By this time, we realized that a stop in Williston proper would amount to nothing but chaos. The entire area had been consumed by the Oil Boom and its attendant problems. Not only would we have never found a site to stay in, there were already huge buildings that collectively held the RVs of hundreds of workers who’ve flocked to the area.
But the city wasn’t our real goal anyway. Twenty-two miles to the southwest, just before crossing into Montana, lies the Confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers. The Missouri continues west from there — the route Lewis & Clark took on their way to the Pacific. On the return route, however, the two captains split up the party at Lolo, Montana. Lewis and a few others headed north to explore the Marias River and learn more about the Blackfoot tribe. Clark, Sacacawea and the others followed the course of the Yellowstone. They planned to meet a month later at this Confluence.
Lewis and his party had the most trouble, including an unfriendly encounter in which the Expedition took he lives to two thieving Blackfoot braves — the only fatal encounter on the entire trek. Clark and company were also hassled by the Crows, who stole 28 of their horses, but no bloodshed occurred. The groups finally reunited as planned, but not without many anxious moments.
We expected the Confluence to be more of an L&C shrine than it was. While the Interpretative Center certainly acknowledges the visit of the Corps, considerable other events of historic proportions occurred there as well, such as the building and manning of trading posts and military forts in the region.
We stayed for an hour, crossed it off our bucket list, and moved onward to Glendive, Montana for the next few nights.