was Camp Disappointment?
In 1805, President Thomas Jefferson commissioned his private secretary,
US Army Captain Meriwether Lewis, to explore the region that had
been acquired from France under the Louisiana Purchase of 1803—an
area of 828,000 square miles that extended from the Mississippi
River to the Rocky Mountains.
Lewis brought along his old army buddy, William Clark, on this
endeavor. Although Clark was only Lieutenant Clark, Lewis referred
to his as “Captain” so that the 40 men in their exploration party
would look upon Lewis and Clark as joint leaders.
The expedition took two years and four months to complete as the
men trudged through 8,000 miles of uncharted territory from St.
Louis to the Pacific Ocean and back. Camp Disappointment was the
northern most point of their expedition, which they reached on
July 23, 1806. It received its name because the river marking
the northern boundary of the Louisiana territory was not as far
north as the explorers expected. (Lewis named the river Marias,
after his cousin, Maria Wood.) In addition, the site did not look
like a good economic prospect, since it wasn’t close to the Canadian
fur trade. To add insult to injury, the weather was awful, and
when the explorers left, Lewis wrote in his journal: “We set out
biding a lasting adieu to this place which I now call camp disappoint
A monument marking the site of Camp Disappointment is 12 miles
northeast of Browning, Montana, on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
In 1862, Gold was discovered in the section of the Louisiana territory
referred to as “Montana,” due to its mountainous terrain. Copper
and silver were eventually found there as well. Known as “the
Treasure State,” Montana was admitted to the Union as a State
on November 8, 1889.
tuned for the next Geography Corner: Which war has the most monuments
commemorating it in New York City, and why? Readers are invited
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