On my recent drive to WI, I decided to stop at Pompey’s Pillar, a National Monument that I have driven past many times driving on I-94.  The Pillar is about a mile off of I-94, just east of Billings MT.

Pompeys Pillar Yellowstone River

I  thought it was going to be this really lame tourist trap, but I was surprised at how  interesting it really is.  It turns out that Pompeys Pillar is one of the most famous sandstone buttes in America. It bears the only remaining physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. On the face of the 150-foot butte, Captain William Clark carved his name and the date, July 25, 1806. The Rock and signature appears on the trail today as it did 200 years ago.  It was really cool to see that.  I was rather humbled to be standing in the same exact spot that Captain William Clark was standing in 1806.

Signage at Pompey’s Pillar

I know it is easy to pass by the lesser known monuments managed by the National Park Service, but there are some gems out there.

Captain William Clark’s signature etched in the sandstone

What I learned about the Park:

I did not realize that there is really no physical evidence left on the sites that the Corps of Discovery/Lewis and Clark expedition occupied.  It is amazing to me that they even accomplished this feat.  Honestly, just paddling upstream AGAINST THE CURRENT of the Missouri River would have done me in.

What I learned about myself:

In general, I have to stop being so damn judgmental about everything (sarcasm), but especially about these special items of interest managed by the NPS.  I need to let myself be surprised by these lesser known places as well as the great big obvious ones.

My advice to you:

I encourage you all to stop by some of these lesser known parks, forests, monuments and even those “item of interest” signs along the way.  There is so much great history all around our country.

Share your thoughts:

What are some of the “gems” in your area or ones you stopped at and were surprised by?

Pompeys Pillar Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery
Pompeys Pillar Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery

More Information about Pompey’s Pillar

Pompey’s Pillar was part of the original 1803 Louisiana Purchase. It was in the public domain until the mid-1800s when a treaty made it part of the Crow Indian Reservation. A later action removed the area from the reservation but gave Crow tribal members the first right to homestead the lands.

Captain Clark named the Pillar “Pompy’s Tower” in honor of Sacagawea’s son Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, whom he had nicknamed “Pomp.” Nicholas Biddle, first editor of Lewis and Clark’s journals, changed the name to “Pompey’s Pillar.”

Link to more info on Pompey’s Pillar National Monument

See all GRP Blog Posts

Send me a message

Use the form below to comment on this post