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Montana became a State in 1889. It was explored by Lewis and Clark.

In Lewis and Clark's trip through Montana, they stopped at the place now named Pompey's Pillar. Pompey's Pillar is located just a few miles out of what is now Billings, Montana and is located very near the Yellowstone River. It is a flat top rock that is 200 feet up in the air. Named by Clark after Sacagawea’s son John Baptist who got the nick name of “Pomp”. Clark carved his initials and the date of the discovery of the pillar.

William Clark's signature
on Pompey's Pillar
July 25, 1806
Pompey's Pillar
near Billings, Montana
Pompey's Pillar, showing
visitor's path to the top

(photos by PMNS Curator, Terry Proctor © 2005)

       In 1804 a U. S. President Thomas Jefferson sent Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to find what was called "the fabled River of the West". This was to try to find a Northwest Passage, i.e. an all-water route which would connect the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. This had been a desire from the time of Columbus on. Explorers and statesmen alike had dreamed of finding this Northwest Passage. Pres. Jefferson had lobbied Congress to authorize the Louisiana Purchase in order to strengthen American trade and settlement and to add to the size of the infant United States of America. The negotiated purchase price of $15 million-dollar, to purchase this huge block of land from with France doubled the size of the United States in one fell swoop.

       On April 25, 1805, the Lewis & Clark Expedition (called the Corps of Discovery) camped by the riverside near the future site of Fort Union. At this location, the Expedition group celebrated their arrival at the juncture (called a confluence) of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers. The Journals of the Expedition, had a notation that this place had a potential for a good trade location, between the two navigable rivers. Rivers were an early means of commerce transportation, before rails and highways. The Expedition, in entering this area, later called Montana, was now in the land of the Blackfeet Indians. This initial contact with the Blackfeet Indians was not an ideal meeting and contact.

       Much of the Montana landscape, which Lewis & Clark covered in their expedition, today remains little unchanged. The landmarks which Lewis & Clark saw, such as sandstone solitary outcrops, the canyons carved by rivers, and the mountain meadows, are pretty much the same as when Lewis & Clark traveled through Montana. Today, the rivers and highways go by many of the landmarks which are related to the Lewis & Clark expedition.



       One thing for which Montana is known, by Paleontologists, Rockhounds and others interested in natural science, is Dinosaur fossils. Some of the greatest dinosaur finds have been in Montana. One really prolific area for dinosaur fossils is the Hell Creek formation, which covers a good bit of Montana..

      During August, 2005 and again in August, 2006, your PMNS Curator, Terry Proctor and PMNS President, Terry Brawner traveled to Montana (among other States) and secured a number of dinosaur and other vertebrate and invertebrate fossils and minerals. Your curator is preparing some of these fossils which he collected at this time. Therefore, additional Hell Creek formation fossils will be added to that page from time to time. Also photographs taken will be added as will be eArt Scans of fossils and other items from the Hell Creek formation. Click here to go to the fossil page.

During this same trip they visited the Pierre Shale formation in Eastern Montana. The Pierre Shale page is under construction, but information, photos and eArt Scans will be provided on that page soon.