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Missouri Headwaters State Park
Just off I-90 east of Three Forks. 994-4042

If you love to see moving waters, this is the place. The park embraces the wild rivers of the Gallatin, Jefferson, and Madison that converge near Three Forks and flow into the Missouri River. Missouri Headwaters was a geographical focal point important to early Native Americans, trappers, traders, and settlers. The now obliterated site of the Three Forks Post, built in 1810 by a group of trappers, is believed to be near here. Sacajawea lived near here as a teenager before she was kidnapped by a band of Hidatsa Indians and taken to North Dakota where she later met the Lewis and Clark Expedition. John Colter visited this area several times, and it was from here that he made his historic run over cactus, rocks and sagebrush after being stripped naked by a band of Blackfeet. It is now a wonderful place for outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, camping and wildlife viewing.

Reprinted from The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia

On this day in Montana—January 30, 1865

The Department of the Army established the Missouri Division to officially extend its protection to the Montana Territory. The intent was to defend settlers and miners traveling the Bozeman Trail into Montana.

As you might guess, the Arapahoe, Sioux, and Northern Cheyenne weren’t exactly fond of the idea, especially when army forts started springing up from Laramie, Wyoming to the Big Horn River in south-central Montana. They organized under Chief Red Cloud, and for the most part, stopped all traffic along the road.

Fresh from the war with the Confederacy, and flush with their success, the army was full of self-important, overconfident officers. Though they had never fought in the West, they boasted of their ability to defeat the Cheyenne and Sioux in battle. At Fort Phil Kearny, just south of the Montana border, Civil War hero William J. Fetterman, bragged that, “A single company of regulars could whip a thousand Indians.” His bluster went further, “A full regiment could whip the entire array of hostile tribes.” And then, “With eighty men I could ride through the Sioux nation.”

In one of only two battles in American history, which left no human survivors, the arrogant Fetterman led two officers, 76 soldiers, and two civilians into what historians now call the Fetterman Massacre. Red Cloud and the young warrior, Crazy Horse, laid a trap for the troopers and wiped them out.

The Indian’s high degree of organization and persistence resulted in constant battles with the Army. Eventually the Army threw in the towel when they realized that the forts were too isolated to defend. When they abandoned the forts, the Indians burned them to the ground and effectively closed the Bozeman Trail to pioneer wagon trains.

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