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Visiting Pompeys Pillar National Monument – Billings Montana

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If you are looking for one of the few pieces of physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark expedition then you need to visit Pompeys Pillar National Monument in Billings Montana. William Clark left his signature etched into this rock he named for Sacagawea’s son. There is a whole visitor center with info on the expedition and the area too. 

Pompeys Pillar National Monument is physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark expedition. William Clark left his signature etched into this rock, you have to see it! #lewisandclark #montana #billings #nationalpark #ourroaminghearts | Lewis and Clark | Montana Travel | Billings, Montana | National Parks | Sacagawea Facts

Visiting Pompeys Pillar National Monument – Billings Montana

Many of us grew up learning about the William and Clark expedition, an 8,000-mile journey two brave men took, to explore uncharted territories west of the Mississippi, after the Louisiana Purchase.

 

Visiting Pompeys Pillar National Monument - Billings Montana

They dealt with treacherous terrain, starvation, disease, hostile and friendly Native Americans over a two-year stretch. Throughout their entire journey, no physical evidence had been left, to show for their presence in this land. That is, except one. 

 

Visiting Pompeys Pillar National Monument Lewis and Clark Trail

Pompey’s Pillar is a jutting rock bluff formation, located about 30 miles east of Billings, Montana, that rises easily over 150 feet above the Yellowstone River.  While Pompey’s Pillar is one of the smallest of national monuments that rests on only 51 acres of land, it holds huge historical significance.

 

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Visiting Pompeys Pillar National Monument - William Clark Signture

William Clark carved his signature with the date that read, July 25th, 1806. Not only did he etch his name into a future national monument, but he also recorded it in his journal. 

 

Pompeys Pillar National Monument

William Clark originally named the spot “Pompy’s Tower” after their guide’s Sacagawea’s son, who was nicknamed Pompey. Clark took a liking to the child and called him “little Pomp.” However, when the book was written on the expedition, the author or editor, changed the name to Pompeys Pillar in 1814.   

 

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Visiting Pompeys Pillar National Monument - Billings Montana

William Clark’s signature is not the only markings you will find on this rock pillar. There’s other artwork and petroglyphs from Native Americans and markings from earlier explorers, fur trappers, US Cavalry and early pioneers. You can see these markings shaded in red on the rock. 

 

Visiting Pompeys Pillar National Monument - Native American Markings

Many historians claim there is archaeological evidence of the human presence in the area for over 11,000 years. The area predominantly used for camping, hunting, and a rendezvous point. Today, the site is managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and is a part of the National Conservation Lands.      

 

Visiting Pompeys Pillar National Monument Boardwalk

You can visit Pompey’s Pillar from April through October, with an admission fee of $7 per carload. The walk along the boardwalk to the monument is right around ¾ of a mile and has vaulted toilets for their facility. The boardwalk is wheelchair friendly and pet-friendly at the base of the pillar. 

 

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Visiting Pompeys Pillar National Monument - Billings Montana

The views from the top of the boardwalk are pretty amazing too. The Yellowstone River isn’t too far away and there are some train tracks as well that you might be able to catch a train coming down. 

 

Visiting Pompeys Pillar National Monument - Billings Montana

Outside the visitor center is a Wildlife building where you can learn a bit about local wildlife and even see some dinosaur bones. 

 

Pompeys Pillar National Monument Canoes

Also outside the visitor center are these recreated canoes Lewis and Clark would have crated to travel down the Yellowstone River. They are carved from tree trunks. 

 

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Pompeys Pillar National Monument Visitor Center

There is also a visitor center on the property and it’s just beautiful. They have huge windows with great views on Pompey’s Pillar. You can get your National Parks Passport stamped here and don’t forget to get your kids their Junior Ranger book to complete for their Junior Ranger badges. 

 

ompeys Pillar National Monument - Billings Montana

This visitor center had a movie with this history of the site. One of the unique parts of this small movie theater is this seating along the left side. It’s in the shape of the canoe Lewis and Clark would have taken down the river. 

 

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Visiting Pompeys Pillar National Monument Museum

Also in this visitor center is a museum with lots of information on Pompey’s Pillar and Lewis and Clark journey as well. They have lots of replicas of rafts and boats that would have been used and a lot of history on the other people and Native American’s involved. 

 

Visiting Pompeys Pillar National Monument - Billings Montana

Being able to witness physical evidence carved into stone by a historical figure is pretty amazing, to say the least. If you happen to be in the Billings area of Montana in the future, this is one historical site that you can’t pass up. If you’ve been to Pompeys Pillar before, tell us about your thoughts. 

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