Maria's River Camp
Maria's River Camp (1805-1805) - A Lewis & Clark Expedition Camp established in 1805 near present day Loma, Chouteau County, Montana. Named Maria's River Camp after Maria's River which was named by Meriwether Lewis after Miss Maria Wood, Lewis's cousin. Abandoned in 1805. Also known as Cache Camp.
This site was established by the Lewis and Clark Expedition on 3 Jun 1805 at the confluence of the Missouri River and Maria's River on their way to the Pacific coast.
The expedition paused at this location because they were unsure which of the two rivers was actually the Missouri River. Lewis and Clark observed the two rivers from a nearby hill, now known as Decision Point. After short expeditions to examine the rivers it was determined that the southern river was actually the Missouri River and the other was then named Maria's River. Maria's River was so named by Meriwether Lewis after Miss Maria Wood, Lewis's cousin. Over time the apostrophe has been dropped and the river is now known as Marias River.
With the path forward chosen the expedition established a cache of supplies at the site for the return trip and departed the site on 12 Jun 1805. On the 13th an advance party led by Meriwether Lewis discovered the Great Falls of the Missouri, confirming that they were on the right path.
On the return trip Lewis explored the Maria's River almost to its source and met the main party near the Great Falls on 27 Jul 1806. The expedition now worried that hostile Blackfeet would harm them and they boarded the boats below the Great Falls Portage and floated downstream to Maria's River Camp. They recovered their cached supplies and continued downriver.
The exact location of the camp and the cache site is not known (or disclosed). There is an interpretive area at the distinctive Decision Point hill. Interpretive panels are located at the base of the hill and at the top of the hill. The panels cover both the Lewis & Clark period and the later Fort Piegan (1) period. A large marker on Hwy 87 at the turnoff to Decision Point also outlines both periods.
Visited: 14 Aug 2016