Crimson Bluffs
Press Release
Crimson Bluffs Purchased

February 19, 2002


   The historic view of the Crimson Bluffs described in 1805 by Capt. Meriwether Lewis is largely unchanged today. And it’s going to stay that way thanks to the Crimson Bluffs Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation. 


   Chapter members in Townsend, Montana, today announced the conclusion of more than 12 months work that resulted in 50 acres of land at the bluffs moving into public ownership. 


   Troy Helmick of the Crimson Bluffs Chapter said Lewis and Clark enthusiasts recognized several years ago that the bluffs would be a target for development. The land above the bluff, sage brush and sparse grass, is very fragile, Helmick said. Nonetheless, property in the area began to change hands, prices climbed and it was subdivided into smaller parcels and put on the market.  

  “We really have Steve Ambrose to thank,” Helmick said. “He was here in 1997 talking about the Lewis and Clark Trail,” and the potential interest the Crimson Bluffs would attract. 


   Slowly, Crimson Bluffs Chapter members rounded up support in their drive to save the area from development. The recent agreement includes the Crimson Bluff and about 200 yards of land on either side of the bluff, Helmick said. The Chapter also received support from the national Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, The Conservation Fund, The River Network and Montana’s Congressional Delegation of Sen. Conrad Burns (R), Sen. Max Baucus (D), and Rep. Denny Rehberg (R).


   The site will be managed by the Bureau of Land Management from its field office in Butte. The acquisition was wrapped up Feb. 15, 2002 in Helena. A formal dedication is planned for the week of July 24 to coincide with the time of year the Lewis and Clark Expedition came through and saw the Crimson Bluffs. The expedition passed the Crimson Bluffs on July 24, 1805.


   “Thanks to the support we received from Montana’s Congressional Delegation along with local support from Broadwater County and the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, this landmark will be preserved for future generations,” said Rick Hotaling, the BLM field manager in Butte. The Conservation Fund facilitated the acquisition until BLM was allocated funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. 


   “This means protecting the area from roads, houses and fences that would totally detract from the area,” Helmick said. 


   Because of the popularity of Lewis and Clark and the coming Bi- centennial of the 1803-06 Expedition, residential development has already started immediately upstream and downstream from the Crimson Bluffs. “There are some houses being built right now, but this will give people a view of the Crimson Bluffs that the Lewis and Clark Expedition had when they came through,” Helmick said.


   The Crimson Bluffs project will likely be accessible only by foot traffic. The best view of the Crimson Bluffs is from the Missouri River, heading upstream in early morning light. 


  “Capt. Clark actually didn’t see the Crimson Bluffs when they came through,” Helmick said. “He was walking along the shore at that time up on the top of the bluff.” It was Capt. Lewis, the men, Sacagawea and Pomp who had the best view from their canoes.


The Chapter, the BLM and the Conservation Fund
were responsible for the purchase of
the Crimson Bluffs in July 2002
The Chapter, the BLM and the Conservation Fund