As part of it's ongoing program to educate the public about the uniqueness of the area, the Lower Flathead Valley Community Foundation commissioned seascape artist, Byron Pickering, to create a painting of Glacial Lake Missoula.
According to geologists, the lake was formed about 15,000 years ago during the last ice age, when the Clark Fork River was dammed by ice near Sandpoint, Idaho. The water was backed up almost to the Continental Divide on the East, through the Bitterroot Valley to the South and as far North as Polson, which was the terminus of another tongue of the British Columbia Glacier.
The glacial ice went from over 5,000 feet thick in B.C. to approximately a quarter of a mile deep at Polson. Periodically, the dam broke at Sandpoint, creating tremendous floods that scoured the scablands in the Columbia Basin and created the Columbia Gorge.
The Mission Mountain's valleys were filled with glaciers from which large icebergs broke off as the water level fluctuated, as depicted in Byron's painting. The paintings perspective if looking east from the national Bison Range, approximately 1000 feet above the valley floor, extending from Mount Harding on the left to the Mission Falls Valley on the right. A reproduction of this painting is on a permanent outdoor display at the Glacial Overlook.
Byron has been honored by the use of "Glacial Lake Missoula" in a variety of articles and web illustrations, among them a 2005 feature in Montana University's "Visions" magazine. In 2006 it was used on the pages of the Nova Megafloods website in conjunction with the PBS special. Find it here. In 2008, it was featured in the winter edition of the Mid Columbian Magazine, a Washington publication magazine. Recently featured in the Flathead Living Magazine, winter edition, 2018.