The Forgotten Falls of the Great Falls of the Missouri

In 1804, the Military Corps of Discovery embarked on a trek to find a route through the rough and rugged western part of the Americas.  It would be in April of 1805 that the Corps would make its way into present day Montana.  It would then be two more months of travel before Meriwether Lewis would lay eyes on the central part of the state.


When reaching the center of the state, Meriwether entered the following in his journal "…the grandest sight I ever beheld…whin my ears were saluted with the agreeable sound of a fall of water and advancing a little further; I saw the spray arise above the plain like a collumn of smoke . . . which soon began to make a roaring too tremendous to be mistaken for any cause short of the great falls of the Missouri…”

5 Amazing Falls, But Only 4 Of Them Remain in Great Falls

As the expedition explored more of the area, the Corps discovered a total of 5 different falls through the area.  Of those, the Great Falls were and are still the largest.  Originally at 80ft tall, once the dam was installed, they now tower up to 148ft.


Other falls included the Rainbow Falls at nearly 50ft and the Black Eagle Falls at 26ft and 600yds.  The Black Eagle Falls were also the first to be dammed, with construction starting in 1890.  Crooked Falls remains untouched in the system, only accessible by foot.  The Crooked Falls are 28ft high, and nearly 300yds across.  It still looks exactly as it did to the Corps in 1805.

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Can You Name The 5th Falls in The Great Falls of the Missouri

While Black Eagle and Rainbow Falls receive the majority of attention in the area, there was one other of the falls that is no longer visible to us.  Can you name the unseen?  There are even different spellings of these falls through the years.

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The Colter, or Coulter Falls of the Missouri River haven't been seen since early in 1890 when the Black Eagle Falls dam was built.  Only a half mile upstream from the Black Eagle Falls, the Colter Falls were submerged once the dam filled.

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You can find out more about the Great Falls of the Missouri and the Corps of Discovery Expedition by visiting the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, located at 4201 Giant Springs Road.

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