Monument at the site
|Location||Verendrye Dr., Fort Pierre, South Dakota|
|NRHP reference #||74001899|
|Added to NRHP||August 7, 1974|
|Designated NHL||July 17, 1991|
The Verendrye Site is an historical archaeological site off Verendrye Drive in Fort Pierre, Stanley County, South Dakota, United States. Now a small public park, it is the place where the La Vérendrye brothers, the first Europeans to explore this area, placed a lead plate bearing the crest of France during their 1742-43 expedition. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1991.
The Verendrye Site occupies a low hill over looking the western bank of the Missouri River, which flows south between Fort Pierre and Pierre. It is accessed via a paved drive from Verendrye Drive to the north. There is a small circular turnaround with a few spaces for parking, with the monument directly adjacent. The marker is made of granite and stands about 4 feet (1.2 m) high, and bears this inscription: Here on // March 30, 1743 // The Verendryes // Buried a lead // tablet to claim // this region for // France. This // tablet found // on Feb. 16, 1913, is // the first written // record of the // visit of white // men to // South Dakota. In smaller type, the inscription continues: Erected by // State Historical // Society // and Ft. Pierre // Commercial Club // 1933.
Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye was a leading explorer for New France, who with his four sons led many early exploratory expeditions into the northern plains of North America. By the 1730s, the Vérendryes had established several trading posts in what are now North Dakota and Canada. Their expedition of 1742-43 sought to extend the range of influence further west, with an ultimate goal of reaching the Pacific Ocean. In this they were unsuccessful. They are believed to have explored into present-day Montana and Wyoming, but there is significant scholarly debate about exactly what Native American peoples they encountered and where they went. The brothers leading the expedition (probably Louis-Joseph Gaultier de La Vérendrye and François de La Vérendrye, but sources of the expedition are ambiguous) documented the secret placement of a lead plate bearing the French coat of arms on a bluff overlooking the Missouri, explaining to the local Native Americans that the cairn they built over the site was a memorial of their passage.
The plate was discovered in 1913 by children playing on the eroding hillside, and is now in the possession of the state historical society. Its discovery made it possible for scholars to eventually clarify some aspects of the expedition's travels. The commemmorative granite marker was placed in 1933.
- List of National Historic Landmarks in South Dakota
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Stanley County, South Dakota
- "Verendrye Site". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-06-22.
- National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- Charleton, James H. (Dec 1990). "La Verendrye Site". National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination. National Park Service.
- Verendrye Site - National Park Service