Yellowstone River Boater Finds Sentimental Item Washed Away in Floods, Finds Owner

by Jon D. B.
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The owner of the Yellowstone River flood casualty, a memorial bench, has been found in a touching conclusion.

A curious saga is unfolding in Springdale, Montana as residents continue to recover after historic flooding. Earlier this week, a local boater spotted something peculiar in the Yellowstone River.

“As we floated by the boat launch, I saw a bench on a sand bar,” begins Shawn Gavne of the discovery. “It was wedged in there pretty good.”

Gavne, a participant in the Yellowstone River’s Boat Float, looked the bench over. It wasn’t your typical installation.

“It said ‘In Loving memory of Clay Madsen,'” he reveals. With the Boat Float moving on, Gavne didn’t have time to dig the bench out. But his first instinct was to utilize social media to find the dedicator of the bench.

“It’s obviously from the flood,” Gavne continues. “Where it came from or how far up river it came, who knows.”

And his strategy worked. The owner of the memorial bench has now been found a mere 24 hours later.

Owner of Memorial Bench Swept Away By Yellowstone River Found

Updating local KULR 8 News, the dedicator was found to be Matt Meismer, who had the bench made for his late friend Clay Mattson. Mattson passed away in 2018, the trade cites.

“My friend Clay, he died several years ago and he was my son’s godfather,” Meismer begins of the departed. “We wanted to do something special for him because he was such a good guy. So, my son came up with the idea of getting a bench.”

A special tribute, “We had it put at his favorite fishing access,” Meismer adds. This had it placed near the Springdale, Mont. Fishing Access Site.

Originally, the bench was a good 20-feet from the bank, Meismer says, “up on a little ledge.”

Historic flooding of the Yellowstone River, however, would completely wash that ledge away, altering the shape and course of the river itself.

After its finding, Meismer says he and his family intend to move the memorial bench to a different location.

Recovery From Historic Flooding Continues

On Thursday, July 2, Yellowstone National Park (YELL) officials were finally able to reopen the park’s north loop to the public after catastrophic flood damage. Visitors now have access to 93% of park roadways once more. But the other 7% will remain closed amidst recovery from the devastating flooding in June.

Yellowstone would first close the park on June 14 after the Yellowstone River devastated park roads, infrastructure, and sites.

It’s exciting to return to Yellowstone so soon after historic flooding, to be sure. But the park asks that visitors please stay informed about the current situation by visiting their NPS website before any visit. You can do so by visiting Yellowstone National Park’s information page here.

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