Lewis and Clark in Montana
Wherever you are in Montana, you stand in the pathway of Lewis and Clark. Their 1804-1806 expedition was a grand adventure to investigate the people and resources of the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase and to seek a navigable passage across the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific. Like the French and Spanish who made similar voyages across North America, the Corps of Discovery brought back information that would change life in this land forever.
Nations in Transformation
The 19th century brought tumult to North America. Indian nations, recovering from five waves of smallpox, pushed west as Europeans raced to conquer more territories. Though others had explored, traded and trapped in the Northern Plains, Lewis and Clark were the first to come for military, scientific and economic development reasons. Their expedition defined agendas and relationships that people of the West are still sorting out - between different cultures, and between people and the land.
Montana Legacy: Many Cultures, Many Landmarks
The Corps of Discovery included Indians, French, Euro-Americans, men of mixed European and Indian decent, one black, a woman and a baby. Indian people of many nations fed, guided and helped the Corps with few violent altercations. Montana today is a land of many cultures, and its diversity
is part of our region's identity.
In what we now call Montana, Lewis and Clark explored 1,900 miles of wilderness, catalogued 63 species of plants and animals new to science, and charted significant geographic features. Seven the these are National Historic Landmarks and Monuments: Pompeys Pillar, the Great Falls Portage, the Three Forks of the Missouri, Lemhi Pass, Lolo Pass, Traveller's Rest, and the Upper Missouri Breaks.
There are still places in Montana where you may see landscape, wildlife and native plants just as the Corps described in their journals: rich, raw and full of possibilities. You can also see evidence of cultural cooperation, conflicts and collisions in values that have defined the West for two centuries.
Discovery, for all travelers, is a deeply personal and universally human experience. In the larger sense, Montana is continually discovered, its cultures are always transforming, and each of us is explorer, witness and storyteller.
Montana welcomes you to make discoveries of your own in this rich landscape. Please respect private property, help preserve out public lands and abundant wildlife and celebrate with us the mix of people who call Montana home.