Beaverhead Rock

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Location: Hwy 41, north of Dillon

On August 10, 1805, members of the Lewis and Clark expedition pushed their way up the Jefferson River’s tributaries toward the Continental Divide and the Pacific Ocean beyond. Toward afternoon they sighted what Clark called a “remarkable Clift” to the west. Sacajawea (or, as Lewis spelled it: Sahcahgarweah), their Indian guide for this portion of the trip, said her tribe called the large promontory “Beaver’s head.”

Both Lewis and Clark agreed on the rock’s likeness to the fur-bearing animal and recorded the name in their journals. They continued south only to encounter a heavy rain and hail storm. “the men defended themselves from the hail by means of the willow bushes but all the party got perfectly wet,” Lewis said. They camped upstream from the Beaver’s head, enjoyed freshly killed deer meat, then pushed on the next day.

Beaverhead Rock served as an important landmark not only for Lewis and Clark, but also for the trappers, miners, and traders who followed them into the vicinity. It is the namesake for the county in which it is now located, retaining the same appearance that inspired Sacajawea and her people to name it centuries ago.

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