Missoula in Missoula County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)
Journey Through the Blackfoot
Blackfoot River Corridor
Welcome to Bonner and nearby communities, each built on the grit and dreams of self-made men and women. It you had walked into the Bonner School in the early 1900s, you would have heard the chatter of Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian and French as well as English. The coming of the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1883 marked a new transportation era that brought loggers and millworkers from far-flung places to this confluence of two great rivers. Their dreams merged in the expanses of uncut forests lining the Big Blackfoot River and the promise of a better life.
E.L. Bonner anticipated a boom in 1881 when his business (Eddy, Hammond and Company) won the lumber contract for building the railroad. By 1886, the saws of the new Bonner mill were buzzing and a company town was born. The Anaconda Company took over the mill in 1898 and remained until 1972.
Historically, residents of this area have maintained a proud independence. In 1914, the Industrial Works of the World (IWW) camped across the tracks along the Clark Fork River and successfully lobbied for better housing and food. In 1942, mill employees organized a labor union. Today, the mill still prospers on the banks of the Blackfoot
It was the summer of 1806, Lewis and Clark were on their way back east from the Pacific Ocean. On July 3, they divided forces at Traveler's Rest to explore more territory before reuniting on the Missouri River and returning home. Clark headed for the Yellowstone River. Captain Meriwether Lewis chose a shortcut to the plains described to him by their Nez Perce guides, who would ride only a little beyond the junction of the Bitterroot and Clark Fork River and predicted trouble with the Blackfeet Indians. From July 3-7, 1806, Lewis with nine men and his dog Seaman, followed a well-worn trail the Nez Perce called the Cokahlarishkit or "River of the Road to the Buffalo." This trail led them up the Blackfoot River and quickly across the Continental Divide to the Missouri River.
Despite his impatience to return to the familiar plains of the Missouri, Lewis took time to record swans, wild horses, pronghorn and signs of bison west of the Continental Divide. He observed "high broken mountains," destined to become the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The men also passed five deserted Indian encampments. On July 6th, they joined fresh tracks of what appeared to be a "returning
The Blackfoot River swirls, races and meanders 132 miles from the Continental Divide to its confluence with the Clark Fork River. The river has long served as a vital passageway for people and wildlife alike.
As you travel through the corridor, notice the rumpled valleys and pothole lakes - marks of a great ice age that once held this land in its grips. Today, these potholes and adjacent marches attract osprey, great blue heron and Canada geese. Bald eagles nest in treetops above the river as native trout hide under its pools.
Thanks largely to area ranchers that help manage the valley floor, the biological diversity of the corridor has been preserved. The history of its human diversity has been preserved as well. You can still hear tales of the late 1800s when the woods rang with crosscut saws felling trees for railroad ties and mine shafts. In the spring, a wall of logs raced down-river to the sawmill at Bonner until the mid-1920s when the railroad took over the job of transporting logs.
Today, canoes and rafts float past the sites of old Indian camps. Anglers cast their lines into
Marker series. This marker is included in the Lewis & Clark Expedition marker series.
Location. 46° 52.5′ N, 113° 53.136′ W. Marker is in Missoula, Montana, in Missoula County. Marker is on Montana Highway 200 East (Highway 200) near 1st Street, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 7985 Montana Highway 200, Missoula MT 59802, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Brave New World (a few steps from this marker); Twilight of an Era (a few steps from this marker); Free Speech Corner (approx. 5.2 miles away); Danger Ahead! (approx. 5.3 miles away); Name That River (approx. 5.3 miles away); A Shortcut (approx. 5.3 miles away); Northwest Passage (approx. 5.3 miles away); Fort Missoula (approx. 8.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Missoula.
More about this marker. This marker is located at a roadside turnout on the north side of Montana Highway 200.
Categories. • Environment • Exploration • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page was last revised on September 9, 2018. This page originally submitted on September 9, 2018, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 71 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on September 9, 2018, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.