Oct 31, 2013 10:27 AM by Jeanelle Slade - Q2 News
POMPEYS PILLAR - Despite numerous signs, warnings and security video cameras, someone climbed over a boardwalk railing at Pompeys Pillar National Monument and etched new names into the historical site.
Just about three feet from the famous July 25, 1806 signature of Capt. William Clark, a fresh signature, including a heart and the date, can now be seen carved in the sandstone.
The carving: Cole + Shpresa 10/10/2013 was apparently etched there on October 10, 2013.
Friends of Pompeys Pillar Executive Director Jonathan Peart said: "This belongs to all of us. To you, to me to every American out there. And to deface this is just a senseless act of vandalism and violence to something that has historical and cultural importance."
Peart said a man visiting from Minnesota with his new wife has admitted to the crime.
Even though the monument is shut down to vehicle traffic this time of year, it is open to walk-in visitors all year.
Peart said a silent alarm brought deputies to the monument that day. They questioned and took names from a man and a woman as they left the area, but it wasn't until a week later when an employee checking the grounds noticed the vandalism.
Peart said it didn't take long for authorities to review surveillance video and identify a suspect.
"These national treasures should be treated with respect and those who don't need to be punished," said Peart.
The Bureau of Land Management is now investigating the crime. No suspect has been named, but Peart said the vandalism is a federal offense.
For those wondering about all of the other names, historical or not, etched in the stone at Pompeys Pillar, Peart said they were all put there before 1992, when Pompeys Pillar fell under federal protection.
The Friends of Pompeys Pillar believe it will cost between $4,000 and $5,000 to remove the illegal etching. BLM does not have those funds in its budget, Peart said, and it is a cost we should not have to pay to bring the monument back to the place it was on Oct. 9.
To make donations to Pompeys you can call 406-969-5380 or send donations to:
Friends of Pompeys Pillar
1523 14th Street West, Suite 2
Billings, MT 59012
You can also check out the website at www.pompeyspillar.org.