GREAT FALLS — Visitors in and out of Great Falls International Airport can learn more about one of America’s most famous expeditions.
On Monday, the ribbon was cut on the Lewis & Clark Foundation’s Discovery display. The exhibit, located adjacent to gates 2 and 3, highlights some of the challenges the Corps of Discovery faced during its time in the Great Falls area in the summer of 1805.
“As people get off the plane, it's one of the first things they’ll see, one of the first impressions of the Great Falls community,” said Jay Russell, director of the Lewis & Clark Foundation. “They’ll get to see our Lewis and Clark history and appreciate that and understand that. We hope it will point them to the interpretive center as well.”
The exhibit cost about $70,000 and took several years to complete. It was made possible by support from a number of sponsors.
The display caters to all ages and captures the essence of the Corps of Discovery’s rigorous portage around the Great Falls. The portage was one of the most demanding legs of the journey and took nearly two weeks.
“What we have is a dugout canoe and little kids can climb in that,” said Russell. “We also have a tipi that small children can climb in and play around in while they’re waiting for their flights. There’s also a campfire ring. The murals on the wall give people a chance to read just a few snippets about Lewis and Clark and their time in the Great Falls area, what they did and what happened here. Then also we have a display case that has replicas of artifacts that they had on the expedition. There are also some flip up panels that talk about six of the members of the Corps, just a couple sentences of who they were and why they were important.”
Although the exhibit is in a secured portion of the airport, it is visible through large glass windows in the second floor lobby.