Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
In 1844, Burke, who was from England, descended the Columbia River from Canada to Fort Walla Walla and then ascended the Snake River to Fort Hall. In June 1845, he crossed the Divide into the Beaverhead Valley of Montana for the purpose of collecting plants (Figure 10), descended the Jefferson River to Three Forks, and crossed over to the headwaters of the Musselshell River. He then descended the Musselshell for a considerable distance before heading south to the Yellowstone River near the mouth of the Bighorn River. He ascended the Yellowstone, crossed Bozeman Pass, and proceeded to the Three Forks of the Missouri River. From this point, he ascended the Madison River and on back to Fort Hall. Although very little of Burke's collections were ever deposited into museums, his letters provide some information on the early natural history of those areas of Montana through which he traveled.
Burke. J. [His letters to William Jackson Hooker at Kew. A microfilm and photostats of these letters are in the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard Univ.] McKelvey, S.D. 1955. Botanical explorations of the trans-Mississippi west, 1790-1850. Arnold Arboretum of Harvard Univ., Jamaica Plain, MA. Thompson, L.S. 1985. Montana's Explorers: The pioneer naturalists. The Montana Magazine, Helena.