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M Lamar

by Ryan Jordan

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Article Summary:

Lucius Quintus Cincinatus Lamar II is a quirky character in American politics. A former Confederate soldier, post-Civil War Congressman, Secretary of the Interior, and Supreme Court Justice, Lamar inspired the famed Yellowstone geologist Arnold Hague to name the East Fork of the Yellowstone River after him (now called the Lamar River).

Trapper Osborne Russell wrote of the Lamar River Valley in Journal of a Trapper:

Chapter-VI-In the Yellowstone Country-A Garden of Eden Inhabited By a Small Party of Snake Indians - On the 28th [July 1834] we crossed the mountain in a westerly direction through the thick pines and fallen timber, about twelve miles, and encamped in a small prairie about a mile in circumference. Through this valley ran a small stream in a northerly direction, which all agreed in believing to be a branch of the Yellowstone. 29th-We descended the stream about fifteen miles through the dense forest and at length came to a beautiful valley about eight miles long and three or four wide, surrounded by dark and lofty mountains. The stream, after running through the center in a northwesterly direction, rushed down a tremendous canyon of basaltic rock apparently just wide enough to admit its waters. The banks of the stream in the valley were low and skirted in many places with beautiful cottonwood groves. Here we found a few Snake Indians comprising six men, seven women and eight or ten children, who were the only inhabitants of the lonely and secluded spot.

Osborne discovered the intimacy of the Lamar Valley and described it perfectly. Other than some remnants of burned forests from the fires of 1988, along with the absence of Snake Indians (perhaps replaced by the seven young men of our party, plus a few others), the Lamar Valley has changed little since Osborne's observations were recorded in the 19th century.

This essay describes some of my own reflections while trekking through the upper reaches of the Lamar Valley in the Yellowstone backcountry in July of 2012 as part of a BSA expedition based out of the Yellowstone High Adventure Outpost at Camp Buffalo Bill east of Cody, Wyoming.


# WORDS: 3880
# PHOTOS: 13

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