Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates June 1805 - Part Four
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Journals of Lewis and Clark
Dates: June 11, 1805 - June 13, 1805

 

This article provides interesting facts about their historic journey taken from the Journals of Lewis and Clark dates June 11, 1805 - June 13, 1805.

Lewis and cClark Expedition: Jounal Dates June 11, 1805 - June 13, 1805

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates June 1805
 

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates June 11, 1805 - June 13, 1805
The following excerpts are taken from entries of the Journals of Lewis and Clark. Dates: June 11, 1805 - June 13, 1805

June 11, 1805
Tuesday 11. This morning Captain Lewis with four men set out on their expedition up the south branch. They soon reached the point where the Tansy river approaches the Missouri, and observing a large herd of elk before them, descended and killed several which they hung up along the river so that the party in the boats might see them as they came along. They then halted for dinner; but Captain Lewis who had been for some days afflicted with the dysentery, was now attacked with violent pains attended by a high fever and was unable to go on. He therefore encamped for the night under some willow boughs: having brought no medicine he determined to try an experiment with the small twigs of the chokecherry, which being stripped of their leaves and cut into pieces about two inches long were boiled in pure water, till they produced a strong black decoction of an astringent bitter taste; a pint of this he took at sunset, and repeated the dose an hour afterwards.

By ten o'clock he was perfectly relieved from pain, a gentle perspiration ensued, his fever abated and in the morning he was quite recovered. One of the men caught several dozen fish of two species: the first is about nine inches long, of a white color, round in shape; the mouth is beset both above and below with a rim of fine sharp teeth, the eye moderately large, the pupil dark, and the iris narrow, and of a yellowish brown color: in form and size it resembles the white chub of the Potomac, though its head is proportionably smaller; they readily bite at meat or grasshoppers; but the flesh though soft and of a fine white color is not highly flavored. The second species is precisely of the form and about the size of the fish known by the name of the hickory shad or old wife, though it differs from it in having the outer edge of both the upper and lower jaw set with a rim of teeth, and the tongue and palate also are defended by long sharp teeth bending inwards, the eye is very large, the iris wide and of a silvery color; they do not inhabit muddy water, and the flavor is much superior to that of the former species. Of the first kind we had seen a few before we reached Maria's river; but had found none of the last before we caught them in the Missouri above its junction with that river. The white cat continues as high as Maria's river, but they are scarce in this part of the river, nor have we caught any of them since leaving the Mandans which weighed more than six pounds.

Of other game they saw a great abundance even in their short march of nine miles.

June 12, 1805
Wednesday 12. This morning Captain Lewis left the bank of the river in order to avoid the steep ravines which generally run from the shore to the distance of one or two miles in the plain: having reached the opened country he went for twelve miles in a course a little to the west of southwest, when the sun becoming warm by nine o'clock, he returned to the river in quest of water and to kill something for breakfast, there being no water in the plain, and the buffalo discovering them before they came within gunshot took [259]to flight. They reached the banks in a handsome open low ground with cottonwood, after three miles walk. Here they saw two large brown bears, and killed them both at the first fire, a circumstance which has never before occurred since we have seen that animal. Having made a meal of a part and hung the remainder on a tree with a note for captain Clarke, they again ascended the bluffs into the open plains. Here they saw great numbers of the burrowing squirrel, also some wolves, antelopes, mule deer, and vast herds of buffalo.

They soon crossed a ridge considerably higher than the surrounding plains, and from its top had a beautiful view of the Rocky mountains, which are now completely covered with snow: their general course is from southeast to the north of northwest, and they seem to consist of several ranges which successively rise above each other till the most distant mingles with the clouds. After traveling twelve miles they again met the river, where there was a handsome plain of cottonwood; and although it was not sunset, and they had only come twenty-seven miles, yet Captain Lewis felt weak from his late disorder, and therefore determined to go no further that night. In the course of the day they killed a quantity of game, and saw some signs of otter as well as beaver, and many tracks of the brown bear: they also caught great quantities of the white fish mentioned yesterday. With the broad-leafed cottonwood, which has formed the principal timber of the Missouri, is here mixed another species differing from the first only in the narrowness of its leaf and the greater thickness of its bark. The leaf is long, oval, acutely pointed, about two and a half or three inches long and from three quarters of an inch to an inch in width; it is smooth and thick sometimes slightly grooved or channeled with the margin a little serrate, the upper disk of a common, the lower of a whitish green. This species seems to be preferred by the beaver to the broad-leaved, probably because the former affords a deeper and softer bark.

June 13, 1805
Thursday 13. They left their encampment at sunrise, and ascending the river hills went for six miles in a course generally southwest, over a country which though more waving than that of yesterday may still be considered level. At the extremity of this course they overlooked a most beautiful plain, where were infinitely more buffalo than we had ever before seen at a single view. To the southwest arose from the plain two mountains of a singular appearance and more like ramparts of high fortifications than works of nature. They are square figures with sides rising perpendicularly to the height of two hundred and fifty feet, formed of yellow clay, and the tops seemed to be level plains. Finding that the river here bore considerably to the south, and fearful of passing the falls before reaching the Rocky mountains, they now changed their course to the south, and leaving those insulated hills to the right proceeded across the plain. In this direction Captain Lewis had gone about two miles when his ears were saluted with the agreeable sound of a fall of water, and as he advanced a spray which seemed driven by the high southwest wind arose above the plain like a column of smoke and vanished in an instant. Towards this point he directed his steps, and the noise increasing as he approached soon became too tremendous to be mistaken for any thing but the great falls of the Missouri. Having traveled seven miles after first hearing the sound he reached the falls about twelve o'clock, the hills as he approached were difficult of access and two hundred feet high: down these he hurried with impatience and seating himself on some rocks under the centre of the falls, enjoyed the sublime spectacle of this stupendous object which has since the creation had been lavishing its magnificence upon the desert, unknown to civilization.

The river immediately at its cascade is three hundred yards wide, and is pressed in by a perpendicular cliff on the left, which rises to about one hundred feet and extends up the stream for a mile; on the right the bluff is also perpendicular for three hundred yards above the falls. For ninety or a hundred yards from the left cliff, the water falls in one smooth even sheet, over a precipice of at least eighty feet. The remaining part of the river precipitates itself with a more rapid current, but being received as it falls by the irregular and somewhat projecting rocks below, forms a splendid prospect of perfectly white foam two hundred yards in length, and eighty in perpendicular elevation. This spray is dissipated into a thousand shapes, sometimes flying up in columns of fifteen or twenty feet, which are then oppressed by larger masses of the white foam, on all which the sun impresses the brightest colors of the rainbow. As it rises from the fall it beats with fury against a ledge of rocks which extend across the river at one hundred and fifty yards from the precipice. From the perpendicular cliff on the north, to the distance of one hundred and twenty yards, the rocks rise only a few feet above the water, and when the river is high the stream finds a channel across them forty yards wide, and near the higher parts of the ledge which then rise about twenty feet, and terminate abruptly within eighty or ninety yards of the southern side. Between them and the perpendicular cliff on the south, the whole body of water runs with great swiftness. A few small cedars grow near this ridge of rocks which serves as a barrier to defend a small plain of about three acres shaded with cottonwood, at the lower extremity of which is a grove of the same tree, where are several Indian cabins of sticks; below the point of them the river is divided by a large rock, several feet above the surface of the water, and extending down the stream for twenty yards. At the distance of three hundred yards from the same ridge is a second abutment of solid perpendicular rock about sixty feet high, projecting at right angles from the small plain on the north for one hundred and thirty-four yards into the river. After leaving this, the Missouri again spreads itself to its usual distance of three hundred yards, though with more than its ordinary rapidity.

The hunters who had been sent out now returned loaded with buffalo meat, and Captain Lewis encamped for the night under a tree near the falls. The men were again dispatched to hunt for food against the arrival of the party, and Captain Lewis walked down the river to discover if possible some place where the canoes might be safely drawn on shore, in order to be transported beyond the falls. He returned however without discovering any such spot, the river for three miles below being one continued succession of rapids and cascades, overhung with perpendicular bluffs from one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet high; in short, it seems to have worn itself a channel through the solid rock. In the afternoon they caught in the falls some of both kinds of the white fish, and half a dozen trout from sixteen to twenty-three inches long, precisely resembling in form and the position of its fins the mountain or speckled trout of the United States, except that the specks of the former are of a deep black, while those of the latter are of a red or gold color: they have long sharp teeth on the palate and tongue, and generally a small speck of red on each side behind the front ventral fins; the flesh is of a pale yellowish red, or when in good order of a rose-colored red.

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Journals of Lewis and Clark - Dates: June 11, 1805 - June 13, 1805

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