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Missouri Headwaters State Park — The Madison, Jefferson and Gallatin Rivers

Missouri Headwaters State Park is serene ... here the waters, cliffs and vegetation remain as they appeared two hundred years ago. The Corps of Discovery fulfilled one of its main objectives here in July of 1805… to explore the Missouri River to its source. Lewis named the three "noble streams" after President Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State James Madison and the Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin, Ironically, it was Gallatin who had resisted financing the expedition, believing it was a complete waste of money!

Technically the Madison and Jefferson rivers join to form the Missouri River with the Gallatin River kicking in about one mile downstream. You can click here to see a larger image with visual aids.

The only visible remnants of Gallatin City, a town established in 1853 near the Missouri Headwaters, is this old hotel and a few gravestones of pioneer children, who died of black diphtheria. Gallatin City was heavily promoted as a Northern Eldorado but faded away when it was bypassed by the railroad.


With its row of rocking chairs, the shady porch of the Sacajawea Hotel is an inviting place to relax.

Five miles from the park in the town of Three Forks is the historic Sacajawea Hotel. Built by the Milwaukee Railroad in the early 1900's, the hotel was a stopping point for tourists visiting Yellowstone Park. A painstaking renovation has preserved the unique character of the building.

We fell in love with the warmly informal Arts and Crafts interior.

The 600 pieces of Arts and Crafts period inlaid wallpaper are a new touch to the lobby, but the light fixtures and dark spruce beams in the 14 foot ceilings are all original. Danny was allowed to play the old upright piano pictured on the left.

Across the street from the hotel lies a memorial statue to Sacajawea. This inspiring sculpture was dedicated in 2005 to commemorate the Bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1803-1806.


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