Fri Aug 26th-27th – We spent two nights in Great Falls, Montana, so that we could have one, full, leisurely day sightseeing. The first thing that Great Falls has is, of course, falls – a number of them along the Missouri River. They were impressive, however, the hydroelectric dams built on them did detract from their original sense of ‘wildness’.
It was, nonetheless, easy to appreciate how the ‘Great Falls’ appeared to Lewis and Clark, who first discovered the falls on their expedition westward.
When the Lewis and Clark expedition came upon the area they named Great Falls, they had to portage around the 5 sets of falls. They had to abandon their keel boats and fashion dug-out canoes that could be hauled up over the land and around the falls. The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls did a wonderful job of describing the difficulties encountered by the expedition and their one month stay at Great Falls.
The Missouri River was beautiful. They had had very high water levels similar to the flooding around Sioux City, but the river had gone down.
We noticed these pelicans and cormorants just ‘hanging out’ together.
We also enjoyed Big Spring State Park…….
Where a wonderful, crystal clear, spring bubbles out of the ground, forming a pool…..
That spills into the Missouri River.
Another State Park close by is the First Peoples Buffalo Jump. I loved the stained glass panels (there were 3 of them) that greeted you at the center.
This park had a wonderful interpretive center that describes the sacred relationship that the Native Americans had with the buffalo, which provided the food, clothes, tools and other necessities of life for them.
This ‘buffalo jump’ was the site of seasonal gatherings of all the Native American tribes in the area for a big buffalo kill. The Plains Indians would all work together, herding the buffalo over the edge of this embankment, where they would plunge to their death. Then, over a number of weeks, while the Indians would remain camped there, they would butcher the buffalo- curing the meat, and processing the hides- before returning home.
The ‘buffalo jump’ is considered a sacred site, and one of great celebration. We could close our eyes and just imagine the intertwining lives of the Plains Indians and the noble buffalo.
This is the top of the embankment. It is amazing how far one can see in the Great Plains.
And this is the edge over which hundreds of buffalo would plunge….
It was absolutely peaceful on top of this butte. No one around for miles…….just the sun and the wind…….
And a few prairie dogs chattering away at having been disturbed ……..