Monday night the 28th left me in glenDIVE, Montana (having traveled from
Pierre, South Dakota that day) about to poke into EG's dropping gas mileage.
PART 20 also left Lewis and Clark leaving the current-day Pierre area heading
out away from the Teton Sioux.
Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery continued to follow the
Missouri River. It was fall and the weather was turning cooler to go along
with the wind. It wouldn't be long before the group would have to find a
place to spend the winter.
About the current area of Mobridge, South Dakota, the C.O.D. came upon
the next Indian group, the Arikara, or what was left of them. There were
three large villages. A little more than 20 years before there had been over
30. That was before smallpox wiped out about 75% of the population.
The Arikara proved good hosts; although, they, too, didn't buy into all
the speeches. Why should they believe the new comers and their promise of
economic help? Even though they didn't really like the Teton Sioux, at least
they were the enemy they knew and they did have a trade relationship already
in place. By October 12th the group was on the move north, again, and passed
through the current Bismarck, North Dakota, area about October 21st. Near
Washburn (north of Bismarck) they met the Mandans in another fortunate
circumstance. Wintering with these cooperative Indians helped the Corps of
Discovery survive a bitter cold winter. Temperatures well below zero made for
a difficult time, but cooperative hunting helped both groups. The Corps took
six weeks building a winter fort that wasn't done until Christmas Day. The
cold weather sometimes kept workers to maximum one-hour shifts before they
had to be relieved. All wasn't bleak, however. More than one party was shared
between the two groups and there is recorded history that some teepee sharing
helped keep some of the nights warm.
There are many stories that came out of the winter of 1804-05, but one
I'd be remiss in leaving out would be that of Sacagawea's. The more common
spelling and the way I learned it in school in the days of distorted,
milk-toast history, Sacajawea, is probably incorrect and stems from an early
"interpretation" of the various journals. Say, Sa-cog-a-we'-a, and you'll be
However the name is pronounced, Sacagawea was not originally to be part
of the group. Her husband (as he is politely called), Toussaint Charbonneau,
was hired as an interpreter for the next part of the trip. Sacagawea
(probably only 16 or 17 years old and 6 months pregnant) came along as part
of the deal. She was a Shoshone Indian that had been captured by the Hidatsa
when she was about 12. Eventually, she was sold to Charbonneau and become one
of his two wives. (Nothing ever gets mentioned about the other and she wasn't
part of the adventure.) One could make a case that Sacagawea was the second
slave to become part of the Corps of Discovery. (York, a Negro slave of
Clark's, was also part of the C.O.D. and participated as a full-fledged
member through the entire adventure. Right up, that is, until it came time
for all the rewards. Everyone else that made it back to St. Louis received
large land grants and some manner of fame. All York asked for was his
freedom. Clark denied it.)
By April 7, 1805, the Corps of Discovery was ready to move on. In the
spring they had packed up much of what they had gathered (specimens as well
as journals) into the keelboat, the Discovery. It was ready to head back down
the river. They had also built six canoes that would accompany the two
pirogues from this point. And with them they took maps made from information
gleamed from their winter talks with the Mandans. It was from this point on
that they were entering country totally unfamiliar to Europeans. The next
major point for them was to be the "great falls" somewhere down the line. If
they reached them, they were on the right track.
Meanwhile, back in present day Montana.
One more for the collection - only Nebraska is
To avoid having to empty the boot and drag out the heavy toolbox I popped
the bonnet open to see if something was obvious. It was. The float bowl
showed signs of having overflowed. The past couple of days I'd been running
into more and more fuel "spiked" with Ethanol and wonder if that has had
anything to do with it. Regardless, I hoped it was just a sticking needle and
looked around for a Special Tuning Tool. I found one in the parking lot:
C-AJJ-Rock. Using the same technique one would use on a sticking electric
fuel pump, I gently tapped the float bowl, cleaned it off and checked it by
running EG for a while. It seemed to do the trick, but I made a note to
monitor it the next day. I also wondered whether the replacement lead
substitute I'd been forced to use while looking for Red Line might have
Crossing my fingers that the problem was solved, I headed off to work on
trip notes and plan for the next day. I was looking forward to the Great
Falls area and moving farther along the path of the Corps of Discovery.
The morning of August 29th saw me making my escape from glenDIVE after
filling the fuel tank and heading, I thought, along 200 towards Great Falls.
(Most people head out on 94 towards Yellowstone National Park.) OK. I was
only confused for a mile or two, but eventually got on track for the long
drive across much of Montana. Montana's a big place. How big, you ask?
Montana, the 15th State on this trip is by far the biggest. At 147,138
square miles (rank 4th in the US) it is almost 80% bigger than the next
biggest, Kansas. With a population of only 880,000 that equates to a density
of 6 people per square mile. And you thought North Dakota was a lonely place!
Montana's not only big but it has many types of scenery and climate.
(Washington has more, but since I live there I don't want to bring it up and
seem like I'm bragging.) The eastern part of the State continues much of what
I'd seen in parts of South and North Dakota; i.e., open, rolling plains -
only more of them. In the west one runs into the magnificent Rocky Mountains.
The highest peak in Montana, at 12,799 feet (Granite Peak), is about twice
the height of the biggest east of the Mississippi. (The State's name comes
from the Spanish word for mountains.)
Gold, cooper and other minerals have contributed to many fortunes in this
State. Gold was discovered in 1862, and, tying into a previous article, our
earlier gold discoverer, an arrogant, misguided General, got his due at
Little Big Horn in 1876. Unfortunately, Custer took a lot of good men down
Here's your bit of Montana trivia. The first US woman "congressperson"
was elected from Montana. Jeannette Rankin was also the only representative
to vote against both World Wars. Make of that what you will.
EG and I enjoyed the long drive through the changing countryside to Great
Falls. (By the way Great Falls isn't. Most of the majesty of the area has
been tamed by dams.) There we took time out to visit the excellent Lewis and
Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center. It is located on a bluff
above the Missouri River. Between the river view and the excellent Center one
could spend most of a day. I easily managed a couple of hours; including,
taking in a lecture on petrographs and pictographs, and a film on the C.O.D.
by Ken Burns. There were many good Centers along the route, but this one was
by far the best. If you find yourself in the area (I'm not sure why you
would, but if you do) be sure and spend some time.
Look for this place if you get a chance.
Like Lewis and Clark, I turned south to follow the Missouri River heading
for the State capital of Helena. As I traveled south the valley areas I
traveled through started looking more and more like I was in Los Angeles
rather than Montana. I'd noticed the smoke on the horizon for much of the
day, but now it was very bad. The forest and plains fires were leaving their
mark on the area even far from the actual fires. By the time I rolled into
Helena the air was thick and it was going to take some good winds or a day or
two of rain to clear - once the fires were brought under control. The only
good thing was that the weather was a bit cooler, relatively, and it made for
a more pleasant drive.
EG and I booked in to one more motel in a long line of motels. The
odometer read 6,738 miles. The day had seen 498 miles go by under EG's little
10" wheels, and 4,856 had passed since leaving Miami. Gas mileage was still
down a bit and there was still some leaking. The Special Tuning tool I'd
picked up in the parking lot in Glendive was in the door pocket. I used it
again, hoping that the changed fuel (no more Ethanol) and the increased use
of Red Line would cure the problem.
Tomorrow was to be a big day. In the morning I would reach the headwaters
of the Missouri River after following it for over 2,000 miles.