Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates June 1805 - Part Two
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Journals of Lewis and Clark
Dates: June 4, 1805 - June 7, 1805


This article provides interesting facts about their historic journey taken from the Journals of Lewis and Clark dates June 4, 1805 - June 7, 1805.

Lewis and cClark Expedition: Jounal Dates June 4, 1805 - June 7, 1805

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates June 1805

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates June 4, 1805 - June 7, 1805
The following excerpts are taken from entries of the Journals of Lewis and Clark. Dates: June 4, 1805 - June 7, 1805

June 4, 1805
Tuesday, June 4. At the same hour this morning Captain Lewis and captain Clarke set out to explore the two rivers: Captain Lewis with six men crossed the north fork near the camp, below a small island from which he took a course N. 30 W. for four and a half miles to a commanding eminence. Here we observed that the North mountain, changing its direction parallel to the Missouri, turned towards the north and terminated abruptly at the distance of about thirty miles, the point of termination bearing N. 48 E. The South mountain too diverges to the south, and terminates abruptly, its extremity bearing S. 8 W. distant about twenty miles: to the right of, and retreating from this extremity, is a separate mountain at the distance of thirty-five miles in a direction S. 38 W. which from its resemblance to the roof of a barn, we called the Barn mountain. The north fork, which is now on the left, makes a considerable bend to the northwest, and on its western border a range of hills about ten miles long, and bearing from this spot N. 60 W. runs parallel with it: north of this range of hills is an elevated point of the river bluff on its south side, bearing N. 72 W. about twelve miles from us; towards this he directed his course across a high, level, dry open plain; which in fact embraces the whole country to the foot of the mountains.

The soil is dark, rich, and fertile, yet the grass by no means so luxuriant as might have been expected, for it is short and scarcely more than sufficient to cover the ground. There are vast quantities of prickly pears, and myriads of grasshoppers, which afford food for a species of curlew which is in great numbers in the plain. He then proceeded up the river to the point of observation they had fixed on; from which he went two miles N. 15 W. to a bluff point on the north side of the river: thence his course was N. 30 W. for two miles to the entrance of a large creek on the south. The part of the river along which he passed is from forty to sixty yards wide, the current strong, the water deep and turbid, the banks falling in, the salts, coal and mineral appearances are as usual, and in every respect, except as to size, this river resembles the Missouri. The low grounds are narrow but well supplied with wood: the bluffs are principally of dark brown yellow, and some white clay with freestone in some places. From this point the river bore N. 20 E. to a bluff on the south, at the distance of twelve miles: towards this he directed his course, ascending the hills which are about two hundred feet high, and passing through plains for three miles, till he found the dry ravines so steep and numerous that he resolved to return to the river and follow its banks. He reached it about four miles from the beginning of his course, and encamped on the north in a bend among some bushes which sheltered the party from the wind: the air was very cold, the northwest wind high, and the rain wet them to the skin. Besides the game just mentioned, he observed buffalo, elk, wolves, foxes, and we got a blaireau and a weasel, and wounded a large brown bear, whom it was too late to pursue. Along the river are immense quantities of roses which are now in full bloom, and which make the low grounds a perfect garden.

Captain Clarke on setting out with five men on the 4th, went seven miles on a course S. 25 W. to a spring; thence he went S. 20 W. for eight miles to the river where was an island, from which he proceeded in a course N. 45 W. and approached the river at the distance of three, five, and thirteen miles, at which place they encamped in an old Indian lodge made of sticks and bark. In crossing the plains they observed several herds of buffalo, some mule deer, antelopes and wolves. The river is rapid and closely hemmed in by high bluffs, crowded with bars of gravel, with little timber on the low grounds, and none on the highlands. Near the camp this evening, a white bear attacked one of the men, whose gun happening to be wet, would not go off; he instantly made towards a tree, but was so closely pursued, that as he ascended the tree he struck the bear with his foot. The bear not being able to climb, waited till he should be forced to come down; and as the rest of the party were separated from him by a perpendicular cliff of rocks, which they could not descend, it was not in their power to give him any assistance: fortunately however at last the bear became frighted at their cries and firing, and released the man. In the afternoon it rained, and during the night there fell both rain and snow, and in the morning.

June 5, 1805
Wednesday 5. The rain fell during the greater part of the last night, and in the morning the weather was cloudy and cold, with a high northwest wind: at sunrise he proceeded up the river eight miles to the bluff on the left side, towards which he had been directing his course yesterday. Here he found the bed of a creek twenty-five yards wide at the entrance, with some timber, but no water, notwithstanding the rain: it is, indeed, astonishing to observe the vast quantities of water absorbed by the soil of the plains, which being opened in large crevices presents a fine rich loam: at the mouth of this stream (which he called Lark creek) the bluffs are very steep and approach the river so that he ascended them, and crossing the plains reached the river, which from the last point bore N. 50 W: four miles from this place it extended north two miles. Here he discovered a lofty mountain standing alone at the distance of more than eighty miles in the direction of N. 30 W. and which from its conical figure he called Tower mountain.

He then proceeded on these two hills and afterwards in different courses six miles, when he again changed for a western course across a deep bend along the south side: in making this passage over the plains he found them like those of yesterday, level and beautiful, with great quantities of buffaloes, and some wolves, foxes, and antelopes, and intersected near the river by deep ravines. Here at the distance of from one to nine miles from the river, he met the largest village of barking squirrels which we had yet seen: for he passed a skirt of their territory for seven miles. He also saw near the hills a flock of the mountain cock or a large species of heath hen with a long pointed tail, which the Indians below had informed us were common among the Rock mountains. Having finished his course of ten miles west across a bend, he continued two miles N. 80 W. and from that point discovered some lofty mountains to the northwest of Tower mountain and bearing N. 65 W. at eighty or one hundred miles distance: Here he encamped on the north side in a handsome low ground, on which were several old stick lodges: there had been but little timber on the river in the forepart of the day, but now there is a greater quantity than usual. The river itself is about eighty yards wide, from six to ten feet deep, and has a strong steady current. The party had killed five elk, and a mule-deer; and by way of experiment roasted the burrowing squirrels, which they found to be well flavored and tender.

June 6, 1805
Thursday 6. Captain Lewis was now convinced that this river pursued a direction too far north for our route to the Pacific, and therefore resolved to return; but waited till noon to take a meridian altitude. The clouds, however, which had gathered during the latter part of the night continued and prevented the observation: part of the men were sent forward to a commanding eminence, six miles S. 70 W; from which they saw at the distance of about fifteen miles S. 80 W. a point of the south bluff of the river, which thence bore northwardly. In their absence two rafts had been prepared, and when they returned about noon, the party embarked: but they soon found that the rafts were so small and slender that the baggage was wet, and therefore it was necessary to abandon them, and go by land. They therefore crossed the plains, and at the distance of twelve miles came to the river, through a cold storm from the northeast, accompanied by showers of rain. The abruptness of the cliffs compelled them, after going a few miles, to leave the river and meet the storm in the plains. Here they directed their course too far northward, in consequence of which they did not meet the river till late at night, after having traveled twenty-three miles since noon, and halted at a little below the entrance of Lark creek. They had the good fortune to kill two buffalo which supplied them with supper, but spent a very uncomfortable night without any shelter from the rain, which continued till morning,

June 7, 1805
Friday 7, when at an early hour they continued down the river. The route was extremely unpleasant, as the wind was high from the N.E. accompanied with rain, which made the ground so slippery that they were unable to walk over the bluffs which they had passed on ascending the river. The land is the most thirsty we have ever seen; notwithstanding all the rain which has fallen, the earth is not wet for more than two inches deep, and resembles thawed ground; but if it requires more water to saturate it than the common soils, on the other hand it yields its moisture with equal difficulty. In passing along the side of one of these bluffs at a narrow pass thirty yards in length, Captain Lewis slipped, and but for a fortunate recovery, by means of his spontoon, would then have been precipitated into the river over a precipice of about ninety feet.

He had just reached a spot where by the assistance of his spontoon he could stand with tolerable safety, when he heard a voice behind him cry out, good God captain what shall I do? he turned instantly and found it was Windsor who had lost his foothold about the middle of the narrow pass, and had slipped down to the very verge of the precipice where he lay on his belly, with his right arm and leg over the precipice, while with the other leg and arm he was with difficulty holding on to keep himself from being dashed to pieces below. His dreadful situation was instantly perceived by Captain Lewis, who stifling his alarm, calmly told him that he was in no danger; that he should take his knife out of his belt with the right hand, and dig a hole in the side of the bluff to receive his right foot. With great presence of mind he did this, and then raised himself on his knees; Captain Lewis then told him to take off his moccasins and come forward on his hands and knees, holding the knife in one hand and his rifle in the other. He immediately crawled in this way till he came to a secure spot. The men who had not attempted this passage, were ordered to return and wade the river at the foot of the bluff, where they found the water breast high.

This adventure taught them the danger of crossing the slippery heights of the river; but as the plains were intersected by deep ravines almost as difficult to pass, they continued down the river, sometimes in the mud of the low grounds, sometimes up to their arms in the water, and when it became too deep to wade, they cut footholds with their knives in the sides of the banks. In this way they traveled through the rain, mud, and water, and having made only eighteen miles during the whole day, encamped in an old Indian lodge of sticks, which afforded them a dry shelter. Here they cooked part of six deer they had killed in the course of their walk, and having eaten the only morsel they had tasted during the whole day slept comfortably on some willow boughs.

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