Friday, July 16, 2010

A Big Rock and a Big Gate

Believe it or not, this big rock, just east of Billings, MT on the Yellowstone River, is a big deal! But why?

Because William Clark stopped here on his way back East in July 1806! (Lewis and Clark returned by different routes in order to explore more territory.) Sacagawea and her 17-month-old son, nicknamed "Pomp," accompanied Clark.

But still, what's the big deal? Is it enough to justify this huge 5700-square-foot visitor's center?

We'll just have to climb up the rock and see. Fortunately, someone built steps.

Well, here it is! William Clark etched his name here. It is the only physical evidence they left behind on the whole trip that you can still see today.

Clark doted on Sacagawea's son, and named the rock Pompy's Tower after him. It's now called Pompey's Pillar.

And don't worry - his signature is covered by bullet-proof glass, and watched by cameras 24-7.

Clark wrote about the beautiful view from the top, and about seeing herds of buffalo, deer and wolves. I didn't see a one... He also wrote about being plagued by lots of mosquitos. Why are THEY still around?

Another day, we went on a boat ride through the Gates of the Mountains, just north of Helena, MT.

This is a narrow passage that Lewis and Clark went through a year earlier in July 1805 on their trip West. Of course, it was narrower and higher in those days before the dams were built.

We saw Bald Eagles -

And Indian pictographs -

But this is why Meriwether Lewis named the passage "The Gates of the Mountains." At each bend in the waterway, great stone walls seemed to block their passage, only to open like giant gates as the expedition drew near.


  1. HOW COOL is that---Clark left his mark--wow--Im glad its being protected. IM SO happy you saw the Bald Eagle--and YEAH why is it that with mankinds ability screw up everythinhg...mosquitos are still around? I guess there is no money in
    Your photos are great!!!

  2. Oh wow I have to say that I totally loved this post and it even brought tears to my eyes reading it. Thanks so much for sharing the part about the rock with his inscription on it that is just wonderful it is so beautiful there!!

  3. Great job! This is beautiful country.

  4. Thanks for this write up-another place to add to the "bucket list"

  5. Very interesting post! Isn't it strange how we find his name in the rock to be so amazing, and yet, if he did that today, we'd arrest him for vandalism!

  6. How about that. Clark was the first grafitti artist.

    I went on that boat ride several years ago, but didn't see the Bald Eagles. Lucky you!!

  7. How cool! Maybe I'll get there someday . . . :-(

  8. Beautiful pics!!! I'm really enjoying your narration and your pics of this trip. I'm glad to hear that Clarks carving is protected.


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