" ...from the colour of it's water we called it the Milk river."
8 May 1805
On the way west, on May 8, 1805, Lewis named the Milk River for its cloudy appearance. He noted a "peculiar whiteness, being about the color of a cup of tea with the admixture of a tablespoonful of milk." The river would become an important means of travel for fur trappers in the 1850s.
It was hoped that this river would connect with the Saskatchewan. This would allow crafty American fur traders to "horn in" on the lucrative fur trade or even to exact tribute from the British Canadian fur companies operating above the United States' new northern border.
Lewis also hoped the Milk River was the one referred to by the Dakota tribes as "the river which scoalds at all others." The information they'd received at Fort Mandan told them arrival at this river would put them close to the Three Forks. The misidentification caused them great concern when it took much longer than expected to reach that destination.
The confusion of rivers plagued the Corps all along their route to the Great Falls. Information from one tribe didn't always match that of another, since each tribe kept to its own trails and territories. As a result, the expedition found rivers where they expected none and puzzled long over which routes to follow. The maps they brought were either blank or sketchy after Fort Mandan and often portrayed more hope than reality.
Some of the geographic information gathered by Lewis and Clark didn't take long to spread, however. The two commanders had dispatched a boat to the east from Fort Mandan, loaded with their observations and the biological specimens they had gathered. Nicholas King, who had drafted some of the maps for the Corps, worked quickly to refine the maps sent back to President Jefferson.
Glasgow began as a "tent town." The Great Northern Railway called it simply "Siding 45" when it was established in 1887. The number 45 meant that it was the 45th siding (sort of stopping point and storage area) west of Minot, North Dakota. Stock growers populated the area before the land around Glasgow was opened to homesteading in 1910. Jealously guarded open range land around the cattle shipping town then was broken into farming parcels. Grass was plowed under, and fences went up, but a series of droughts in the 1910s forced half the farmers off their land.
A spillover of the thousands of 1930s Fort Peck Project workers led to dozens of boom towns around Glasgow with Depression-era names like Delano Heights, Square Deal, Roosevelt and New Deal. The government had expected only single men to travel to such an isolated place for work. Instead, men with families overflowed the first tent town at Fort Peck and spread out to surround Glasgow. When the work was done, the shantytowns disappeared mostly without trace. Grasslands reclaimed many thousands of acres and large tracts have returned to their natural appearance.