Clark on the Yellowstone

Clark on the Yellowstone Bicentennial EventI am currently in Billings, Montana helping out with the Lewis & Clark bicentennial event called "Clark on the Yellowstone". It is being held at Pompeys Pillar National Monument (managed by the BLM). It was two hundred years ago today (July 25, 1806) that William Clark carved his name into a sandstone pillar along the Yellowstone River. That simple carving remains the only piece of physical evidence viewable today along the entire Lewis & Clark trail to the Pacific. There are a lot of government agencies here helping to make this commemoration a success. There are tents for the Park Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, the BLM, the National Guard, and probably more.

In April, I had mentioned that I was surprised at the low level of media coverage given to the continuing Lewis & Clark story. The story is so compelling, I'm not sure why it hasn't really captured the national interest. The good news is that for those attending the show here, there are not long lines, there is plenty of parking, and people have full access to all events and activities. The local news said that 27,000 folks made it out to the Pillar over the weekend. I'm sure there will be a pretty good turnout for today's events on the actual anniversary. Among the activities scheduled is a parade of riders on horseback and a fly-over of an apache blackhawk helicopter (the modern day equivalent of Indian culture meeting the modern US Army I suppose).

The event so far has been a real success. People have been enjoying dance troupe's from the Crow and Chippewa-Cree. There have also been excellent living history interpretation presentations with people portraying William Clark, Sacagawea, and York among others. There have been other presentations as well, today a forum of Lewis & Clark authors was very popular, as well as a Native American Symposium addressing tourism on tribal lands. Visitors can explore a mobile bookstore, a marketplace of tribal wares, and plenty of souvenirs to spend their money on. The temperatures have been hot, in the 90's everyday so far, but with a nice new air conditioned visitor center and plenty of water stations, spirits have remained high. I will try to include more detail of the event later this week.

NPS: Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail