Crimson Bluffs Chapter
Crimson Bluffs Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation was organized in Feb. 1998. With the excitement of the upcoming Bicentennial of the Expedition, local Corps of Discovery enthusiasts discussed how Broadwater County and the community could get organized and become involved in activities related to the expedition. Troy Helmick pointed out that Lewis and Clark had no less than 17 campsites in or adjacent to Broadwater County during their travels through the area and that many landmarks are still in existence. At that time, information nationwide was non-existent about the travels of the Corps of Discovery in the Broadwater County area. Chapter Bylaws were adopted on July 24, 1998. The members of the Board of Directors were: Troy Helmick, Hal Price, Barb Shaffer, and John Stoner. Officers were: President Rose Oleson, Vice-President Sherrill Dolezilek, Chapter Secretary Kevin McDonnell, Membership Secretary Nancy Marks, and Treasurer Olive Price.
The mission of the Foundation is to preserve, promote and teach the diverse heritage of Lewis and Clark for the benefit of all people. Since its inception, the Crimson Bluffs Chapter has kept the Lewis and Clark legacy alive in Broadwater County. The Chapter has had many speakers over the years addressing local crowds with topics related to the Corps of Discovery. Guest speakers have included Hugh Ambrose, Brig. General Hal Stearns, Dr. David Peck, Ellen Baumler, Sharon Bergantino, Rick Graetz, Janis Bouma and many others.
The Chapter has created a Self-Guided Auto-Tour map and brochure that is available at Townsend City Hall. The map shows the Corps of Discovery sites in Broadwater County, including the Crimson Bluffs, the 2nd Gates of the Mountains, and a group of eight islands named in honor of Expedition member York.
President Thomas Jefferson ordered Meriwether Lewis to gather detailed information of “Objects Worthy of Notice, especially those not known in the U.S., the remains or accounts of any which may be deemed rare or extinct,” as well as “times of appearance of particular birds, reptiles or insects.” Crimson Bluffs Chapter is promoting awareness about the discovery that Captain Lewis made on July 23, 1805: “I saw a black snake today about two feet long, the belly of which was a black as any other part or as jet itself.” This black garter snake may be a unique species to the Townsend Valley. Studies are being conducted by Dr. Grant Hokit and others to determine if the melanistic version of Thamnophis elegans is a species or subspecies.
Crimson Bluffs Chapter meetings are held monthly— usually on the fourth Wednesday (except in summer), at 1:00 PM at Wood Family Grill, 216 N. Front St. in Townsend, MT. All are welcome. For more information, please contact Richard Lewis, President at 266-5133, or visit www.crimsonbluffs.org.