September 7, 1804
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

September 7, 1804


7th September Friday 1804.    a verry Cold morning    Set out at Day light

N. 60° W. [1] 3 mes. to the pt. of a Bluff on the S. S. opsd. a pt. on the
L. S. below [w]hich there is a Sand bar
West 2 ½ mes to a Tree in the bend to the L. S. near a mountain
which is round formg a point on the riseing 70 feet higher
than the high land    from its Shape & Situation resembles
a cupeleow [cupola] [2]    passed 2 small Islds. on the S. S,—
  5 ½  

near the foot of this high Nole we discovered a Village of an annamale the french Call the Prarie Dog [3] which burrow in the grown & with the rattle Snake and Killed one & Caught one Dog alive    caught in a whole 2 frogs    near the hole Killed a Dark Rattle Snake with a P[rairie] do[g] in him [4]

The Village of those little dogs is under the ground a conisiderable distance    we dig under 6 feet thro rich hard clay without getting to their Lodges    Some of their wholes we 〈pu throw〉 put in 5 barrels of water without driveing them out, we caught one by the water forceing him out.    ther mouth resemble the rabit, head longer, legs short, & toe nails long    ther tail like a g[round] Squirel which they Shake and make chattering noise    ther eyes like a dog, their colour is Gray and Skin contains Soft fur

Course Distance & refeirencs 7.
N. 60° W. 3 mes. to the pt. of a Bluff on the S. S. opsd. a pt. on L. S.
West 2 ½ miles to a tree in a bend to the L. S. near the foot of a
round mountain resembling a Cupola (1)    passed 2 Small
Islds. S. S.
  5 ½  

Septr. 7th Friday    a verry Cold morning    Set out at day light    we landed after proceding 5½ miles, near the foot of a round mounting which I saw yesterday resembling a dome.

Capt Lewis & my Self walked up, to the top which forms a Cone and is about 70 feet higher than [WC: wind S. E.] [5] the high lands around it, the Bass is about 300 foot    in decending this Cupola, discovered a Village of Small animals that burrow in the grown (those animals are Called by the french Pitite Chien)    Killed one & Cought one a live by poreing a great quantity of water in his hole    we attempted to dig to the beds of one of thos animals, after diging 6 feet, found by running a pole down that we were not half way to his Lodges, we found 2 frogs in the hole, and killed a Dark rattle Snake near with a Ground rat [X: or prarie dog] in him, (those rats are numerous)    the Village of those animals Covs. about 4 acrs of Ground on a Gradual decent of a hill and Contains great numbers of holes on the top of which those little animals Set erect make a Whistleing noise and whin allarmed Slip into their hole—    we por'd into one of the holes 5 barrels of water without filling it, Those Animals are about the Size of a Small Squrel 〈Shorter〉 [X: or larger longer] & thicker, the head much resembling a Squirel in every respect, except the ears which is Shorter, his tail like a ground Squirel which thy Shake & whistle when allarmd.    the toe nails long, they have fine fur & the longer hair is gray, it is Said that a kind of Lizard also a Snake reside with those animals.    [WC?: did not find this correct.]    Camped [6]


Friday 7th    a fair, cool morning. N. B. a verry large cat fish caugt. by Goodrich last night.    we Set off verry eairly.    the wind from N. W.    we proceeded on.    took breakfast at one of Colters Camps where he had a scaffal of jurk &.C.—    passed a Bottom prarie Back of which is a round naked high round knob [7]    the Captains went out to look at it.—    they returned in a Short time & informed us that it was a curious place as if it had been made with hands of man. Shields killed a prarie dog, [8] which was cooked for the Capts dinner.—    the Captains went out with Some men of the party to See the Ground where those little dogs make their villages & they found more than an acre of Ground covered with their holes, they attempted to drown Several of them out of their holes, but they caught but one which they brought in alive, they are a curious annimal about the Size of a little dog, & of a grayish coulour    resembles them nearly except the tail which is like a Ground Squirrel. They will Stand on their hind feet & look &.C.—    we Camped on the South Side near the Steeple of the round knob


Friday 7th.    We set sail early, and had a clear day: passed high prairie land on both sides; but there is some cotton wood on the low points in the bottoms. On the south side we found a scaffold of meat neatly dried. This had been left by one of our men, [9] who had gone out on the 26th of the last month to hunt the horses, and supposing we had got a distance ahead, proceeded up the river several days journey, before he discovered his error. Captain Lewis and Captain Clarke with some of the men went to view a round knob of a hill in a prairie, and on their return killed a prairie dog, [10] in size about that of the smallest species domestic dogs.

Having understood that the village of those small dogs was at a short distance from our camp, Captain Lewis and Captain Clarke with all the party, except the guard, went to it; and took with them all the kettles and other vessels for holding water; in order to drive the animals out of their holes by pouring in water; but though they worked at the business till night they only caught one of them.


Friday 7th Sept. 1805. [11]    a clear morning    we Set off eairly.    one of the hunters killed a prarie dogg & Sd. he Saw a village of them    we halted    the Capt. went out with [10?] men and drounded out one & took it alive & kept it.    it is a curious annimal much like a little dog, & live in holes all in a compact place like a village.

Friday Septemr. 7th    This morning being clear we set off early, One of our Hunters returned, having killed an animal & brought in with him, which he called a Priari dog, and mentioned, that he had seen a large number of them, which had their habitations lying together, We halted, Captain Lewis went on shore with 4 Men, to hunt for those Animals.    Captain Lewis & the men proceeded on, & went to the place where they catched one of the Priari dogs, and brought it alive to the Boat,—    It is much in resemblance of a small Dog, These animals live in holes, which is cover'd with compact Clay & are regularly placed, & has the resemblance of a Village.    We continued at the place we had halted at, and encamped.—

1. This course is repeated and overwritten on the last lines of this page at the bottom of document 51 of the Field Notes. (back)
2. Now called Old Baldy, in eastern Boyd County, Nebraska. On Atlas map 19 it is called the Steeple, a name perhaps given by American fur traders in the years after 1804. By the 1830s it was already Old Baldy on maps. Coues (HLC), 1:110 n. 23; Cutright (LCPN), 79; Nicollet (MMR), 406; MRC map 33. (back)
3. Lewis and Clark deserve credit for the first scientific description of the prairie dog, Cynomys ludovicianus, and its characteristic colonies and burrows. Clark also notes the persistent legend that they share their holes with snakes, but correctly denies the truth of the fable. The following spring they sent a live specimen to Jefferson, which arrived safely. Lewis's more detailed description is dated July 1, 1806. Cutright (LCPN), 79–80, 121; Cutright (OMPD). The rattlesnake is probably the prairie rattler, Crotalus viridis, while the squirrel used for comparison is the gray squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis. Burroughs, 273–75; Jones et al., 148–52. (back)
4. The September 7 entry continues from here with the next paragraph at the top of document 52 of the Field Notes. At the top of the sheet Clark has written "Wind S E"; Biddle notation reads "Sept. 8 and 10 1804." (back)
5. The bracketed phrase was inserted at the bottom of the page in Codex B. The remaining emendations are in red, but the writer is difficult to determine. Some of the scientific material has been crossed out lightly in red. (back)
6. Near the foot of Old Baldy in Boyd County, Nebraska, roughly four miles downriver from the NebraskaSouth Dakota boundary (43° N.) where it leaves the river and runs due west. Atlas map 19; MRC Map 33. (back)
8. Prairie dog, Cynomys ludovicianus; the squirrel used for comparison is the gray squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis. (back)
10. Gass takes the French traders' designation chien, or dog, literally. The prairie dog, Cynomys ludovicianus, is a rodent. (back)
11. Again Whitehouse gets the year wrong. (back)