lewis chose William Clark to be his right-hand man during his journey, and the two set off on their 8,000-mile journey across the great unknown. And they saw a ton of new stuff.

A whole new world—literally

This dynamic duo’s journey would last a whopping two years. But it wouldn’t be all sunshine and rainbows.

Lewis and Clark were faced with harsh weather, unfamiliar landscapes, and even less-than-hospitable Native Americans, but they finally reached the Pacific Ocean in November of 1805.

It was time to travel home and deliver their news of great success.

They made their way back to familiar territory

Between venturing on foot and rowing down rivers, Lewis and Clark arrived back home in St. Louis on September 23, 1806. They literally had the town of 1,000 people waiting for them alongside the river bank once the news of their imminent arrival spread.

Most people thought that the men wouldn’t survive, so seeing them arrive safe and sound was an accomplishment in itself.

Forget the fact that they compiled over 140 maps of the new waterways and landscapes they came across. Them coming back was enough.