During his return trip to St. Louis, William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition climbed the Pillar and carved his signature and the date in the sandstone. Clark wrote, “This rock I ascended and from it’s top had a most extensive view in every direction on the Northerly Side of the river high romantic Clifts approach & jut over the water for Some distance both above and below...I marked my name and the day of the month and year."
While archeological digs and other recent research have uncovered artifacts that may have been left by the Corps of Discovery, Clark’s inscription is still the only remaining physical evidence of Lewis and Clark’s passing visible on their actual route. This historic carving on the sandstone butte that Clark called a “remarkable rock” has inspired generations of visitors for more than 100 years.
In his journals, Clark named the Pillar "Pomp’s Tower." Pomp was Clark’s nickname for young Baptiste Charbonneau, infant son of Sacagawea, the Shoshoni woman who accompanied the expedition and contributed greatly to its success. An image of Sacagawea carrying young Pompy adorns the United States golden dollar coin. Pompy means little chief in the Shoshoni language. The name was changed to Pompeys Pillar when an account of the Expedition was published by Nicolas Biddle in 1814.
Pompeys Pillar was proclaimed a national monument in January 2001. Prior to its monument status, it was a designated national historic landmark in 1965. It is located along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.
Follow the links on the right to learn more about Pompeys Pillar National Monument and interpretive center.
For more information, contact:
Billings Field Office 5001 Southgate Drive Billings, MT 59101 406-896-5013