The Missouri Confluence

The 2,341 mile-long Missouri River begins with the confluence of 3 rivers–the Gallatin, the Jefferson, and the Madison.  A state park in Montana called Headwaters near the town of Three Forks honors this convergence but is kind of a disappointment.  The terrain is flat, the path to the joining of the Madison and Jefferson is unexciting, and the Gallatin doesn’t join them for another 1.6 miles further downstream and cannot be seen from this park.  I wrote about visiting this place on September 7, 2018, with the title  “Where The Missouri River Begins”.

The Missouri River was named for the Missouri Tribe, a division of the Sioux or Siouan nation, and honors their language.  Missouri to them meant “people with wooden canoes”.  Although they originated in the Great Lakes region, they lived along the Missouri River where it now borders Nebraska.  They were buffalo hunters.

Both the Madison and Jefferson Rivers were named by Meriwether Lewis.  Madison was Thomas Jefferson’s Secretary of State and destined to become the next President, and Jefferson was, of course, the President who conceived and sent forth the Corps of Discovery to learn about the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase.  Abraham Alfonse Albert Gallatin was Jefferson’s Secretary of the Treasury.


The Gallatin River is said to be the most scenic of the 3.  Parts of the movie A River Runs Through It were filmed along it.  It’s a very popular fly fishing river and 120 miles long.  The Gallatin Valley was claimed by the Blackfeet tribe.  Now in Alberta, Canada, and Montana, where they have a reservation, the Blackfeet called the Gallatin Valley “the Valley of Flowers”.  Their reservation is accessed via US Route 2 near Cut Bank, and the Museum of the Plains Indian is in nearby Browning, MT not too far from Glacier National Park.  Both the Gallatin and the 183-mile-long Madison Rivers begin in Yellowstone National Park.  The 83-mile-long Jefferson River rises in the Gravelly Range in southwest Montana near Yellowstone and the town of Twin Bridges.  By coincidence, the Jefferson also begins at the confluence of 3 rivers.  It is known as a brown trout river.

Countries like Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, and cities like Mumbai (Bombay) have changed names.  Landmarks like Mount McKinley and Ayers Rock have been renamed by natives.  However, I see no movement to change the names of any of the 3 rivers named for important 18th century politicians.  Yet.


About roads-rus

Since the beginning, I've had to avoid writing about the downside of travel in order to sell more than 100 articles. Just because something negative happened doesn't mean your trip was ruined. But tell that to publishers who are into 5-star cruise and tropical beach fantasies. I want to tell what happened on my way to the beach, and it may not have been all that pleasant. My number one rule of the road's disaster is tomorrow's great story. My travel experiences have appeared in about twenty magazines and newspapers. I've been in all 50 states more than once and more than 50 countries. Ruth and I love to travel internationally--Japan, Canada, China, Argentina, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, etc. Within the next 2 years we will have visited all of the European countries. But our favorite destination is Australia. Ruth and I have been there 9 times. I've written a book about Australia's Outback, ALONE NEAR ALICE, which is available through both Amazon & Barnes & Noble. My first fictional work, MOVING FORWARD, GETTING NOWHERE, has recently been posted on Amazon. It's a contemporary, hopefully funny re-telling of The Odyssey. View all posts by roads-rus

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