Pass cursor over image to view details (see last paragraph, below).
"bea[u]ty and magnifficence"
"I had scarcely infixed my eyes from this pleasing object," wrote Lewis—referring to the "handsom fall,"
During his survey of the falls on June 19, Clark calculated the south end of this "pleasing object" was "N 86° W. 135 poles," or 2,227 feet upstream from the "2d great falls," or "handsom falls." Sometime in the 1880s Paris Gibson, the founder of the city of Great Falls, named it for John Colter, who was a member of Clark's survey party.1
This photo probably was taken in late 1908. To gain a sense of the scale of this waterfall, find the six workmen at right of center (pass the cursor over the image). They are building a shear dam to divert the river away from the north side of the channel so that work can begin on the intake, power house, and tailrace for the Rainbow Dam. Since 1910, when the dam was completed, Colter's Falls have been hidden from view beneath the reservoir's surface.
1. Paris Gibson, "The Falls of the Missouri: Their Past, Present and Future," Rocky Mountain Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 1 (September 1900),