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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Billings in Yellowstone County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)
 

The Place Where the White Horse Went Down

 
 
The Place Where the White Horse Went Down Marker image. Click for full size.
By Rich Pfingsten, March 22, 2009
1. The Place Where the White Horse Went Down Marker
Inscription. In 1837-38 a smallpox epidemic spread from the American Fur Trading Company steamboat St. Peter which had docked at Fort Union. The terrible disease for which the Indians had no immunity eventually affected all Montana tribes. A story is told among the Crow of two young warriors returning from a war expedition who found their village stricken. One discovered his sweetheart among the dying, and both warriors, grieving over loss of friends and family, were despondent and frustrated because nothing could alter the course of events. The young warriors dressed in their finest clothing and mounted a snow-white horse. Riding double and singing their death songs, they drove the blindfolded horse over a cliff and landed at what is now the eastern end of the Yellowstone County Exhibition grounds. Six teenage boys and six teenage girls who were not afflicted with the disease witnessed the drama; they buried the dead warriors and left the camp. Great loss of life among the tribe followed in the wake of the epidemic. Although time has reduced the height of the cliff, the location is remembered even today as The Place Where the White Horse Went Down.
 
Location. 45° 48.145′ N, 108° 28.85′ W. Marker is in Billings, Montana, in Yellowstone County. Marker is on 6th Avenue
The Place Where the White Horse Went Down Marker image. Click for full size.
By Rich Pfingsten, March 22, 2010
2. The Place Where the White Horse Went Down Marker
Photograph of entire marker and posts holding marker.
Bypass 0.1 miles south of East Airport Road, on the left when traveling south. Click for map. Located at the Boothill Cemetery near the junction of Montana 3 and U.S 87 near Billings Heights, just north of the parking lot to Applebee's Neighborhood Grill off of East Alkali Creek Road. Marker is in this post office area: Billings MT 59105, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 2 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Boothill Cemetery (a few steps from this marker); Along the Zimmerman Trail (approx. 6 miles away).
 
More about this marker. There did not appear to be any cliffs in the vicinity of the marker, but this area has undergone considerable commercial development over the years, so it is possible the cliff that the horse was driven off has been re-graded.
 
Regarding The Place Where the White Horse Went Down. According to Montana's Historical Highway Markers by Robert Fletcher (revised and expanded fourth edition by Jon Axline, 2008), there is a "Behind the Scenes" story about this marker:
"This marker originated as one of the Indian Historical Markers in 1989. Here is described an event for which most Montanans can feel sympathy and respect but that seems so incongruous in the middle of one of the fastest-growing cities in Montana. In fact, this areas is one of the most historical places in the state. Native Americans lived in and around Alkali Creek for thousands of years, camping in the valley and utilizing buffalo jumps on the adjacent cliffs to acquire food and other necessities of life. A few years before the event described in the marker, in 1823, Missouri Fur Company traders Michael Immel and Robert Jones, along with five others, were ambushed and killed by Blackfeet Indians very near here. In 1877, a group of entrepreneurs established a small steamboat port called Coulson about a mile east of here. That town was legendary for its lawlessness and the many violent deaths of its citizens - all of whom are buried in Boot Hill Cemetery adjacent to this historical marker. Things settled down considerably with the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1882 and the concurrent establishment of a new community, called Billings. Since then, the city has been extending east and west along the Yellowstone River and eventually encompassed this area."
 
Categories. AnimalsNative AmericansNotable Events
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Rich Pfingsten of Forest Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,209 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Rich Pfingsten of Forest Hill, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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