Mouth of Marias River

1805 Jun 2
"…we came to for the night in a handsome low cottonwood plain on the south, where we remained for the purpose of making some celestial observations during the night, and of examining in the morning a large river which comes in opposite to us. Accordingly at an early hour,"

1805 June 3
"we crossed and fixed our camp in the point, formed by the junction of the river with the Missouri. It now became an interesting question which of these two streams is what the Minnetarees call Ahmateahza or the Missouri, which they described as approaching very near to the Columbia. On our right decision much of the fate of the expedition depends; since if after ascending to the Rocky mountains or beyond them, we should find that the river we were following did not come near the Columbia, and be obliged to return; we should not only lose the travelling season, two months of which had already elapsed, but probably dishearten the men so much as to induce them either to abandon the enterprise, or yield us a cold obedience instead of the warm and zealous support which they had hitherto afforded us. We determined, therefore, to examine well before we decided on our future course;…"

Lewis, Meriwether, 1774-1809 and Clark, William, 1770-1838.
History of the Expedition Under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark, to the Sources of the Missouri...
Philadelphia: Bradford and Inskeep, 1814. 2 Vols. Vol. 1, pp. 242-243.

The Corps arrived at the Mouth of the Marias on June 2, 1805. They faced a dilemma. None of their maps or informants had indicated the presence of this river which was, at its mouth, the same size as the Missouri. The "interesting question" was "Which was the Missouri?" Lewis and Clark explored for six days before deciding that the southern river was the Missouri. The remainder of the Corps disagreed, but determined to follow the Captains.

"These observations which satisfied our minds completely we communicated to the party: but every one of them were of a contrary opinion;… The men therefore mentioned that although they would most cheerfully follow us wherever we should direct, yet they were afraid that the south fork would soon terminate in the Rocky mountains and leave us at a great distance from the Columbia."

Lewis, Meriwether, 1774-1809 and Clark, William, 1770-1838.
History of the Expedition Under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark, to the Sources of the Missouri...
Philadelphia: Bradford and Inskeep, 1814. 2 Vols. Vol. 1, p. 255.

In 1833, Maximilian and Bodmer visited Fort McKenzie, located about three miles above the Mouth of the Marias. Bodmer painted several landscapes of the area. Today, looking east from the hill just above the Mouth of the Marias, is to view Bodmer's watercolors of the scene. His "View of the Rocky Mountains" is almost identical to the view today as is the scene to the northeast including the Mouth of the Marias and the Bear Paw Mountains. Bodmer also sketched a Blackfeet encampment near the fort. With elaboration and the addition of figures from other locations, this view appeared as Tableau 43 in the atlas. The print also appeared in McKenney and Hall's History of the Indian Tribes of North America, published in Philadelphia, 1838-1844.