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Missoula in Missoula County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)
 

Northwest Passage

Captain Lewis in the Missoula Valley

 
 
Northwest Passage Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, May 11, 2018
1. Northwest Passage Marker
Inscription.  Since the late 1400s and the time of Columbus, explorers from all over the world eagerly sought to discover the legendary water route, or "Northwest Passage," that was rumored to bisect the resource-rich interior of the North American continent.
As late as 1803, President Jefferson's long list of instructions to Captain Meriwether Lewis included:

"The object of your mission its to explore the Missouri River..." and to determine "... the most practicable water communication across this continent for the purpose of commerce."

But on July 4th, 1806, while traveling through the Missoula Valley on his return to St. Louis, a disappointed Captain Lewis finally concluded that the most practical route between the Missouri River (east of the Rocky Mountains) and the Columbia River (west of the Rocky Mountains) was by land, following hundreds of miles of trail over difficult terrain. Lewis and Clark's western explorations helped put the 300-year-old "Northwest Passage" myth to rest.

(sidebar on right:)
After Lewis & Clark

Fifty-three
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years later (1859) Lieutenant John Mullen was put in charge of constructing a primitive military road between the Missouri and Columbia Rivers. The road would also allow important supplies to be transported to the new settlements between the two great rivers.
Mullan first determined that Lewis and Clark's suggestions for a road were unfeasible. Mullan's well researched route was much more practical, but was still a whopping 624 miles long, and often took over two months to travel by wagon. Sections of the Mullan Road are still in use in Washington, Idaho and Montana - including Missoula.
 
Erected by National Park Service.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ExplorationRoads & Vehicles. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #03 Thomas Jefferson, and the Lewis & Clark Expedition series lists. A significant historical date for this entry is July 4, 1806.
 
Location. 46° 52.14′ N, 113° 59.82′ W. Marker is in Missoula, Montana, in Missoula County. Marker can be reached from Carousel Drive near South Higgins Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 123 Carousel Drive, Missoula MT 59802, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Name That River (here, next to this marker); A Shortcut (here, next to this marker); Danger Ahead!
Northwest Passage Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, May 11, 2018
2. Northwest Passage Marker
Marker on the left
(a few steps from this marker); Headquarters Building and Daily Company Annex (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Free Speech Corner (about 600 feet away); Elrod Residence (about 700 feet away); Charles E. Johnson Residence (about 800 feet away); Parsons House (about 800 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Missoula.
 
More about this marker. This marker is on Riverfront Trail, opposite Brennan's Wave, in Caras Park.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 16, 2018. It was originally submitted on September 16, 2018, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 206 times since then and 12 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 16, 2018, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.

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Apr. 18, 2024