One of Montana's most amazing historical events occurred near here in 1809. In
September of that year, John Colter and John Potts, former Lewis and Clark Expedition
members, were trapping beaver on the Jefferson River near the headwaters when a
band of Blackfeet Indians captured Colter and killed Potts. The Blackfeet gave Colter
a chance to escape and provide themselves with a little entertainment. They stripped
him, gave him a head start, and ordered him to run across the prickly pear cactus-
covered flat east of the river. With the Indians hot on his heels, Colter undoubtedly
made an all-time record that day for both sprints and long distance events.
He outran the Indians over a six mile course and gained the cover of timber along
the Madison River. Once in the stream he may have hidden either under a driftwood
jam or in a beaver lodge. The hide-out saved him from the disappointed and mystified
Indians. When night came Colter left his refuge and headed east, naked and weaponless.
Over a week later, he reappeared, sunburned, emaciated, and with swollen feet, at the
Missouri Fur Company trading post, Fort Raymond, at the confluence of the Yellowstone
and Big Horn Rivers, more than 200 miles east of here. Colter's Run has inspired novels
and motion pictures. Local businesses sponsor an annual Colter-inspired marathon
without nudity and the prospect of being killed by the Blackfeet.