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Lewis & Clark ~ Camp Disappointment

National Register of Historic Places -
Lewis & Clark's Camp Disappointment
Camp Disappointment was listed on October 15, 1966.

Lewis & Clark Corp of Discovery Bicentennial

Sculpture by Bob Sciver of Lewis & Clark Corp of Discovery On the return trip in late July of 1806, Capt. Lewis, George Drouillard, and the two Fields brothers ascended the Marias River.  The explorers were hoping to find a tributary of the Missouri that went far enough north to cross the 50th parallel.  If the mission proved successful; more territory to the north could be claimed by the United States under the Louisiana Purchase.

The northernmost point reached by the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Camp Disappointment, is approximately 12 miles NE of Browning on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.   On the Cut Bank River, east of present-day Browning, Lewis could see the river exiting the mountains.  He called this northern-most campsite of the expedition ‘Camp Disappointment’ since this meant the Marias did not reach 50 degrees north latitude.

Lewis & Clark's Camp Disappointment Sign and Monument along Highway 2 on the Blackfeet Reservation near Browning Montana Lewis & Clark's Camp Disappointment is located about 12 miles NE of Browning with the mountains of Glacier National Park in the background.

This historic site is marked by a monument erected by the Great Northern Railway in 1925 and a sign at milepost 233 on US Highway 2 between Browning and Cut Bank, which is four miles directly south of the actual camp site reached on July 23, 1806.  (Access by permission from private landowner only).

Lewis & Clark's Camp Disappointment sign at milepost 233 along Highway 2 on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana "The monument on the hill above was erected by the Great Northern Railway in 1925 to commemorate the farthest point north reached by the Lewis & Clark Expedition.  1804-1806.

Captain Meriwether Lewis, with three of his best men left the main party at the Missouri River and embarked on a side trip to explore the headwaters of the Marias River.  He hoped to be able to report to President Jefferson that the headwaters arose north of the 49th parallel, thus extending the boundaries of the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase.

The party camped on the Cut Bank River in July 22-25 1806 in a "beautiful and extensive bottom".  Deep in the territory of the dreaded Blackfeet the men were uneasy.  Lewis wrote, "game of every description is extremely wild which induces me to believe the Indians are now, or have been lately, in this neighbourhood."   Lewis could see from here that the river arose to the west rather than to the north, as he had hoped.  Disheartened by this discovery by the cold rainy weather and the shortage of game Lewis named this farthest point north Camp Disappointment, the actual site of which is four miles directly north of this monument."

Lewis & Clark Corp of Discovery Camp Disappointment Monument, Blackfeet Country, Montana Overlooking the actual Lewis & Clark Corp of Discovery Camp Disappointment Site, Blackfeet Country, Montana
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