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Clark's Return

Big Hole National Battlefield

National Park News

Clark’s Return - It’s All Down Hill From Here, July 6&7, 2006

After splitting from Meriwether Lewis at Traveler’s Rest, William Clark in 1806 takes a short cut to cached canoes located at Fortunate Camp from the previous summer. The new route takes Clark and 22 members of the Corps on a “heavily used Indian trail” over the Continental Divide and into the Big Hole Valley.

Today the historic trail corridor is know as Trail Creek and has changed little since this historic crossing providing a natural backdrop for retracing the actual steps of Clark’s Return. A guided hike will begin the day on July 6, 2006 from Gibbons Pass to US Forest Service Hogan’s Cabin. Shuttle Service from the Hogan’s Cabin will begin at 10:15am. Immediately following the hike at the Hogan’s Cabin, located 19 miles east of Wisdom, Montana on Trail Creek / FS Road #106, a series of events will commemorate this bicentennial route of William Clark, Sacajawea, and the divided Corps trip into the “Hot Spring Valley”. Events will begin at 12:00 noon and will continue until 5:30 pm.

The bicentennial events at Hogan Cabin will officially begin with the arrival of the St Charles Corps of Discovery who will ride horse back into the valley to commemorate this bicentennial event. The St Charles Corps of Discovery will also provide living history demonstrations by wearing accurate clothing and will have on-hand many of the tools and equipment used by the Corps.

Some of the events for the day include Blacksmithing, Flint Lock Riffle firing, Tipi Pitch and Horse packing; all important attributes to the success of the Corps journey both west and east through the Rocky Mountains. In addition Dutch Oven Cooking demonstrations and music of the Corps will delight the other senses. Rob Thomas from the University of Montana, Western at 12:30 and 3:30 will discuss the geology of the historic trail to illustrate the difficulties the Corps had going over the Lost Trail and Gibbons Passes. Salish Elder Louis Adams at 4:30 will share oral traditions of his culture with meeting the Corps and providing assistance at Ross’s Hole, in addition will talk about the Salish influences and uses of the Big Hole Valley. The Big Hole 4-H will provide sloppy-joe’s and other treats for those whom want to spend the day. There is a fee for food.

On July 7, 2006 the commemoration will continue in the town of Jackson, Montana, home of the “Boiling Spring” Clark writes about on July 7, 1806 “we arrive at a Boiling Spring situated about 100 paces… it has every appearance of boiling, too hot for a man to endure his hand in it 3 second.”

To commemorate the day, guided tours will be offered out to the Hot Springs from 1:00 – 5:00; on each hour. These five walks are approximately ½ mile long and access to the springs will be by a Park Ranger only. In addition, cultural demonstrations of Flint Locks, Blacksmithing, and Tools of the Corps will be available. At 5:30 pm a historic ride by the St Charles Corps of Discovery will arrive into Jackson, MT wearing traditional attire.

At 6:00 pm a Buffalo Stew Dinner hosted by Jackson Hot Springs Lodge will be served for a $10 fee; reservations are requested by calling (406) 834-3151. Following dinner at 7:30 a key note speaker Historian Hal Stearns, portrays William Clark reminiscing his adventures in Montana. All events and demonstrations are free excepted when noted. Events for both days sponsored by Big Hole National Battlefield, Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, Salmon-Challis National Forest, Bitterroot National Forest, Glacier Natural History Association, and the communities of Jackson & Wisdom, MT.


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