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"The most remarkable spot upon this river is the famous Independence Rock; it is the first massive rock of that famous mountain chain which divides North America, and which travelers call the backbone of the universe. It is composed of granite in situ of a prodigious thickness, and covers several miles of ground; it is entirely exposed from top to bottom. It is the great register of the desert; the names of all the travelers who have passed by are there to be read, written in coarse characters; mine figures among them, as that of the first priest to reach this remote spot."
Father Pierre-Jean de Smet, 1840