Monday, September 10, 2007

A Remarkable Rock in Montana

Along the entire Lewis & Clark Trail there is just one spot where you don't have to imagine the famed explorers having been there. That location is Montana's Pompeys Pillar, 28 miles east of Billings, just off of I-94. What makes this Lewis & Clark spot unique from all the others? Let's let Captain William Clark explain. Here is his journal entry from July 25, 1806.

"…arrived at a remarkable rock situated in an extensive bottom… this rock I ascended and from it's top had a most extensive view in every direction. This rock which I shall call Pompy's Tower is 200 feet high and 400 paces in secumpherance and only accessible on one Side … The natives have engraved on the face of this rock the figures of animals & near which I marked my name and the day of the month & year."

Clark's signature, the day and date remain visible on the towering pillar's rock face. Protected by a see-through covering, the signature can be viewed any time of year. The federal Bureau of Land Management operates Pompeys Pillar as a year-round visitor facility with staffed services available between Memorial Day and September 30. Walk-in access and self guided tours are allowed the rest of the year.

One of the popular events here is the annual Clark Day celebration. On the Sunday nearest the July 25 anniversary date, the public is invited to canoe the Yellowstone River in a re-enactment of the Corps of Discovery's approach. Numerous interpretive stations are set up to help explain the natural and human history of the area. Buffalo burgers and other concessions are available along with blue grass music.

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