Portage – Great Falls, Montana

Day 666

     Lewis and Clark, and their party of merry men, were happily going up the Missouri River looking for the Northwest Passage and exploring the newly acquired Louisiana Territory for President Thomas Jefferson, until they arrive where we are now, Great Falls, Montana. Here they ran into their first major obstacle, water falls. The only way to surmount the falls was portage. What is “portage” you ask? Good question. Portage means “to carry”. They had to build a devise on which to carry their boats out of the water, up the mountainside, pull them on land around the falls, back down the mountainside and back into the water. 

     As it turned out, to their great dismay, there was not just one waterfalls, but five, and they had to lug everything 18 miles overland, on top of the mountain that the Missouri River carved, to surpass the falls. We went to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive center to learn all this.

     They had this diorama to give us a visual interpretation. 

     We met with the descendants of the Chippewa tribe they encountered.     Today was the 20th anniversary the opening of this center, and there were all kinds of activities and demonstrations about the expedition. Here Barbara partakes in an Indian ceremonial dance.      They also demonstrated the firing of the “swivel gun” Lewis and Clark had with them     A raptor demonstration, here the dissucision is about Vultures:      This is the “portage devise” built and used to pull those boats up the mountain:     And they reminded us, only YOU can prevent forest fires.

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