Winter 1804-1805
51.95% Complete
Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

Part 4: Mineralogical Collections

Winter 1804-1805

The following list of mineralogical specimens is found in the Donation Book of the American Philosophical Society (see Appendices B and C). John Vaughan, librarian of the Society, may have copied these notes into the book from an original list by Lewis or he may have taken the notes directly from identifying tags which were once with the specimens. The specimens are apparently the items in box 4 of the goods sent back from Fort Mandan in April 1805, and designated "Specimens of earths, salts, and minerals, numbered 1. to 67." See Jackson (LLC), 1: 235, 239–40 n. 21; Clark's entry, April 3, 1805, and accompanying notes. The discrepancy in the number of items (Lewis numbers 67, Vaughan 68) may be attributed to last minute hurrying by Lewis or to a clerical error in Philadelphia. Adam Seybert, a physician, scientist, and member of the Society, added some comments further identifying the specimens. Those additions are italicized and placed in brackets in this section. The "H" following some items may represent an accession check and may stand for "have."

Modern identifications of the specimens are nearly impossible because the descriptions here are so slight and because the specimens have been lost. When Thwaites prepared his edition he called on Edwin H. Barbour, curator of the geological museum, University of Nebraska, to identify the specimens, but the professor had little success. It is doubtful that Barbour saw the specimens so he was at the same disadvantage as we and we are unable to advance identifications much beyond him. Readers are referred to journal entries which correspond to specimen dates for possible geologic references and accompanying annotation.

The specimens may not have all arrived safely at Philadelphia considering that some items have the note "label only." Apparently at some unknown time the specimens were moved to the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, where they were integrated with the Academy's general collections and not differentiated as Lewis and Clark pieces. Only one item (number nine) has been discovered; it had the original tag still attached, so it could easily be associated with the expedition. It is pictured in Jackson (LLC), 2: following 566.

M. Lewis' Donation continued 16 Nov. 1805.

No. 1. Specimen of compact salt formed by concretion & found adhering to the rocks, thro' which a Salt fountain Issues, Situated on the South Side of the Southern Branch of the Arcansus River, called by the osage Indians Ne-chu-re-thin-gar. [Muriat of Soda. This salt beyond all doubt is formed in a consequence of water, we held it in solution, having been evaporated in consequence of exposure to the Sun's rays & atmosphere. The crystals are small cubes heaped together and in every respect resemble those procured by art.]

2. Found just above the entrance of the cannon Ball river, the butt[e] is principally composed of this sand & strongly impregnanted with 〈a Substance supposed to be blue vitriol〉    [Sulphat of Iron in consequence of the decomposition of Pyrites.]

3. Flint found at the white Chalk Bluffs 1804

4—    23 Aug 1804, found exuding from a Strata of Sand rock on [one] of the Bluffs—    [Much resembles the "Atrausent Stein" of the Germans found near Goslar, and consists principally of Sulphat of Iron derived from decomposed Sulphuret of Iron, intermixed with Clay.]

5. Specimen of the Sand of the Missouri. [It is Siliceous sand with a mixture of particles of Mica.]

6 Augt 21, 1804    In the interstices of a blue clay which forms the majority of the Bluffs, Strata of all earth or Stone make their appearance & Horizontal. [Alum formed in consequence of a decomposition of aluminous Shistus—& Sulphat of Lime on the lower surface crystallized.]

7 Petrefaction on the Missouri, May 30, 1804

8 Found among the loose earth of the Bluff 23 Aug. 1804 [regular crystals of Gypsum or Sulphat of Lime. Trapezoid]

9 a Petrified jawbone of a fish or some other animal found in a cavern a few miles distance from the Missouri S side of the River. 6 Aug. 1804, found by Searjant Gass

10. A Specimen of Earth which forms a narrow Strata in the Bluffs above the Sand rock & beneath a large Strata of blue earth Augt 22, 1804—    [Tripoli, nearly colourless & shistose]

11. Generally met with in the Surface of the earth in the level plains & is very common from the calumet Bluff to Fort mandan [Clay with aluminous impregnation derived from decomposed Shistus.]

12. Pebble found at the entrance of the River Quicourre. [Agatised Flint.]

13. 22d Aug. 1804.    found occupying the interstices of a blue clay which forms the middle Strata of the Bluff & is about 15 feet in Depth. [same as No. 6.]

14 Specimen of the granulated Spontaneous Salt, found at the licks on Salt River bran[ch] of the River Platte, obtained from the Oteoes—[Muriat of Soda inform of an efflorescence.]

15 Sept. 1, 1804.    found exuding from a Strata of firm blue earth which forms the majority of the River Bluffs—    [a yellowish clay, probably arising from decomposed Slate.]

16 Presented to me by a Mr. Griffith near the entrance of the Missouri—    This mineral was presented me by a Mr Griffith who informed me that it had been procured from an earth, found in a cave of limestone rock on the Mississipi a few miles from the entrance of the Missouri, by the Same process observed in extracting Saltpetre from the earth of Caverns—    [a mixture of different kinds of Salts.]


18 Aug. 22.    on the Upper part of the Bluff


20—    Aug 22, 1804. Is usually found incrusting or overlaying a black Rock which crowns the Summits of most of the river Hills in this quarter. [Sulphat Lime?]

21—    a specimen of a firm blue Earth which formed a large Strata of the Bluffs which we passed from 21 Augt. to 15 Sep 1804 [Aluminous Shistus in a state of decomposition.]

22. found at the Calumet Bluff. [also resembling "Atramentstein" similar to No. 4.]

23. Salt obtained the 17 Sept. 1804 overlaying a dark blue Clay on the Sides of the river hills, it is So abundant that it impregnates the little rivulets in Such a degree that the water is unfit to drink. [Alum intermixed with Clay.]

24 Carbonated wood found on the Std. side of Riv near fort Mandane 60 feet above high water mark in the Bank Strata 6 Inch thick.

25. Precipitate of one pint of Missouri water weight 80:65 grs [pincipally common Clay.]

26 Pebbles common to the Sand Bars of the Missouri—    [Agatised flint & small quartzose pebbles.]

27 Specimen of lead ore of Bertons mine on the Marimeg River—[Galena or sulphuret of Lead.]

28. Green Earth, Presented by Mr Charbono, who informed me that the natives procure this earth in the neighberhood of the Rocky mountain, but cannot 〈find〉 point out the place.—    The Indians mix this Earth with glue & paint their arrows with it, when thus boiled with Glue it gives a fine green color to wood, but easily yield to Water    the Indians also paint their Skins with it. M. L: Feby. 13, 1804 [Green Clay coloured by Iron.]

29. Specimen of the lead ore of Bertons' mine on the Marrimic River Upper Louisiana [Galena]

30. Sep. 15, 1804 found in the interstices of a Brown rock which Sometimes makes its appearance in a Strata of 6 or 8 feet usually about half of the Elevation of the Bluffs—    [Similar to 4 & 22.]

31. Specimen of 〈quartz〉 Carbonat of Lime found on many parts of the Missouri common to the Mississipi & Ohio. 〈probably a mixture of Glauber, common & Epsom Salts with alumine.〉 [Rhomboidal carbonat of Lime.]

32. Specimen of Globar Salts taken in Prairie of Std. Shore 22 Octr. 1804 many bushels could have been obtained.—    [a misture of various kinds of Salt with alumine.]

33 Specimen of the Sand of the river Quicourre or Rapid River. [quartz ore Sand of a greyish white colour.]

34 Obtained at the Calumet Bluffs—    [principally fragments of argillaceous Iron ore.—]

35 Found on the N. Side of the River quicourre just above its entrance [Slate in a State of decomposition—with some Sulphat of Lime.]

36. Found Sep. 6 on Larbord Shore encrusting a Rock—    [Alumine probably from decomposition of Shistus with Saline impregnation tho' very Slight.]

37. Found at the upper part of the Big Bend

38. found at the base of the Bluffs intermixed with loose earth 22 Aug. 1804 [Pyrites.]

39. Petrefactions obtained on the River ohio in 1803

40 Specimen of the Sand rock which forms the base of the Limestone Clifts in the neighborhood of the osage Woman's river on the Missouri. [fine grained Sand Stone.]

41. Specimen of Earth which constitutes the majority of the Bluffs—23d Aug 1804    when taken was in a firmer state than at present—    [Slate decomposed with Pyrites decomposed.]

42. found at the upper Point of the Big Bend of the Missouri

43. found above the white chalk Bluff in the Interstices of the Chalk rock [Shistus decomposing with Small crystals of Gypsum.]

44—    Aug 23, 1804 Specimen of a bituminous substance found on the face of a Sand rock, from which it appears to exude & forms by exposure to the air. This Strata of Sand rock is about 10 feet thick & forms a proportion of the lower part of the River Bluffs—    [Aluminous Shistus in a state of decomposition.]

45. Specimen of the Earth which forms the base of the Banks of the Missouri    H. [fine grey coloured Sand.]

46. Found at the Burning Cliffs 23 Aug. 1804—    [Pyrites.]

47 Specimen of the Earth of which the Hills of the Missouri are principally formed from the entrance of the river Sioux to fort mandan & if Indian information may be depended upon, for several hundred miles further up—    It is in this tract of country that the Missouri acquires it coloring matter of which it abates but little to its junction to the Mississipi. This earth when saturated by the rains or melting snows becomes so Soft for many feet in depth, that being unable to support its own weight, it Seperates into large masses from the hills, & Slipping down their Sides precipitates itself into the Missouri & mingles with its waters—    great quantities of this earth are also thrown into the river by its Subsidiary Streams & rivulets which pass thro' or originate in this tract of open Country. M. L. [Slate in a decomposed state.]

48. Sep. 10th    found on the side of the Bluffs not very abundant [same as 47-with Streaks of green clay.]

49. Aug.22, 1804    found overlaying & intermixed with the Earth which forms the bluffs of the River. [crystallized Sulphat of Lime.]

50 Aug. 24, 1804    Specimen of Pirites at the base of the Bluffs on the South side of the Missouri. [Principally cubic Pyrites imbedded in argillaceous Shistus.]

51. Specimen of Pirites found 22 Aug. 1804 at the base of the bluffs on the S. Side of the Mississipi—    only the label

52 A Specimen of the Chalk found at the white 〈Chalk〉 Clay Bluffs on the S. Side of the Missouri. [Argill?]

53 Found at the White 〈Chalk〉 Clay Bluffs on S. Side Missouri (only the label) [Pyrites in a state of efforescence]

54 from 24 Aug. to 10 Sept. 1804    Pyrites found intermixed promiscuously with the earth which form the Bluffs of the Missouri in a great variety of places. [same as 53.]

55 Incrustations of large round masses of rock which appear in a Sand bluff just above the entrance of the Cannonball river. This river derives its name from the appearance of these Stones    many of them are as perfectly globular as art could form them. [Carbonate of Lime be caustious that you do not confound this with the globular Pyrites.    see No. 58 below.]

56 Found on the side of the River bluffs.    22d Aug. 1804    Irregularly intermixed with the Earth. [Pyrites.]

57. Pyrites found along the borders of the Missouri from 20 Augt to 10 Sepr, they are very common on the borders of all the little Rivulets in this open Country. [Some of these Pyrites are in a state of efflorescence.]

58 Found 23d Aug. 1804 at the base of the Bluff. [Carbonat of Lime indeterminately crystallised & invested by 〈indurated argill〉 compact carbonat of Lime]

59 A Specimen of calcareous rock, a thin Stratum of which is found overlaying a soft Sand rock which makes its appearance in many parts of the bluffs from the entrance of the River Platte to Fort Mandon. [Mass of shells]

60. Found on the River Bank 1 Aug. 1804 (petrified [Ed: blank] Nest)


62 Specimen of the pummice Stone found amongst the piles of drift wood on the Missouri, Sometimes found as low down as the mouth of the osage river. I can hear of no burning mountain in the neighborhood of the Missouri or its Branches, but the bluffs of the River are now on fire at Several places, particularly that part named in our chart of the Missouri The Burning Bluffs . The plains in many places, throughout this great extent of open country, exhibit abundant proofs of having been once on fire—    Witness the Specimens of Lava and Pummicestone found in the Hills near fort mandon—    [Pumice.]

63 Specimen of a Substance extremely common & found intermix'd with the loose Earth of all the Cliffs & Hills from the Calumet Bluff to Fort Mandon. [crystallized Gypsum. Sulphated Lim]

64 Specimen of Carbonated wood with the loose Sand of the sand-Bars of the Missouri & Mississipi, it appears in considerable quantaties in many places—    [carbonated wood]

65. Specimen of Stone commonly met with on the Surface of the Earth thro' a great proprotion of the plain open country above the River Platte—[Carbonate of Lime.]

66 Found in the Bluffs near Fort mandan. [Petrefied wood.]

67. A Specimen of Lava & pummice Stone found in great abundance on the Sides of the Hills in the Neighborhood of Fort Mandan 1609 miles above the mouth of the Missouri—    exposed by the washing of the Hills from the rains & melting Snow.—    These are merely the river Hills which are the banks only of a Valley formed by the Missouri, passing thro' a level plain—    from the tops of these hills the country as far as the eve can reach is a level plain. The tract of Country which furnishes the Pummice Stone seen floating down the Misouri, is rather burning or burnt plains than burning mountains—    [Lavas]

68 Brought us by one of our hunters, John Shields who found it at the Allum Bluff 22 Aug. 1804. [Pyrites or Slate.]