Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates August 1805 - Part Nine
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Journals of Lewis and Clark
Dates: August 18, 1805 - August 19, 1805


This article provides interesting facts about their historic journey taken from the Journals of Lewis and Clark dates August 18, 1805 - August 19, 1805.

Lewis and cClark Expedition: Jounal Dates August 18, 1805 - August 19, 1805

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates August 1805

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates August 18, 1805 - August 19, 1805
The following excerpts are taken from entries of the Journals of Lewis and Clark. Dates: August 18, 1805 - August 19, 1805

August 18, 1805
Sunday 18. In order to relieve the men of captain Clarke's party from the heavy weight of their arms provisions and tools, we exposed a few articles to barter for horses, and soon obtained three very good ones, in exchange for which we gave a uniform coat, a pair of leggings, a few handkerchiefs, three knifes and some other small articles, the whole of which did not in the United States cost more than twenty dollars: a fourth was purchased by the men for an old checkered shirt, a pair of old leggings and a knife. The Indians seemed to be quite as well pleased as ourselves at the bargains they had made. We now found that the two inferior chiefs were somewhat displeased at not having received a present equal to that given to the great chief, who appeared in a dress so much finer than their own. To allay their discontent, we bestowed on them two old coats, and promised them that if they were active in assisting us across the mountains they should have an additional present. This treatment completely reconciled them, and the whole Indian party, except two men and two women, set out in perfect good humor to return home with captain Clarke. After going fifteen miles through a wide level valley with no wood but willows and shrubs, he encamped in the Shoshone cove near a narrow pass where the highlands approach within two hundred yards of each other, and the river is only ten yards wide. The Indians went on further, except the three chiefs and two young men, who assisted in eating two deer brought in by the hunters. After their departure every thing was prepared for the transportation of the baggage, which was now exposed to the air and dried. Our game was one deer and a beaver, and we saw an abundance of trout in the river for which we fixed a net in the evening.

We have now reached the extreme navigable point of the Missouri, which our observation places in latitude 43 30' 43" north. It is difficult to comprise in any general description the characteristics of a river so extensive, and fed by so many streams which have their sources in a great variety of soils and climates. But the Missouri is still sufficiently powerful to give to all its waters something of a common character, which is of course decided by the nature of the country through which it passes. The bed of the river is chiefly composed of a blue mud from which the water itself derives a deep tinge. From its junction here to the place near which it leaves the mountains, its course is embarrassed by rapids and rocks which the hills on each side have thrown into its channel. From that place, its current, with the exception of the falls, is not difficult of navigation, nor is there much variation in its appearance till the mouth of the Platte. That powerful river throws out vast quantities of coarse sand which contribute to give a new face to the Missouri, which is now much more impeded by islands. The sand, as it is drifted down, adheres in time to some of the projecting points from the shore, and forms a barrier to the mud, which at length fills to the same height with the sandbar itself; as soon as it has acquired a consistency, the willow grows there the first year, and by its roots assists the solidity of the whole: as the mud and sand accumulate the cottonwood tree next appears; till the gradual excretion of soils raises the surface of the point above the highest freshets. Thus stopped in its course the water seeks a passage elsewhere, and as the soil on each side is light and yielding, what was only a peninsula, becomes gradually an island, and the river indemnifies itself for the usurpation by encroaching on the adjacent shore. In this way the Missouri like the Mississippi is constantly cutting off the projections of the shore, and leaving its ancient channel, which is then marked by the mud it has deposited and a few stagnant ponds.

The general appearance of the country as it presents itself on ascending may be thus described: From its mouth to the two Charletons, a ridge of highlands borders the river at a small distance, leaving between them fine rich meadows. From the mouth of the two Charletons the hills recede from the river, giving greater extent to the low grounds, but they again approach the river for a short distance near Grand river, and again at Snake creek. From that point they retire, nor do they come again to the neighborhood of the river till above the Sauk prairie, where they are comparatively [388]low and small. Thence they diverge and reappear at the Charaton Searty, after which they are scarcely if at all discernible, till they advance to the Missouri nearly opposite to the Kansas.

The same ridge of hills extends on the south side, in almost one unbroken chain, from the mouth of the Missouri to the Kansas, though decreasing in height beyond the Osage. As they are nearer the river than the hills on the opposite sides, the intermediate low grounds are of course narrower, but the general character of the soil is common to both sides.

In the meadows and along the shore, the tree most common is the cottonwood, which with the willow forms almost the exclusive growth of the Missouri. The hills or rather high grounds, for they do not rise higher than from one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet, are composed of a good rich black soil, which is perfectly susceptible of cultivation, though it becomes richer on the hills beyond the Platte, and are in general thinly covered with timber. Beyond these hills the country extends into high open plains, which are on both sides sufficiently fertile, but the south has the advantage of better streams of water, and may therefore be considered as preferable for settlements. The lands, however, become much better and the timber more abundant between the Osage and the Kansas. From the Kansas to the Nadawa the hills continue at nearly an equal distance, varying from four to eight miles from each other, except that from the little Platte to nearly opposite the ancient Kansas village, the hills are more remote, and the meadows of course wider on the north side of the river. From the Nadawa the northern hills disappear, except at occasional intervals, where they are seen at a distance, till they return about twenty-seven miles above the Platte near the ancient village of the Ayoways. On the south the hills continue close to the river from the ancient village of the Kansas up to Council bluff, fifty miles beyond the Platte; [389]forming high prairie lands. On both sides the lands are good, and perhaps this distance from the Osage to the Platte may be recommended as among the best districts on the Missouri for the purposes of settlers.

From the Ayoway village the northern hills again retire from the river, to which they do not return till three hundred and twenty miles above, at Floyd's river. The hills on the south also leave the river at Council bluffs, and reappear at the Mahar village, two hundred miles up the Missouri. The country thus abandoned by the hills is more open and the timber in smaller quantities than below the Platte, so that although the plain is rich and covered with high grass, the want of wood renders it less calculated for cultivation than below that river.

The northern hills after remaining near the Missouri for a few miles at Floyd's river, recede from it at the Sioux river, the course of which they follow; and though they again visit the Missouri at Whitestone river, where they are low, yet they do not return to it till beyond James river. The highlands on the south, after continuing near the river at the Mahar villages, again disappear, and do not approach it till the Cobalt bluffs, about forty-four miles from the villages, and then from those bluffs to the Yellowstone river, a distance of about one thousand miles, they follow the banks of the river with scarcely any deviation.

From the James river, the lower grounds are confined within a narrow space by the hills on both sides, which now continue near each other up to the mountains. The space between them however varies from one to three miles as high as the Muscleshell river, from which the hills approach so high as to leave scarcely any low grounds on the river, and near the falls reach the waters edge. Beyond the falls the hills are scattered and low to the first range of mountains.

The soil during the whole length of the Missouri below the Platte is generally speaking very fine, and although the timber is scarce, there is still sufficient for the purposes of settlers; But beyond that river, although the soil is still rich, yet the almost total absence of timber, and particularly the want of good water, of which there is but a small quantity in the creeks, and even that brackish, oppose powerful obstacles to its settlement. The difficulty becomes still greater between the Muscleshell river and the falls, where besides the greater scarcity of timber, the country itself is less fertile.

The elevation of these highlands varies as they pass through this extensive tract of country. From Wood river they are about one hundred and fifty feet above the water, and continue at that height till they rise near the Osage, from which place to the ancient fortification they again diminish in size. Thence they continue higher till the Mandan village, after which they are rather lower till the neighborhood of Muscleshell river, where they are met by the Northern hills, which have advanced at a more uniform height, varying from one hundred and fifty to two hundred or three hundred feet. From this place to the mountains the height of both is nearly the same, from three hundred to five hundred feet, and the low grounds so narrow that the traveler seems passing through a range of high country. From Maria's river to the falls, the hills descend to the height of about two or three hundred feet.

August 19, 1805
Monday 19. The morning was cold, and the grass perfectly whitened by the frost. We were engaged in preparing packs and saddles to load the horses as soon as they should arrive. A beaver was caught in a trap, but we were disappointed in trying to catch trout in our net; we therefore made a seine of willow brush, and by hauling it procured a number of fine trout, and a species of mullet which we had not seen before: it is about sixteen inches long, the scales small; the nose long, obtusely pointed, and exceeding the under jaw; the mouth opens with folds at the sides; it has no teeth, and the tongue and palate is smooth. The [391]color of its back and sides is a bluish brown, while the belly is white: it has the faggot bones, whence we concluded it to be of the mullet species. It is by no means so well flavored a fish as the trout, which are the same as those we first saw at the falls, larger than the speckled trout of the mountains in the Atlantic states, and equally well flavored. In the evening the hunters returned with two deer.

Captain Clarke, in the meantime, proceeded through a wide level valley, in which the chief pointed out a spot where many of his tribe were killed in battle a year ago. The Indians accompanied him during the day, and as they had nothing to eat, he was obliged to feed them from his own stores, the hunters not being able to kill any thing. Just as he was entering the mountains, he met an Indian with two mules and a Spanish saddle, who was so polite as to offer one of them to him to ride over the hills. Being on foot, captain Clarke accepted his offer and gave him a waistcoat as a reward for his civility.

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Journals of Lewis and Clark - Dates: August 18, 1805 - August 19, 1805

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