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.