April 14, 1805
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April 14, 1805


One of the hunters saw an Otter [1] last evening and shot at it, but missed it.    a dog came to us this morning, which we supposed to have been lost by the Indians who were recently encamped near the lake that we passed yesterday.    the mineral appearances of salts, coal and sulpher, together with birnt hills & pumicestone still continue.— [2]    while we remained at the entrance of the little Missouri, we saw several pieces of pumice stone floating down that stream, a considerable quanty of which had lodged 〈and collected〉 against a point of drift wood a little above it's entrance. Capt. Clark walked on shore this morning, and on his return informed me that he had passed through the timbered bottoms on the N. side of the river, and had extended his walk several miles back on the hills; in the bottom lands he had met with several uninhabited Indian lodges built with the boughs of the Elm, and in the plains he met with the remains of two large encampments of a recent date, which from the appearance of some hoops of small kegs, seen near them we concluded that they must have been the camps of the Assinniboins, as no other nation who visit this part of the missouri ever indulge themselves with spirituous liquor.    of this article the Assinniboins are pationately fond, and we are informed that it forms their principal inducement to furnish the British establishments on the Assinniboin river with the dryed and pounded meat and grease which they do.    they also supply those establishments with a small quantity of fur, consisting principally of the large and small wolves and the small fox skins. [3]    these they barter for small kegs of rum which they generally transport to their camps at a distance from the establishments, where they revel with their friends and relations as long as they possess the means of intoxication, their women and children are equally indulged on those occations and are all seen drunk together.    so far is a state of intoxication from being a cause of reproach among them, that with the men, it is a matter of exultation that their skill and industry as hunters has enabled them to get drunk frequently.    in their customs, habits, and dispositions these people very much resemble the Siouxs from whom they have descended. The principal inducement with the British fur companies, for continuing their establishments on the Assinniboin river, is the Buffaloe meat and grease they procure from the Assinniboins, and Christanoes, by means of which, they are enabled to supply provision to their engages on their return from rainy Lake to the English river and the Athabaskey country [4] where they winter; without such resource those voyagers would frequently be straitened for provision, as the country through which they pass is but scantily supplyed with game, and the rappidity with which they are compelled to travel in order to reach their winter stations, would leave therm but little leasure to surch for food while on their voyage.

The Assinniboins have so recently left this neighbourhood, that the game is scarce and very shy.    the river continues wide, and not more rapid than the Ohio in an averge state of it's current.    the bottoms are wide and low, the moister parts containing some timber; the upland is extreemly broken, chonsisting of high gaulded nobs [5] as far as the eye can reach on ether side, and entirely destitute of timber.    on these hills many aromatic herbs are seen; resembling in taste, smel and appearance, the sage, hysop, wormwood, southernwood, [6] and two other herbs which are strangers to me; the one resembling the camphor in taste and smell, rising to the hight of 2 or 3 feet; [7] the other about the same size, has a long, narrow, smooth, soft leaf of an agreeable smel and flavor; of this last the Atelope is very fond; they feed on it, and perfume the hair of their foreheads and necks with it by rubing against it. [8]    the dwarf cedar and juniper is also found in great abundance on the sides of these hills.    where the land is level, it is uniformly fertile consisting of a dark loam intermixed with a proportion of fine sand.    it is generally covered with a short grass resembling very much the blue grass.— [9]    the miniral appearances still continue; considerable quantities of bitumenous water, about the colour of strong lye trickles down the sides of the hills; this water partakes of the taste of glauber salts and slightly of allumn.— [10]    while the party halted to take dinner today Capt Clark killed a buffaloe bull; it was meagre, and we therefore took the marrow bones and a small proportion of the meat only.    near the place we dined on the Lard. side, there was a large village of burrowing squirrels. I have remarked that these anamals generally celect a South Easterly exposure for their residence, tho' they are sometimes found in the level plains.—    passed an Island, above which two small creeks fall in on Lard side; the upper creek largest, which we called Sharbono's Creek [11] after our interpreter who encamped several weeks on it with a hunting party of Indians.    this was the highest point to which any whiteman had ever ascended; except two Frenchmen [NB: one of whom Lepage was now with us—    See at Mandan ] who having lost their way had straggled a few miles further, tho' to what place precisely I could not learn.—    I walked on shore above this creek and killed an Elk, which was so poor that it was unfit for uce; I therefore left it, and joined the party at their encampment on the Stard shore a little after dark.    on my arrival Capt Clark informed me that he had seen two white bear pass over the hills shortly after I fired, and that they appeared to run nearly from the place where I shot.    the lard. shore on which I walked was very broken, and the hills in many places had the appearance of having sliped down in masses of several acres of land in surface.—    we saw many gees feeding on the tender grass in the praries and several of their nests in the trees; we have not in a single instance found the nest of this bird on or near the ground.    we saw a number of Magpies their nests and eggs.    their nests are built in trees and composed of small sticks leaves and grass, open at top, and much in the stile of the large blackbird comm to the U' States. the egg is of a bluish brown colour, freckled with redish brown spots. one of the party killed a large hooting owl [12] I observed no difference between this burd and those of the same family common to the U' States, except that this appeared to be more booted and more thickly clad with feathers.—

  The courses and distances of the 14th April. [13] miles
S. 45 W. to the mouth of a small creek at the upper part of a tim-
bered botrom

  2 ½
W. to a point of Woodland on the Lard. side   3 ½
N. 85 W. to a point on Stard. opposite to a bluff   2
N. 80 W. to a point on Stard opposite to a bluff on Lad.   1 ¾
W. to the lower point of an Island which from the circum-
stance of our arriving at it on sunday—we called Sunday
. [14]    this river washes the base of the hills on both
sides of this Island

N. 70 W. to a point of woodland on the Stard Side    the Island and
it's sandbar occupy ½ the distance of this course pass—    two
small creeks on the Lard Side, the upper one the largest,
called Sharbono's creek

  3 ¼
  miles   14

Point of Observation No. 2.

On the Stard. shore ¼ of a mile above the extremity of the third course of this day observed Meridian Atld. ☉'s L. L. with Octant by the back Obst.    81° 34' —"

Latitude deduced from this Observatn. [blank]

Point of Observation No. 3

At our encampment of this evening on the Sd. Sid. observed time and distance of ☽'s Western limb from Regulus, with Sextant. ★ West.—

  Time       Distance
  h      m      s    
P.M. 10    47      2   72°   20'   30"
   "      51    10    "      21
   "      53    19    "      21    45
   "      56      2    "      23
   "      58    58    "      24    15
  Time   Distance
  h      m      s    
P.M. 11      2      2   72°   25'   45 "  
   "        4    27    "      27    15
   "        7    55    "      29
   "      10    19    "      30
   "      12    12    "      31    15

Observed time and distance of ☽ from α Aquilae with Sextant. ★ East.—

  Time       Distance
  h      m      s    
P.M. 11    22      7   82°   16'   45"
   "      27      7    "      16    15
   "      30    23    "      15    30
   "      32    27    "      15    15
   "      34    39    "      15    15
  Time   Distance
  h      m      s    
P.M. 11    36    47   82°   14'   30 "  
   "      39    34    "      14
   "      43      2    "      13    15
   "      46      8    "      13    30
   "      48    16    "      13

a fine morning, a dog came to us this morning    we Suppose him to be left by the Inds. who had their camps near the Lake we passd. yesterday not long Sence, I observed Several Single Lodges built of Stiks of [c]otten timber in different parts of the bottoms.    in my walk of this [day] which was through the wooded bottoms and on the hills for several miles back from the river on the S. S. I Saw the remains of two Indian incampments with wide beeten tracks leading to them.    those were no doubt the Camps of the Ossinnaboin Indians (a Strong evidence is hoops of Small Kegs were found in the incampments)    no other nation on the river above the Sioux make use of Spiritious licquer, the Ossinniboins is said to be pasionately fond of Licquer, and is the principal inducement to their putting themselves to the trouble of Catching the fiew wolves and foxes which they furnish, and recive their [liquor] always in small Kegs. The Ossinniboins make use of the Same kind of Lodges which the Sioux and other Indians on this river make use of—    Those lodges or tents are made of a number of dressed buffalow Skins 〈dressed〉 Sowed together with Sinues & deckerated with the tales, & Porcupine quils, when open it forms a half circle with a part about 4 Inches wide projecting about 8 or 9 Inches from the center of the Streight Side for the purpose of attaching it to a pole to it the hight they wish to raise the tent, when the[y] errect this tent four poles of equal length are tied near one end, those poles are elevated and 8 10 or 12 other poles are anexed forming a Circle at the ground and lodging in the forks of the four attached poles, the tents are then raised, by attach the projecting part to a pole and incumpassing the poles with the tent by bringing the two ends together and attached with a Cord, or laied as high as is necessary, leaveing the lower part open for about 4 feet for to pass in & out, and the top is generally left open to admit the Smoke to pass—    The 〈Countrey〉 Borders of the river has been So much hunted by those Indians who must have left it about 8 or 10 days past and I prosume are now in the neighbourhood of British establishments on the Osinniboin; the same is Scerce and verry wild. The River Continues wide and the current jentle not more rapid than the 〈waters〉 Current of the Ohio in middle State—    The bottoms are wide and low and the moist parts of them Contain Som wood such as cotton Elm & Small ash, willow rose bushes &c. &c. &.    next to the hills Great quantity of wild Isoop, [15] the hills are high broken in every direction, and the mineral appearance of Salts Continue to appear in a greater perportion, also Sulpher, Coal & bitumous water in a Smaller quantity, I have observed but five burnt hills, about the little Missouri, and I have not Seen any pumey stone above that River    I Saw Buffalow on the L. S.    Crossed and dureing the time of dinner killed a Bull, which was pore, we made use of the best of it, I Saw a village of Burrowing dogs on the L. S.    passed a Island above which two Small Creeks falls in on the L. S. the upper of which is the largest and we call Shabonas Creek after our interpreter who incamped several weeks on this Creek and is the highest point on the Missouri to which a white man has been previous to this time. Capt. Lewis walked out above this creek and killed an Elk which he found So meager that it was not fit for use, and joined the boat at Dusk at our Camp on the S. S. opposit a high hill Several parts of which had Sliped down.    on the Side of those hills we Saw two white bear running from the report of Capt. Lewis Shot, those animals assended those Steep hills with Supprising ease & verlocity.    they were too far to disover their prosise Colour & Size—    Saw Several gees nests on trees, also the nests & egs of the Magpies, a large grey owl killed, booted & with ears &c.

Course distance &c. the 14th of April
S. 45° W.   2 ½ miles to the mouth of a Small Creek at the upper part of a
wood bottom in a bend to L. S.
West   3 ½ miles to a point of wood land on the L. S.
N. 85° W.   2 miles to a point on the S. S. opposit a bluff
N. 80° W   1 ¾ ms. to a point on S. S.    passd. a bluff on the L. S.
West   1 mile to a small Island opsd. the upper point the river washes
the base of the hill on both Sides, which we call Sunday
. &c.
N. 70° W.   3 ¼ miles to a pt. of wood land on the S. S. the Island & its Sand
bars Occupy half the distance.    passed 2 Small Creeks on
the L. S. the upper the largest

Sunday 14th April 1805. [16]    clear & pleasant.    we set off eairly.    one of our men Set a trap for a beaver last night, & caught a large otter that broke the trap chain & got a way.    we Saw where it had dragged it along the beach, but could not find it.—    proceeded on    one man Shot a musk rat [17] which was Swimming in the river.    passed a bottom on S. S. Saw a buffaloe feeding in a holler, but we did not Stop to kill it.    passed bottoms on each Side of the River covered with C. w. timber.    halted about 2 oclock to dine at Some barron hills on the S. S. of the river. Some of the men Saw a gang of buffaloe in the vallies back a little from the river    〈they〉 Fraser killed one of them by Shooting Sevl. times (musket) & took the best of the meat on board.    the wind Gentle from the South. Sailed the most part of the afternoon.    passed a creek or Small river on the S S Side about 15 yards wide at the mouth & Several Small runs which run from under verry high rough raged hills which are barron and broken. Some Small ceeder [18] on the sides of Sd hills. A high mountain back of the hills S. S. Camped on the N. S. of the river in a beautiful bottom covered with thin cottonwood timber    came 16 miles to day.    camped at a point on N. S. N. B. the above mentioned Small River which we passed this afternoon on the S. S. is named after our Intr. Charbonoe river as he has been to the head of it which is further up the Missourie Than any white man has been. Capt. Lewis killed an Elk this evening.—    an Indian dog came to us this morning & continues along with us.—


Sunday 14th.    We started early as usual, and had a fine morning. As we were setting out a black dog came to us, and went along, supposed to have belonged to a band of the Assiniboins, who had been encamped near this place a few days ago. We passed a hill resembling a large haystack, all but about 10 feet of the top which was as white as chalk. The hills in general are much higher here than lower down the river; but the bottoms much the same. In the afternoon we passed a creek, called after our interpreter, Sharbons creek.    He had been, before, this far up the Missouri, and no white man any further, that we could discover. We made 16 miles and encamped [19] on a handsome bottom on the North side.


Sunday April 14th    This morning we set out early and proceeded on the Banks of the River being high, & part cover'd with Woods.    In the Evening we encamped on the South side of the River—distance come this day 16 Miles.—

1. Lutra canadensis. Burroughs, 75–76. (back)
2. These rocks of the Sentinel Butte Formation contain very little sulphur. Perhaps the yellowish color of some of the sands and sandstones has suggested its presence. (back)
3. The large wolves are Canis lupus, gray wolf, and the small wolves are C. latrans, coyote, both described by Lewis on May 5, 1805. The skins are probably those of the swift fox, Vulpes velox described by Lewis on July 6 and 8, 1805. Jones et al., 250–59. (back)
4. Rainy Lake is between Minnesota and Ontario; English River runs into the Winnipeg River in western Ontario; Lake Athabaska is in northern Alberta and Saskatchewan. The canoe transport system of the North West and Hudson's Bay companies tied all these places together by water, and the canoemen lived during their trips on the pemmican furnished by the plains tribes. (back)
5. The noun "gall" was used in Virginia for bare or eroded patches of ground. A variant spelling is gaule. The "nobs" are knobs, or rounded hills. McJimsey, 73, 86. (back)
6. Coues interprets this passage as meaning that there is one plant which resembles all four named, presumably a type of sagebrush, Artemisia sp. Coues (HLC), 1:272–73, n. 32. These four plants were cultivated garden species known to lewis and introduced from Europe: Salvia officinalis L., garden sage; Hyssopus officinalis L., hyssop; Artemisia vulgaris L., wormwood or common mugwort; and A. abrotanum L., southernwood. All are shrubby or evergreen and have aromatic, volatile oils released from the crushed leaves. Fernald, 1236, 1241, 1522. Someone drew a vertical line through this and the next few natural history passages, apparently in red. (back)
7. Artemisia tridentata Nutt. ssp. wyomingensis Beetle & Young, big sagebrush. Barkley, 339; Shultz, 33. (back)
8. Artemisia cana Pursh ssp. cana, silver sagebrush. Barkley, 337; Booth & Wright, 251; Shultz, 16. (back)
9. Probably Poa secunda Presl., western, or Sandberg, bluegrass. Weaver & Albertson, 306. (back)
10. Ground water in this area is commonly highly mineralized with salts and occasionally iron. Ground water often acquires an oily sheen after passing through beds of lignite coal. (back)
11. Formerly Indian, now Bear Den, Creek, entering the Missouri near the Dunn-McKenzie county line. The camp for the day was on the opposite shore, a little above the creek mouth, in Mountrail County, North Dakota. Mattison (GR), 49; Atlas maps 34, 47, 56; MRC map 56. (back)
12. The great horned owl, Bubo virginianus [AOU, 375]. Perhaps a subspecies, the Montana horned owl, B. v. occidentalis, and probably noted here for the first time. Cutright (LCPN), 129. Someone drew a vertical line through this and the previous passage on the magpie, apparently in red. (back)
13. Also given on Atlas map 34, in both captains' hands. (back)
14. Sunday Island was still on the map in the 1890s; it would now be under Garrison Reservoir. Atlas maps 34, 47, 56; MRC map 56. (back)
15. The wild hyssop is that identified by Lewis as an unfamiliar herb; it is the first one, big sagebrush. (back)
16. Preceding this entry Biddle wrote in red ink the words "From this not consulted. mem.," meaning perhaps that he ceased to use Ordway's journal beyond this point for his narrative history of the expedition. (back)
17. Muskrat, Ondatra zibethicus. (back)
18. Ordway could be seeing either Rocky Mountain red cedar, Juniperus scopulorum Sarg., an upright tree found on hillsides, or creeping juniper, J. horizontalis Moench, a low, dwarf species. Later, in some cases, his description makes it clear which of the species he is seeing. (back)
19. In Mountrail County, North Dakota, opposite and a little above the mouth of Bear Den Creek. (back)