Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pompey's Pillar

I wasn't able to post photos with this last night. They are here now.

This week we visited Pompey's Pillar, a rock formation along the Yellowstone River that provides the only surviving physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark exploration of the lands acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. In 2004, on our way to Alaska, we first encountered the Lewis and Clark Trail when we visited Great Falls, Montana, on the Missouri River, on May 20. 2003-2006 was the bicentennial celebration of the pairs' trip to the Pacific and back. I had read Undaunted Courage, Stephen Ambrose's history of the trip, and was fascinated.

Then, last year, we saw several museums that explored the history of the trip while we summered along the Columbia River. On May 31 we visited Fort Clatsop in the Lewis and Clark National Park in Oregon.

In 1806 Lewis and Clark split their group of explorers, Lewis going north to learn more about the Marias River, Clark following the Yellowstone River south then east. They met up where the Yellowstone flows into the Missouri, east of here near the Montana-North Dakota boundary. William Clark and his party stopped at Pompey's Pillar and Clark carved his name into the soft rock. Many other people have done the same over the years, until the area was set aside as a National Monument.

The pillar or rock outcropping is named after Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, son of Toussaint Charbonneau and Sacagewea, the Shoshone Indian guide and interpreter who traveled with the Corps of Discovery. Clark called the child Pomp and named the pillar Pompy's Tower after him. The view from the top of the pillar is impressive.

There is a beautiful grove of Cottonwood trees between the pillar and the Yellowstone River.

This is a buffalo hide boat, like ones built by some of Clark's party when their horses were stolen. They had seen similar boats used by the Mandan Indians in North Dakota.

Clark had two 28-foot dugout canoes made from some of the Cottonwoods growing along the Yellowstone. Here is John looking at replicas.

Members of the Corps of Discovery had been away from supply centers since 1803 and their clothes had worn out. By 1806 they were wearing buckskin clothing, like I tried on at the Pompey's Pillar Visitor Center. They are really quite comfortable.

We saw some kayakers getting ready to float down the Yellowstone near the pillar. Here three of them are on their way.

We had been there and done that, so here I am checking out the T-Shirt.

1 comment:

  1. I love you pictures. As a lover of rivers I appreciate the views of the Yellowstone here. I have seen pictures elsewhere there the river crosses dryer and flatter land.

    The canoes are interested. They are real clunky. I wonder how they handle. They make me appreciate the artistic and elegant birch back canoe.