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Our Lewis and Clark Journal – Day 18

September 3, 2013

Day 18: Pompey’s Pillar (or “we’re finally back on the trail”)     (August 13)

Last Friday my Blackberry died. It had been slowing down, both in performance and in memory. The camera acted as if I had filled the memory card after taking only 16 photos. And then it died. “Error 102. Reload software” appeared on a bright white screen.

Since we had internet access this morning through the KOA, I decided that during breakfast I would try to negotiate a solution, so I used Noelle’s iPhone to call Blackberry. To spare you reading, and my writing, a long tale, let me summarize. By 1:00 I was still on the phone and every solution had failed. “Call us again when you have access to a PC rather than a Mac,” I was told when tech support gave up.

OK Blackberry. Your days are numbered.

At least Noelle and August were able to use the swimming pool for the later half of the morning, and I was able the flush the sewage system and refill the potable water tank while waiting for lengthy and useless downloads over the campsite Wifi.

Finally back on the road, our first and only stop today was Pompey’s Pillar National Monument, just 30 minutes from where we had camped.

Pompey’s Pillar was named by William Clark on his return trip. He and Clark had taken separate routes with the purpose of expanding their exploration of this region, now a part of the United States. Lewis travelled North into what is now Glacier National Park. There he had his dog stolen, killed two Indians in the only deadly encounter of the expedition, and was accidentally shot in the leg by a member of his crew. William Clark on the other hand explored the Yellowstone River, traveling downstream with the goal of meeting up with Lewis where the Yellowstone joined the Missouri. It was a difficult trip.

Pompey’s Pillar was named after Sacagawea’s son, Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, nick-named “Pomp” by Lewis and Clark. It is the site of the only remaining  physical evidence of the expedition – William Clark carved his name into the sandstone butte on July 25, 1806.


It was truly awe-some to stand here as a family. The pillar provides an impressive view of the landscape, including the plain where George Custer and his troops had camped in 1873. The stone where Clark’s signature appears also contains a record of subsequent visitors carved beside ancient petroglyphs.


This was to prove our only stop today, so we made the most of it. We picked up another National Passport Stamp, and August achieved Junior Ranger status again.

The Visitor’s Center Museum was a treat, with a 20 minute film on the return trip of William Clark and a lot of hands-on activities for children. Here we got to touch a Bull boat, which Lewis and Clark learned to make from the Mandan Indians in North Dakota during their winter-over in 1804. They are essentially buffalo hide stretched over a wooden frame. Now in 1806 bull boats would save Clark’s party after the loss of their horses. I can’t imagine they were quickly made or smelled great.


Nearly five hours later we arrived in Great Falls, Montana and the local KOA. We are straight to bed because tomorrow will be a BIG DAY!

Recommended Reading: Tomorrow I will write about the guide book that we principally used to plan our trip, Julie Faneslow’s Falcon Guide, Traveling the Lewis and Clark Trail. Two books we used to supplemented the Falcon Guide, and which often provided information on localities not covered by Faneslow, have been Fodor’s The Lewis and Clark trail: Travel Historic America which included driving tours off the main trail, and from the Sierra Club’s “Pass IT On” series, Adventuring Along the Lewis and Clark Trail, which included daily readings from the journals and helpful daily maps.

The INDEX of blogs from Our Lewis and Clark Journey can be found here.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2013 8:42 pm

    A nice sounding day in Big Sky Country!


  1. Our Lewis and Clark Journal – Index | revgeary

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