In 1743, the Verendrye Expedition reached a point in what is now South Dakota and buried a lead plate marking their visit in the name of the king of France. In 1908, some children playing in a field near Pierre found the plate, which is now in the museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society. In 1925, the Great Northern Railway gave replicas of this plate to members of the Upper Missouri Historical Expedition.
Someone sold a Great Northern replica plate on ebay recently, and from the pictures we can see that the plate is actually quite a bit different from the original. The original was about 6″x8″, while the replica was only about 4″x5″. The front of the original plate has letters that had been struck in France; these letters are larger, relative to the size of the plate, on the replica than the original.
The back of the original plate has letters that were hand inscribed by expedition leaders prior to burying the plate. The inscription on the replica is a fair approximation of the original. However, GN has added on the back the words, “Upper Missouri Historical Expedition, July 1925, Compliments of Great Northern Railway.”