Big Sandy in Chouteau County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)
An Island on the Plains
The Bears Paw Mountains
It is not known how the mountain range got its name. According to one legend, many generations ago, an Indian man killed a deer while hunting in the mountains. Before he could return to his camp, he encountered a bear, which knocked him down and pinned him to the ground. The hunter appealed to the Great Spirit for help, who answered by filling the heavens with lightning and thunder, which killed the bear and severed his paw, releasing the hunter. Or perhaps one of the range's mountains resembles a bear's paw and gave the mountain range its name. Another tale states that to Indians looking down from the summit of one of the peaks, the ridges spread out below them resembled a bear's paw.
• The Bears Paw Mountains were formed about 40 to 50 million years ago.
• The oldest rocks exposed in the mountain range are about 350 million years old and are composed of Madison limestone.
• Glacial ice during several glacial periods reached the lower slopes of the mountains except on the south.
• See if you can spot any dikes, which look like deteriorating stone walls of ancient castle popping up throughout the grasslands. These dikes are cooled magma and are one clue that the area was once the site of significant volcanic activity.
Erected by Montana Department of Transportation.
Location. 48° 10.765′ N, 110° 6.7′ W. Marker is in Big Sandy, Montana, in Chouteau County. Marker is at the intersection of Broadway (U.S. 87) and Johannas Avenue, on the left when traveling north on Broadway. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Big Sandy MT 59520, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 4 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Cow Island Trail (within shouting distance of this marker); Judith Landing (within shouting distance of this marker); Fort Walsh Trail (within shouting distance of this marker); Big Sandy (within shouting distance of this marker).
More about this marker. The marker is located in the Rest Stop & Park in Big Sandy.
Categories. • Natural Features •
More. Search the internet for An Island on the Plains.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 12, 2019. This page originally submitted on November 12, 2019, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 39 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on November 12, 2019, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.