Sunday, August 31, 2014


Currently in Great Falls MT (Low 49 Passing Storms High 68) 

During their winter at Fort Mandan during the winter of 1804-1805 the Mandan Indians told Lewis and Clark they would travel on what is now called the Missouri River for a ways and then come upon "great falls". Here is the Great Falls before the Ryan Dam was built and at high water time, this is from the internet. This is close to the falls as they appeared to Lewis and Clark.

Realizing that they had to portage around the falls William Clark was sent ahead to scout the best passage. What he found was four more falls, along with the Giant Springs that we blogged about yesterday, making the trip even longer. It turned out to be an 18 and 1/4 mile portage around the falls. We toured the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and they had this diorama depicting part of the journey to portage the big canoes around the falls.

The Interpretive Center is neat and deserves a visit. You walk a timeline of their journey westward. There are a lot of different films and talks throughout the day. You could spend an entire day here. We even heard the folklore about the Welsh Indians, how explorers from Wales predated Columbus and intermingled with the Indians. For our journey it is back to the falls. Here is what Great Falls and Ryan Dam looked like to us during low water.

The viewing for the dam/falls is on a island and you cross this bridge which can sway. 

For those that know Jo she was very brave and went across the bridge. Bob stopped to take a picture and Jo kept going slowly while clinging to the hand rails. When Bob finished he walked at normal speed and the bridge started swaying. Jo planted her feet, gripped the hand rails even tighter and yelled 'nobody move'. Luckily it was only Bob on the bridge at the time and he knew to pay attention. We then walked together very slowly there with no swaying for the remainder and for the return trip. Here is the shot downstream that Bob was after.

Here is what Great Falls/Ryan Dam looks like during high water, taken from the internet.

Of the four remaining falls only three are visible. The damming of the river has caused Colter Falls to be flooded. We wished we were here during high water as it would even be more impressive. Here is Crooked Falls, also known as Horseshoe Falls.

Rainbow Falls and Dam

Black Eagle Falls and Dam with Great Falls, the town, in the distance.

Great Falls was a treat to visit and learn more about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. All of these sights were within 20 miles of our park.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo


  1. Don't think I could have done that protage back in the day.

  2. I am with Jo. I would have to have Paul go first and then have him get off before I would attempt a crossing. How I hate bridges.