Pompey’s Pillar

Leaving Lewis and Clark Caverns we knew we had a long day of driving ahead of us, so I planned a good detour to get us out of the car for a bit. East of Billings MT, along the Yellowstone River, a huge chunk of sandstone rises 150 feet above the surrounding plains. It has provided a prime viewpoint for thousands of years.

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Petroglyphs and markings show the history and importance to early inhabitants as well as those more recent visitors, including Capt. William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Clark was here on the return journey when he and Lewis split up to explore different waterways. Clark used this viewpoint to sketch a map of the area and carved his signature into the soft rock. It is the only physical evidence left behind by the expedition.

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The name Pompey’s Pillar comes from Clark as well. He was fond of Sacagawea’s son, born during the expedition, and nicknamed him Pompy. Clark named the pillar after him.

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This is an easy stop if you’re traveling I-90, not more than a mile off the freeway. We climbed the boardwalk for the great view, walked the river path, and enjoyed the exhibits about Lewis & Clark and the flora and fauna of the area. The building’s architecture is cool and they have a neat river motif running through the floor that continues outside on the paths. Definitely well worth the stop!

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