Route: I-90 from Billings, MT
to Three Forks, MT -- 287 N. to 12 to Helena. Our only attraction today
was a very important one for us, for Lewis and Clark, the country and the
world -- The Three Forks of the Missouri River.ok When Pere Marquette passed the mouth
of the Missouri on the Mississippi in 1673 he posited that the river
reached far inland, to a short prairie which led to another river which
would drain to
the Pacific. It became part of the
Northwest Passage lore. On July 28, 1805, at this location, Lewis and
Clark defined the beginning of the Missouri River thus:
Capt. C. and myself corrisponded in opinion with rispect to the
impropriety of calling either of these streams the Missouri and
accordingly agreed to name them after the President of the United States
and the Secretaries of the Treasury and state having previously named one
river in honour of the Secretaries of War and Navy. In pursuance of this
resolution we called the S. W. fork, that which we meant to ascend,
Jefferson's River in honor of <that illustrious personage> Thomas
Jefferson. [NB?: the author of our enterprise,] the Middle fork we called Madison's River in honor of James Madison,
and the S. E. Fork we called Gallitin's River in honor of Albert Gallitin."
The Gallatin River actually
enters about a half-mile north of the junction of the Madison and Jefferson.
The whole area is one big wetland, with much braiding of water. here are
two views of the junction of the Madison and Jefferson.
Our gang walked over the divide between
the Missouri and the Gallatin, which enters a mile downstream.
I told the group it was a half-mile, but I
agree it was closer to a mile. At any rate, we are a hardy bunch and
all made it and agreed the views were worth the march. Here's part of the
group under "Lewis's Rock", across the Gallatin River. He climbed it on
July 27, 1805 to view the valley below.