September 20, 1804
34.40% Complete
Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

September 20, 1804


September the 20th Thursday 1804 Detchd, 3 men [1] across the Big bend [(]Called the Grand deTour [2]) with the horse, to stay and hunt & jurk provisions untill we get around    (1) passed a Island on the S. S. [3]    the river Crouded with Sand bars, [4]

The Course
N. 50° W.   3 ¼ miles to the upper Point of an Island [5] on the S. S. about 2
me. long
North   4 mes. to a pt. on th L. S.    passed one on the S. S. abov the
N. 10° W   1 ½ mes. to a pt. of wood on the L. S.—
N. 22° W.   3 mes. to the L. S.—
N. 60 W.   2 mes. to a Small timber on the L. S.—
West   3 mes. to a wood on L S.
S. 73 W.   3 ½ mes. to a pt of wood on L. S.—
South   4 miles to a tree on L. S.    passed a Island (1) situated on
the L. S.    this island [6] is Small with a large Sand
S. 74 E   3 ½ Miles to a point of wood on the L. S.    pass Sands & Cpd.
(2) &.
S. 56 E   3 ½ to a pt. on the S. S. opsd. a high hill on the L. S.
S. 28. E.   2 mes. to a Ceder hill on the L. S in a bend opposit the Gorge
of this bend where the river is only 1¼ mile across & 30
Miles around, the hills high with Some low land—    This
Day is refured to (1) (2) &c. for farth[er] explanition
  33 ¼  

20th of September 1804 Thursday (Continued[)]

(1) at the N W. extremity of this bend passed an Small Island on the L. S.    opposit the upper Point of this Solitary Island Came too [7] to [one word illegible, perhaps "pipit"] at the mouth of a Small run on the S. S. & Newmon & Tomson picked up Some Salt mixed with the Sand in the run, [8] Such as the ottoes Indians Collect on the Sands of the Corn de Cerf R. [9] & make use of, Camped on a Sand bar on the S. S. above the Island—    I went out to examine the portage which I found quit Short 2000 yards only, the Prarie below & Sides of the hills containing great quantites of the Prickly Piar which nearly ruind my feet, I saw a hare, & I beleve he run into a hole, he run on a hill & disapeared, I Saw on this hill several holes. I Saw Several Goats Elk Ders &c. & Buffalow in every Derection feeding. R. Fields Killed a Deer & 2 Goats one a female, which differs from the male as to Size being Something Smaller, Small Straight horns without any black about the neck    Camped late

Course Distance and reffurencs
From the lower Islands uppr pt.
North   4 mes. to a pt. on the L. S.    Passed one on the S. S. above
the island about one & ½ me.
N. 10° W.   1 ½ mes. on the L. Side
N. 22° W.   3 mes. on the L. Side pd. a Sd. Id.
N. 60° W.   2 mes. on the L. Side
West   3 mes. on the L. S. 〈passed a Small Island on the L. S. a large
Sand bar above & below.〉
S. 73° W.   3 ½ mes. on the L. Side
South   4 mes. on the L. S.    passed a Small Island on the L. S. a
Small run opsd. S. S. (1)
S. 74° E   3 ½ mes. to a pt. of wood on the L. S. Camped (2)
S. 56° E   3 ½ mes. to a pt. on the S. S. opsd. a high hill (3)
S. 28° E   2 mes. to a Ceder Valey in a bend on the L. S. at this place
the gorge is 2000 yds.

20th of September, Thursday 1804

a fair morning wind from the S E    detached 2 men to the 1st. Creek abov the big bend with the horse to hunt and wait our arrival    proceeded on passed the lower Island opposit which the Sand bars are verry thick & the water Shoal. I walked on Shore with a view of examining this bend    Crossed at the narost part which is a high irregular hills of about 180 or 190 feet, this place the gorge of the Bend is 1 mile & a quarter (from river to river or) across, from this high land which is only in the Gouge, the bend is a Butifull Plain thro which I walked, Saw numbrs of Buffalow & Goats, I saw a Hare & believe he run into a hole in the Side of a hill, he run up this hill which is Small & has Several holes on the Side & I could not See him after, I joined the boat in the evening—    passed a Small Island on the L. S. in the N. W. extremity of the bind Called Solitary Island, and Camped late on a Sand bar near the S. S.—    R. Fields killed 1 Deer & 2 Goats one of them a feemale—    She Differs from the mail as to Size being Smaller, with Small Horns, Stright with a Small prong without any black about the neck—

None of those Goats has any Beard, they are all Keenly made, and is butifull

From River Dubois to St. Charles 21 in Latitude 38° 54' 39"
from Do—to the Mouth of Gasconade 104 do 38 45 35
   do do—to the Mouth of Osarge R: 138 do 38 31 16
   do do   Mine river on the South 201 do      
   do do   to Grand R. on the N. Side 254 do 38 47 54
   do do   to Kanzies R on the South 366 do 39   5 25
   do do   to Creek indepenanc at the
               Kanzies old village South





   do do   Nodaway River N Side 481 do 39 39 22
   do do   Nema har R. S. Side 511 do 39 55 56
   do do   Bald pated Prarie N. Side 570 do 40 27   7
   do do   the mo. of the Great River
on the South Side


do abt.



from the mouth of Missourie river
to the Councel Bluffs opsd. the Ottoes


in Latd.



to Little Sieoux River on N Side 766 do 41 42 34
to Mahar village S. Side 3 ms. off R. 864 do 42 13 41
to Mouth of the Great River Souex 3
miles west of Floyds river on N. Sd.





to Mo. of River Jacque on the N. Sd. 970 do 42 53 13
to mo. of River que Curre or the rapid
river on the South Side




to no preserves Island 5 miles North
of the Poncaries Village on the little
river Pania on the S. Side—




To White River on the L. S. is 1142 do      
Grand de Touit [tour] or Big bend 1283 do 44 11 33 3/10

on the lard. shore at the commencement of the big bend observed a clift of black porus rock which resembled Lava tho' on a closer examination I believe it to be calcarious and an imperfect species of the French burr—    preserved a specemine, it is a brownish white, or black or yellowish brown—


Thursday 20th Sept.    a fair morning    Drewyer & Shields went on with the horse across a bend in order to hunt—    we Set off eairly    proceeded on under a gentle Breeze from the E.    passed an Isl. on N. S.    passd. the mo of a creek on S. S. named prickly pair creek [12]    passd. a bottom (& long bend point) covered with thin Timber. Capt. Clark walked on Shore across the point—    we proceeded on passed a handsom Bottom covered with Timber on S. S. where we halted took dinner. Capt. Lewis & R. Fields walked out to hunt    we Sailed along Round the Big Bend about 27 miles    passd. 2 Islands & Several Sand bars & a Saltish Sand run on N. S. & camped [13] on a Sand bar on N. S.    the Captains & the men who had been with them returned to the Boat    had killed 1 he Goat one She Goat & 1 long tailed Deer—    We Saved the Skins of the Goats and the Bones in order to Send back to the States next Spring—    The She Goats have verry little horns but are a handsome animal—    about 1 OClock at night the Sand bar where we lay was falling verry fast.    the current Swift.    we ware obledged to git on board as Soon as possable & proceed on about a mile & made over to S. S. where we Camped again.    the moon Shined pleasant all night.—    we passed a black Bluff on S. S. where their is Some Salt peter on the Stones &.C.


Thursday 20th.    We renewed our voyage at an early hour, and had a clear day and fair wind. Passed handsome rising prairies on the north side, and bottoms covered with timber on the south side. Two of the men [14] with the horse went across the neck of the Long, or Grand bend, which we were obliged to go round with the boat, a distance of 30 miles. At one o'clock we stopped for dinner, and Captain Lewis and one of the men [15] went to hunt, Captain Clarke had gone out in the morning. At 2 we proceeded again on our voyage, and passed a long chain of bluffs on the north side, of a dark colour. From these and others of the same kind the Missouri gets its muddy colour. The earth of which they are composed dissolves like sugar; every rain washes down great quantities of it, and the rapidity of the stream keeps it mixing and afloat in the water, until it reaches the mouth of the Mississippi. We encamped at 7 o'clock on a sand beach on the north side. Here Captain Lewis, Captain Clarke and the other man joined us. They had killed two goats and two deer. At 1 o'clock at night, the bank where we were stationed began to fall so much, that we were obliged to rouse all hands, and go on a mile and cross the river before we could again encamp.


Thursday 20th Sept.    Set off eairly    a clear day & fair wind.    passed handsom riseing prarie on N Side and a bottom covered with timber on the S. Side.    Capt. Clark walked on Shore.    Drewyer and Shields went across a point withe the horse about 2 miles which was 30 miles round by water, which is called the Grand bend of the missourie.    at one oClock we halted to dine.    Capt. Lewis and R. Fields went a hunting.    at 2 oC we proceeded on    passed a long range of bluffs on N. S. of a dark coulour.    out of those and others of the Same kind is where the missourie Gets its muddy colour for this Earth melts like Sugar, and every rain that comes they wash down and the rapidness of the current keeps continualy mixing through the water all the way to the mouth of the Mississippi.    at 7 oC. we Camped on a large Sand beach on N. S.    here boath the Captains and R. Fields joined us.    had killed 2 Goats and 2 deer    at 1 oClock at night the bank began to fall in So fast we had to raise all hands and go on one mile further before we could Camp.    then crossed the river & Camped again.

Thursday Septemr. 20th    We set off early this morning, having fine weather, we passed 2 Priaries, lying on the North side of the River, and a fine bottom of land, cover'd with timber, lying on the South side.    Captain Clarke walked along shore, two of our Men went with the horse across a point about 2 Miles, which is 36 Miles round it by Water.—    This is the place called the Great bend of the Mesouri River, at 1 o'Clock P. M we halted to dine.    At 2 oClock P. M Captain Lewis, and some of the Men went hunting    We proceeded on, and passed a long range of bluffs, lying on the North side of the River, these bluffs were of a black Colour; from those and others of the same kind, it is supposed that the Water of the Mesouri river, derives its muddy colour; the black Mud lying on those black bluffs, melting like Snow at every Rain, and runs rapidly into the River; The current at this place runs very Rapid, so that it keeps the muddy Water, from those bluffs, continually mixing with the Water of the River, adding to which the falling in of the banks of the River, is thought the sole cause, of the Mesouri being muddy from its Mouth upwards.—    at 7 oClock P. M. we encamped on a large sand beach, lying on the North side of the River.—    we were joined shortly after, by both our Captains & one of the Men, they had killed 2 Goats and 2 Deer which they brought with them.—    At 10 o'Clock P. M. (night,) the Bank of the River on the side we were encamped began to fall in, It fell in so fast, that Captains Lewis & Clark, thought it dangerous to continue at our encampment, They order'd all the hands to their Oars, and we proceeded on One Mile and crossed the River before we could find a place fit to encamp upon, where we again Encamped.—

1. Codex B says two men; Ordway confirms this and says they were Drouillard and Shields. (back)
2. The Grand Detour or Big Bend of the Missouri is conspicuous on Atlas map 22 and was even more so in maps and in imaginations before Lewis and Clark. The land enclosed within the bend is in Lyman County, South Dakota. The waters of Lake Sharpe, impounded by the Big Bend Dam, have greatly widened the river in the area. MRC map 38. (back)
3. Probably later Cadotte, or Skunk Island, but Clark's reference is unclear. The "(1)" here is probably misplaced. Mattison (BB), 254; Atlas map 22; MRC map 38. (back)
4. Here Clark has inserted his courses and distances for September 20, to the bottom of the reverse of document 55 of the Field Notes. The text of the entry resumes at the top of document 56. A small piece in the corner of document 56 was missing from Osgood's facsimile but is restored today. (back)
5. It is shown opposite Lower Island Creek on Atlas map 22. (back)
6. Cadotte Island; see n. 3. (back)
7. The island was later variously known as Cul de Sac, St. John's, and Jungle Island. The name "Solitary" may come from Evans's map 2 (Atlas map 8). The campsite was just above it, in Hughes County, South Dakota. The area is now inundated by the Big Bend Reservoir (Lake Sharpe). Mattes, 567–68; Atlas map 22; MRC map 38; MRY maps 56, 57. (back)
8. The "Sand Salt" on the run is shown on a sketch of the Big Bend on this sheet (document 56) of the Field Notes, see fig. 3. (back)
9. Clark refers to the Elkhorn River in Nebraska. (back)
10. The following table of distances and latitudes is found on a small, undated sheet in the Field Notes (document 57) and is placed here by approximate date. (back)
11. Lewis's note from the back page of Codex R, reading backward. Calcareous zones, sandy beds, and zones of concretions are present in the upper part of the Pierre Shale. Here Lewis probably views a weathered zone of the Pierre and it is unrelated to volcanic activity, that is, lava. (back)
12. The identification of this creek is related to problems with the previous day's streams; see Clark's entry of September 19. (back)