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On the point formed by the junction of Maria's river and the Missouri, Observed equal altds. of with Sextant.
Observed Meridian Altd. of 's L. L. with Octant by the back observaion 56° 6'
Latitude deduced from this observation 47° 24' 12.8"
Observed time and distance of 's and 's nearest limbs with Sextant West.
This morning early we passed over and formed a camp on the point formed by the junction of the two large rivers.  here in the course of the day I continued my observations as are above stated. An interesting question was now to be determined; which of these rivers was the Missouri, or that river which the Minnetares call Amahte Arz zha  or Missouri, and which they had discribed to us as approaching very near to the Columbia river. to mistake the stream at this period of the season, two months of the traveling season having now elapsed, and to ascend such stream to the rocky Mountain or perhaps much further before we could inform ourselves whether it did approach the Columbia or not, and then be obliged to return and take the other stream would not only loose us the whole of this season but would probably so dishearten the party that it might defeat the expedition altogether. convinced we were that the utmost circumspection and caution was necessary in deciding on the stream to be taken. to this end an investigation of both streams was the first thing to be done; to learn their widths, debths, comparitive rappidity of their courants and thence the comparitive bodies of water furnished by each; accordingly we dispatched two light canoes with three men in each up those streams;  we also sent out several small parties by land with instructions to penetrate the country as far as they conveniently can permiting themselves time to return this evening and indeavour if possible to discover the distant bearing of those rivers by ascending the rising grounds. between the time of my A. M. and meridian Capt. C & myself stroled out to the top of the hights in the fork of these rivers from whence we had an extensive and most inchanting view; the country in every derection around us was one vast plain in which innumerable herds of Buffalow were seen attended by their shepperds the wolves; the solatary antelope which now had their young were distributed over it's face; some herds of Elk were also seen; the verdure perfectly cloathed the ground, the weather was pleasent and fair; to the South we saw a range of lofty mountains which we supposed to be a continuation of the S. Mountains, streching themselves from S. E. to N. W. terminating abbrubtly about S. West from us; these were partially covered with snow; behind these Mountains and at a great distance, a second and more lofty range of mountains appeared to strech across the country in the same direction with the others, reaching from West, to the N of N. W., where their snowey tops lost themselves beneath the horizon. this last range was perfectly covered with snow.  the direction of the rivers could be seen but little way, soon loosing the break of their channels, to our view, in the common plain. on our return to camp we boar a little to the left and discovered a handsome little river  falling into the N. fork on Lard. side about 1½ ms. above our camp. this little river has as much timber in it's bottoms as either of the larger streams. there are a great number of prickley pears in these plains; the Choke cherry grows here in abundance both in the river bottoms and in the steep ravenes along the river bluffs. saw the yellow and red courants, not yet ripe; also the goosberry which begins to ripen; the wild rose which grows here in great abundance in the bottoms of all these rivers is now in full bloom, and adds not a little to the beaty of the cenery.  we took the width of the two rivers, found the left hand or S. fork 372 yards and the N. fork 200. The noth fork is deeper than the other but it's courant not so swift; it's waters run in the same boiling and roling manner which has uniformly characterized the Missouri throughout it's whole course so far; it's waters are of a whitish brown colour very thick and terbid, also characteristic of the Missouri; while the South fork is perfectly transparent runds very rappid but with a smoth unriffled surface it's bottom composed of round and flat smooth stones like most rivers issuing from a mountainous country. the bed of the N. fork composed of some gravel but principally mud; in short the air & character of this river is so precisely that of the missouri below that the party with very few exceptions have already pronounced the N. fork to be the Missouri; myself and Capt. C. not quite so precipitate have not yet decided but if we were to give our opinions I believe we should be in the minority, certain it is that the North fork gives the colouring matter and character which is retained from hence to the gulph of Mexico. I am confident that this river rises in and passes a great distance through an open plain country I expect that it has some of it's souces on the Eastern side of the rocky mountain South of the Saskashawan, but that it dose not penetrate the first range of these Mountains and that much the greater part of it's sources are in a northwardly direction towards the lower and middle parts of the Saskashawan in the open plains. convinced I am that if it penetrated the Rocky Mountains to any great distance it's waters would be clearer unless it should run an immence distance indeed after leaving those mountains through these level plains in order to acquire it's turbid hue. what astonishes us a little is that the Indians who appeared to be so well acquainted with the geography of this country should not have mentioned this river on wright hand if it be not the Missouri; the river that scolds at all others, as they call it if there is in reallity such an one, ought agreeably to their account, to have fallen in a considerable distance below, and on the other hand if this righthand or N. fork be the Missouri I am equally astonished at their not menioning the S. fork which they must have passed in order to get to those large falls which they mention on 〈that〉 the Missouri. thus have our cogitating faculties been busily employed all day. 
Those who have remained at camp today have been busily engaged in dressing skins for cloathing, notwithstanding that many of them have their feet so mangled and bruised with the stones and rough ground over which they passed barefoot, that they can scarcely walk or stand; at least it is with great pain they do either. for some days past they were unable to wear their mockersons; they have fallen off considerably, but notwithstanding the difficulties past, or those which seem now to mennace us, they still remain perfectly cheerfull. In the evening the parties whom we had sent out returned agreeably to instructions. The parties who had been sent up the rivers in canoes informed that they ascended some disance and had then left their canoes and walked up the rivers a considerable distance further barely leaving themselves time to return; the North fork was not so rappid as the other and afforded the easiest navigation of course; Six [NB: 7] feet appeared to be the shallowest water of the S. Branch and 5 feet that of the N. Their accounts were by no means satisfactory nor did the information we acquired bring us nigher to the decision of our question or determine us which stream to take. Sergt. Pryor hand [had] ascended the N. fork and had taken the following courses and distances—viz— 
Sergt. Gass ascended the South fork and took the following courses (viz.)
Joseph and Reubin Fields reported that they had been up the South fork about 7 mes. on a streight course somewhat N of W. and that there the little river which discharges itself into the North fork just above us, was within 100 yards of the S. fork; that they came down this little river and found it a boald runing stream of about 40 yds. wide containg much timber in it's bottom, consisting of the narrow and wide leafed cottonwood with some birch  and box alder undrgrowth willows rosebushes currents &c. they saw a great number of Elk on this river and some beaver. Those accounts being by no means satisfactory as to the fundamental point; Capt. C. and myself concluded to set out early the next morning with a small party each, and ascend these rivers untill we could perfectly satisfy ourselves of the one, which it would be most expedient for us to take on our main journey to the Pacific. accordingly it was agreed that I should ascend the right hand fork and he the left. I gave orders to Sergt. Pryor Drewyer, Shields, Windsor, Cruzatte and La Page to hold themselves in readiness to accompany me in the morning. Capt. Clark also selected Reubin & Joseph Fields, Sergt. Gass, Shannon and his black man York, to accompany him. we agreed to go up those rivers one day and a halfs march or further if it should appear necessary to satisfy us more fully of the point in question. the hunters killed 2 Buffaloe, 6 Elk and 4 deer today. the evening proved cloudy. we took a drink of grog this evening and gave the men a dram, and made all matters ready for an early departure in the morning. I had now my sack and blanket happerst  in readiness to swing on my back, which is the first time in my life that I had ever prepared a burthen of this kind, and I am fully convinced that it will not be the last. I take my Octant with me also, this I confide La Page.
we formed a Camp on the point in the junction of the two rivers, and dispatched a Canoe & three men up each river to examine and find if possible which is the most probable branch, the left fork which is the largest we are doubtfull of, the Indians do not mention any river falling in on the right in this part of the Missouri, The Scolding river, if there is Such a one Should have fallen in below agreeable to their accts. we also dispatched men in different dircts. by land, to a mountain Covered with Snow to the South & other up each river— Capt Lewis and my Self walked out & assended the hill in the point observed a leavel open Countrey to the foot of the mountains which lye South of this, also a River which falls into the Right hand fork about 1½ miles above its mouth on the Lard. Side this little river discharges a great deal of water & contains as much Cotton timber in its bottoms as either of the others we saw Buffalow & antelopes &c. wild Cheries, red & yellow burries, Goose berries &c. abound in the river bottoms, prickley pares on the high plains, we had a meridian altitude and the Lattd. produced was 47° 24' 12" N. the after part of the day proved Cloudy, we measured each river and found the one to Right hand 200 yards wide of water & the Left hand fork 372 yards wide & rapid— the right hand fork falling the other at a Stand and Clear, the right fork and the river which fall into it is Coloured & a little muddey. Several men Complain of their feet being Sore in walking in the Sand & their being Cut by the Stones They to be Sure have a bad time of it obliged to walk on Shore & haul the rope and 9/10 of their time bear footed, in the evening late the Canoes returned and the men informed us that they had assended Some miles by water & left their Canoes & walked on land the greater part of the day, their accounts by no means Satisfactory, Serjt. Pryor assended the right hand fork and took the following Courses, &c
Serjt. Gass assended the left hand fork and took the following Courses viz.
Joseph & Rubin Fields 〈assended〉 went up the left fork 7 miles on a direct line at which place, the Small river which falls into the right hand fork approaches within 100 yards of the South fork, they Came down the Small river which is a bold Stream Covered with Elk & Some beaver, its bottoms Covered with wood, as the Information given by those parties respecting the rivers did not Satisfy us as to the main & principal branch Capt. Lewis & my Self deturmined to go up each of those rivers one Day & a half with a view to Satisfy ourselves which of the two was the principal Stream and best calculated for us to assend— The hunters Killed 2 buffalow, 6 Elk & Several deer to day we refreshed our party with a dram &c Cloudy evining.—
June 3rd Monday 1805.  we formed a Camp  on the point in the junction of the two rivers, & two canoes & 3 man were dispached up each river to examine and find if possable which is the most probable branch.  the left fork which is the largest we are doubtful of. the Indians do not mention any river falling in on the right in this part of the Missourie. The Scolding river, if their is Such a one Should have fallen in below agreeable to their accts. men were dispached also in different directions by land, to a mountain covred with Snow to the South. & others up each river. the Captains walked out & assended the hill in the point, they observed a level Country to the foot of the mountains which lye South of this, also a River which falls into the Right hand fork about 1½ miles above its mouth on the Larboard Side. this little river descharges a great deal of water & contains as much cotton timber in its bottoms as either of the others. they Saw buffalow & antilopes wild Cherries red & yallow berrys, Goose berrys &.C. abound in the river bottoms. prickley pairs on the high plains. the Capts. had a meridian altitude and the Latitude produced was 47° 24' 12" North. the after part of the day proved Cloudy. Capt. Clark measured each river & found the one to the Right hand 186 yards wide of water, & the left hand fork 372 yards wide and rapid. the right hand fork falling the other at a Stand, and clear. the right fork and the river which fall into it is couloured & a little muddy. Several of the party complain of their feet being Sore by walking in the Sand, & their being cut by the Stones we to be Sure have a hard time of it oblidged to walk on Shore & hawl the rope and 9/10 of their time barefooted— in the evening the parties all returned to Camp had been about 15 miles up each river, but could not determine which would be our most probable branch for our Course &C. our officers are not Satisfied in their minds which River will be best to for us to take. So they determine to leave the crafts & the most of the men here & go one day & a half up each river with a Small party to find out which will be the most probable River for us to take &.C. the hunters killed 4 buffalow 3 Elk 3 beaver & Several Deer our officers Gave Each man a Dram.—
Monday 3rd. We crossed over to the point between the two rivers and encamped there. The commanding officers could not determine which of these rivers or branches, it was proper to take; and therefore concluded to send a small party up each of them. Myself and two men went up the South branch, and a serjeant and two more up the North.  The parties went up the two branches about 15 miles. We found the South branch rapid with a great many islands and the general course South West. The other party reported the North branch as less rapid, and not so deep as the other. The North branch is 186 yards wide and the South 372 yards. The water of the South branch is clear, and that of the North muddy. About a mile and an half up the point from the confluence, a handsome small river falls into the North branch, called Rose river. Its water is muddy, and the current rapid. Captain Lewis took a meridian altitude at the point, which gave 47° 24 12 North latitude. Captain Lewis and Captain Clarke were not yet satisfied with respect to the proper river to ascend.
Monday 3rd June 1805. a fair morning. we delayed untill 8 oClock then moved our Camp over to the point between the two rivers. two Small canoes were unloaded and a Sergeant and 2 men I was one of them Sent in each up the 2 rivers to See what discoveries they could make. Some men went out a hunting also. their is 3 Islands in the mo. left hand river, which is the largest & Swiftest river. Some men went out towards a mountain  covred with Snow to the South of this place. the Captains walked out on the high hills in the point they observed a level country to the foot of the mountain which lay South of this also a River which falls in to the right hand fork about 1 ½ miles up from the mouth on the Lard Side. This little River discharges a great deal of water & contains as much cotton timber as either of the others. they Saw buffalow & antilopes, wild cherries  red & yallow berrys  goose berrys,  &c. abound in the river bottoms, prickley pairs on the high plains the Captains had a Meridian altitude & the Latitude produced was 47° 24" 12" North, the after part of the day proved cloudy. Capt. Clark measured the each River & found the one to the right hand to be 186 yards wide of water 〈& rapid〉 and the left hand fork 372 yards wide & rapid, the right hand fork falling the other at a Stand & clear. the right hand fork & the river which fall into it is couloured, and a little muddy. Several of the party complain of their feet being Sore by their walking in the Sand & cut by the Stones. we to be Sure have a hard time of it oblidged to walk on Shore & haul the towing line and 9/10 of the time barefooted. in the evening the men all returned had been about 15 miles up each river but could not determine which was the Missourie, nor which would be our best course. our officers & all the men differ in their opinions which river to take. we expect the right hand fork would take us too far to the North, the left hand fork we expect heads in the mountains. however the officers conclude to leave the party here, and go by land with a Small party up each river, in order to find out which will be the best for us to take. the hunters killed 4 buffaloe 3 Elk 3 beaver & deer &c. the Capts Gave each man a dram of ardent Spirits.— I killed 2 Elk myself to day, as I was up the left fork as a Spye.—
Monday June 3rd This morning we had fine and clear weather, we remained at our Camp untill 8 oClock A. M. when we removed over to a point lying between the Two Rivers, Two of our Crafts were unloaded, and a Serjeant and two Men embark'd in each of them, in Order to go up each of these Rivers to make discoveries; some Men were also sent out a hunting, & to make discoveries likewise; and some others of the party, went out towards a mountain covered with snow; lying to the Southward of the confluence of those 2 Rivers, 3 Islands lying in the River which lay the most Southermost, The River which lays to the Southward-most, is by far the 〈most〉 largest & Swiftest running River.—
Our Captains went out to some high hills, which lay in the point of those two Rivers, in Order to have a view of the Country, and make discoveries, They found that it was a level country to the foot of a mountains lying South of this place, and a River which fell into the North fork of these two Rivers, and that about One & a half Miles up from the Mouth of the Fork of the River lying most northerly, on the South side of that fork, that this little river emptied itself into it, and discharged a great quantity of water, and was equally covered on both sides of that River with Cotton wood Trees, which is the same with the forks of both these great Rivers; they likewise saw Buffalo, & antelopes in great plenty, and found Wild Cherries, red and Yellow berrys, Goose berries in abundance; and prickly pears growing on the high plains.— Our officers took an Observation here with their Mathematical Instruments, and found the Latitude to be 47° 24' 12s North, the afternoon of this day was Cloudy.— Captain Clark measured the width of each those Rivers, and found the North fork of the River measured 186 Yards of water; and the South fork measured 372 Yards of the same, & running rapidly, the Water in the North fork of the River falling; and that of the South at a stand, & clear, The right hand or North fork and the small River that empties itself into it Colour'd, and a little muddy.— Our party was complaining of their feet being very Sore Occssion'd by their walking in the sand & cut by the stones in towing our Crafts, a greater part of them being fatiauged & bare foot— but still determin'd to prosecute the Voyage under ev'ry difficulty.— In the evening the Men that were sent out on discovery, and the hunters returned.— they reported that they had been fifteen Miles, up each of those Rivers, but they could not determine, which was the Mesouri River,— or which would be our best course to take, a Council was held by our Officers, and the opinion of our Men were all taken; but they differ'd in their Oppinions, and were at a loss which River to take, We expected that the right hand or North fork, Would take us too far to the Northward, and that the left hand or South fork, head in the Mountains.— The Officers came to a conclusion to leave the party here, and go with our hunters by land, up each River, in order to find out which will be our best course to pursue; in order to facilitate our Voyage.— The Hunters killed this day 4 Buffalo, 3 Elk, 8 Beaver, and some few Deer.— and one of the party that went up the South fork of the River on discovery, killed 2 Elk, the Game of all kinds being plenty on both these Rivers. Our Officers in the Evening gave each of the party a dram of Ardent spirits
1. The site is probably now on an island below the present mouth of the Marias, southeast of the town of Loma, Chouteau County, Montana. Here the party would remain until June 12, 1805. Atlas maps 41, 53, 61; MRC map 75. (Return to text.)
3. Sergeant Pryor went up the Marias and Sergeant Gass up the Missouri; Whitehouse says he was with the latter. (Return to text.)
4. The first range was probably the Highwood Mountains, beyond being the Little Belt and Big Belt ranges. Allen (LCDM), 10 n. 20. (Return to text.)
5. The Teton River, a tributary of the Marias, which the captains called the Tansey River, after the plant found along its banks (see June 6, 1805, below). Atlas maps 41, 42, 53, 61; MRC map 75. (Return to text.)
6. Someone, perhaps Biddle, drew a red vertical line to this point, beginning at "a great number." (Return to text.)
7. The captains were puzzled that the Hidatsas and Mandans had not told them of a river as large as the Marias. They momentarily considered the possibility that it was the "River Which Scolds at All Others" described by the Indians, but description of that river fit the Milk River much too well, so the idea was discarded. Biddle, in working with the journals, concluded that the Marias was the actual "River Which Scolds" and inserted a note to that effect in Codex D (see above, May 8, 1805). This note misled later historians, but more recent research indicates that Lewis and Clark were right from the first. The Milk is the "River Which Scolds" and the captains never seriously thought otherwise. Saindon, (RSO); Allen (PG), 244 n. 5. The episode at the Marias is ably covered in Allen (LCDM). (Return to text.)
8. Also given on Atlas map 41, in Clark's hand. (Return to text.)
9. Populus angustifolia James, narrowleaf cottonwood, then new to science. Lewis provides a detailed description of this tree on June 12. Clark calls it the "cotton willow" in entries of June 17 and July 16. This tree grows in the Rocky Mountains at middle elevations and foothills along streams and out onto the plains. This location at the mouth of the Marias River is important since the species is not found lower on the Missouri River and, like the limber pine, illustrates the presence of Rocky Mountain biota eastward at its limits here on the Missouri. The wide leaf cottonwood is the earlier identified plains cottonwood whose western distributional limit comes sixty to seventy miles farther upstream. Lewis's notice of birch is the first mention of Betula occidentalis Hook., water, or river, birch, also new to science, a Rocky Mountain species found growing along river banks and reaching its apparent eastward limit along the Missouri, at the mouth of the Marias River. Booth & Wright, 22, 30; Little, 149-W; Cutright (LCPN), 158, 415. (Return to text.)
10. Evidently some form of knapsack, perhaps from "hoppas," an Indian knapsack, derivation uncertain. Criswell, 46, 48; Jackson (LLC), 1: 74–75 and n. 8. (Return to text.)
11. From this day Ordway's copying of Clark's journal ceases, although part of this material is from the captain. (Return to text.)
12. Below the present mouth of the Marias River, Chouteau County, Montana, where the party would remain until June 12, 1805, while they investigated the two streams to determine which course to take. (Return to text.)
13. Pryor and his men went up the Marias while Gass with a party went up the Missouri; Whitehouse says he was with the latter. (Return to text.)
14. Gass went up the Missouri (the south fork), while Pryor, with a party including Whitehouse, went up the Marias. (Return to text.)
15. Perhaps the Highwood Mountains, again. (Return to text.)
16. Probably choke cherry. (Return to text.)
17. The red berry is probably buffaloberry. (Return to text.)
18. An unknown gooseberry. (Return to text.)
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