Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates April 1805 - Part Five
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Journals of Lewis and Clark
Dates: April 26, 1805 - April 30, 1805

 

This article provides interesting facts about their historic journey taken from the Journals of Lewis and Clark dates April 26, 1805 - April 30, 1805.

Lewis and cClark Expedition: Jounal Dates April 26, 1805 - April 30, 1805

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates April 1805
 

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates April 26, 1805 - April 30, 1805
The following excerpts are taken from entries of the Journals of Lewis and Clark. Dates: April 26, 1805 - April 30, 1805

April 26, 1805
Friday 26. We continued our voyage in the morning and by twelve o'clock encamped at eight miles distance, at the junction of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers; where we were soon joined by Captain Lewis.

On leaving us yesterday he pursued his route along the foot of the hills, which he ascended at the distance of eight miles; from these the wide plains watered by the Missouri and the Yellowstone spread themselves before the eye, occasionally varied with the wood of the banks, enlivened by the irregular windings of the two rivers, and animated by vast herds of buffalo, deer, elk, and antelope. The confluence of the two rivers was concealed by the wood, but the Yellowstone itself was only two miles distant to the south. He therefore descended the hills and encamped on the bank of the river, having killed as he crossed the plain four buffaloes; the deer alone are shy and retire to the woods, but the elk, antelope, and buffalo suffered him to approach them without alarm, and often followed him quietly for some distance. This morning he sent a man up the river to examine it, while he proceeded down to the junction: the ground on the lower side of the Yellowstone near its mouth, is flat, and for about a mile seems to be subject to inundation, while that at the point or junction, as well as on the opposite side of the Missouri, is at the usual height of ten or eighteen feet above the water, and therefore not overflown.

There is more timber in the neighborhood of this place, and on the Missouri, as far below as the Whiteearth river, than on any other part of the Missouri on this side of the Chayenne: the timber consists principally of cottonwood, with some small elm, ash, and box alder. On the sandbars and along the margin of the river grows the small-leafed willow; in the low grounds adjoining are scattered rosebushes three or four feet high, the redberry, serviceberry and redwood. The higher plains are either immediately on the river, in which case they are generally timbered, and have an undergrowth like that of the low grounds, with the addition of the broad-leafed willow, gooseberry, chokecherry, purple currant, and honeysuckle; or they are between the low grounds and the hills, and for the most part without wood or any thing except large quantities of wild hysop; this plant rises about two feet high, and like the willow of the sandbars is a favorite food of the buffalo, elk, deer, grouse, porcupine, hare, and rabbit. This river which had been known to the French as the Roche jaune, or as we have called it the Yellowstone, rises according to Indian information in the Rocky mountains; its sources are near those of the Missouri and the Platte, and it may be navigated in canoes almost to its head. It runs first through a mountainous country, but in many parts fertile and well timbered; it then waters a rich delightful land, broken into valleys and meadows, and well supplied with wood and water till it reaches near the Missouri open meadows and low grounds, sufficiently timbered on its borders. In the upper country its course is represented as very rapid, but during the two last and largest portions, its current is much more gentle than that of the Missouri, which it resembles also in being turbid though with less sediment.

The man who was sent up the river, reported in the evening that he had gone about eight miles, that during that distance the river winds on both sides of a plain four or five miles wide, that the current was gentle and much obstructed by sandbars, that at five miles he had met with a large timbered island, three miles beyond which a creek falls in on the S.E. above a high bluff, in which are several strata of coal. The country as far as he could discern, resembled that of the Missouri, and in the plain he met several of the bighorn animals, but they were too shy to be obtained. The bed of the Yellowstone, as we observed it near the mouth, is composed of sand and mud, without a stone of any kind. Just above the confluence we measured the two rivers, and found the bed of the Missouri five hundred and twenty yards wide, the water occupying only three hundred and thirty, and the channel deep: while the Yellowstone, including its sandbar, occupied eight hundred and fifty-eight yards, with two hundred and ninety-seven yards of water: the deepest part of the channel is twelve feet, but the river is now falling and seems to be nearly at its summer height.

April 27, 1805
April 27. We left the mouth of the Yellowstone. From the point of junction a wood occupies the space between the two rivers, which at the distance of a mile comes within two hundred and fifty yards of each other. There a beautiful low plain commences, and widening as the rivers recede, extends along each of them for several miles, rising about half a mile from the Missouri into a plain twelve feet higher than itself. The low plain is a few inches above high water mark, and where it joins the higher plain there is a channel of sixty or seventy yards in width, through which a part of the Missouri when at its greatest height passes into the Yellowstone. At two and a half miles above the junction and between the high and low plain is a small lake, two hundred yards wide, extending for a mile parallel with the Missouri along the edge of the upper plain. At the lower extremity of this lake, about four hundred yards from the Missouri, and twice that distance from the Yellowstone, is a situation highly eligible for a trading establishment; it is in the high plain which extends back three miles in width, and seven or eight miles in length, along the Yellowstone, where it is bordered by an extensive body of woodland, and along the Missouri with less breadth, till three miles above it is circumscribed by the hills within a space four yards in width.

A sufficient quantity of limestone for building may easily be procured near the junction of the rivers; it does not lie in regular strata's, but is in large irregular masses, of a light color and apparently of an excellent quality. Game too is very abundant, and as yet quite gentle; above all, its elevation recommends it as preferable to the land at the confluence of the rivers, which their variable channels may render very insecure. The N.W. wind rose so high at eleven o'clock, that we were obliged to stop till about four in the afternoon, when we proceeded till dusk. On the south a beautiful plain separates the two rivers, till at about six miles there is a timbered piece of low ground, and a little above it bluffs, where the country rises gradually from the river; the situations on the north more high and open. We encamped on that side, the wind, the sand which it raised, and the rapidity of the current having prevented our advancing more than eight miles; during the latter part of the day the river becomes wider and crowded with sandbars: although the game is in such plenty we kill only what is necessary for our subsistence. For several days past we have seen great numbers of buffalo lying dead along the shore, and some of them partly devoured by the wolves; they have either sunk through the ice during the winter, or been drowned in attempting to cross, or else, after crossing to some high bluff, found themselves too much exhausted either to ascend or swim back again, and perished for want of food; in this situation we found several small parties of them. There are geese too in abundance, and more bald-eagles than we have hitherto observed; the nests of these last being always accompanied by those of two or three magpies, who are their inseparable attendants.

April 28, 1805
Sunday 28. The day was clear and pleasant, and the wind having shifted to southeast, we could employ our sails, and went twenty-four miles to a low ground on the north opposite to steep bluffs: the country on both sides is much broken, the hills approaching nearer to the river, and forming bluffs, some of a white and others of a red color, and exhibiting the usual appearances of minerals, and some burnt hills though without any pumice stone; the salts are in greater quantities than usual, and the banks and sandbars are covered with a white incrustation like frost. The low grounds are level, fertile and partially timbered, but are not so wide as for a few days past. The woods are now green, but the plains and meadows seem to have less verdure than those below: the only streams which we met to-day are two small runs on the north and one on the south, which rise in the neighboring hills, and have very little water. At the distance of eighteen miles the Missouri makes a considerable bend to the southeast: the game is very abundant, the common, and mule or black tailed deer, elk, buffalo, antelope, brown bear, beaver, and geese. The beaver have committed great devastation among the trees, one of which, nearly three feet in diameter, has been gnawed through by them.

April 29, 1805
Monday 29. We proceeded early with a moderate wind: Captain Lewis who was on shore with one hunter met about eight o'clock two white bears: of the strength and ferocity of this animal, the Indians had given us dreadful accounts: they never attack him but in parties of six or eight persons, and even then are often defeated with the loss of one or more of the party. Having no weapons but bows and arrows, and the bad guns with which the traders supply them, they are obliged to approach very near to the bear; and as no wound except through the head or heart is mortal, they frequently fall a sacrifice if they miss their aim. He rather attacks than avoids a man, and such is the terror which he has inspired, that the Indians who go in quest of him paint themselves and perform all the superstitious rites customary when they make war on a neighboring nation.

Hitherto those we had seen did not appear desirous of encountering us, but although to a skilful rifleman the danger is very much diminished, yet the white bear is still a terrible animal: on approaching these two, both Captain Lewis and the hunter fired and each wounded a bear: one of them made his escape; the other turned upon Captain Lewis and pursued him seventy or eighty yards, but being badly wounded he could not run so fast as to prevent him from reloading his piece, which he again aimed at him, and a third shot from the hunter brought him to the ground: he was a male not quite full grown, and weighed about three hundred pounds: the legs are somewhat longer than those of the black bear, and the talons and tusks much larger and longer. The testicles are also placed much farther forward and suspended in separate pouches from two to four inches asunder, while those of the black bear are situated back between the thighs and in a single pouch like those of the dog: its color is a yellowish brown, the eyes small, black, and piercing, the front of the fore legs near the feet is usually black, and the fur is finer, thicker, and deeper than that of the black bear: add to which, it is a more furious animal, and very remarkable for the wounds which it will bear without dying.

We are surrounded with deer, elk, buffalo, antelopes, and their companions the wolves, who have become more numerous and make great ravages among them: the hills are here much more rough and high, and almost overhang the banks of the river. There are greater appearances of coal than we have hitherto seen, the strata's of it being in some places six feet thick, and there are strata's of burnt earth, which are always on the same level with those of coal. In the evening after coming twenty-five miles we encamped at the entrance of a river which empties itself into a bend on the north side of the Missouri: this stream which we called Martha's river, is about fifty yards wide, with water for fifteen yards, the banks are of earth, and steep, though not high, and the bed principally of mud. Captain Clarke, who ascended it for three miles, found that it continued of the same width with a gentle current, and pursuing its course about north 30 west, through an extensive, fertile, and beautiful valley, but without a single tree. The water is clear, and has a brownish yellow tint; at this place the highlands which yesterday and to-day had approached so near the river became lower, and receding from the water left a valley seven or eight miles wide.

April 30, 1805
Tuesday 30. The wind was high from the north during last evening and continued so this morning: we however continued, and found the river more winding than usual and with a number of sand islands and bars, on one of which last we encamped at the distance of twenty-four miles. The low grounds are fertile and extensive but with very little timber, and that cottonwood, very bad of its kind, being too small for planks, and broken and dead at the top and unsound in the centre of the trunk. We passed some ancient lodges of driftwood which do not appear to have been lately inhabited. The game continues abundant: we killed the largest male elk we have yet seen; on placing it in its natural erect position, we found that it measured five feet three inches from the point of the hoof to the top of the shoulder. The antelopes are yet lean and the females are with young: this fleet and quick-sighted animal is generally the victim of its curiosity: when they first see the hunters they run with great velocity; if he lies down on the ground and lifts up his arm, his hat, or his foot, the antelope returns on a light trot to look at the object, and sometimes goes and returns two or three times till they approach within reach of the rifle; so too they sometimes leave their flock to go and look at the wolves who crouch down, and if the antelope be frightened at first repeat the same manoeuvre, and sometimes relieve each other till they decoy it from the party when they seize it. But generally the wolves take them as they are crossing the rivers, for although swift of foot they are not good swimmers.

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Journals of Lewis and Clark - Dates: April 26, 1805 - April 30, 1805

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