Montana Geographic Names Advisor

Geographic Name Change Request

Clarks Crossing
Yellowstone County, Montana

Status = Approved

Description locale, 115 acres, along the Yellowstone River, 1.5 miles upstream of its confluence with Bitter Creek, 2.2 miles S of downtown Billings
Location 45°33’01”N, 108°20’52”W
PLSS Location Sections 14 & 15, Township 1 South, Range 26 East
Proposal new name for an unnamed feature
Proponent John Brewer, Billings Chamber of Commerce
Not Carla Island, Darling Island, Libby Island
Administrative area None
Previous BGN Action None
See also
GNIS ID 2761959
Local Usage Clarks Crossing, Carla Island, Darling Island, Libby Island
Published Carla Island (State of Montana Land Lease 2013; 2013, Billings Gazette; 2013, Our Montana, Inc. blog); Darling Island (State of Montana State Land Lease 2013; Billings City Council Minutes 2013; Billings Gazette 2013; Our Montana, Inc. blog 2013); Libby Island (Our Montana, Inc. blog 2013)
This proposal would establish the name Clarks Crossing for a currently unnamed area, formerly an island, along the Yellowstone River just south of Billings. As a result of recent migration of the main river channel and changes in sedimentation patterns, the island is gradually being attached to the river’s north bank. At present, the area is only surrounded by water during flooding events.

Ralph Saunders, a Lewis and Clark scholar, determined in 2008 that the location was the site of a crossing by Captain William Clark’s company in 1806. During July and August 1806, on their return journey from the Pacific Ocean, Lewis and Clark separated and explored different rivers. Clark’s journals and detailed maps indicated that 26 horses were ferried across the Yellowstone River near the northeast end of the island which existed where the Clarks Crossing name is proposed. Sergeant Nathaniel Pryor planned to take the horses overland in order to trade for supplies at Fort Mandan. However all the horses were stolen en route; Pryor rejoined Clark along the Yellowstone River a few weeks later.

Most of the area was recently leased by the City of Billings from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation; the land is to be included in the city’s Riverfront Park. Trails will be constructed as part of the Billings Marathon Loop, which it is hoped will draw visitors to the site. The city also plans to establish a Lewis and Clark interpretive site and also to preserve the riparian habitat.

Many locations in Montana are named for Captain William Clark or another Clark; however, the only natural or populated feature near Billings is Clark Fork Yellowstone River, a stream that flows into the Yellowstone River 15 miles upstream from the area in question.

The proponent reports that the effort to establish the name Clarks Crossing has the support of a large number of agencies and groups, including historical societies, conservation groups, municipal boards, and academic institutions. He adds that, "out of convenience, conservation volunteers sometimes refer to the island as Darling Island and another group calls it Libby Island after one of its members." The origin of a third locally used name, Carla Island, is unknown. Each of these groups is cited in the proposal as supporting the name Clarks Crossing.

The Montana State Names Authority supports the proposed name and has on hand letters of support from the Yellowstone County Commissioners, the City of Billings Parks and Recreation Department. Several local citizens, businesses, and associations sent letters of support in response to an article in a Billings newspaper requesting public input.

Images PDF
Comments Received by the Montana Geographic Names Advisor
Montana Geographic Names Advisor Recommendation - Support (Wednesday, June 25, 2014)
Domestic Names Committee Decision Date - Thursday, July 10, 2014
Domestic Names Committee Discussion - A motion was made and seconded to approve this new name.
Vote: 15 in favor
0 against
0 abstentions

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