Stella and Don Foote, who purchased Pompeys Pillar
in order to preserve it for us.
reservation of key points along the Lewis and Clark Trail, at least among those we can identify with reasonable accuracy, is a basis for the continued study and growing appreciation of the meaning of the whole endeavor, and of no place are we more sure of than Pompeys Pillar. Until the middle of the 20th century, the work of protecting it, and the single piece of material evidence of the Expedition's presence, in the hands of passersby such as Lt. Bradley and his fellow officers, who scolded the benighted Irish infantryman who "went over" part of Clark's autograph. In 1882 an official of the Northern Pacific Railroad took the responsibility for protecting the inscription with an iron grille, of which the anchor holes may be seen in the above photo.
In the Fort Laramie treaty of 1851, the land it occupies was returned to the Crow Indians as part of their reservation, but the Homestead Act of 1862 and subsequent amendments opened it to homesteaders. After 1900, with the opening of the nearby, historic Huntley Irrigation District, the rock and its adjacant fields passed through a number of private owners.
In 1955, Mr. and Mrs. Don C. Foote, local historians and civic leaders, purchased the rock and 105 surrounding acres, developed it into "Pompeys Pillar Monument Park," and opened it to the public as a fee site for two years. It was closed to the public from 1958 until 1965, when it was designated a National Historic Landmark, and subsequently reopened. Operating costs continued to rise, however, and in 1991, at the urging of a citizens' action group that was to become the Pompeys Pillar Historical Association, the Bureau of Land Management purchased the site and some surrounding cropland.
On January 17, 2001, President William Clinton, invoking the Antiquities Act of 1906, elevated it to the status of a National Monument. Meanwhile, another threat, this time to the Monument's viewshed, drew the attention of the Crow Tribe and the Pompeys Pillar Historical Association.
Further information of a general nature is available at the Pompeys Pillar National Monument web site, http://www.mt.blm.gov/pillarmon/