|Great Falls of the Missouri River|
Black Eagle Falls and Dam in 2014
|Location|| Cascade County,|
|Total height||187 feet (57 m)|
|Number of drops||5|
|Longest drop||87 feet (27 m)|
|7,539 cu ft/s (213.5 m3/s)|
The Great Falls of the Missouri River are a series of waterfalls on the upper Missouri River in north-central Montana in the United States. From upstream to downstream, the five falls, which are located along a 10-mile (16 km) segment of the river, are:
A waterfall is an area where water flows over a vertical drop or a series of steep drops in the course of a stream or river. Waterfalls also occur where meltwater drops over the edge of a tabular iceberg or ice shelf.
The Missouri River is the longest river in North America. Rising in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana, the Missouri flows east and south for 2,341 miles (3,767 km) before entering the Mississippi River north of St. Louis, Missouri. The river drains a sparsely populated, semi-arid watershed of more than 500,000 square miles (1,300,000 km2), which includes parts of ten U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. Although nominally considered a tributary of the Mississippi, the Missouri River above the confluence is much longer and carries a comparable volume of water. When combined with the lower Mississippi River, it forms the world's fourth longest river system.
Montana is a state in the Northwestern United States. Montana has several nicknames, although none are official, including "Big Sky Country" and "The Treasure State", and slogans that include "Land of the Shining Mountains" and more recently "The Last Best Place".
Black Eagle Dam is a hydroelectric gravity weir dam located on the Missouri River in the city of Great Falls, Montana. The first dam on the site, built and opened in 1890, was a timber-and-rock crib dam. This structure was the first hydroelectric dam built in Montana and the first built on the Missouri River. The dam helped give the city of Great Falls the nickname "The Electric City." A second dam, built of concrete in 1926 and opened in 1927, replaced the first dam, which was not removed and lies submerged in the reservoir. Almost unchanged since 1926, the dam is 782 feet (238 m) long and 34.5 feet (10.5 m) high, and its powerhouse contains three turbines capable of generating seven megawatts (MW) of power each. The maximum power output of the dam is 18 MW. Montana Power Company built the second dam, PPL Corporation purchased it in 1997 and sold it to NorthWestern Corporation in 2014. The reservoir behind the dam has no official name, but was called the Long Pool for many years. The reservoir is about 2 miles (3.2 km) long, and has a storage capacity of 1,710 acre feet (2,110,000 m3) to 1,820 acre feet (2,240,000 m3) of water.
Colter Falls, also called Coulter Falls, is a waterfall on the Missouri River in north-central Montana, and part of the Great Falls of the Missouri. Downstream of Colter Falls lies Rainbow Falls, and upstream is Black Eagle Falls. The falls is now flooded in the impoundment behind Rainbow Dam. As Rainbow Dam's reservoir is a run-of-the-river reservoir, it rarely is emptied, so the falls are rarely seen even in extreme drought.
Rainbow Falls is a waterfall on the Missouri River in Great Falls, Montana, just upstream from Crooked Falls and downstream from Colter Falls and Rainbow Dam. It is 47 feet (14m) high and 1,320 feet (402.3m) wide. The waterfall is part of the five Great Falls of the Missouri. The river spills over a sheer ledge of sandstone in the Kootenai Formation, forming the falls. The falls used to flow with a great deal of force year-round. In 1914 the river shortly upstream was dammed for hydroelectric power by the Rainbow Dam, which forms a run-of-the-river reservoir. As a result, the falls can almost totally dry up in the summer with only a few narrow strips of water trickling down its face. A railroad bridge crosses the river directly above the falls.
The Missouri River drops a total of 612 feet (187 m) from the first of the falls to the last, which includes a combined 187 feet (57 m) of vertical plunges and 425 feet (130 m) of riverbed descent. The Great Falls have been described as "spectacular", one of the "scenic wonders of America", and "a major geographic discovery". When the Lewis and Clark Expedition became the first white men to see the falls in 1805, Meriwether Lewis said they were the grandest sight he had beheld thus far in the journey.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition from May 1804 to September 1806, also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, was the first American expedition to cross the western portion of the United States. It began in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, made its way westward, and passed through the Continental Divide of the Americas to reach the Pacific coast. The Corps of Discovery was a selected group of US Army volunteers under the command of Captain Meriwether Lewis and his close friend Second Lieutenant William Clark.
Meriwether Lewis was an American explorer, soldier, politician, and public administrator, best known for his role as the leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery, with William Clark.
The Great Falls of the Missouri River were depicted on the territorial seal of the Montana Territory, and later on the state seal of Montana in 1893.
The Territory of Montana was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 26, 1864, until November 8, 1889, when it was admitted as the 41st state in the Union as the state of Montana.
The Mandan Indians knew of cataracts and called them by a descriptive (but not formal) name: Minni-Soze-Tanka-Kun-Ya,or "the great falls." The South Piegan Blackfeet, however, had a formal name for Rainbow Falls and called it "Napa's Snarling." No record exists of a Native American name for any of the other four waterfalls.
The Mandan are a Native American tribe of the Great Plains who have lived for centuries primarily in what is now North Dakota. They are enrolled in the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation. About half of the Mandan still reside in the area of the reservation; the rest reside around the United States and in Canada.
The Piegan are an Algonquian-speaking people from the North American Great Plains. They were the largest of three Blackfoot-speaking groups that made up the Blackfoot Confederacy; the Siksika and Kainai were the others. The Piegan dominated much of the northern Great Plains during the nineteenth century.
A snarl is a sound, often a growl or vicious utterance, often accompanied by a facial expression, where the upper lip is raised, and the nostrils widen, generally indicating hate, anger or pain. In addition to humans, other mammals including monkeys, rabbits and dogs snarl, often to warn others of their potential bite. In humans, snarling uses the levator labii superioris alaeque nasi muscle. The threatening vocalizations of snarling are often accompanied by or used synonymously with threatening facial expressions.
Four of the five waterfalls were given names in 1805 by American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.Both Lewis and Clark named Crooked Falls in their journals. Clark named three of the remaining waterfalls on his map: "Great Falls" (which retains its name to this day), "Beautiful Cascade" (now called Rainbow Falls), and "Upper Pitch" (now known as Black Eagle Falls). "Beautiful Cascade" was renamed "Rainbow Falls" in 1872 by Thomas B. Rogers, an engineer with the Great Northern Railway. Colter Falls received its name from Paris Gibson, in honor of John Colter (a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition). Black Eagle Falls is named for the black eagle which built a nest in a cottonwood tree on an island in the middle of the falls. It is not clear when the falls lost their original name of "Upper Pitch," but they had acquired their modern name by at least 1877.
The Great Northern Railway was an American Class I railroad. Running from Saint Paul, Minnesota, to Seattle, Washington, it was the creation of 19th-century railroad entrepreneur James J. Hill and was developed from the Saint Paul & Pacific Railroad. The Great Northern's (GN) route was the northernmost transcontinental railroad route in the U.S.
Paris Gibson was an American entrepreneur and politician.
John Colter was a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806). Though party to one of the more famous expeditions in history, Colter is best remembered for explorations he made during the winter of 1807–1808, when he became the first known person of European descent to enter the region which later became Yellowstone National Park and to see the Teton Mountain Range. Colter spent months alone in the wilderness and is widely considered to be the first known mountain man.
The Missouri River lies atop the Great Falls Tectonic Zone, an intracontinental shear zone between two geologic provinces of basement rock of the Archean period which form part of the North American continent, the Hearne province and Wyoming province. 500-foot-deep (150 m) Shonkin Sag—one of the most famous prehistoric meltwater channels in the world.Approximately 1.5 million years ago, the Missouri River, Yellowstone River and Musselshell River all flowed northward into a terminal lake. During the last glacial period, the Laurentide and Cordilleran ice sheets pushed these lakes and rivers southward. Between 15,000 and 11,000 BCE, the Laurentide Ice Sheet blocked the Missouri River and created Glacial Lake Great Falls. About 13,000 BCE, as the glacier retreated, Glacial Lake Great Falls emptied catastrophically in a glacial lake outburst flood. The current course of the Missouri River essentially marks the southern boundary of the Laurentide Ice Sheet. The Missouri, Yellowstone and Musselshell rivers flowed eastward around the glacial mass, eventually settling into their present courses. As the ice retreated, meltwater poured through the Highwood Mountains and eroded the mile-long,
The Great Falls themselves formed on a fall line unconformity in the Great Falls Tectonic Zone.The Missouri River settled into a bedrock canyon which lay beneath the clay laid down by Glacial Lake Great Falls. The course of the Missouri in and around the Great Falls has changed very little since then, in comparison to lower regions of the river on the ground moraine that forms much of the upper Great Plains.
The Great Falls of the Missouri River formed because the Missouri is flowing over and through the Kootenai Formation, a mostly nonmarine sandstone laid down by rivers, glaciers, and lakes in the past.Some of the Kootenai Formation is marine, however, laid down by shallow seas. The river is eating away at the softer nonmarine sandstone, with the harder rock forming the falls themselves. Until relatively recently (in geologic time) the Missouri River in the area had a much wider channel, but it has now settled into its current course, where it will continue to cut more deeply into the sandstone.
The first human beings to see the Great Falls were Paleo-Indians who migrated into the area between 9,500 and 8,270 BCE.The earliest inhabitants of North America entered Montana east of the Continental Divide between the Cordilleran and Laurentide ice sheets. The area remained only sparsely inhabited, however. Salish Indians would often hunt bison in the area on a seasonal basis, but no permanent settlements existed near the Great Falls for much of prehistory. Around 1600, Piegan Blackfoot Indians, migrating west, entered the area, pushing the Salish back into the Rocky Mountains and claiming the area as their own. The Great Falls of the Missouri remained in the tribal territory of the Blackfeet until Americans claimed the region in 1803.
Although the discovery of the Great Falls by Native Americans is not recorded, the South Piegan Blackfeet were well-acquainted with the Great Falls by the late 18th century,and news of the cataracts had spread among native peoples as far east as central North Dakota.
The United States purchased the area around the Great Falls of the Missouri from France (which claimed the area despite Native American habitation) in 1803, as part of the Louisiana Purchase.Thomas Jefferson, then President of the United States, had long desired to send an expedition into the area. Jefferson sought and won permission and funding for an expedition from Congress in January 1803. On May 14, 1804, the Lewis and Clark Expedition departed St. Louis, Missouri to map the course of the Missouri River; establish whether a river route to the Pacific Ocean existed; study the Indian tribes, botany, geology, terrain and wildlife in the region; and evaluate whether British and French Canadian hunters and trappers in the area posed a challenge to American control over the region. Expedition leaders Meriwether Lewis and William Clark first learned of the "great falls" from the Mandan Indians while wintering at Fort Mandan from November 2, 1804, until April 7, 1805.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition reached the Great Falls on June 13, 1805.Meriwether Lewis was the first White person to see the falls. Lewis described the encounter in a now-famous passage of his expedition diary:
The falls which Lewis had seen were the lowest of the five falls, the Great Falls.Exploring the following day, Lewis discovered Crooked Falls, Rainbow Falls, Colter Falls, and Black Eagle Falls. At the final waterfalls, Lewis saw an amazing sight:
Mounting a hill near Black Eagle Falls (probably where the town of Black Eagle is today), Lewis saw that the cataracts ended and that another large river joined the Missouri about two and a half miles further upstream.Although it was very late in the afternoon, Lewis rushed forward to see this river and was attacked by a grizzly bear. He ran more than 80 yards and launched himself into the Missouri River, and luckily the bear did not follow. The Lewis and Clark Expedition was forced to portage around the Great Falls, an arduous task that took nearly a month.
York, an African American slave owned by William Clark and who had participated in the Expedition, was the first black American to see the Great Falls.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition made a number of discoveries near the Great Falls. On June 13, Silas Goodrichcaught numerous Westslope cutthroat trout at the falls, the first time anyone in the expedition had seen these fish, and several samples were preserved which constituted the type specimens for the fish. The trout was subsequently given the scientific name Oncorhynchus clarki lewisi in honor of the expedition leaders. The Westslope cutthroat is now the "official state fish" of Montana. The explorers also collected the first samples of the gumbo evening primrose and western meadowlark at the Great Falls.
On June 18, while reconnoitering the series of falls on the south side of the Missouri River with a group of five others, William Clark discovered Giant Springs, which he correctly judged to be the largest spring in the world.He was the first white person to see the springs, and the first white person to see the falls from the south side of the Missouri.
Meriwether Lewis revisited the Great Falls on July 11, 1806, as the Corps of Discovery returned east. Lewis and nine men stopped at the Great Falls with the intention of exploring the Marias River and discovering its source. But during the night, Indians stole half the party's 17 horses, forcing three of the men to stay behind.
Following the return passage of Lewis and Clark in 1805/06 there is no record of any white man visiting the Great Falls of the Missouri until explorer and trapper Jim Bridger reached them in 1822.White people next visited the Great Falls when Bridger and Major Andrew Henry led a fur-trading expedition there in April 1823 (and were attacked by Blackfeet Indians while camping at the site). British explorer Alexander Ross trapped around the Great Falls in 1824. In 1838, a mapping expedition sent by the U.S. federal government and guided by Bridger spent four years in the area. Margaret Harkness Woodman became first white woman to see the Great Falls in 1862.
The first permanent settlement near the Great Falls was Fort Benton, established in 1846 about 40 miles (64 km) downstream from the Great Falls. The Great Falls marked the limit of the navigable section of the Missouri River, and the first steamboat arrived at the falls in 1859. In 1860, the Mullan Road linked Fort Benton with Fort Walla Walla in the Washington Territory.
Politically, the Great Falls of the Missouri River passed through numerous hands in the 19th century. It was part of the unincorporated frontier until May 30, 1854, when Congress established the Nebraska Territory.Indian attacks on white explorers and settlers dropped significantly after Isaac Stevens negotiated the Treaty of Hellgate in 1855, and white settlement in the area began to occur. On March 2, 1861, it became part of the Dakota Territory. The Great Falls were incorporated into the Idaho Territory on March 4, 1863, and then into the Montana Territory on May 28, 1864. It became part of the state of Montana upon that territory's admission to statehood on November 8, 1889.
The Great Falls of the Missouri River became the site of a permanent settlement in 1883. Businessman Paris Gibson visited the Great Falls in 1880, and was deeply impressed by the possibilities for building a major industrial city near the falls with power provided by hydroelectricity.He returned in 1883 with surveyors and platted a city (to be named Great Falls) on the south side of the river. The city's first citizen, Silas Beachley, arrived later that year. With investments from railroad owner James J. Hill and Helena businessman C. A. Broadwater, houses, a store, and a flour mill were established in 1884. A planing mill, lumber yard, bank, school, and newspaper were established in 1885. By 1887 the town had 1,200 citizens, and in October of that year the Great Northern Railway arrived in the city. Great Falls, Montana, was incorporated on November 28, 1888, Black Eagle Dam was built in 1890, and by 1912 Rainbow Dam and Volta Dam (now Ryan Dam) were all operating.
The city of Great Falls, Montana, derives its name from the waterfalls.The small town of Black Eagle, Montana, derives its name from Black Eagle Falls, and Cascade County (in which both are located) is named for the cataracts and rapids which make up the falls.
Only one of the waterfalls that comprise the Great Falls of the Missouri River, Crooked Falls, exists in its natural state today. Dams built on the falls beginning in the 1880s have significantly altered and even submerged the five waterfalls. Black Eagle Dam was built in 1890, and half of Black Eagle Falls are now submerged in the reservoir behind the dam.This structure was the first hydroelectric dam built in the state.
Rainbow Falls was dammed in 1910 when Rainbow Dam was built.The reservoir behind the dam submerged Colter Falls.
Volta Dam was built on top of the Great Falls in 1915, and later renamed Ryan Dam in 1940 in honor of John D. Ryan, the president and founder of the Montana Power Company.
The Great Falls Portage, a National Historic Landmark District designated in 1966, commemorates the route by which Lewis and Clark bypassed the falls. The landmarked areas, including the expedition camps at either end of the portage, are located well above and below the series falls.The Great Falls are also part of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, established by Congress in 1978.
The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center was built in 1998 on a cliff overlooking the Missouri River near Crooked Falls. It provides an extensive look into Lewis and Clark's discovery of the Great Falls and their portage around them, as well as exhibits on native peoples of the area.
In 1989, the City of Great Falls, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and other public and private bodies established the River's Edge Trail, a 30-mile (48 km) series of paved and unpaved trails that follow the Great Falls as well as the Lewis and Clark Expedition portage route (along with other scenic and historic area of the City of Great Falls and town of Black Eagle).
The first known drawing of the Great Falls was entered by Meriwether Lewis in his diary.In 1807, Lewis commissioned the Irish engraver John James Barrelet to make drawings of the Great Falls. After Lewis's death in 1810, William Clark visited his home and found the drawings, but they have since disappeared.
The Great Falls have been depicted in well-known paintings over the years. The waterfalls may be seen in the background of John Mix Stanley's large painting "Barter for a Bride" (originally titled "A Family Group"), which was painted some time between 1854 and 1863 and now hangs in the Diplomatic Reception Room in the United States Department of State in Washington, D.C.The noted Western painter O. C. Seltzer depicted the cataracts in his 1927 work, "Lewis and Clark With Sacajawea at the Great Falls of the Missouri, 1804."
The first known photograph of the Great Falls was taken by noted Western photographer James D. Hutton about 1859 or 1860.
Great Falls is a city in and the county seat of Cascade County, Montana, United States. The 2017 census estimate put the population at 58,638. The population was 58,505 at the 2010 census. It is the principal city of the Great Falls, Montana Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Cascade County and has a population of 82,278. Great Falls was the largest city in Montana from 1950 to 1970, when Billings surpassed it. Great Falls remained the second largest city in Montana until 2000, when it was passed by Missoula. Since then Great Falls has been the third largest city in the state.
The Jefferson River is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately 83 miles (134 km) long, in the U.S. state of Montana. The Jefferson River and the Madison River form the official beginning of the Missouri at Missouri Headwaters State Park near Three Forks. It is joined 0.6 miles (1.0 km) downstream (northeast) by the Gallatin.
The Marias River is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately 210 mi (338 km) long, in the U.S. state of Montana. It is formed in Glacier County, in northwestern Montana, by the confluence of the Cut Bank Creek and the Two Medicine River. It flows east, through Lake Elwell, formed by the Tiber Dam, then southeast, receiving the Teton River at Loma, 2 mi. (3.2 km) above its confluence with the Missouri.
Alexander Hamilton Willard (1777–1865) was a blacksmith who joined the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Fort Mandan was the name of the encampment which the Lewis and Clark Expedition built for wintering over in 1804-1805. The encampment was located on the Missouri River approximately twelve miles from the site of present-day Washburn, North Dakota, which developed later. The precise location is not known for certain and is believed now to be under the water of the river. A replica of the fort has been constructed near the original site.
Seaman, a Newfoundland dog, became famous for being a member of the first American overland expedition from the Mississippi River to the Pacific coast and back. He was the only animal to complete the entire trip. He was purchased for $20 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by Captain Meriwether Lewis while he was in the city awaiting completion of the boats for the voyage in August 1803, for his famed Lewis and Clark expedition.
Euphorbia marginata is a small annual in the spurge family.
Spirit Mound Historic Prairie is a state park of South Dakota, USA, featuring a prominent hill on the Great Plains. The Plains Indians of the region considered Spirit Mound the home of dangerous spirits or little people; members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition climbed it on August 25, 1804. The park was established in 2002. It is located about 6.5 miles (10.5 km) north of Vermillion, South Dakota.
This is a bibliography of literature dealing with the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
The following works deal with the cultural, political, economic, military, biographical and geologic history of pre-territorial Wyoming, Wyoming Territory and the State of Wyoming.
The following works deal with the cultural, political, economic, military, biographical and geologic history of pre-territorial Idaho, Idaho Territory and the State of Idaho.
The following works deal with the cultural, political, economic, military, biographical and geologic history of pre-territorial North Dakota, Dakota Territory and the State of North Dakota.
Lewis and Clark Pass, el. 6,424 feet (1,958 m) is a mountain pass on the continental divide in Montana. It lies at the head of the drainages of the west flowing Blackfoot River and the east flowing Dearborn River. The pass is in the Helena National Forest in Lewis and Clark County. The Continental Divide Trail traverses north and south through the pass. At the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition the pass was a much-used pathway where the native people living in what today is Montana crossed over the continental divide. The pass was crossed by Meriwether Lewis on July 7, 1806, on the return leg of the Lewis and Clark Expedition with a party of nine men and his dog Seaman. The pass was named for the expedition's two leaders–Lewis and William Clark. Lewis and Clark Pass is the only roadless pass on the entire Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. It has gone from being one of the most used continental divide passes prior to the pioneer era to one of the least visited passes today. It can be accessed by a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) trail. Visitors will encounter the pass much as Lewis did in 1806. The furrows left by the countless dog and horse travois that crossed the pass are still visible and this is one of the places along the expedition's route that visitors may still encounter a grizzly bear. On a clear day, like Meriwether Lewis in 1806 one can see Square Butte in Cascade County, Montana, 40 miles (64 km) to the northeast.
Tower Rock State Park is a state park near the community of Cascade in the U.S. state of Montana in the United States. The centerpiece of the park is Tower Rock, a 424-foot (129 m)-high rock formation which marks the entrance to the Missouri River Canyon in the Adel Mountains Volcanic Field. It was well known to Native Americans, and considered a sacred place by the Piegan Blackfeet. Tower Rock received its current name when Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition visited the site in 1805. Railroad and highway development in the late 1800s and 1900s skirted Tower Rock, but the landform itself remained pristine. The 87.2 acres (0.353 km2) encompassing Tower Rock was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 18, 2002. The 140-acre (0.57 km2) Tower Rock State Park was created around the National Historic Site in 2004.
|journal=(help) and Accompanying 17 photos, undated. (1.92 MB)