Joe and Nancy

Joe and Nancy
Our Home on Wheels (Click on image above for our web albums.)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Pompey's Pillar, near Billings, MT

I must admit, I had never heard of this place, Pompey's Pillar.  We left the RV park in Buffalo, WY and headed for Billings, MT.  As most of you know, northern states, Canada & Alaska have a short season to make road repairs and resurfacing.  Well, shortly after crossing the state line into MT, we found ourselves in the middle of a 20 mile tat & gravel resurfacing on I-90.  Really!?  Tar & gravel on an interstate highway?  Well, we were cleaning out gravel from Miss Jeepy for an hour later on.  And, OH!  Alas!  we have another gravel chip on the Jeep's windshield.  And it has great potential for getting larger.  So after checking into the Billings RV Park on a very hot (103) afternoon we made an appointment the next morning to fix both chips.  After fixing the chips, we drove the 27 miles east on I-90/94 to Pompey's Pillar.
This butte, was a landmark reference for centuries for the Native Americans, pioneers and settlers along the Oregon Trail.  The most significant of these pioneers were Lewis & Clark. They came through this location and along the general path that I-90 makes through Montana, and camped near here along the Yellowstone River, which is a short walk from the Pillar.  In fact, the main reason this place exists and is protected by the National Park Service, is a signature on the back of the Pillar by Captain William Clark.
This is the signature in the sandstone Pillar.  Clark made his mark in 1806, on their (Lewis & Clark & the Corps of Discovery commissioned by President Jefferson) return from the Pacific coast.
As you can see, this sandstone has been a very popular place for folks to leave their marks.  Miss Nancy is having a closer look.
It was 101 degrees and we walked up these steps (slowly) to view Clark's signature.
A plaque on the sandstone next to the signature.
The view from the top of the steps looking east.  We did not climb the remaining 100 or so steps to the very top of the Pillar, as it was just too hot and very arid-dry.
Another view from the steps.  Note the Union Jack & the amount of stars.  The original 13 I presume.
Here is a reproduction (I think) of the dual dugout canoes that Clark & his men used to travers down the Yellowstone River to join back up with Lewis and his men.  They had preplanned to rendezvous at the confluence of the Missouri River.
Interesting factoids...
Yellowstone River...I felt like jumping in. It was so hot.
From the parking lot looking west, folks at the top of the steps.
The river is wide with a strong current rushing towards the Missouri.
Here are few more interesting history facts about this place and the Lewis & Clark impacts.
The visitor center looking east from the base of the Pillar.
The backside of the Pillar looking south from the river side.
Nothing really significant about this butte, except when viewed from a distance, it is a distinguishing feature in that it is the only butte around.
Oh, General Custer passed by this place as well some 70 years later.
From Wiki:  Pompeys Pillar National Monument is a rock formation located in south central Montana. Designated a National Monument on January 17, 2001, and managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, it consists of only 51 acres, making it one of the smallest National Monuments in the U.S. It was previously designated a National Historic Landmark on July 25, 1965. The new Pompey's Pillar Interpretive Center opened in 2006. Exhibits in the 5,700-square foot center relate the journey of Captain William Clark and his detachment, including Sacagawea and her son Pomp, down the Yellowstone River Valley in 1806. 
Again, we added to our knowledge base regarding our wonderful & rich history of our relatively young nation.  It seems that everywhere we go, we are learning more and more, along with taking in the sights.  What a deal.  From, Coeur d' Allene, ID, RVing Beach Bums, July 8.
  (PS:  We took in fireworks on July 4, first on PBS from our Nation's capital, DC, at 7 PM (daylight here of course) and then at 10:30 all around Missoula.)