- Things to See, Historical Markers/Interpretive Sign, Historic Sites
- General info
Located 30 miles east of Billings.
How many times have you traveled somewhere and thought about who had been there before? Pompeys Pillar is like a sandstone history book that reads like a who’s who of western frontier history. Look on the rockface for the remains of animal drawings created by people who used the area for rendezvous, campsites, and hunting.
Pompey’s Pillar National Historic Landmark contains exceptional cultural, recreational, and wildlife values. It represents the legacy of the early West and its development. At the Pillar, there is evidence of Native Americans, early explorers, fur trappers, the U.S. Cavalry, railroad development, and early homesteaders, many of whom left their history embedded in this sandstone pillar. Captain William Clark, his guide, Sacagawea, her 18-month old son (nicknamed “Pompey”), and a crew of 11 men stopped near the 200-foot-high rock outcropping on the return leg of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
On July 25, 1806, Clark carved his signature and the date in the rock and recorded doing so in his journal. “I marked my name and the day of the month and year,” wrote Captain William Clark in his journal on Friday, July 25, 1806. This inscription is the only surviving on-site physical remains of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Clark named this rock Pompy’s Tower. Pompey was Clark’s nickname for young Baptiste Charbonneau whose mother, Sacagawea, was the party’s interpreter. Pompy means “little chief” in the Shoshoni language. In 1814 the landmark was renamed when the journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition were published. The historic signature remains today, and visitors can walk on a boardwalk to see it.
A river landmark and rendezvous point for early travelers, Pompey’s Pillar stands 150 feet above the Yellowstone River. A stairway ascends up 220 steps to the top of the pillar for an outstanding view of the surrounding area. You can get a closer look at Clark’s signature halfway up the climb. Admission is $3 per vehicle, open Memorial Day–September. Walk-in visits are allowed in the off-season.
Reprinted from www.recreation.gov and the BLM site brochure.
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