Cultural Resource Management Service Across The Rocky Mountain West

Travelers Rest National Historic Landmark

Travelers Rest served a pivotal role in the transcontinental exploration by the Corps of Discovery; who encamped at the site in September 1805 and June 1806. The site served as a point of preparation for crossing the Bitterroot Mountains, the point of separation during the return, and as a focal point of western geography as understood by Lewis and Clark and previously by Native Americans.

The interdisciplinary investigation produced multiple lines of evidence to validate and verify the location of the site through the historical research, remote sensing, excavations, carbon 14 and lead isotope analysis, and artifact analysis. The preponderance of evidence includes military protocol for encampment prescribed by Baron von Steuben, the presence of fire hearths from the proper time period as evidenced by the carbon 14, and the presence of the latrine confirmed by the remote sensing and mercury vaporizer analysis, a tombac button, a blue trade bead, and melted lead, and the journals of the captains and members of the expedition.

Western Cultural conducted a multi-disciplinary investigation in order to validate and verify the theory that the Travelers Rest site, a Lewis & Clark campsite, was originally recorded in error and that the correct location is approximately one mile west of the recorded location. Project financial supporters include the Travelers Rest Preservation and Heritage Association, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Park Service, Stephen E. Ambrose, the Montana Historical Society Foundation, the Favrot Foundation, the Montana Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission, and the Save America’s Treasures – a joint project between the National Trust and the White House. The investigation utilized an interdisciplinary approach and included historic research, ethnographic research, geophysical investigations including magnetometer survey, electromagnetic conductivity survey, mercury vaporizer analysis, metal detector surveys, and historic archaeological investigations. The project included developing and maintaining a working relationship with a number of interested parties, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Park Service, the Travelers Rest Chapter of the Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Commission, the Lolo Community Council, the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, and various Native American groups including the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, the Nez Perce Tribe, and the Shoshone Tribe. The Missoula Historic Preservation Advisory Commission recognized the contributions of this project to historic preservation during their Year 2001 Missoula Historic Preservation Awards. Daniel S. Hall was recognized for Excellence in the Area of Individual Contribution to Historic Preservation for the efforts at Travelers Rest.

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