Provenance Note: An original anonymous notebook detailing the history of the Bert Hanson productions of Lewis and Clark pageants near Three Forks, Montana, was accessioned by Montana State University in 1970. Two photocopied scripts from the same productions, along with newspaper clippings pertaining to the performances, were accessioned later and assigned collection number 1299. Additional clippings, programs, and broadsides pertaining to several different Three Forks community observances of the Lewis and Clark expedition were added from the Montana Vertical File in December, 2012.


Historical Note: The Three Forks, Montana community hosted several Lewis and Clark expedition observances and outdoor pageants in their town and at the nearby Missouri Headwaters State Park during the 1940s and 1950s. As early as 1945 the town sponsored a rodeo, street dance and barbeque. Planning for the first outdoor dramatic pageant had its origin in the founding of the Three Forks chapter of the American Pioneer Trails Association in 1947 with Ray Bacon as president. The organization continued to assist with the summertime parades and rodeos, but in 1950, with the assistance of Professor Bert B. Hansen of Montana State University in Missoula (now known as the University of Montana) a pageant was staged to commemorate the journey of Lewis and Clark for the first time. Hansen continued his involvement with the pageant until 1957, writing scripts and directing the cast of actors, animals, and musicians for each summer's show. The performances took place each summer, with the exception of 1954, and the scripts used were variously titled "Corridor to an Empire," "Two Captains West," "Louisiana Purchase Explored," "Outward Bound," and "Homeward Bound."


Content Description Note: The Three Forks Lewis and Clark Expedition observances collection consists of one anonymous notebook, with typed leaves pasted on its pages, describing the origins of the Bert Hansen pageant, names of early actors, and some incidents which occurred during its 1950s-era performances. Two separate bound copies of photocopied pageant scripts written by Bert Hansen are in the collection, one untitled and undated and the other, combining the scripts of "Outward Bound" and "Homeward Bound," as performed in 1955. A folder of newspaper clippings describing the pageant, and another containing broadsides and programs from Lewis and Clark expedition observances from 1945 through the 1950s complete the collection.


Box 1
1. Notebook
2. Untitled script
3. Outward Bound, Homeward Bound, 1955
4. Newspaper clippings, 1947-1957
5. Broadsides, programs, 1945-1955

Updated: 12/20/12