2004 Journey Erik's Travels U.S.A.

The search for Pompeys Pillar

I first learned of Pompeys Pillar in August of 2000. I was driving to Grand Forks, North Dakota to return to University after spending the summer at home. It was my first time driving a long distance by myself and I wanted to check out the sites along the way. I was in Montana just East of Billings when I saw the brown historic monument sign that read “Pompeys Pillar.” I knew it was a historic site along the Lewis & Clark trail, but had no clue as to what it actually was. I decided to check it out so I took the exit and drove along a gravel road for a few minutes to reach an empty parking lot facing a hill. A small sign told me that Pompeys Pillar was on the other side of the hill, to be reached by a footpath. As I usually do along the long drive between Oregon and North Dakota I had a strong desire to get back to Grand Forks and decided to be lazy and not to walk over the hill so I turned around and left.

Pompeys Pillar did not cross my mind again until July of 2004 when I was driving home from a weeklong visit to the Grand Cities. After a day of cruising through the badlands I once again found myself looking at the sign for the Pompeys Pillar exit. It was late at night and I was planning on stopping soon so I figured I would pull into the parking lot, spend the night and check out the site in the morning before I resumed my journey home. I took the exit and in the dark did not see the sign pointing to travel down the gravel road. So I missed the turn but by the time I figured out I was on the wrong road I just decided to keep on driving as I was almost to Billings.

Six weeks later I found myself once more on the road home after spending another week visiting friends in Grand Forks and attending a fraternity brothers wedding. I decided to finally see Pompeys Pillar once and for all. Nothing would stop me this time! I arrived in the evening with plenty of daylight left and confidently took the Pompeys Pillar exit. I took the right road and drove down it a couple miles until I reached another sign that read Pompeys Pillar and pointed to a road that went south under the highway. I made the turn and immediately found myself in the very small town of Pompeys Pillar. I knew that was not what I wanted so I turned around and continued up the gravel road for a bit but never saw anything mentioning the historic site of Pompeys Pillar. So I once again turned around and got back on the highway heading west. Pompeys Pillar had eluded me once again.