Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates July 1805 - Part Five
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Journals of Lewis and Clark
Dates: July 16, 1805 - July 18, 1805

 

This article provides interesting facts about their historic journey taken from the Journals of Lewis and Clark dates July 16, 1805 - July 18, 1805.

Lewis and cClark Expedition: Jounal Dates July 16, 1805 - July 18, 1805

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates July 1805
 

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates July 16, 1805 - July 18, 1805
The following excerpts are taken from entries of the Journals of Lewis and Clark. Dates: July 16, 1805 - July 18, 1805

July 16, 1805
Tuesday 16. There was a heavy dew last night. We soon passed about forty little booths, formed of willow bushes as a shelter against the sun. These seemed to have been deserted about ten days, and as we supposed by the Snake Indians, or Shoshones, whom we hope soon to meet, as they appeared from the tracks to have a number of horses with them. At three and three quarter miles we passed a creek or run in a bend on the left side, and four miles further another run or small rivulet on the right. After breakfasting on a buffalo shot by one of the hunters, Captain Lewis resolved to go on ahead of the party to the point where the river enters the Rocky mountains and make the necessary observations before our arrival. He therefore set out with Drewyer and two of the sick men to whom he supposed the walk would be useful: he traveled on the north side of the river through a handsome level plain, which continued on the opposite side also, and at the distance of eight miles passed a small stream on which he observed a considerable quantity of the aspen tree. A little before twelve o'clock he halted on a bend to the north in a low ground well covered with timber, about four and a half miles below the mountains, and obtained a meridian altitude, by which he found the latitude was N. 46 46' 50" 2"'. His route then lay through a high waving plain to a rapid where the Missouri first leaves the Rocky mountains, and here he encamped for the night.

In the meantime we had proceeded after breakfast one mile to a bend in the left, opposite to which was the frame of a large lodge situated in the prairie, constructed like that already mentioned above the Whitebear islands, but only sixty feet in diameter: round it were the remains of about eighty leathern lodges, all which seemed to have been built during the last autumn; within the next fifteen and a quarter miles we passed ten islands, on the last of which we encamped near the right shore, having made twenty-three miles. The next morning,

July 17, 1805
Wednesday 17, we set out early, and at four miles distance joined Captain Lewis at foot of the rapids, and after breakfast began the passage of them: some of the articles most liable to be injured by the water were carried round. We then double manned the canoes, and with the aid of the towing-line got them up without accident. For several miles below the rapids the current of the Missouri becomes stronger as you approach, and the spurs of the mountains advance towards the river, which is deep and not more than seventy yards wide: at the rapids the river is closely hemmed in on both sides by the hills, and foams for half a mile over the rocks which obstruct its channel. The low grounds are now not more than a few yards in width, but they furnish room for an Indian road which winds under the hills on the north side of the river. The general range of these hills is from southeast to northwest, and the cliffs themselves are about eight hundred feet above the water, formed almost entirely of a hard black granite, on which are scattered a few dwarf pine and cedar trees. Immediately in the gap is a large rock four hundred feet high, which on one side is washed by the Missouri, while on its other sides a handsome little plain separates it from the neighboring mountains. It may be ascended with some difficulty nearly to its summit, and affords a beautiful prospect of the plains below, in which we could observe large herds of buffalo. After ascending the rapids for half a mile we came to a small island at the head of them, which we called Pine island from a large pine tree at the lower end of it, which is the first we have seen near the river for a great distance. A mile beyond Captain Lewis's camp we had a meridian altitude which gave us the latitude of 46 42' 14" 7"'. As the canoes were still heavily loaded all those not employed in working them walked on shore. The navigation is now very laborious.

The river is deep but with little current and from seventy to one hundred yards wide; the low grounds are very narrow, with but little timber and that chiefly the aspen tree. The cliffs are steep and hang over the river so much that often we could not cross them, but were obliged to pass and repass from one side of the river to the other in order to make our way. In some places the banks are formed of rocks, of dark black granite rising perpendicularly to a great height, through which the river seems in the progress of time to have worn its channel. On these mountains we see more pine than usual, but it is still in small quantities. Along the bottoms, which have a covering of high grass, we observe the sunflower blooming in great abundance. The Indians of the Missouri, and more especially those who do not cultivate maize, make great use of the seed of this plant for bread or in thickening their soup. They first parch and then pound it between two stones until it is reduced to a fine meal. Sometimes they add a portion of water, and drink it thus diluted: at other times they add a sufficient proportion of marrow grease to reduce it to the consistency of common dough and eat it in that manner. This last composition we preferred to all the rest, and thought it at that time a very palatable dish. There is however little of the broad-leafed cottonwood on this side of the falls, much the greater part of what we see being of the narrow-leafed species.

There are also great quantities of red, purple, yellow and black currants. The currants are very pleasant to the taste, and much preferable to those of our common garden. The bush rises to the height of six or eight feet; the stem simple, branching and erect. These shrubs associate in corps either in upper or timbered lands near the water courses. The leaf is peteolate, of a pale green, and in form resembles the red currant so common in our gardens. The perianth of the fruit is one leaved, five cleft, abbriviated and tubular. The corolla is monopetallous, funnel-shaped, very long, and of a fine orange color. There are five stamens and one pistillum of the first, the filaments are capillar, inserted in the corolla, equal and converging, the anther ovate and incumbent. The germ of the second species is round, smooth, inferior and pidicelled: the style long and thicker than the stamens, simple, cylindrical, smooth and erect. It remains with the corolla until the fruit is ripe, the stamen is simple and obtuse, and the fruit much the size and shape of our common garden currants, growing like them in clusters supported by a compound footstalk. The peduncles are longer in this species, and the berries are more scattered. The fruit is not so acid as the common currant, and has a more agreeable flavor.

The other species differs in no respect from the yellow currant excepting in the color and flavor of the berries.

The serviceberry differs in some points from that of the United States. The bushes are small, sometimes not more than two feet high, and rarely exceed eight inches. They are proportionably small in their stems, growing very thickly, associated in clumps. The fruit is of the same form, but for the most part larger and of a very dark purple. They are now ripe and in great perfection. There are two species of gooseberry here, but neither of them yet ripe: nor are the chokecherry, though in great quantities. Besides there are also at that place the box alder, red willow and a species of sumach. In the evening we saw some mountain rams or big-horned animals, but no other game of any sort. After leaving Pine island we passed a small run on the left, which is formed by a large spring rising at the distance of half a mile under the mountain. One mile and a half above the island is another, and two miles further a third island, the river making small bends constantly to the north. From this last island to a point of rocks on the south side the low grounds become rather wider, and three quarters of a mile beyond these rocks, in a bend on the north, we encamped opposite to a very high cliff, having made during the day eleven and a half miles.

July 18, 1805
Thursday 18. This morning early before our departure we saw a large herd of the big-horned animals, who were bounding among the rocks in the opposite cliff with great agility. These inaccessible spots secure them from all their enemies, and the only danger is in wandering among these precipices, where we should suppose it scarcely possible for any animal to stand; a single false step would precipitate them at least five hundred feet into the water. At one mile and a quarter we passed another single cliff on the left; at the same distance beyond which is the mouth of a large river emptying itself from the north. It is a handsome, bold, and clear stream, eighty yards wide, that is nearly as broad as the Missouri, with a rapid current over a bed of small smooth stones of various figures. The water is extremely transparent, the low grounds are narrow, but possess as much wood as those of the Missouri; and it has every appearance of being navigable, though to what distance we cannot ascertain, as the country which it waters, is broken and mountainous. In honor of the secretary at war we called it Dearborn's river.

Being now very anxious to meet with the Shoshones or Snake Indians, for the purpose of obtaining the necessary information of our route, as well as to procure horses, it was thought best for one of us to go forward with a small party and endeavor to discover them, before the daily discharge of our guns, which is necessary for our subsistence, should give them notice of our approach: if by an accident they hear us, they will most probably retreat to the mountains, mistaking us for their enemies who usually attack them on this side. Accordingly captain Clarke set out with three men, and followed the course of the river on the north side; but the hills were so steep at first that he was not able to go much faster than ourselves. In the evening however he cut off many miles of the circuitous course of the river, by crossing a mountain over which he found a wide Indian road which in many places seems to have been cut or dug down in the earth. He passed also two branches of a stream which he called Ordway's creek, where he saw a number of beaver-dams extending in close succession towards the mountains as far as he could distinguish: on the cliffs were many of the big-horned animals. After crossing this mountain he encamped near a small stream of running water, having traveled twenty miles.

On leaving Dearborn's river we passed at three and a half miles a small creek, and at six beyond it an island on the north side of the river, which makes within that distance many small bends. At two and a half miles further is another island: three quarters of a mile beyond this is a small creek on the north side. At a mile and a half above the creek is a much larger stream thirty yards wide, and discharging itself with a bold current on the north side: the banks are low, and the bed formed of stones altogether. To this stream we gave the name of Ordway's creek, after Sergeant John Ordway. At two miles beyond this the valley widens: we passed several bends of the river, and encamped in the centre of one on the south, having made twenty-one miles. Here we found a small grove of the narrow-leafed cottonwood, there being no longer any of the broad-leafed kind since we entered the mountains. The water of these rivulets which come down from the mountains is very cold, pure, and well tasted. Along their banks as well as on the Missouri the aspen is very common, but of a small kind.

The river is somewhat wider than we found it yesterday; the hills more distant from the river and not so high; there are some pines on the mountains, but they are principally confined to the upper regions of them: the low grounds are still narrower and have little or no timber. The soil near the river is good, and produces a luxuriant growth of grass and weeds; among these productions the sunflower holds a very distinguished place. For several days past we have observed a species of flax in the low grounds, the leaf-stem and pericarp of which resemble those of the flax commonly cultivated in the United States: the stem rises to the height of two and a half or three feet, and spring to the number of eight or ten from the same root, with a strong thick bark apparently well calculated for use: the root seems to be perennial, and it is probable that the cutting of the stems may not at all injure it, for although the seeds are not yet ripe, there are young suckers shooting up from the root, whence we may infer that the stems which are fully grown and in the proper stage of vegetation to produce the best flax, are not essential to the preservation or support of the root, a circumstance which would render it a most valuable plant.

To-day we have met with a second species of flax smaller than the first, as it seldom obtains a greater height than nine or twelve inches: the leaf and stem resemble those of the species just mentioned, except that the latter is rarely branched, and bears a single monopetalous bell-shaped blue flower, suspended with its limb downwards. We saw several herds of the big-horn, but they were in the cliffs beyond our reach. We killed an elk this morning and found part of a deer which had been left for us by captain Clarke.

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Journals of Lewis and Clark - Dates: July 16, 1805 - July 18, 1805

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