Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates August 1805 - Part Ten
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Journals of Lewis and Clark
Dates: August 20, 1805 - August 22, 1805

 

This article provides interesting facts about their historic journey taken from the Journals of Lewis and Clark dates August 20, 1805 - August 22, 1805.

Lewis and cClark Expedition: Jounal Dates August 20, 1805 - August 22, 1805

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates August 1805
 

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates August 20, 1805 - August 22, 1805
The following excerpts are taken from entries of the Journals of Lewis and Clark. Dates: August 20, 1805 - August 22, 1805

August 20, 1805
Tuesday, August 20. He encamped for the night on a small stream, and the next morning, he set out at six o'clock. In passing through a continuation of the hilly broken country, he met several parties of Indians. On coming near the camp, which had been removed since we left them two miles higher up the river, Cameahwait requested that the party should halt. This was complied with: a number of Indians came out from the camp, and with great ceremony several pipes were smoked. This being over captain Clarke was conducted to a large leathern lodge prepared for his party in the middle of the encampment, the Indians having only shelters of willow bushes. A few dried berries, and one salmon, the only food the whole village could contribute, were then presented to him; after which he proceeded to repeat in council, what had been already told them, the purposes of his visit; urged them to take their horses over and assist in transporting our baggage, and expressed a wish to obtain a guide to examine the river. This was explained and enforced to the whole village by Cameahwait, and an old man was pointed out who was said to know more of their geography to the north than any other person, and whom captain Clarke engaged to accompany him. After explaining his views he distributed a few presents, the council was ended, and nearly half the village set out to hunt the antelope, but returned without success.

Captain Clarke in the meantime made particular inquiries as to the situation of the country, and the possibility of soon reaching a navigable water. The chief began by drawing on the ground a delineation of the rivers, from which it appeared that his information was very limited. The river on which the camp is he divided into two branches just above us, which, as he indicated by the opening of the mountains, were in view: he next made it discharge itself into a larger river ten miles below, coming from the southwest: the joint stream continued one day's march to the northwest, and then inclined to the westward for two day's march farther. At that place he placed several heaps of sand on each side, which, as he explained them, represented, vast mountains of rock always covered with snow, in passing through which the river was so completely hemmed in by the high rocks, that there was no possibility of traveling along the shore; that the bed of the river was obstructed by sharp-pointed rocks, and such its rapidity, that as far as the eye could reach it presented a perfect column of foam. The mountains he said were equally inaccessible, as neither man nor horse could cross them; that such being the state of the country neither he nor any of his nation had ever attempted to go beyond the mountains.

Cameahwait said also that he had been informed by the Chopunnish, or pierced-nose Indians, who reside on this river west of the mountains, that it ran a great way towards the setting sun, and at length lost itself in a great lake of water which was ill-tasted, and where the white men lived. An Indian belonging to a band of Shoshones who live to the southwest, and who happened to be at camp, was then brought in, and inquiries made of him as to the situation of the country in that direction: this he described in terms scarcely less terrible than those in which Cameahwait had represented the west. He said that his relations lived at the distance of twenty days' march from this place, on a course a little to the west of south and not far from the whites, with whom they traded for horses, mules, cloth, metal, beads, and the shells here worn as ornaments, and which are those of a species of pearl oyster. In order to reach his country we should be obliged during the first seven days to climb over steep rocky mountains where there was no game, and we should find nothing but roots for subsistence. Even for these however we should be obliged to contend with a fierce warlike people, whom he called the Broken-moccasin, or moccasin with holes, who lived like bears in holes, and fed on roots and the flesh of such horses as they could steal or plunder from those who passed through the mountains.

So rough indeed was the passage, that the feet of the horses would be wounded in such a manner that many of them would be unable to proceed. The next part of the route was for ten days through a dry parched desert of sand, inhabited by no animal which would supply us with subsistence, and as the sun had now scorched up the grass and dried up the small pools of water which are sometimes scattered through this desert in the spring, both ourselves and our horses would perish for want of food and water. About the middle of this plain a large river passes from southeast to northwest, which, though navigable, afforded neither timber nor salmon. Three or four days' march beyond this plain his relations lived, in a country tolerably fertile and partially covered with timber, on another large river running in the same direction as the former; that this last discharges itself into a third large river, on which resided many numerous nations, with whom his own were at war, but whether this last emptied itself into the great or stinking lake, as they called the ocean, he did not know: that from his country to [394]the stinking lake was a great distance, and that the route to it, taken by such of his relations as had visited it, was up the river on which they lived, and over to that on which the white people lived, and which they knew discharged itself into the ocean. This route he advised us to take, but added, that we had better defer the journey till spring, when he would himself conduct us.

This account persuaded us that the streams of which he spoke were southern branches of the Columbia, heading with the Rio des Apostolos, and Rio Colorado, and that the route which he mentioned was to the gulf of California: captain Clarke therefore told him that this road was too much towards the south for our purpose, and then requested to know if there was no route on the left of the river where we now are, by which we might intercept it below the mountains; but he knew of none except that through the barren plains, which he said joined the mountains on that side, and through which it was impossible to pass at this season, even if we were fortunate enough to escape the Broken-moccasin Indians. Captain Clarke recompensed the Indian by a present of a knife, with which he seemed much gratified, and now inquired of Cameahwait by what route the Pierced-nose Indians, who he said lived west of the mountains, crossed over to the Missouri: this he said was towards the north, but that the road was a very bad one; that during the passage he had been told they suffered excessively from hunger, being obliged to subsist for many days on berries alone, there being no game in that part of the mountains, which were broken and rocky, and so thickly covered with timber that they could scarcely pass. Surrounded by difficulties as all the other routes are, this seems to be the most practicable of all the passages by land, since, if the Indians can pass the mountains with their women and children, no difficulties which they could encounter could be formidable to us; and if the Indians below the mountains are so numerous as they are represented to be, they must have some means of subsistence equally within our power.

They tell us indeed that the nations to the westward subsist principally on fish and roots, and that their only game were a few elk, deer, and antelope, there being no buffalo west of the mountain. The first inquiry however was to ascertain the truth of their information relative to the difficulty of descending the river: for this purpose captain Clarke set out at three o'clock in the afternoon, accompanied by the guide and all his men, except one whom he left with orders to purchase a horse and join him as soon as possible. At the distance of four miles he crossed the river, and eight miles from the camp halted for the night at a small stream. The road which he followed was a beaten path through a wide rich meadow, in which were several old lodges. On the route he met a number of men, women, and children, as well as horses, and one of the men who appeared to possess some consideration turned back with him, and observing a woman with three salmon obtained them from her, and presented them to the party. Captain Clarke shot a mountain cock or cock of the plains, a dark brown bird larger than the dunghill fowl, with a long and pointed tail, and a fleshy protuberance about the base of the upper chop, something like that of the turkey, though without the snout. In the morning,

August 21, 1805
Wednesday 21, he resumed his march early, and at the distance of five miles reached an Indian lodge of brush, inhabited by seven families of Shoshones. They behaved with great civility, gave the whole party as much boiled salmon as they could eat, and added as a present several dried salmon and a considerable quantity of chokecherries. After smoking with them all he visited the fish weir, which was about two hundred yards distant; the river was here divided by three small islands, which occasioned the water to pass along four channels. Of these three were narrow, and stopped by means of trees which were stretched across, and supported by willow stakes, sufficiently near each other to prevent the passage of the fish. About the centre of each was [396]placed a basket formed of willows, eighteen or twenty feet in length, of a cylindrical form, and terminating in a conic shape at its lower extremity; this was situated with its mouth upwards, opposite to an aperture in the weir.

The main channel of the water was then conducted to this weir, and as the fish entered it they were so entangled with each other that they could not move, and were taken out by untying the small end of the willow basket. The weir in the main channel was formed in a manner somewhat different; there were in fact two distinct weirs formed of poles and willow sticks quite across the river, approaching each other obliquely with an aperture in each side near the angle. This is made by tying a number of poles together at the top, in parcels of three, which were then set up in a triangular form at the base, two of the poles being in the range desired for the weir, and the third down the stream. To these poles two ranges of other poles are next lashed horizontally, with willow bark and wythes, and willow sticks joined in with these crosswise, so as to form a kind of wicker-work from the bottom of the river to the height of three or four feet above the surface of the water. This is so thick as to prevent the fish from passing, and even in some parts with the help of a little gravel and some stone enables them to give any direction which they wish to the water. These two weirs being placed near to each other, one for the purpose of catching the fish as they ascend, the other as they go down the river, is provided with two baskets made in the form already described, and which are placed at the apertures of the weir.

After examining these curious objects, he returned to the lodges, and soon passed the river to the left, where an Indian brought him a tomahawk which he said he had found in the grass, near the lodge where Captain Lewis had staid on his first visit to the village. This was a tomahawk which had been missed at the time, and supposed to be stolen; it was however the only article which had been lost in our intercourse with the nation, and as even that was returned the [397]inference is highly honourable to the integrity of the Shoshones. On leaving the lodges captain Clarke crossed to the left side of the river, and dispatched five men to the forks of it, in search of the man left behind yesterday, who procured a horse and passed by another road as they learnt, to the forks. At the distance of fourteen miles they killed a very large salmon, two and a half feet long, in a creek six miles below the forks: and after traveling about twenty miles through the valley, following the course of the river, which runs nearly northwest, halted in a small meadow on the right side, under a cliff of rocks. Here they were joined by the five men who had gone in quest of Crusatte. They had been to the forks of the river, where the natives resort in great numbers for the purpose of gigging fish, of which they made our men a present of five fresh salmon. In addition to this food, one deer was killed to-day. The western branch of this river is much larger than the eastern, and after we passed the junction we found the river about one hundred yards in width, rapid and shoaly, but containing only a small quantity of timber. As Captain Lewis was the first white man who visited its waters, captain Clarke gave it the name of Lewis's river. The low grounds through which he had passed to-day were rich and wide, but at his camp this evening the hills begin to assume a formidable aspect. The cliff under which he lay is of a reddish brown color, the rocks which have fallen from it are a dark brown flintstone. Near the place are gullies of white sandstone, and quantities of a fine sand, of a snowy whiteness: the mountains on each side are high and rugged, with some pine trees scattered over them.

August 22, 1805
Thursday 22. He soon began to perceive that the Indian accounts had not exaggerated: at the distance of a mile he passed a small creek, and the points of four mountains, which were rocky, and so high that it seemed almost impossible to cross them with horses. The road lay over the sharp fragments of rocks which had fallen from the mountains, and were strewed in heaps for miles together, yet the horses altogether [398]unshod, traveled across them as fast as the men, and without detaining them a moment. They passed two bold-running streams, and reached the entrance of a small river, where a few Indian families resided. They had not been previously acquainted with the arrival of the whites, the guide was behind, and the wood so thick that we came upon them unobserved, till at a very short distance. As soon as they saw us, the women and children fled in great consternation; the men offered us every thing they had, the fish on the scaffolds, the dried berries and the collars of elk's tushes worn by the children. We took only a small quantity of the food, and gave them in return some small articles which conduced very much to pacify them.

The guide now coming up, explained to them who we were, and the object of our visit, which seemed to relieve the fears, but still a number of the women and children did not recover from their fright, but cryed during our stay, which lasted about an hour. The guide, whom we found a very intelligent friendly old man, informed us that up this river there was a road which led over the mountains to the Missouri. On resuming his route, he went along the steep side of a mountain about three miles, and then reached the river near a small island, at the lower part of which he encamped; he here attempted to gig some fish, but could only obtain one small salmon. The river is here shoal and rapid, with many rocks scattered in various directions through its bed. On the sides of the mountains are some scattered pines, and of those on the left the tops are covered with them; there are however but few in the low grounds through which they passed, indeed they have seen only a single tree fit to make a canoe, and even that was small. The country has an abundant growth of berries, and we met several women and children gathering them who bestowed them upon us with great liberality. Among the woods captain Clarke observed a species of woodpecker, the beak and tail of which were white, the wings black, and [399]every other part of the body of a dark brown; its size was that of the robin, and it fed on the seeds of the pine.

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Journals of Lewis and Clark - Dates: August 20, 1805 - August 22, 1805

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