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Posts Tagged ‘Verendrye Plate’

Fort Pierre, South Dakota (revisited)

Posted by graywacke on July 28, 2013

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much an every-third-day blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2039; A Landing A Day blog post number 457.

Dan –  Oh well – now I’m 0/3 & 1/4, thanks to this OSer landing in  . . . SD; 55/51; 3/10; 5; 151.8.  Here’s my regional landing map:

 pierre landing 1

Here’s my closer-in landing map, showing my proximity to the State capital of Pierre, the more historic Fort Pierre, and Lake Oahe (a dammed up portion of the Missouri River):

 pierre landing 2

It turns out that I landed not far from here (Feb 2009, landing # 1655).  Here’s a landing map with both:

 pierre landing 3

This occurrence is close on the heels of my Vernal UT landing, where I landed a measly 6 miles away from a previous A Landing A Day landing (and had to use Vernal as my titular town twice).

 I don’t want any of my readers to get the idea that this will be a regular occurrence.  Bear with me while I do a little math.  There have been 457 ALAD posts.  The area of the lower 48 is a little over three million square miles.  Dividing by 457, I end up with one landing per 6,700 square miles.  Taking the square root:   that’s about an 80 mile square for each landing.  In other words, on the average, my landings should be 80 miles apart. 

 So, will I get some landings pretty close to previous landings?  Sure enough, but (hopefully), not too frequently.  One other factor –  when it happens out west (where the towns are so far apart), it’s more likely that I’ll be referencing the same town. . .

 So, what do here?  Well, I spent a little time looking for a Pierre hook, and couldn’t really find one (just like last time).  That’s why this landing is a Fort Pierre, revisited landing (which makes this my second “Fort” landing in a row, after Fort Wakashie).

 Here’s some important information from my first Ft. Pierre landing post:

 Right out of the gate, I must make sure that all of my readers are pronouncing Pierre correctly.  I’m sure, Dan that you know the correct pronunciation, but some in the Landing Nation may not.  So, for those who might pronounce Pierre like the French name for Peter –  “Pee-air”, I have to tell you, “Pee-air” it ain’t.  It’s simply “Peer.”

 I spent much of that post focused on the origin of the name “Bad River,” which, of course, was my watershed.  This landing was just a little north of my previous landing, but it nudged me over a watershed divide, into the Cheyenne R watershed.  Here’s a map:

 watershed divide

On a more local level, I landed in the watershed of the East Fork of Minneconjou Creek, on to the Minneconjou (you can see it just north of my landing) which flows due north into the Cheyenne R (18th hit); to the Missouri, of course (374th hit); to them MM (802nd hit).

 My Google Earth (GE) shot shows what looks like a wide open semi-arid agricultural landscape:

 ge 1

Stepping back quite a ways, you can see the regional landscape around the lower portion of Lake Oahe.  The arm of the Lake extending to the west is in the Cheyenne River valley:

 ge 2

About Ft. Pierre, from the town’s website:

rotating1-web fromtown website

Old Fort Pierre was built on the historical site believed to be the first spot visited by Europeans on South Dakota soil.

[Now hold on!  We’re smack dab in the middle of the state!  The Europeans must have been airlifted in!]

Its claim is based on the uncovering of the Verendrye plate. The plate was engraved by Peter de La Verendrye with his name and date, 1741 and then buried. The plate remained undiscovered for 170 years until it was accidentally found by school children playing in the area in 1913.

The original Fort Pierre, built at the confluence of the Missouri and Bad Rivers in 1817, was a fur trading post and was called Fort Teton.  The Fort was rebuilt in 1822 as Fort Tecumseh and in 1832 it was rebuilt again in its present location, as Fort Pierre Choteau (after a local fur trader who was instrumental in getting the fort built), later shortened to Fort Pierre.

So, it’s not much of a stretch to imagine that the capital of South Dakota could be Choteau instead of Pierre.  I wonder how the locals would pronounce “Choteau?”

 Anyway, what about the Verendrye Plate?  This, from the National Park Service (NPS.org):

The Verendrye Site, on Verendrye Hill overlooking the city of Fort Pierre just northwest of where the Bad and Missouri Rivers come together, is one of only a few verifiable sites associated with the first Europeans to explore the northern Great Plains region.

Frenchman Pierre Gaultier De La Verendrye and his sons explored the interior of North America in the 18th century, looking for a water route to the Pacific Ocean. Though the Verendryes’ epic achievements were dismissed as a failure in their time because they found no Northwest Passage to the Pacific, this site documents their undisputed role in the French effort to achieve colonial dominance in North America.

They reached the area in South Dakota where Pierre and Fort Pierre are now located 61 years before Meriwether Lewis and William Clark first arrived in the area.  At the end of March, 1743, they buried a lead plate at the site to lay the basis for French sovereignty on the upper Missouri, seeking to establish French control of the entire Mississippi River drainage.


 The inscription on the plate translates: “In the twenty-sixth year of the reign of Louis XV, the most illustrious Lord, the Lord Marquis of Beauharnios, 1741, Pierre Gaultier De La Verendrye placed this.” Scratched on the back are the words: “Placed by the Chevalier Verendrye, Louis La Londette, and A. Miotte. 30 March 1743.”

This is a nice segue to my previous post, with a a picture taken near where the Verendrye Plate was found.  The words in italics are from that post:

Here’s a nice picture of the City of Ft. Pierre, looking south over the Missouri River:


And check out this painting (by Mick Harrison), which certainly appears to be from precisely the same vantage point!  It shows a frontier scene from the 1870s (from fortpierredeadwoodtrail.com).  The caption for the painting is below:


This oil painting portrays one of the Evans Transportation Company’s freight wagon trains making an early morning departure from Fort Pierre, Dakota Territory in the late 1870′s by way of the Fort Pierre-Deadwood Trail. Owner Fred Evans is the point rider with Winchester in hand.

 I’ll close with withsome fabulous Panoramio shots taken by SD photographer Scott Shephard (scottshephard.com), taken north and northwest of my landing along Lake Oahe.  Interestingly, Scott’s website is called “A Photo A Day.”  It looks like he lives up to his monicker, unlike yours truly.  Anyway, here are some of the amazingpictures that he posted on Panoramio:

pano sshephard 12

pano sshephard 11

pano sshephard 10

pano sshephard 9

That’ll do it.



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