Saturday, July 30, 2005

Billings Exploration

We spent a delightful day with our friends, Winn and Donna, exploring the Billings area. It is a real privilege to have such nice friends in this area to help us by pointing out history and features that we would have otherwise missed.

The highlight of the day was a visit to Pompey's Pillar. This is an isolated tower of rock in the Yellowstone Valley that contains the only physical evidence of Lews and Clarke's exploration of the area. Clark carved his name and the date, July 25, 1806, on the side of this rock tower. I asked the ranger how they knew that this was an authentic artifact and he replied that the carving was well documented in Clark's journal and that the signature was exactly in the location described by Clark. In the visitor center an older gentleman, who was obviously steeped in the history of the Lewis and Clark expedition in this area, gave Winn and I a detailed history of their travels. Pompy was the nickname that Clark gave to Sacagawea's son. A quote from a Lewis and Clark history site reads:

Sacagawea’s son Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, or “Pompy,” was three months old when the Corps of Discovery left Fort Mandan. His parents accepted William Clark’s offer to educate him, and he moved into Clark’s St. Louis home when he was six. At age 18, he went to Europe for six years with Duke Paul of Wuerttemburg, an enthusiastic early tourist of the American West. Returning to the U.S., Jean Baptiste became a mountain man and fur trader, and a guide whose clients included John C. Frémont. He later settled in California, and died in Oregon, en route to Montana, in 1866.
More info on Pompy can be found by clicking here.

We ended great day we had a barbecue at Winn and Donna Horton's beautiful home just outside Billings. We watched an amazing sunset on their pation while we ate a great meal. The temperatures that had been in the high 90s during the day dropped rapidly and a steady dry wind kept us nice and comfortable. Their home is located on top of one of the rolling grass hills in the area just west of Billings with a view that is priceless. Our plans are to spend a couple more days here before continuing on towards Canada. The big question for us right now is which route to take. There are many appealing places to see here in Montana and the route we take depends on whether or not we want to see those before going into Canada. We'll study the maps and look at the time it will take before deciding.