September 11, 1803
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

September 11, 1803


Set out about sunrise, passed Sunfish creek 1 mile &c &c    entered the long reach, so called from the Ohio running in strait direction for 18 miles    in this reach there are 5 Islands from three to 2 miles in length each— [1] observed a number of squirrels [2] swiming the Ohio and universally passing from the W. to the East shore    they appear to be making to the south; perhaps it may be mast or food which they are in serch of but I should reather suppose that it is climate which is their object as I find no difference in the quantity of mast on both sides of this river it being abundant on both except the beach nut which appears extreemly scarce this season, the walnuts and Hickory nuts the usual food of the squirrell appears in great abundance on either side of the river— [3] I made my dog [4] take as many each day as I had occation for, they wer fat and I thought them when fryed a pleasent food—    many of these squirrils wer black, [5] they swim very light on the water and make pretty good speed— my dog was of the newfoundland breed very active strong and docile, he would take the squirel in the water kill them and swiming bring them in his mouth to the boat. we lay this night below the fifth Island in the long reach on the E. side of the river having come 26 miles [6]

1. The islands today along the Long Reach are Paden, Williamson, Wells, Mill Creek, and Grand View islands. (back)
2. These would be gray squirrels, Sciurus carolinensis; such migrations are rare today, the squirrel population having been much reduced. Hall, 1:417; Cutright (HLCJ), 140. Apart from two brief lists of trees and fish, this is the first of the many natural history observations in Lewis's journals. His interest in plants and animals, which he shared with Jefferson, dated from childhood. His command of technical terms, especially in his botanical descriptions, was impressive, but he seldom used the Linnaean system of Latin names for species, nor did he attempt to bestow such names on the many new species observed during the expedition. He carried several reference works with him that assisted him in writing his descriptions. These included Benjamin Smith Barton's Elements of Botany; or, Outlines of the Natural History of Vegetables (Philadelphia, 1803); John Miller, An Illustration of the Sexual System of Linnaeus, Vol. 1 (London, 1779); and Miller's An Illustration of the Termini Botanici of Linnaeus, Vol. 2 (London, 1789). Jackson (SBLC), 5–8; Cutright (LCPN), 1–25, 31. (back)
3. The "beach" nut is Fagus grandifolia Ehrh., beech nut; the walnuts could be Juglans nigra L., black walnut, and/or J. cinerea L., butternut, white walnut, found on river terraces; the hickory nuts can be several species of Carya. Fernald, 540, 526; Braun, 95–97. (back)
4. The first mention of Seaman, or Scannon, whose name appears infrequently in the journals. Lewis may have purchased him before reaching Pittsburgh and he served as hunter, watchdog, and companion. Though not mentioned after July 1806, it has been supposed that he was still with the party on its return in September 1806. A stream in Montana was apparently named for him, leading Don Jackson to conjecture the latest spelling of his name. Jackson (DS); Osgood (ODS). (back)
5. A melanistic color phase. Cutright (HLCJ), 141 n. 48; Hall, 1:417. (back)
6. This camp, from Lewis's description, would be below present Grand View Island, opposite Grand View, Ohio, in Tyler County, West Virginia. But see below, September 12, n. 1. Thwaites (EWT), 4:121. (back)