Journal of A New Nation's Journey West
 
August 10 - 27, 2005

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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:

"Both 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.

Each day we have a horn-blower, whose job is to make sure we keep on schedule. They blow a Sounden-horn, just like the ones L&C used for the same purpose. We also often display our 15-star, 15-stripe flag. the same flag carried by Lewis and Clark. Here's Frances & Dennis at work.

Down at the confluence we all walked out to get a close-up view of the point, with Elsie Whitson carrying the flag.

Then it was on to Helena. all agreed it was a perfect day.

Below is an aerial view of this important historical location.

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