Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pompeys Pillar National Monument

Pompeys Pillar National Monument is a unit of the Bureau of Land Management and is adjacent to I-95 about 25 miles east of Billings, Montana. The massive sandstone outcrop rises 150 feet high and is two acres in size. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1965 and a National Monument in 2001, but it has had historic significance for over 11,000 years as a useful observation tower, as well as the only major sandstone formation on the south south of the Yellowstone River, and a landmark for the only natural ford of that river.






It was also a focal point for Captain William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. On their return journey from the Pacific Ocean in 1806, they split up to explore two different routes back. Clark was exploring the Yellowstone River route and was amazed by this "remarkable rock" with its "extensive view in every direction."  He marked his presence by engraving his name and date as seen here...





Clark named it "Pompy's Pillar" after Sacagawea's child,  Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, whom Clark affectionately nicknamed "Pomp" meaning "little chief" in the Shoshoni language. When his journal was published in 1814, it got the spelling "Pompey's."  The Indians called the tower "Where the mountain lion lies."


The top can be easily reached via stairs form the modern and informative Visitor Center structure, complete with movie, museum, and gift shop...




...and the views from atop are outstanding...