After setting out early on the morning of June 7, 1804, Clark noted that the expedition stopped for “brackfast at the Mouth of a large Creek on the S. S. of 30 yds wide Called big Monetou.” He documented that a “Short distance above the mouth of this Creek, is Several Courious Paintings and Carveing in the projecting rock of Limestone inlade with white red & blue flint, of a verry good quallity, the Indians have taken of this flint great quantities. We landed at this Inscription and found it a Den of rattle Snakes, we had not landed 3 minutes before three verry large Snakes wer observed on the Crevises of the rocks & Killed— at the mouth of the last mentioned Creek Capt. Lewis took four or five men & went to Some Licks or Springs of Salt water from two to four miles up the Creek on Rt. Side.”
Manitou and Moniteau are variations on the Algonquian name for the Great Spirit. The eponymous creek and limestone bluffs were likely first so-named by early European explorers due to pictographic representations of the Manitou and other related symbols. The construction of a tunnel for the Missouri–Kansas– Texas Railroad in the 1890s obliterated a large segment of the bluff along the west side of Moniteau Creek. Although the pictographs described by Clark at this location are no longer extant, there are preserved examples about four miles downriver at Torbett Spring. The Manitou Bluffs area is publicly accessible via the Katy Trail State Park at Rocheport.
Lewis and Clark NHT Visitor Centers and Museums
Visitor Centers and Museums along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail