of Lewis and Clark: Dates May 14, 1804 - May 21, 1804
excerpts are taken from entries of the Journals of Lewis
Monday, May 14, 1804
All the preparations being completed, we left our encampment
on Monday, May 14th, 1804. This spot is at the mouth of
Wood river, a small stream which empties itself into the
Mississippi, opposite to the entrance of the Missouri. It
is situated in latitude 38° 55' 19-6/10" north, and longitude
from Greenwich, 89° 57' 45". On both sides of the Mississippi
the land for two or three miles is rich and level, but gradually
swells into a high pleasant country, with less timber on
the western than on the eastern side, but all susceptible
of cultivation. The point which separates the two rivers
on the north, extends for fifteen or twenty miles, the greater
part of which is an open level plain, in which the people
of the neighborhood cultivate what little grain they raise.
Not being able to set sail before four o'clock P.M., we
did not make more than four miles, and encamped on the first
island opposite a small creek called Cold Water.
May 15, 1804
The rain, which had continued yesterday and last night,
ceased this morning. We then proceeded, and after passing
two small islands about ten miles further, stopped for the
night at Piper's landing, opposite another island. The water
is here very rapid and the banks falling in. We found that
our boat was too heavily laden in the stern, in consequence
of which she ran on logs three times to-day. It became necessary
to throw the greatest weight on the bow of the boat, a precaution
very necessary in ascending both the Missouri and Mississippi
rivers, in the beds of which, there lie great quantities
of concealed timber.
May 16, 1804
The next morning we set sail at five o'clock. At the
distance of a few miles, we passed a remarkable large coal
hill on the north side, called by the French La Charbonniere,
and arrived at the town of St. Charles. Here we remained
a few days.
St. Charles is a small town on the north bank of the Missouri,
about twenty-one miles from its confluence with the Mississippi.
It is situated in a narrow plain, sufficiently high to protect
it from the annual risings of the river in the month of
June, and at the foot of a range of small hills, which have
occasioned its being called Petite Cote, a name by which
it is more known to the French than by that of St. Charles.
One principal street, about a mile in length and running
parallel with the river, divides the town, which is composed
of nearly one hundred small wooden houses, besides a chapel.
inhabitants, about four hundred and fifty in number, are
chiefly descendants from the French of Canada; and, in their
manners, they unite all the careless gayety, and the amiable
hospitality of the best times of France: yet, like most
of their countrymen in America, they are but ill qualified
for the rude life of a frontier; not that they are without
talent, for they possess much natural genius and vivacity;
nor that they are destitute of enterprize, for their hunting
excursions are long, laborious, and hazardous: but their
exertions are all desultory; their industry is without system,
and without perseverance. The surrounding country, therefore,
though rich, is not, in general, well cultivated; the inhabitants
chiefly subsisting by hunting and trade with the Indians,
and confine their culture to gardening, in which they excel.
Monday, May 21, 1804
Being joined by Captain Lewis, who had been detained by
business at St. Louis, we again set sail on Monday, May
21st, in the afternoon, but were prevented by wind and rain
from going more than about three miles, when we encamped
on the upper point of an island, nearly opposite a creek
which falls in on the south side.