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[photo] View from Camp Disappointment
Photo from National Historic Landmarks collection

Lewis and three companions, George Drouillard and the Field brothers, Joseph and Reubin, spent July 22 to July 26, 1806, at Camp Disappointment, the northernmost campsite of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Lewis hoped to determine how far north the Marias River extended. President Jefferson desired proof of a tributary of the Missouri River that extended to 50-north latitude, giving the United States a claim to a more northern boundary. Had this been the case, the natural boundaries of the Louisiana Purchase would have been extended. Unfortunately, Lewis "lost all hope of the waters of this river ever extending to N. Latitude 50 " (DeVoto 1997, 431). Lewis's plan of finding an easy portage route between the Marias and Saskatchewan rivers that would allow America to divert Canadian fur trade into American territory at the Missouri River was also thwarted. Therefore, on Saturday, July 26, the men broke camp and continued down river. Lewis wrote:

Camp Disappointment
Photo from National Historic Landmarks collection

. . .The mor[n]ing was cloudy and continued to rain as usual, tho' the cloud seemed somewhat thiner I therefore postponed seting out untill 9 A.M. in the hope that it would clear off but finding the contrary result I had the horses caught and we set out biding a last adieu to this place I now call camp disappointment . . . (DeVoto 1997, 433)

As the men journeyed onward, they met a group of Piegan Indians who made camp with them. The following morning the first and only conflict of the expedition occurred at Two Medicine Fight Site.

Camp Disappointment, a National Historic Landmark, is located on the Blackfeet Reservation near Browning, Montana. The campground is open to the public. Please call 406-338-7737 or visit Blackfeet Nation for further information. You can also download (in pdf) the Camp Disappointment National Historic Landmark nomination.

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