the rivers ran east.
In 1947, former OSS agent, retired US Army Colonel, and explorer Leonard Clark, came into possession of a secret map that led him to 7 ancient cities of gold deep in the Amazon jungle of Peru. Despite being chronicled in his book The Rivers Ran East, few people have attempted to confirm his discovery. But this story is about so much more.
The River's Ran East project follows the journey of seven individuals in 2013 to retrace Leonard Clark’s route along the Marañón River in Northern Peru to confirm his claims, locate the ancient ruins, and learn from the rich cultures and histories of the area. It is a story about understanding the past, and doing our part to improve the future. It is about the corners of this world where people and the environment still depend on each other, and is about the threats that these communities face from illegal loggers and miners. And the story isn't over. The River's Ran East team is preparing to return in the near future.
In June of 1946, former OSS officer Colonel Leonard Clark arrived in Lima, Peru with $1000 – all that he owned – pinned inside his shirt pocket. His goal: to discover the gold of the legendary city of El Dorado and the Seven Cities of Cibola. Clark recounts the tale of having received a tattered and incomplete 500-year-old map from a friend in Lima that had been passed down through generations from the sole survivor of a jungle massacre in the early 1500's. In hist book, the River’s Ran East, Clark describes how he uses this map to discover 7 legendary cities of gold deep in the Peruvian Amazon. He arrived in South America with only a brief note of introduction to a Peruvian that claimed to know the gold’s location, but Clark, broke from bad investments in both the U.S. and China, was desperate to find the treasure. Warned that hundreds who have gone before him have never returned, Clark proceeded, using the “cover” that he was, in fact, in search of medical secrets from local indigenous healers. A dangerous trip would have been made all the more treacherous were his true intent discovered. Drawn by visions of El Dorado and a map that would lead him to it, Clark headed into the jungle with barely enough provisions to sustain him. Relying on his wartime experience in Asia, his wits, and “the grace of God” to see him through, Clark sought solace through companionship in the redoubtable Jorge Mendoza, a twenty-four-year-old Peruvian graduate of Lima University, and the fearless Inez Pokorny, a mysterious, gutsy, and multilingual explorer.
Along their perilous journey, they encountered headhunting tribes, man-eating jaguars, forty-foot-long anacondas, poisonous plants, and indigenous healers. Clark not only documented the local flora and fauna, the function and applications of medicinal herbs from indigenous healers, and descriptions of the many Tribes and their languages. Remarkably, after nine months in the jungle, Clark emerged from the jungle over the high Andes leading a mule with $16,000 in gold dust strapped to it’s back. This amazing adventure is documented in Clark’s riveting book, The Rivers Ran East. Long out of print, this story is once again available as part of the Travelers’ Tales Classics series. Originally published in 1953, this tale remains one of the greatest journeys ever recorded.