July 21, 1804
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

July 21, 1804


by a boiling motion or ebolition of it's [the Platte's] waters occasioned no doubt by the roling and irregular motion of the sand of which its bed is entirely composed.    the particles of this sand 〈is driven in large bodies〉 being remarkably small and light it is easily boied up 〈and by the water〉 and is hurried 〈in large〉 by this impetuous 〈current in〉 torrent 〈sometimes〉 in large masses from place to place in with irristable forse, collecting and forming sand bars in the course of a few hours which as suddingly disapated to form others and give place perhaps to the deepest channel of the river.    where it [the Platte] enters the Missouri it's superior force 〈drives the〉 changes and directs the courant of that river against it's northern bank where it is compressed within a channel less than one third of the width it had just before occupyed.    it dose not furnish the missouri with it's colouring matter as has been asserted by some, but it throws into it immence quantities of sand and gives a celerity to it's courant of which it abates but little untill it's junction with the Mississippy.    the water of this river is turbid at all seasons of the year but is by no means as much so as that of the Missourie.    The sediment it deposits, consists of very fine particles of white sand while that of the Missoury is composed principally of a dark rich loam—in much greater quantity [2]

21st July 〈we made some many experiments to determin the velocity of the courant of the Missour in different parts〉 from the experiments and observations we were enabled to make with rispect to the comparative velocities of the courants of the rivers Mississippi Missouri and Plat it results that a vessel will float in the Mississippi 〈about〉 below the entrance of the Missouri at the rate of four miles an hour.    in the Missouri from it's junction with the Mississsippi to the entrance of the Osage river from 5½ to 6    from thence to the mouth of the Kanzas from 6½ to 7.    from thence to the Platte 5½ while the Plat is at least 8.—    The Missouri above the junction of the river plat is equal to about 3½ miles an hour as far as the mouth of the Chyenne [3] where its courant still abates 〈to about 3 miles an hour〉 and becomes equal to about three miles an hour    from information it does not increase it's volocity for [sentence incomplete]


July 21st Satturday, Set out verry early and a Gentle Breeze from the S. E    proceeded on very well, passed a (1) Willow Island L. S. opsd. a bad Sand bar    passed Some high land covered with Timber, in this Hill is Semented rock & Limestone [5]    the water runs out and forms Several little Islands in (2) high water on the S. S.    a large Sand bar on the S. S. above and opposit the wooded High Land, at about 7 oClock the wind Seased and it Commenced raining    passed many Sand bars opposit or in the Mouth of the Great River Plate [6]    this river which is much more rapid than the Missourie ha[s] thrown out imence quantities of Sand forming large Sand Banks at its mouth and forced the Missourie Close under the S. S.    the Sands of this river Comes roleing down with the Current which is Crowded with Sand bars and not 5 feet water at any place across its mouth, the Rapidity of the Current of this river which is greater than that of the Missourie, its width at the Mouth across the bars is about ¾ of a mile, higher up I am told by one of the bowmen [7] that he was 2 winters on this river above and that it does not rise 〈four〉 7 feet, but Spreds over 3 miles at Some places, Capt Lewis & my Self went up Some Distance & Crossed    found it Shallow. This river does not rise over 6 or 7 feet

Course Distance & Reffurences July 21st 1804
N. 22° W.   3 ½ ms. to pt. S. S. opposit a point of high land on the L. S.
N. 28° W.   6 ½ ms. to a pt. on S. S.    psd a pt of willows    a Willow Isd
(1) on L. S & a high pt. on the L. S.    passed 〈Sand bar in
the river on    a Island large on〉 the L. S. Sm. cr. Small
Channel (2)
N. 39° W.   3 〈½〉 miles to a pt. on S. S. 〈just Below opposit〉 the R.
  13 ½ Plate.    psd. a pt. High Land Covd. with wood L. S.    a
Sand bar near the S. S.    a large Sand bar
N. 8° W   2 ms. to a point L. S.    the Junction of the Missr. & Platt
Rivers    a Verry extensive View of the river    pass many
Sand bars in every direction thrown out by the Plate R
which runs East
N. 10° W. [8]   4 The Same Course Continud up the Missouri to a Pt. L
S [blank] Miles    passed a Sand bar on the S. S.    wind N.

Proceeded on    passed the mouth of Papillion or Butter fly Creek [9] 3 miles on the L. S. a large Sand bar opposit on that Side    Camped above this bar on L. S. [10]    a great number of wolves about us all night    R. Fields killed a Deer    hard wind N. W.    cold


Set out early under a gentle breeze from the S. E.    proceeded on verry well, passed (1) a willow Island on the L. S. opposit a bad Sand bar, Some high lands covered with timber L. S    in this hill is limestone & Seminted rock of Shels &c. (2) [11]    in high water the opposit Side is cut thro: by Several Small Channels, forming Small Islands, a large Sand bar opposit the Hill    at 7 oClock the wind luled and it Commnc'd raining, arrived at the lower Mouth of the Great River Platt at 10 oClock (about 3 ms. above the Hill of wood land, the Same range of High land Continus within ¾ of a mile of the mouth below[)]    This Great river being much more rapid than the Missourie forces its current against the opposit Shore, The Current of This river Comes with great Velocity roleing its Sands into the Missouri, filling up its Bend & Compelling it to incroach on the 〈S〉 [NB: North] Shore—    we found great dificuelty in passing around the Sand at the mouth of this River    Capt Lewis and My Self with 6 men in a perogue went up this Great river Plate about 〈2〉 1 [NB: one] miles, found the Current verry rapid roleing over Sands, passing through different Channels none of them more than five or Six feet deep, about 〈900〉 600 yards Wide at the mouth—    I am told by one of our Party who wintered two winters on This river that "it is much wider above, and does not rise more than five or Six feet" Spreds verry [NB?: wide with many Small islands Scattered thro' it] and from its rapidity & roleing Sands Cannot be navagated 〈by〉 with Boats or Perogues—    The Indians pass this river in Skin Boats which is flat and will not turn over. The Otteaus a Small nation reside on the South Side 10 Leagues up, the Panies on the Same Side 5 Leagus higher up—    about 10 Leagus up this river on the S. Side a Small river Comes into the Platt Called Salt River, [12] "The waters So brackish that it Can't be Drank at Some Seasons["]    above this river & on the North Side a Small river falls into the Platt Called Elk [NB: Horn] River [13]    This river runs Parralal withe the Missouri—    at 3 miles passed a Small river on the L. S. Called Papillion or Butterfly C: 18 yds. wide a large Sand bar off the mouth, we proceeded on to get to a good place to Camp and Delay a fiew days, passed around this Sand bar and Came to for the night on the L. S.    a verry hard wind from the N. W.    I went on Shore S. S. and proceeded up one mile thro: high Bottom land open    a Great number of wolves about us this evening

Course Distance & Refrs. July 21st:
N. 22° W.   3 ½ ms. to a pt. S. S. opposit a pt. of High lands on the L. S.
N. 28° W.   6 ½ ms. to a pt. on S. S.    psd a naked pt. & wilr. Isl'd (1) on
the L. S. & a high pt. on L. S. (2)
N. 39° W.   3 ms. to a pt. on S. S. just below the Platt river    passd. a pt.
of High Land Covd. with wood L. S.    a Sd. bar near the
S. S.
N. 8° W   2 ms. to a point in the junction of the Platt & Missouri    verry
extensive up the Platt West & Missourie North    Passed
many Sand bars in the Mouth Platt river
  15 ms. to Platt

Saturday July 21st 1804. Some Rain this morning    We Set out at Sun rise under a gentle Breese from the South or S. E.    we proceded on verry well, passed Several Islands &C—    Some high lands covered with Timber.    in this hill is Semented rock & Limestone    Some fine Springs &C—    we arived at the mouth of the platte River S. S. about 1 oClock    this River Runs out and forms Several large Sand bars thrown out by the Platte River.—    their is Some high handsome praries about this River, the Rapidity of the River Platt which is much greater than that of the Missouris, its width at the mouth across the bars is about ¾ of a mile, higher up we are told by one of our French Bowman [14] that he was 2 〈years winters〉 years up or on this River and that it does not rise four feet but Spreads open 3 miles at Some places, we proceeded on round a large Sand bar S. S.    a hard 〈head〉 wind from N. W.    we put Below [past?] the last mentioned Sand Bar    we passed a creek on S. S. called pappeo R. [15]    praries in pt between the Missouris & the Great R. Platt but flat Subject to overflow. Some large cotten wood Timber but thin on the point.    we Camped on the South Side of the River, a prarie on the N. Side of the Missouris    the party who were with the Horses joined us with four Deer,


Saturday July 21th 1804    Set out at 4 oclock a m    prossed on ouer Jouney. Rain this morning wind fair    Sailed passed the mouth of the Grait River Plate on the South Side    it is much more Rappided than the missorea    it is about 〈3½ Three quarters of a mile〉 [X: from one mil to 3 miles] wide    the Sand Roles 〈or〉 out and formes Large Sand bares in the middel of the missorea    up the Plate 〈of〉 about one mile the Hilles of Prarie Land    about 2 days and half up the Plate 2 nations of Indians Lives vic The Souttoes the Ponney [15]    this River is not navigable for Boats to Go up it    passed a Creek Called the [blank] on the South Side    it is about 20 yardes wide    it Comes out of a Large Prarie    Campt on the South Side


Saturday 21st.    We set out early. It rained this morning but we had a fine breeze of wind. There are a great many willow islands and sand-bars in this part of the river. At nine the wind fell, and at one we came to the great river Platte, or shallow river, [16] which comes in on the south side, and at the mouth is three quarters of a mile broad. The land is flat about the confluence. Up this river live three nations of Indians, the Otos, Panis, and Loos, or Wolf Indians. [17] On the south side there is also a creek, called Butterfly creek.


Santday 21    got on oer way at an [blank]    the wind Come fare    [we?] Come [4]miles and Eat oer Breakfast.    the wind Seased Bloing    a reamark hiLL tow hundrerd foot hie from the warter    Come to the River opLate at one oCLock    this River On the west Side of the Mesury    a fine preare [our clear?]    on the mouths of the PLate [in the?] [illegible] [are?] a very Strong Streame    it Baks the Mussiry over [illegible] Land on the West Side and 12 ILand. [18]    The wedth of the Great River Platt at its mouth across the bars is about ¾ of a mile, but further up we are told by a Frenchman who lived 2 〈Seasons〉 years up this River that it does not rise 4 feet, but Spreads 3 miles in Some places.    we passed a creek called Pappeo R.    praries are between the 2 Rivers.    we camped on the S.S.    G. Drewyer joined us with 4 Deer he Killed.

Saturday July 21st    We embarked from the Island    got underway, and the wind came fair, we sail'd 4 Miles and came too, and breakfasted; we embarked again at 8 oClock A. M, we proceeded on rowing the boat, the wind having (died away)    we came to a remarkable hill, laying on the Water side which measur'd 200 feet from the surface of the Water & we arrived at the River Plate at one o'Clock P.M.    The River Plate lies on the South side of the Mesouri River; it is a beautiful River, and joining it, on both sides is a fine priari.    the stream of this River runs strong at its mouth.    The width of this River at its mouth is about three Quarters of a Mile.    it has several Bars at that place.    This River in some places, not far distant from its mouth spreads 3 Miles 〈in some places〉 & the water is clear    We proceeded on, & passed a Creek called Pappes Creek lying on So side priaris lays between the River platt & this Creek.    We encamped on the South side.    one of our hunters brought in 4 Deer he had killed

1. This fragment in Lewis's hand is on one side of document 35 of the Field Notes. The date "21st July" is written in the left margin. It is obviously a draft for his "Summary View of Rivers and Creeks" which was copied into Codex O. It is unclear whether he wrote it on July 21 or later at Fort Mandan. The reverse of this sheet carries lunar calculations from February 23, 1805, made at the fort. The notes invite the question of lost journals by Lewis for this period of the expedition (May 14, 1804 to April 6, 1805) which is discussed in the Introduction to Volume 2. Osgood (FN), 85 n. 3. Lewis's "Summary" will appear later; it may be found for comparison in Thwaites (LC), 6:38–40. (back)
2. The sediment of the Platte River is dominated by sand derived in large part from the Rocky Mountains and the sand-rich sediments it passes through in western and central Nebraska. The Missouri, on the other hand, flows through South Dakota along the glacial boundary and between loess bluffs on the Nebraska and Iowa borders. A large part of its sediment load, as a result, is silt and clay from those sources. (back)
3. Presumably the portion about the current above the mouth of the Platte was added after they reached the Cheyenne River in South Dakota on October 1, 1804, unless the whole was written at that time. (back)
4. Biddle's notation at the head of this sheet of the Field Notes (document 34) reads, "July 21 to 22." (back)
5. The basal part of the bluffs along the Missouri River here are the Plattsmouth and Spring Branch limestones of middle Pennsylvanian age (Shawnee Group). Condra & Reed; Wayne. (back)
6. The French name Platte, meaning "flat," is a more or less exact rendering of the Omaha and Oto names nibtháçka or nįbráska, "flat river," which gave Nebraska its name. It enters the Missouri between Cass and Sarpy counties. Fletcher & La Flesche, 90; Fitzpatrick, 13; MRC map 22; MRR map 63. (back)
7. Either Labiche or Cruzatte; the latter, in particular, seems to have spent considerable time in eastern Nebraska trading with the Indians. Both were half Omaha and were very likely born in the region, sons of French traders. See Appendix A. (back)
8. This final course material is not found in the Codex A entry. (back)
9. Papillion, or Big Papillion, Creek reaches the Missouri in Sarpy County, within a mile or so north of the mouth of the Platte. MRC map 22; MRR map 63. (back)
10. In Sarpy County, a little above the mouth of Papillion Creek. The river's course was probably farther west in 1804 than in later times, close to where the creek emerges from the bluffs. Nicollet (MMR), 385; MRC map 22; MRR map 63. (back)
11. Probably King Hill, a high bluff and conspicuous point of timbered land in Cass County, about three miles below the mouth of the Platte. The party is now reaching a region where large areas of timbered land are noteworthy. MRR map 62. (back)
12. Modern Salt Creek, which runs northeastward to meet the Platte in Saunders County, Nebraska. (back)
13. The Elkhorn River of northeast Nebraska reaches the Platte in northwest Sarpy County. (back)
14. Either François Labiche or Pierre Cruzatte, more likely the latter. (back)
15. Oto and Pawnee Indians. (back)
16. No one else used this name for the Platte River, but it is a free translation—and an accurate description—of the Indian and French names. The river reaches the Missouri between Cass and Sarpy counties, Nebraska. (back)
17. Gass refers to the Oto, the Pawnee, and the Skiri or Loup (Wolf) Pawnee Indians. (back)
18. Here ends the writing of No. 3, marking the return to Whitehouse's hand. (back)