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Pompeys Pillar National Monument

Entry Sign...
Pompeys Pillar in Montana on the Yellowstone River has stood out for centuries, since it's a rather large rock on the otherwise (relatively) flat plains. Its biggest claim to fame, however, is the only physical evidence of The Corps of Discovery known to exist.

On the return trip back to the United States in 1806, Lewis and Clark had split the Corps into two parties. Lewis would take the shortcut the Shoshone had pointed out, which would have saved the Corps months had they known about it before. He would also travel up the Marias River to see where it led.

Clark would lead his half of the party South, and follow the Yellowstone River. The two parties would rejoin at the confluence of the Yellowstone and the Missouri. Amazingly, Clark would come within about 50 miles of Yellowstone National Park and its wonders, but 50 miles back in 1805 might as well have been a thousand miles today.
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Pompeys Pillar National Monument Map
Cropped map of Pompey's Pillar. Click on the map for a larger view.
Lewis and  Clark Route
Cropped map of the Corps of Discovery's route. Click on the map for a larger view.

In any event, Clark came across this rock, and actually climbed to the top to look around. Then, he carved his name and the date (July 25, 1806) into the rock. It is well described in his journal. And he named the rock, Pompy's Tower, after Sacajawea's son (who the Corps nicknamed "Little Pomp") the youngest member of The Corps.

But in some 200 year old game of telephone, Pompy's Tower has morphed into Pompeys Pillar.

I climbed to the top of the Rock on July 25, 2006, exactly 200 years after Clark, albeit a few hours earlier. My presence there that day was completely unplanned. I had the stop in my itinerary, but didn't know Clark defaced the rock on the same day, so I wasn't prepared for the circus that was present.

And I did climb to the top of the rock, but I took the stairs. A small convenience Clark and company didn't have. I also arrived and left in an automobile, in complete comfort at 75 miles per hour, something that was no one in the Corps could even begin to comprehend 200 years ago...

Pompeys Pillar National Monument isn't a National Park Service venue, it's under the jurisdiction of the BLM, not the NPS, which is why you won't find it there. Do a search on Pompeys Pillar to find its website and map. Back to Top

Pompeys Pillar National Monument
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And just for complaining's sake, because the parking lot had tents on it, I had to park in an unpaved field. I'm pretty sure that it was here that a crack in my exhaust pipe started, and would become extremely loud later in my vacation, and would finally be repaired in Idaho Falls...

Related Links

Lewis And Clark
Lewis And Clark Link I've visited a few Lewis And Clark sites, from Philadelphia to the Pacific Northwest.
Visited Various.
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Trip Report: Jul 2006.

Return to: State Index Montana State Page National Monuments

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