Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates September 1804 - Part Two
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Journals of Lewis and Clark
Dates: September 4, 1804 - September 14, 1804


This article provides interesting facts about their historic journey taken from the Journals of Lewis and Clark dates September 4, 1804 - September 14, 1804.

Lewis and cClark Expedition: Jounal Dates September 4, 1804 - September 14, 1804

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates September 1804

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates September 4, 1804 - September 14, 1804
The following excerpts are taken from entries of the Journals of Lewis and Clark. Dates: September 4, 1804 - September 14, 1804

September 4, 1804
September 4. We set out early, with a very cold wind from S.S.E. and at one mile and a half, reached a small creek, called Whitelime creek, on the south side. Just above this is a cliff, covered with cedar trees, and at three miles a creek, called Whitepaint creek, of about thirty yards wide: on the same side, and at four and a half miles distance from the Whitepaint creek, is the Rapid river, or, as it is called by the French, la Riverequi Court; this river empties into the Missouri, in a course S.W. by W. and is one hundred and fifty-two yards wide, and four feet deep at the confluence. It rises in the Black mountains, and passes through a hilly country, with a poor soil. Captain Clark ascended three miles to a beautiful plain, on the upper side, where the Pawnees once had a village: he found that the river widened above its mouth, and much divided by sands and islands, which, joined to the great rapidity of the current, makes the navigation very difficult, even for small boats. Like the Platte its waters are of a light color; like that river too it throws out into the Missouri, great quantities of sand, coarser even than that of the Platte, which form sandbars and shoals near its mouth.

We encamped just above it, on the south, having made only eight miles, as the wind shifted to the south, and blew so hard that in the course of the day we broke our mast: we saw some deer, a number of geese, and shot a turkey and a duck: the place in which we halted is a fine low-ground, with much timber, such as red cedar, honeylocust, oak, arrowwood, elm and coffeenut.

September 5, 1804
September 5, Wednesday. The wind was again high from the south. At five miles, we came to a large island, called Pawnee island, in the middle of the river; and stopped to breakfast at a small creek on the north, which has the name of Goat creek, at eight and a half miles. Near the mouth of this creek the beaver had made a dam across so as to form a large pond, in which they built their houses. Above this island the river Poncara falls into the Missouri from the south, and is thirty yards wide at the entrance. Two men whom we dispatched to the village of the same name, returned with information that they had found it on the lower side of the creek; but as this is the hunting season, the town was so completely deserted that they had killed a buffalo in the village itself. This tribe of Poncaras, who are said to have once numbered four hundred men, are now reduced to about fifty, and have associated for mutual protection with the Mahas, who are about two hundred in number. These two nations are allied by a similarity of misfortune; they were once both numerous, both resided in villages, and cultivated Indian corn; their common enemies, the Sioux and small-pox, drove them from their towns, which they visit only occasionally for the purposes of trade; and they now wander over the plains on the sources of the Wolf and Quieurre rivers. Between the Pawnee island and Goat creek on the north, is a cliff of blue earth, under which are several mineral springs, impregnated with salts: near this we observed a number of goats, from which the creek derives its name. At three and a half miles from the creek, we came to a large island on the south, along which we passed to the head of it, and encamped about four o'clock. Here we replaced the mast we had lost, with a new one of cedar: some bucks and an elk were procured to-day, and a black tailed deer was seen near the Poncara's village.

September 6, 1804
Thursday, September 6. There was a storm this morning from the N.W. and though it moderated, the wind was still high, and the weather very cold; the number of sandbars too, added to the rapidity of the current, obliged us to have recourse to the towline: with all our exertions we did not make more than eight and a half miles, and encamped on the north, after passing high cliffs of soft, blue, and red colored stone, on the southern shore. We saw some goats, and great numbers of buffalo, in addition to which the hunters furnished us with elk, deer, turkies, geese, and one beaver: a large catfish too was caught in the evening. The ground near the camp, was a low prarie, without timber, though just below is a grove of cottonwood.

September 7, 1804
Friday, September 7. The morning was very cold and the wind southeast. At five and a half miles, we reached and encamped at the foot of a round mountain, on the south, having passed two small islands. This mountain, which is about three hundred feet at the base, forms a cone at the top, resembling a dome at a distance, and seventy feet or more above the surrounding highlands. As we descended from this dome, we arrived at a spot, on the gradual descent of the hill, nearly four acres in extent, and covered with small holes: these are the residence of a little animal, called by the French, petit chien (little dog) who sit erect near the mouth, and make a whistling noise, but when alarmed take refuge in their holes. In order to bring them out, we poured into one of the holes five barrels of water without filling it, but we dislodged and caught the owner. After digging down another of the holes for six feet, we found, on running a pole into it, that we had not yet dug half way to the bottom: we discovered, however, two frogs in the hole, and near it we killed a dark rattlesnake, which had swallowed a small prairie dog: we were also informed, though we never witnessed the fact, that a sort of lizard, and a snake, live habitually with these animals. The petit chien are justly named, as they resemble a small dog in some particulars, though they have also some points of similarity to the squirrel. The head resembles the squirrel in every respect, except that the ear is shorter, the tail like that of the ground-squirrel, the toe-nails are long, the fur is fine, and the long hair is gray.

September 8, 1804
Saturday, September 8. The wind still continued from the southeast, but moderately. At seven miles we reached a house on the north side, called the Pawnee house, where a trader, named Trudeau, wintered in the year 1796-7: behind this, hills, much higher than usual, appear to the north, about eight miles off. Before reaching this house, we came by three small islands, on the north side, and a small creek on the south; and after leaving it, reached another, at the end of seventeen miles, on which we encamped, and called it Boat island: we here saw herds of buffalo, and some elk, deer, turkies, beaver, a squirrel, and a prairie dog. The party on the north represent the country through which they passed, as poor, rugged, and hilly, with the appearance of having been lately burnt by the Indians; the broken hills, indeed, approach the river on both sides, though each is bordered by a strip of woodland near the water.

September 9, 1804
Sunday, September 9. We coasted along the island on which we had encamped, and then passed three sand and willow islands, and a number of smaller sandbars. The river is shallow, and joined by two small creeks from the north, and one from the south. In the plains, to the south, are great numbers of buffalo, in herds of nearly five hundred; all the copses of timber appear to contain elk or deer. We encamped on a sandbar, on the southern shore, at the distance of fourteen and a quarter miles.

September 10, 1804
September 10, Monday. The next day we made twenty miles. The morning was cloudy and dark, but a light breeze from the southeast carried us past two small islands on the south, and one on the north; till, at the distance of ten and a half miles, we reached an island, extending for two miles in the middle of the river, covered with red cedar, from which it derives its name of Cedar island. Just below this island, on a hill, to the south, is the backbone of a fish, forty-five feet long, tapering towards the tail, and in a perfect state of petrifaction, fragments of which were collected and sent to Washington. On both sides of the river are high dark-colored bluffs. About a mile and a half from the island, on the southern shore, the party on that side discovered a large and very strong impregnated spring of water; and another, not so strongly impregnated, half a mile up the hill. Three miles beyond Cedar island is a large island on the north, and a number of sandbars. After which is another, about a mile in length, lying in the middle of the river, and separated by a small channel, at its extremity, from another above it, on which we encamped. These two islands are called Mud islands. The river is shallow during this day's course, and is falling a little. The elk and buffalo are in great abundance, but the deer have become scarce,

September 11, 1804
September 11, Tuesday. At six and a half miles we passed the upper extremity of an island on the south; four miles beyond which is another on the same side of the river; and about a quarter of a mile distant we visited a large village of the barking-squirrel. It was situated on a gentle declivity, and covered a space of nine hundred and seventy yards long, and eight hundred yards wide; we killed four of them. We then resumed our course, and during five and a half miles passed two islands on the north, and then encamped at the distance of sixteen miles, on the south side of the river, and just above a small run. The morning had been cloudy, but in the afternoon it began raining, with a high northwest wind, which continued during the greater part of the night. The country seen to-day consists of narrow strips of lowland, rising into uneven grounds, which are succeeded, at the distance of three miles, by rich and level plains, but without any timber. The river itself is wide, and crowded with sandbars. Elk, deer, squirrels, a pelican, and a very large porcupine, were our game this day; some foxes too were seen, but not caught.

In the morning we observed a man riding on horseback down towards the boat, and we were much pleased to find that it was George Shannon, one of our party, for whose safety we had been very uneasy. Our two horses having strayed from us on the 26th of August, he was sent to search for them. After he had found them he attempted to rejoin us, but seeing some other tracks, which must have been those of Indians, and which he mistook for our own, he concluded that we were ahead, and had been for sixteen days following the bank of the river above us. During the first four days he exhausted his bullets, and was then nearly starved, being obliged to subsist, for twelve days, on a few grapes, and a rabbit which he killed by making use of a hard piece of stick for a ball. One of his horses gave out, and was left behind; the other he kept as a last resource for food. Despairing of overtaking us, he was returning down the river, in hopes of meeting some other boat; and was on the point of killing his horse, when he was so fortunate as to join us.

September 12, 1804
Wednesday, September 12. The day was dark and cloudy; the wind from the northwest. At a short distance we reached an island in the middle of the river, which is covered with timber, a rare object now. We with great difficulty were enabled to struggle through the sandbars, the water being very rapid and shallow, so that we were several hours in making a mile. Several times the boat wheeled on the bar, and the men were obliged to jump out and prevent her from upsetting; at others, after making a way up one channel, the shoalness of the water forced us back to seek the deep channel. We advanced only four miles in the whole day and encamped on the south. Along both sides of the river are high grounds; on the southern side particularly, they form dark bluffs, in which may be observed slate and coal intermixed. We saw also several villages of barking-squirrels; great numbers of growse, and three foxes.

September 13, 1804
September 13, Thursday. We made twelve miles to-day through a number of sandbars, which make it difficult to find the proper channel. The hills on each side are high, and separated from the river by a narrow plain on its borders. On the north, these lowlands are covered in part with timber, and great quantities of grapes, which are now ripe: on the south we found plenty of plums, but they are not yet ripe; and near the dark bluffs, a run tainted with allum and copperas; the southern side being more strongly impregnated with minerals than the northern. Last night four beaver were caught in the traps; a porcupine was shot as it was upon a cottontree, feeding on its leaves and branches. We encamped on the north side, opposite to a small willow island. At night the mosquitoes were very troublesome, though the weather was cold and rainy and the wind from the northwest.

September 14, 1804
Friday, September 14. At two miles we reached a round island on the northern side; at about five, a run on the south; two and a half miles further, a small creek; and at nine miles encamped near the month of a creek, on the same side. The sandbars are very numerous, and render the river wide and shallow, and obliged the crew to get into the water and drag the boat over the bars several times. During the whole day we searched along the southern shore, and at some distance into the interior, to find an ancient volcano which we heard at St. Charles was somewhere in this neighborhood; but we could not discern the slightest appearance of any thing volcanic. In the course of their search the party shot a buck-goat and a hare. The hills, particularly on the south, continue high, but the timber is confined to the islands and banks of the river. We had occasion here to observe the rapid undermining of these hills by the Missouri: the first attacks seem to be on the hills which overhang the river; as soon as the violence of the current destroys the grass at the foot of them, the whole texture appears loosened, and the ground dissolves and mixes with the water: the muddy mixture is then forced over the low-grounds, which it covers sometimes to the depth of three inches, and gradually destroys the herbage; after which it can offer no resistance to the water, and becomes at last covered with sand.

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