Yorks Islands Commemoration, July 28, 2001
JULY 28, 2001



Rose Oleson
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   The Crimson Bluffs Chapter is pleased to announce that the U.S. Board on Geographic Names has approved the name Yorks Islands for the group of Missouri River islands in Broadwater County. The name was also approved by the Montana Board on Geographic Names and has been entered into the Nation’s official automated geographic names repository. It has been published in the book
Decision List 2000. The area fittingly bears the name Yorks Islands in keeping with Clark’s intention to honor his servant and boyhood companion, York. The group of islands is located on the Missouri river, south of Townsend, Montana. The islands are included on maps in the journals of Lewis and Clark. 

John Stoner

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   On July 28, 2001, efforts spearheaded by Crimson Bluffs Chaper member John 
Stoner culminated in a commemoration ceremony officially re-naming the 
previously known “Deep Dale Fishing Access” to the “Yorks Islands Fishing 
Access” (on US Highway 287, 4 miles south of Townsend). 

Huel Willis
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   They were joined by historians, representatives of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and Huel Willis of the Great Falls Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, portraying Ben— York’s cousin. Ben’s character was so convencing, it was a delight to attend.  Mr. Willis’ presence was the highlight of the ceremony. After- wards he was rewarded with a hearty round of

applause and presented by Troy Helmick with a framed photo of Yorks Islands. 

Troy Helmick

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Yorks Islands

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  Wednesday July 24th, 1805 [Lewis:] 
we saw many beaver and some otter today; the former dam up 
the small channels of the river between the islands and 
compell the river in these parts to make other channels; 
which as soon as it has effected that which was stoped by the 
beaver becomes dry and is filled up with mud sand gravel and 
driftwood.  the beaver is then compelled to seek another spot 
for his habitation wher[e] he again erects his dam.  thus the 
river in many places among the clusters of islands is constantly changing the direction of such sluices as the beaver are capable of stoping or of 20 yds in width.  this anamal in that way I beleive to be very instrumental in adding to the number of islands with which we find the river crouded. 
   (Sometime later Clark penned on his map: “Yorks 8 island.”)