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Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery

Journals: May, 1805

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Meriwether Lewis, William Clark
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May 2
Lewis: The wind continued violent all night nor did it abate much of it's violence this morning, when at daylight it was attended with snow which continued to fall untill about 10 A. M. being about one inch deep, it formed a singular contrast with the trees and other vegitation which was considerably advanced. some flowers had put forth in the plains, and the leaves of the cottonwood were as large as a dollar.

sent out some hunters who killed 2 Deer 3 Elks and several buffaloe; on our way this evening we also shot three beaver along the shore; these anamals in consequence of not being hunted are extreemly gentle, where they are hunted they never leave their lodges in the day, the flesh of the beaver is esteemed a delecacy among us; I think the tale a most delicious morsal, when boiled it resembles in flavor the fresh tongues and sounds of the codfish, and is usually sufficiently large to afford a plentifull meal for two men.

Joseph Fields one of the hunters who was out today found several yards of scarlet cloth which had been suspended on the bough of a tree near an old indian hunting camp, where it had been left as a sacrefice to the deity by the indians, probably by the Assinniboin nation, it being a custom with them as well as all the nations inhabiting the waters of the Assinniboins so far as they are known to us, to offer or sacrefice in this manner to the deity watever they may be possessed off which they think most acceptable to him, and very honestly making their own feelings the test of those of the deity offer him the article which they most prize themselves. this being the most usual method of weshiping the great sperit as they term the deity, is practiced on interesting occasions, or to produce the happy eventuation of the important occurrances incident to human nature, such as relief from hungar or mallady, protection from their enemies or the delivering them into their hands, and with such as cultivate, to prevent the river's overflowing and distroying their crops &c. screfices of a similar kind are also made to the deceased by their friends and relatives.

the winds are was very piercing this evening the water friezed on the oars as they rowed. the wind dying at 5 P. M. we set out.—

Lewis & Clark Map: 04/27/05 Roosevelt County, Montana Wind The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

May 3
Lewis: The morning being very could we did not set out as early as usual; ice formed on a kettle of water Ό of an inch thick. the snow has melted generally in the bottoms, but the hills still remain covered.

on the lard side at the distance of 2 miles we passed a curious collection of bushes which had been tyed up in the form of a fascine and standing on end in the open bottom it appeared to be about 30 feet high and ten or twelve feet in diameter, this we supposed to have been placed there by the Indians, as a sacrefice for some purpose.

The wind continued to blow hard from the West but not so strong as to compel us to ly by. Capt. Clark walked on shore and killed an Elk which he caused to be butched by the time I arrived with the party, here we halted and dined being about 12 OCk. our usual time of halting for that purpose. after dinner Capt. Clark pursued his walk, while I continued with the party, it being a rule which we had established, never to be absent at the same time from the party.

the plains or high lands are much less elivated than they were, not being more than from 50 to 60 feet above the river bottom, which is also wider than usual being from 5 to 9 ms. in width; traces of the ancient beds of the river are visible in many places through the whole extent of this valley. since the hills have become lower the appearance of the stratas of coal burnt hills and pumice stone have in a great measure ceased;

we saw vast quantities of buffaloe, Elk, deer principally of the long tale kind, Antelope or goats, beaver, geese, ducks, brant and some swan.

near the entrance of the river mentioned in the 10th course of this day, we saw an unusual number of Porcupines from which we determined to call the river after that anamal, and accordingly denominated it Porcupine river.

[Present Poplar River, in Roosevelt County, Montana, with the town of Poplar at its mouth]

this stream discharges itself into the Missouri on the Stard. side 2000 miles above the mouth of the latter, it is a beatifull bold runing stream, 40 yards wide at it's entrance; the water is transparent, it being the first of this discription that I have yet seen discharge itself into the Missouri; before it enters a large sand bar through which it discharges itself into the Missouri

I walked out a little distance and met with 2 porcupines which were feeding on the young willow which grow in great abundance on all the sandbars; this anamal is exceedingly clumsy and not very watchfull I approached so near one of them before it percieved me that I touched it with my espontoon.—

[A spontoon, or espontoon, was a spear, six feet or more in length, with a wooden shaft and metal blade, still in use in the late eighteenth century as a symbol of authority for infantry officers. Lewis must have considered it a useful implement to have carried it with him on the expedition. At various times it was used as weapon, walking staff, and rifle support.]

found the nest of a wild goose among some driftwood in the river from which we took three eggs. this is the only nest we have met with on driftwood, the usual position is the top of a broken tree, sometimes in the forks of a large tree but almost invariably, from 15 to 20 feet or upwards high.—

Lewis & Clark Map: 04/27/05 McCone County, Montana Wind The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

May 4
Lewis: We were detained this morning untill about 9 OCk. in order to repare the rudder irons of the red perogue which were broken last evening in landing;

we then set out, the wind hard against us. I walked on shore this morning, the weather was more pleasant, the snow has disappeared; the frost seems to have effected the vegetation much less than could have been expected the leaves of the cottonwood the grass the box alder willow and the yellow flowering pea seem to be scarcely touched; the rosebushes and honeysuckle seem to have sustaned the most considerable injury.

The country on both sides of the Missouri continues to be open level fertile and beautifull as far as the eye can reach which from some of the eminences is not short of 30 miles. the river bottoms are very extensive and contain a much greater proportion of timber than usual; the fore part of this day the river was bordered with timber on both sides, a circumstance which is extreemly rare and the first which has occurred of any thing like the same extent since we left the Mandans,

in the after part of the day we passed an extensive beautifull plain on the Stard. side which gradually ascended from the river. I saw immence quantities of buffaloe in every direction, also some Elk deer and goats; having an abundance of meat on hand I passed them without firing on them; they are extreemly gentle the bull buffaloe particularly will scarcely give way to you. I passed several in the open plain within fifty paces, they viewed me for a moment as something novel and then very unconcernedly continued to feed.

Capt. Clark walked on shore this evening and did not rejoin us untill after dark, he struck the river several miles above our camp and came down to us. we saw many beaver some which the party shot, we also killed two deer today. much sign of the brown bear.

passed several old Indian hunting camps in the course of the day one of them contained two large lodges which were fortifyed with old driftwood and fallen timber; this fortification consisted of a circular fence of timber lade horizontally and laping on and over laying each other to the hight of 5 feet. these pounds are sometimes built from 20 to 30 feet in diameter and covered over with the trunks and limbs of old timber. the usual construction of the lodges we have lately passed is as follows. three or more strong sticks the thickness of a man's leg or arm and about 12 feet long are attatched together at one end by a with of small willows, these are then set on end and spread at the base, forming a circle of ten twelve or 14 feet in diameter; sticks of driftwood and fallen timber of convenient size are now placed with one end on the ground and the other resting against those which are secured together at top by the with and which support and give the form to the whole, thus the sticks are laid on untill they make it as thick as they design, usually about three ranges, each piece breaking or filling up the interstice of the two beneath it, the whole forming a connic figure about 10 feet high with a small apperture in one side which answers as a door. leaves bark and straw are sometimes thrown over the work to make it more complete, but at best it affords a very imperfect shelter particularly without straw which is the state in which we have most usually found them.

[Apparently a description of a Blackfeet war lodge, a structure which served Blackfeet war parties as a fortification, shelter from the weather, base for scouting, supply base, and a place to leave messages.]

Joseph Fields was very sick today with the disentary had a high fever I gave him a doze of Glauber salts, which operated very well, in the evening his fever abated and I gave him 30 drops of laudnum

[Glauber's Salts is the crystalline decahydrate of sodium sulfate, used as a laxative; the theory behind administering it to a man with dysentery was that disease was caused by poisons in the body that had to be flushed out. Laudanum is a tincture of opium, which would help Field sleep]

Lewis & Clark Map: 04/27/05 Roosevelt County, Montana Wind Native American Heritage The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

May 5
Lewis: A fine morning I walked on shore untill 8 A M when we halted for breakfast and in the course of my walk killed a deer which I carried about a mile and a half to the river, it was in good order.

soon after seting out the rudder irons of the white perogue were broken by her runing fowl on a sawyer, she was however refitted in a few minutes with some tugs of raw hide and nales.

as usual saw a great quantity of game today; Buffaloe Elk and goats or Antelopes feeding in every direction; we kill whatever we wish, the buffaloe furnish us with fine veal and fat beef, we also have venison and beaver tales when we wish them; the flesh of the Elk and goatare less esteemed, and certainly are inferior. we have not been able to take any fish for some time past. The country is as yesterday beatifull in the extreme.—

Capt. Clark found a den of young wolves in the course of his walk today and also saw a great number of those anamals; they are very abundant in this quarter, and are of two species

[The smaller "wolf" is the coyote and the larger species the gray wolf. The latter is probably Canis lupus nubilis and is now extinct. Lewis and Clark's descriptions may be the first written accounts of either.]

the small woolf or burrowing dog of the praries are the inhabitants almost invariably of the open plains; they usually ascociate in bands of ten or twelve sometimes more and burrow near some pass or place much frequented by game; not being able alone to take deer or goat they are rarely ever found alone but hunt in bands; they frequently watch and seize their prey near their burrows; in these burrows they raise their young and to them they also resort when pursued; when a person approaches them they frequently bark, their note being precisely that of the small dog. they are of an intermediate size between that of the fox and dog, very active fleet and delicately formed; the ears large erect and pointed the head long and pointed more like that of the fox; tale long and bushey; the hair and fur also resembles the fox tho' is much coarser and inferior. they are of a pale redish brown colour. the eye of a deep sea green colour small and piercing. their tallons are reather longer than those of the ordinary wolf or that common to the atlantic states, none of which are to be found in this quarter, nor I believe above the river Plat

The large woolf found here is not as large as those of the atlantic states. they were lower and thicker made shorter leged. their colour which is not effected by the seasons, is a grey or blackish brown and every intermediate shade from that to a creen [cream] coloured white; these wolves resort the woodlands and are also found in the plains, but never take refuge in the ground or burrow so far as I have been able to inform myself. we scarcely see a gang of buffaloe without observing a parsel of those faithfull shepherds on their skirts in readiness to take care of the mamed & wounded. the large wolves never barks, but howls as those of the atlantic states do.

Capt. Clark and Drewyer killed the largest brown bear this evening which we have yet seen. it was a most tremendious looking anamal, and extreemly hard to kill notwithstanding he had five balls through his lungs and five others in various parts he swam more than half the distance across the river to a sandbar & it was at least twenty minutes before he died; he did not attempt to attact, but fled and made the most tremendous roaring from the moment he was shot. We had no means of weighing this monster; Capt. Clark thought he would weigh 500 lbs. for my own part I think the estimate too small by 100 lbs. he measured 8 Feet 7½ Inches from the nose to the extremety of the hind feet, 5 F. 10½ Inch arround the breast, 1 F. 11 I. arround the middle of the arm, & 3 F. 11 I. arround the neck; his tallons which were five in number on each foot were 4 Inches in length. he was in good order, we therefore divided him among the party and made them boil the oil and put it in a cask for future uce; the oil is as hard as hogs lard when cool, much more so than that of the black bear. this bear differs from the common black bear in several respects; it's tallons are much longer and more blont, it's tale shorter, it's hair which is of a redish or bey brown, is longer thicker and finer than that of the black bear; his liver lungs and heart are much larger even in proportion with his size; the heart particularly was as large as that of a large Ox. his maw was also ten times the size of black bear, and was filled with flesh and fish.— this animal also feeds on roots and almost every species of wild fruit.

The party killed two Elk and a Buffaloe today, and my dog caught a goat, which he overtook by superior fleetness, the goat it must be understood was with young and extreemly poor. a great number of these goats are devowered by the wolves and bear at this season when they are poor and passing the river from S. W. to N. E. they are very inactive and easily taken in the water, a man can out swim them with great ease; the Indians take them in great numbers in the river at this season and in autumn when they repass to the S. W.—

Lewis & Clark Map: 04/27/05 McCone County, Montana The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

May 6
Lewis: The morning being fair and pleasant and wind favourable we set sale at an early hour, and proceeded on very well the great part of the day; the country still continues level fertile and beautifull, the bottoms wide and well timbered comparitively speaking with other parts of the river; no appearance of birnt hills pumice stone or coal, the salts of tartar or vegitable salts continues to appear on the river banks, sand bars and in many parts of the plains most generally in the little revines at the base of the low hills.

Fields still continues unwell.

saw a brown bear swim the river above us, he disappeared before we can get in reach of him; I find that the curiossity of our party is pretty well satisfyed with rispect to this anamal, the formidable appearance of the male bear killed on the 5th added to the difficulty with which they die when even shot through the vital parts, has staggered the resolution several of them, others however seem keen for action with the bear; I expect these gentlemen will give us some amusement shotly

saw a great quantity of game of every species common here. Capt. Clark walked on shore and killed two Elk, they were not in very good order, we therefore took a part of the meat only; it is now only amusement for Capt. C.. and myself to kill as much meat as the party can consum; I hope it may continue thus through our whole rout, but this I do not much expect. two beaver were taken in traps this morning and one since shot by one of the party. saw numbers of these anamals peeping at us as we passed out of their wholes which they form of a cilindric shape, by burrowing in the face of the abbrupt banks of the river.

Lewis & Clark Map: 04/27/05 McCone County, Montana The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

May 9
Lewis: Set out at an early hour; the wind being favourable we used our sails and proceeded very well;

the country in appearance is much as yester, Capt. C. killed 2 bucks and 2 Buffaloe, I also killed one Buffaloe which proved to be the best meat, it was in tolerable order; we saved the best of the meat, and from the cow I killed we saved the necessary materials for making what our wrighthand cook Charbono calls the boudin blanc and immediately set him about preparing them for supper; this white pudding we all esteem one of the greatest delacies of the forrest, it may not be amiss therefore to give it a place. About 6 feet of the lower extremity of the large gut of the Buffaloe is the first mosel that the cook makes love to, this he holds fast at one end with the right hand, while with the forefinger and thumb of the left he gently compresses it, and discharges what he says is not good to eat, but of which in the squel we get a moderate portion; the mustle lying underneath the shoulder blade next to the back, and filletes are next saught, these are needed up very fine with a good portion of kidney suet; to this composition is then added a just proportion of pepper and salt and a small quantity of flour; thus far advanced, our skilfull opporater C—o seizes his recepticle, which has never once touched the water, for that would intirely distroy the regular order of the whole procedure; you will not forget that the side you now see is that covered with a good coat of fat provided the anamal be in good order; the operator sceizes the recepticle I say, and tying it fast at one end turns it inwards and begins now with repeated evolutions of the hand and arm, and a brisk motion of the finger and thumb to put in what he says is bon pour manger; thus by stuffing and compressing he soon distends the recepticle to the utmost limmits of it's power of expansion, and in the course of the opperation it's longtudinal progress it drives from the other end of the recepticle a much larger portion of the than was prevously discharged by the finger and thumb of the left hand in a former part of the operation; thus when the sides of the recepticle are skilfully exchanged the outer for the iner, and all is compleatly filled with something good to eat, it is tyed at the other end, but not any cut off, for that would make the pattern too scant; it is then baptised in the missouri with two dips and a flirt, and bobbed into the kettle; from whence after it be well boiled it is taken and fryed with bears oil untill it becomes brown, when it is ready to esswage the pangs of a keen appetite or such as travelers in the wilderness are seldom at a loss for.—

we saw a great quantity of game today particularly of Elk and Buffaloe, the latter are now so gentle that the men frequently throw sticks and stones at them in order to drive them out of the way. we also saw this evening emence quantities of timber cut by the beaver which appeared to have been done the preceeding year, in place particularly they had cut all the timber down for three acres in front and on nearly one back from the river and had removed a considerable proportion of it, the timber grew very thick and some of it was as large as a man's body. the river for several days has been as wide as it is generally near it's mouth, tho' it is much shallower or I should begin to dispair of ever reaching it's source; it has been crouded today with many sandbars; the water also appears to become clearer, it has changed it's complexin very considerably. I begin to feel extreemly anxious to get in view of the rocky mountains.

Valley County, Montana The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

May 10
Lewis: Set out at sunrise and proceeded but a short distance ere the wind became so violent that we were obliged to come too, which we did on the Lard. side in a suddon or short bend of the river where we were in a great measure sheltered from the effects of the wind. the wind continued violent all day, the clouds were thick and black, had a slight sprinkle of rain several times in the course of the day.

we sent out several hunters to scower the country, to this we were induced not so much from the want of provision as to discover the Indians whome we had reasons to believe were in the neighbourhood, from the circumstance of one of their dogs comeing to us this morning shortly after we landed; we still beleive ourselves in the country usually hunted by the Assinniboins, and as they are a vicious illy disposed nation we think it best to be on our guard, accordingly we inspected the arms and accoutrements the party and found them all in good order.

The hunters returned this evening having seen no tents or Indians nor any fresh sign of them; they killed two Mule deer, one common fallow or longtailed deer, 2 Buffaloe and 5 beaver, and saw several deer of the Mule kind of immence size, and also three of the Bighorned anamals. from the appearance of the Mule deer and the bighorned anamals we beleive ourselves fast approaching a hilly or mountainous country; we have rarely found the mule deer in any except a rough country; they prefer the open grounds and are seldom found in the woodlands near the river; when they are met with in the woodlands or river bottoms and are pursued, they invariably run to the hills or open country as the Elk do. the contrary happens with the common deer

Boils and imposthumes have been very common with the party

[possibly the effects of malnutrition and even mild scurvy, owing to the meat diet]

Bratton is now unable to work with one on his hand; soar eyes continue also to be common to all of us in a greater or less degree. for the imposthume I use emmolient poltices, and for soar eyes a solution of white vitriol and the sugar of lead in the proportion of 2 grs. of the former and one of the latter to each ounce of water.

[Perhaps a recipe of Benjamin Rush's, taken from his Recipe Book or given directly to Lewis. White vitriol is zinc sulphate and sugar of lead is lead acetate.]

Valley County, Montana Wind Native American Heritage Health The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

May 11
Lewis: Set out this morning at an early hour, the courant strong; and river very crooked; the banks are falling in very fast; I sometimes wonder that some of our canoes or Perogues are not swallowed up by means of these immence masses of earth which are eternally precipitating themselves into the river; we have had many hair breadth escapes from them but providence seems so to have ordered it that we have as yet sustained no loss in consequence of them.

The wind blue very hard the forepart of last night but abated toward morning; it again arose in the after part of this day and retarded our progress very much.

saw today some high hills on the Stard. whose summits were covered with pine. Capt Clark went on shore and visited them; he brought with him on his return som of the boughs of this pine it is of the pitch kind but I think the leaves somewhat longer than ours in Virginia.

[Probably northeast of what is now The Pines Recreation Area, in Valley County, Montana, on the edge of Fort Peck Lake. The needles of this pine, Pinus ponderosa Laws., ponderosa pine, are indeed longer than the pitch-pine, P. rigida Mill., with which Lewis was familiar from Virginia.]

Capt C. also in his walk killed 2 Mule deer a beaver and two Buffaloe; these last he killed about 3 miles above where we encamped this evening in the expectation that we would reach that place, but we were unable to do so from the adverse winds and other occurrences, and he came down and joined us about dark.

my attention was struck by one of the Party runing at a distance towards us and making signs and hollowing as if in distress, I ordered the perogues to put too, and waited untill he arrived; I now found that it was Bratton the man with the soar hand whom I had permitted to walk on shore, he arrived so much out of breath that it was several minutes before he could tell what had happened; at length he informed me that in the woody bottom on the Lard. side about 1½ below us he had shot a brown bear which immediately turned on him and pursued him a considerable distance but he had wounded it so badly that it could not overtake him;

I immediately turned out with seven of the party in quest of this monster, we at length found his trale and persued him about a mile by the blood through very thick brush of rosbushes and the large leafed willow; we finally found him concealed in some very thick brush and shot him through the skull with two balls; we proceeded dress him as soon as possible, we found him in good order; it was a monstrous beast, not quite so large as that we killed a few days past but in all other rispects much the same the hair is remarkably long fine and rich tho' he appears parshally to have discharged his winter coat; we now found that Bratton had shot him through the center of the lungs, notwithstanding which he had pursued him near half a mile and had returned more than double that distance and with his tallons had prepared himself a bed in the earth of about 2 feet deep and five long and was perfectly alive when we found him which could not have been less than 2 hours after he received the wound;

these bear being so hard to die reather intimedates us all; I must confess that I do not like the gentlemen and had reather fight two Indians than one bear; there is no other chance to conquer them by a single shot but by shooting them through the brains, and this becomes difficult in consequence of two large muscles which cover the sides of the forehead and the sharp projection of the center of the frontal bone, which is also of a pretty good thickness. the flece and skin were as much as two men could possibly carry. by the time we returned the sun had set and I determined to remain here all night, and directed the cooks to render the bear's oil and put it in the kegs which was done. there was about eight gallons of it.—

Garfield County, Montana Wind The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

May 12
Lewis: Set out at an early hour, the weather clear and Calm; I walked on shore this morning for the benifit of exersize which I much wanted, and also to examine the country and it's productions, in these excurtions I most generally went alone armed with my rifle and espontoon; thus equiped I feel myself more than an equal match for a brown bear provided I get him in open woods or near the water, but feel myself a little diffident with respect to an attack in the open plains, I have therefore come to a resolution to act on the defencive only, should I meet these gentlemen in the open country.

[A spontoon, or espontoon, was a spear, six feet or more in length, with a wooden shaft and metal blade, still in use in the late eighteenth century as a symbol of authority for infantry officers. Lewis must have considered it a useful implement to have carried it with him on the expedition. At various times it was used as weapon, walking staff, and rifle support.]

I ascended the hills and had a view of a rough and broken country on both sides of the river; in the little ravines. the choke cherry grows here in the hollows and at the heads of the gullies; the choke Cherry has been in blume since the ninth inst. this growth has freequently made it's appearance on the Missouri it bears a fruit which much resembles the wild cherry in form and colour tho' larger and better flavoured; it's fruit ripens about the begining of July and continues on the trees untill the latter end of September— The Indians of the Missouri make great uce of this cherry which they prepare for food in various ways, sometimes eating when first plucked from the trees or in that state pounding them and mashing the seed boiling them with roots or meat the bear and many birds also feed on these burries.

about 12 OClock the wind veered about to the N. W. and blew so hard that we were obliged to Ly by the ballance of the day. we saw great quantities of game as usual. the bottom lands still becomeing narrower.

Garfield County, Montana Wind The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

May 13
Lewis: The wind continued to blow so violently this morning that we did not think it prudent to set out. sent out some hunters. At 1 P. M. the wind abated, and altho' the hunters had not all returned we set out; the courant reather stronger than usual and the water continues to become reather clearer, from both which I anticipate a change of Country shortly.

the country much the same as yesterday; but little timber in the bottoms and a scant proportion of pine an cedar crown the Stard. hills. Capt. C. who was on shore the greater part of the day killed a mule and a Common deer, the party killed several deer and some Elk principally for the benefit of their skins which are necessary to them for cloathing, the Elk skins I now begin to reserve for making the leather boat at the falls. the hunters joined us this evening; Gibson had wounded a very large brown bear but it was too late in the evening to pursue him.

Garfield County, Montana Wind The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

May 16
Lewis: The morning was fair and the day proved favorable to our operations; by 4 oClock in the evening our Instruments, Medicine, merchandize provision &c, were perfectly dryed, repacked and put on board the perogue. the loss we sustained was not so great as we had at first apprehended; our medicine sustained the greatest injury, several articles of which were intirely spoiled, and many others considerably injured; the ballance of our losses consisted of some gardin seeds, a small quantity of gunpowder, and a few culinary articles which fell overboard and sunk,

the Indian woman to whom I ascribe equal fortitude and resolution, with any person onboard at the time of the accedent, caught and preserved most of the light articles which were washed overboard

all matters being now arranged for our departure we lost no time in seting out; proceeced on tolerably well about seven miles and encamped on the Stard. side.

in the early part of the day two of our men fired on a panther, a little below our encampment, and wounded it; they informed us that it was very large, had just killed a deer partly devoured it, and in the act of concealing the ballance as they discovered him. we caught two Antelopes at our encampment in attempting to swim the river; these anamals are but lean as yet, and of course not very pleasant food. I walked on shore this evening and killed a Buffaloe cow and calf, we found the calf most excellent veal.

the country on either side of the river is broken and hills much higher than usual, the bottoms now become narrow and the timber more scant; some scattering pine and cedar on the steep declivities of the hills.— this morning a white bear toar Labuiche's coat which he had left in the plains.—

Valley County, Montana The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

May 17
Lewis: Set out at an early hour, and proceeded on very well; we employed the toe line the greater part of the day; the banks were firm and shore boald which favoured the uce of the cord. I find this method of asscending the river, when the shore is such as will permit it, the safest and most expeditious mode of traveling, except with sails in a steady and favourable breze.

The country rugged, the hills high, their summits and sides partially covered with pine and cedar, and the river on either side washing their bases. it is somewhat singular that the lower part of these hills appear to be formed of a dark rich loam while the upper region about 150 feet is formed of a whiteish brown sand, so hard in many parts as to resemble stone; but little rock or stone of any kind to be seen in these hills. the river is much narrower than usual, the bed from 200 to 300 yards only and possessing a much larger proportion of gravel than usual. a few scattering cottonwood trees are the only timber near the river; the sandbars, and with them the willow points have almost entirely disappeared.

Capt Clark walked on shore this evening and killed an Elk; buffaloe are not so abundant as they were some days past. the party with me killed a female brown bear, she was but meagre, and appeared to have suckled young very recently. Capt. Clark narrowly escaped being bitten by a rattlesnake in the course of his walk, the party killed one this evening at our encampment, which he informed me was similar to that he had seen; this snake is smaller than those common to the middle Atlantic States, being about 2 feet 6 inches long; it is of a yellowish brown colour on the back and sides, variagated with one row of oval spots of a dark brown colour lying transversely over the back from the neck to the tail, and two other rows of small circular spots of the same colour which garnis the sides along the edge of the scuta. it's bely contains 176 scuta on the belly and 17 on the tale.

Capt Clark saw an Indian fortifyed camp this evening, which appeared to have been recently occupyed, from which we concluded it was probable that it had been formed by a war party of the Menetares who left their vilage in March last with a view to attack the blackfoot Indians in consequence of their having killed some of their principal warriors the previous autumn.

we were roused late at night by the Sergt. of the guard, and warned of the danger we were in from a large tree that had taken fire and which leant immediately over our lodge. we had the loge removed, and a few minutes after a large proportion of the top of the tree fell on the place the lodge had stood; had we been a few minutes later we should have been crushed to attoms. the wind blew so hard, that notwithstanding the lodge was fifty paces distant from the fire it sustained considerable injury from the burning coals which were thrown on it; the party were much harrassed also by this fire which communicated to a collection of fallen timber, and could not be extinguished.

Garfield County, Montana The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

May 18
Lewis: The wind blew hard this morning from the West. we were enabled to employ our toe line the greater part of the day and therefore proceeded on tolerably well.

there are now but few sandbars, the river is narrow and current gentle. the timber consists of a few cottonwood trees along the verge of the river; the willow has in a great measure disappeared. in the latter part of the day the hills widened, the bottoms became larger, and contained more timber.

came too and encamped on the Lard. side opposite to the lower point of a small Island, two miles short of the extremity of the last course of this day.

Capt Clark in the course of his walk this evening killed four deer, two of which were the black tailed or mule deer; the skins are now good, they have not yet produced their young.— we saw a number of buffaloe, Elk, deer and Antelopes.— the saline substance frequently mentioned continues to appear as usual.—

Garfield County, Montana Wind The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

May 19
Lewis: The wind blew hard this morning from the West. we were enabled to employ our toe line the greater part of the day and therefore proceeded on tolerably well.

there are now but few sandbars, the river is narrow and current gentle. the timber consists of a few cottonwood trees along the verge of the river; the willow has in a great measure disappeared. in the latter part of the day the hills widened, the bottoms became larger, and contained more timber.

came too and encamped on the Lard. side opposite to the lower point of a small Island, two miles short of the extremity of the last course of this day.

Capt Clark in the course of his walk this evening killed four deer, two of which were the black tailed or mule deer; the skins are now good, they have not yet produced their young.— we saw a number of buffaloe, Elk, deer and Antelopes.— the saline substance frequently mentioned continues to appear as usual.—

Garfield County, Montana Temperature The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

May 20
Lewis: Set out at an early hour as usual, the banks being favourable and water strong we employed the toe rope principally; river narrow and croked; country much as that of yesterday; immence number of the prickley pears in the plains and on the hills.

At the distance of 2Ό miles passed the entrance of a large Creek, affording but little water; this stream we named Blowing Fly Creek, from the immence quantities of those insects found in this neighbourhood, they infest our meat while roasting or boiling, and we are obliged to brush them off our provision as we eat.

At 11 A. M. we arrived at the entrance of a handsome bold river which discharges itself into the Missouri on the Lard. side; this stream we take to be that called by the Minnetares the [blank] or Muscleshell River; if it be the same, of which I entertain but little doubt, it takes it's rise, by their information in the 1st Chain of the Rocky Mountains at no great distance from the Yellow stone river,

[Musselshell River, here dividing Garfield and Petroleum counties, Montana, still bears the name the captains gave it, translating the Hidatsa name. It rises in the Castle Mountains in Meagher County, Montana, within one hundred miles of the Yellowstone River.]

We halted at thentrance of the river on the point formed by it's junction with the Missouri determining to spend the day, make the necessary observations and send out some hunters to explore the country. The Muscle Shell river falls into the Missouri 2270 miles above it's mouth, and is 110 yards in width, it affords much more water than streams of it's width generally do below, it's courant is by no means rappid, and from appearances it might be navigated with canoes a considerable distance; it's bed is coarse sand and gravel principally with an occasion mixture of black mud; it's banks abbrupt and about 12 feet high yet never appear to overflow; the waters of this river is of a greenish yellow cast, much more transparent than the Missouri, which last is also much more transparent than below but still retains it's whiteish hue and a proportion of it's sedement. the Missouri opposite to this point is deep, gentle in it's courant, and 222 yards in width.

The hunters returned this evening and informed us that the country continued much the same in appearance as that we saw where we were or broken, and that about five miles abethe mouth of shell river a handsome river of about fifty yards in width discharged itself into the shell river on the Stard. or upper side; this stream we called Sβh-cβ-gar me-βh or bird woman's River, after our interpreter the Snake woman.

[The stream, in Petroleum County, was for many years called Crooked Creek; it has since been renamed Sacagawea River.]

Capt Clark walked out today and killed two deer and an Elk, the hunters killed 4 deer and Elk and a buffaloe. I saw two large Owls with remarkable long feathers on the sides of the head which resembled ears; I take them to be the large hooting owl tho: they are somewhat larger and their colours brighter than those common to the U' States.—

Garfield County, Montana The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

May 23
Lewis: Set out early this morning, the frost was severe last night, the ice appeared along the edge of the water, water also freized on the oars.

at the distance of one mile passed the entrance of a creek 15 yds. wide on Stard. side, this we call Teapot Creek, it affords no water at it's mouth but has runing water at some small distance above, this I beleive to be the case with many of those creekes which we have passed since we entered this hilley country, the water is absorbed by the earth near the river and of course appear dry; they afford but little water at any rate, and that is so strongly impregnated with these salts that it is unfit for uce; all the wild anamals appear fond of this water; I have tryed it by way of experiment & find it moderately pergative, but painfull to the intestens in it's opperation.

just above the entrance of Teapot Creek on the stard. there is a large assemblage of the burrows of the Burrowing Squirrel they generally seelect a south or a south Easterly exposure for their residence, and never visit the brooks or river for water; I am astonished how this anamal exists as it dose without water,

[Prairie dogs, Cynomys ludovicianus, like certain other arid-land rodent species, obtain water through their food and retain it better than most mammals. Lewis was apparently the first to report on this phenomenon in North America.]

particularly in a country like this where there is scarcely any rain during Ύ of the year and more rarely any due [dew]; yet we have sometimes found their villages at the distance of five or six miles from any water, and they are never found out of the limits of the ground which their burrows occupy; in the Autumn when the hard frosts commence they close their burrows and do not venture out again untill spring, indeed some of them appear to be yet in winter quarters.

The musquetoes troublesome this evening, a circumstance I did not expect from the temperature of the morning. The Gees begin to lose the feathers of their wings and are unable to fly. Capt Clark walked on shore and killed 4 deer and an Elk. We killed a large fat brown bear which took the water after being wounded and was carried under some driftwood where he sunk and we were unable to get him. Saw but few buffaloe today, but a great number of Elk, deer, some antelopes and 5 bear. The wild rose which is now in blume are very abundant, they appear to differ but little from those common to the Atlantic States, the leaves of the bushes and the bush itself appear to be of somewhat smaller size.

Phillips County, Montana Temperature The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

May 24
Lewis: The water standing in the vessels freized during the night of an inch thick, ice also appears along the verge of the river. the folage of some of the cottonwood trees have been entirely distroyed by the frost and are again puting forth other buds.

the high country in which we are at present and have been passing for some days I take to be a continuation of what the Indians as well as the French Engages call the Black hills. This tract of country so called consists of a collection of high broken and irregular hills and short chain of mountains sometimes 120 miles in width and again becomeing much narrower, but always much higher than the country on either side;

We set out at an early hour this morning and proceed on principally by the chord untill about 9 A. M. when a fine breeze sprung up from the S. E. and enabled us though the ballance of the day to employ our sails to advantage; we proceed at a pretty good pace notwithstanding the courant of the river was very strong.

the air is so pure in this open country that mountains and other elivated objects appear much nearer than they really are; these mountains do not appear to be further than 15 m. we sent a man up this creek to explore the country he returned late in the evening and informed that he had proceeded ten miles directly towards these mountains and that he did not think himself by any mean half way these mountains are rockey and covered with some scattering pine.

Capt. Clark walked on shore this evening and killed a buffaloe cow, we left 2 Canoes and six men to dress the Cow and bring on the meat, they did not overtake us this evening. game is becoming more scarce, particularly beaver, of which we have seen but few for several days the beaver appears to keep pace with the timber as it declines in quantity they also become more scarce.

Phillips County, Montana Temperature The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

May 25
Lewis: The Two canoes which we left behind yesterday to bring on the meat did not arrive this morning untill 8 A M. at which time we set out; the wind being against us we did not proceed with so much ease or expedition as yesterday, we imployed the toe line principally which the banks favored the uce off; the courant strong particularly arround the points against which the courant happened to set, and at the entrances of the little gullies from the hills, those rivulets having brought down considerable quantities of stone and deposited it at their entrances forming partial barriers to the water of the river to the distance of 40 or 50 feet from the shore, arround these the water run with great violence, and compelled us in some instances to double our force in order to get a perorogue or canoe by them.

as we ascended the river today I saw several gangs of the bighorned Anamals on the face of the steep bluffs and clifts on the Stard. side and sent drewyer to kill one which he accomplished; Capt. Clark and bratton who were on shore each killed one of these anamals this evening. The head and horns of the male which Drewyer killed weighed 27 lbs. it was somewhat larger than the male of the common deer, the boddy reather thicker deeper and not so long in proportion to it's hight as the common deer; the head and horns are remakably large compared with the other part of the anamal; the whole form is much more delicate than that of the common goat, and there is a greater disparity in the size of the male and female than between those of either the deer or goat. the eye is large and prominant, the puple of a deep sea green and small, the iris of a silvery colour much like the common sheep; the bone above the eye is remarkably prominant;

the horns of the female are small, but are also compress bent backwards and incircled with a succession of wavy rings. the horn is of a light brown colour; when dressed it is almost white extreemly transparent and very elastic. this horn is used by the natives in constructing their bows; I have no doubt but it would eligant and ucefull hair combs, and might probably answer as many valuable purposes to civilized man, as it dose to the savages, who form their watercups spoons and platters of it. the females have already brought forth their young indeed from the size of the young I suppose that they produce them early in March. they have from one to two at a birth. they feed on grass but principally on the arromatic herbs which grow on the clifts and inaccessable hights which they usually frequent. the places they gerally celect to lodg is the cranies or cevices of the rocks in the faces of inacessable precepices, where the wolf nor bear can reach them and where indeed man himself would in many instancies find a similar deficiency; yet these anamals bound from rock to rock and stand apparently in the most careless manner on the sides of precipices of many hundred feet. they are very shye and are quick of both sent and sight.—

we passed 7 Islands in the course of the day. The Country on either hand is high broken and rockey; the rock is either soft brown sand stone covered with a thin strata of limestone, or a hard black rugged grannite, both usually in horizontal stratas and the Sandy rock overlaying the other.— Salts and quarts still appear, some coal and pumice stone also appear; the river bottoms are narrow and afford scarcely any timber. the bars of the river are composed principally of gravel, but little pine on the hills. We saw a pole cat this evening it is the first we have seen for many days. buffalow are now scarce and I begin to fear our harvest of white puddings are at an end.

Phillips County, Montana The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

May 26
Lewis: Set out at an early hour and proceeded principally by the toe line, using the oars mearly to pass the river in order to take advantage of the shores. scarcely any bottoms to the river; the hills high and juting in on both sides, to the river in many places. the stone tumbleing from these clifts and brought down by the rivulets as mentioned yesterday became more troublesome today. the black rock has given place to a very soft sandstone which appears to be washed away fast by the river,

Capt Clark walked on shore this morning and ascended to the summit of the river hills he informed me on his return that he had seen mountains on both sides of the river runing nearly parrallel with it and at no great distance; also an irregular range of mountains on lard. about 50 mes. distant, the extremities of which boar W and N. W. from his station. he also saw in the course of his walk, some Elk, several herds of the Big horn, and the large hare; the latter is common to every part of this open country. scarcely any timber to be seen except the few scattering pine and spruce which crown the high hills, or in some instances grow along their sides.

In the after part of the day I also walked out and ascended the river hills which I found sufficiently fortiegueing. on arriving to the summit one of the highest points in the neighbourhood I thought myself well repaid for any labour; as from this point I beheld the Rocky Mountains for the first time, I could only discover a few of the most elivated points above the horizon, the most remarkable of which by my pocket compass I found bore N. 65° W. being a little to the N. of the N. W. extremity of the range of broken mountains seen this morning by Capt C. these points of the Rocky Mountains were covered with snow and the sun shone on it in such manner as to give me the most plain and satisfactory view. while I viewed these mountains I felt a secret pleasure in finding myself so near the head of the heretofore conceived boundless Missouri; but when I reflected on the difficulties which this snowey barrier would most probably throw in my way to the Pacific, and the sufferings and hardships of myself and party in them, it in some measure counterballanced the joy I had felt in the first moments in which I gazed on them; but as I have always held it a crime to anticipate evils I will believe it a good comfortable road untill I am compelled to beleive differently.

saw a few Elk & bighorns at a distance on my return to the river I passed a creek about 20 yds. wide near it's entrance it had a handsome little stream of runing water; in this creek I saw several softshelled turtles which were the first that have been seen this season; this I believe proceeded reather from the season than from their non existence in the portion of the river from the Mandans hither. on the Stard. shore I killed a fat buffaloe which was very acceptable to us at this moment; the party came up to me late in the evening and encamped for the night on the Lard. side. it was after dark before we finished butchering the buffaloe, and on my return to camp I trod within five inches of a rattle snake but being in motion I passed before he could probably put himself in a striking attitude and fortunately escaped his bite, I struck about at random with my espontoon being directed in some measure by his nois untill I killed him.

[A spontoon, or espontoon, was a spear, six feet or more in length, with a wooden shaft and metal blade, still in use in the late eighteenth century as a symbol of authority for infantry officers. Lewis must have considered it a useful implement to have carried it with him on the expedition. At various times it was used as weapon, walking staff, and rifle support.]

Our hunters had killed two of the Bighorned Anamals since I had left them. late this evening we passed a very bad rappid which reached quite across the river, the party had considerable difficulty in ascending it altho' they doubled their crews and used both the rope and the pole. while they were passing this rappid a female Elk and it's fawn swam down throught the waves which ran very high, hence the name of Elk rappids which they instantly gave this place, these are the most considerable rappids which we have yet seen on the missouri and in short the only place where there has appeared to be a suddon decent. opposite to these rappids there is a high bluff and a little above on Lard. a small cottonwood bottom in which we found sufficient timber for our fires and encampment. here I rejoined the party after dark.

This is truly a desert barren country and I feel myself still more convinced of it's being a continuation of the black hills. we have continued every day to pass more or less old stick lodges of the Indians in the timbered points, there are two even in this little bottom where we lye.—

Lewis & Clark Map: 04/27/05 Fergus County, Montana The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

May 27
Lewis: The wind blew so hard this morning that we did not sent out untill 10 A. M.

we employed the chord most of the day; the river becomes more rappid and is intercepted by shoals and a greater number of rocky points at the mouths of the little gulies than we experienced yesterday. the bluffs are very high steep rugged, containing considerable quantities of stone and border the river closely on both sides; once perhaps in the course of several miles there will be a few acres of tolerably level land in which two or thre impoverished cottonwood trees will be seen. great quantities of stone also lye in the river and garnish it's borders, which appears to have tumbled from the bluffs where the water rains had washed away the sand and clay in which they were imbeded.

The party was traveling through the Missouri River Breaks, a region which today is still much as it was in Lewis and Clark's time. The Missouri cuts through another preglacial stream divide here creating a deep, narrow channel.

the country more broken and barren than yesterday if possible. about midday it was very warm to this the high bluffs and narrow channel of the river no doubt contributed greatly.

saw a few small herds of the Bighorned anamals and two Elk only, of the last we killed one, the river is generally about 200 yds. wide, very rappid and has a perceptable fall or declination through it's whole course.

This evening we encamped, for the benefit of wood, near two dead toped cottonwood trees on the Lard. side; the dead limbs which had fallen from these trees furnished us with a scanty supply only, and more was not to be obtained in the neighbourhood.

Lewis & Clark Map: 04/27/05 Fergus County, Montana Wind The Lewis and Clark Trail University of Nebraska

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This guide last edited 09/16/2006
This guide last revised 05/19/2008
This guide created 04/21/2005