May 6, 1805
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

May 6, 1805


The morning being fair and pleasant and wind favourable we set sale at an early hour, and proceeded on very well the great part of the day; the country still continues level fertile and beautifull, the bottoms wide and well timbered comparitively speaking with other parts of the river; no appearance of birnt hills pumice stone or coal, the salts of tartar or vegitable salts continues to appear on the river banks, sand bars and in many parts of the plains most generally in the little revines at the base of the low hills. [1]    passed three streames today which discharged themselves on the Lard. side; the first of these we call little dry creek    it contained some water in standing pools but discharged none, the 2ed 50 yards wide no Water, we called it Big dry Creek, the 3rd is bed of a conspicuous river 200 yards wide which we called little dry river; [2] the banks of these streams are low and bottoms wide with but little timber, their beds are almost entirely formed of a fine brown sand intermixed with a small proportion of little pebbles, which were either transparent, white, green, red, yellow or brown.    these streams appeared to continue their width without diminution as far as we could perceive them, which with rispect to the river was many miles, they had recenly discharged their waters.    from the appearance of these streams, and the country through which they passed, we concluded that they had their sources in level low dry plains, which probably is the character of the country for a great distance west of this, or to the vicinity of the black hills, that the country being low on the same leve[l] nearly and in the same parallel of latitude, that the rains in the spring of the year 〈in a few days〉 suddonly melts the snow at the same time and causes for a few days a vast quantity of water which finds it's way to the Missouri through those channels; by reference to the diary of the weather &c it will be percieved that there is scarcely any rain during the summer Autumn and winter in this open country distant from the mountains. Fields still continues unwell.    saw a brown bear swim the river above us, he disappeared before we can get in reach of him; I find that the curiossity of our party is pretty well satisfyed with rispect to this anamal, the formidable appearance of the male bear killed on the 5th added to the difficulty with which they die when even shot through the vital parts, has staggered the resolution several of them, others however seem keen for action with the bear; I expect these gentlemen will give us some amusement shotly as they soon begin now to coppolate.    saw a great quantity of game of every species common here. Capt Clark walked on shore and killed two Elk, they were not in very good order, we therefore took a part of the meat only; it is now only amusement for Capt. C. and myself to kill as much meat as the party can consum; I hope it may continue thus through our whole rout, but this I do not much expect.    two beaver were taken in traps this morning and one since shot by one of the party.    saw numbers of these anamals peeping at us as we passed out of their wholes which they form of a cilindric shape, by burrowing in the face of the abbrupt banks of the river.

  Courses and distances May 6th 1805. [3] miles
S. 30° W. to a Stard. point opposite a low bluf, just above which
little dry creek falls in on Lard.

  1 ½
N. 45° W. to a point of high timber in a bend on Stard. side at the
mouth of Lackwater creek 25 yds. wide

  1 ½
N. 40° W. [4] to a point of high timber on Stard. side.   3
S. 55° W. to a point of woodland on the Lard. side   3
S. 70° W [5] to a point of woodland Stard. side, passing Big dry Creek
at ½ m. on Lard.

  2 ½
S. 55° W. to a point of woodland on the Lard. the river making a
deep bend to N. W.

S. 50° W. to a point of woodland Stard side opposite a low bluf on
Lard. side

  1 ¼
S. 60° W. to the entrance of a river 200 yds. wide on Lard. Side in a
bend, this we called little dry river it having no water

North to an object in center of a Stard. bend, a large sand Island
on Lard. side
S. 40° W. to a willow point on the Stard. side opposite to a bluff on
Lard. side

S. 80° W. to a clump of high trees on the Stard. side passing a point
on Lard. at 2 m. on which we encamped for the night [6]

  Miles 25

May 6th 1805.
Point of observation No. 10. [7]

On the Stard. side, at the extremity of the 3rd course of this day observed Equal altitudes of ☉ with Sextant.

  h m  s        
A. M. 8 59 57 } lost by
} Altd. by sext
71° 16' 15"
  9   1 35
  "   3 15

At noon the sun being obscured by clouds I was unable to observe his Altitude; it continued cloudy the ballance of the day and prevented all further observation.


a fine morning    wind from the N. E.    we Set out early and proceeded on verry well under Sail the greater part of the day, passed two Creeks & a River to day on the Lard. Side, neither of them discharged any water into the Missouri, they were wide and Continued their width for Some distance, the little water of those Creeks & the little river must wash 〈in〉 the low Country 〈on bottoms〉, I believe those Streams to be the Conveyance of the water of the heavy rains & melting Snows in the Countrey back &c. &c. I walked on Shore and Killed two Elk neither of which was fat, we saved the best of the meat, one beaver Shot to day.   the countrey on both Sides butifull no appearances of either Coal or pumice Stone & burnt hills, The Salts of Tarter or white aprs. of Salts are yet to be Seen.

  miles Course & Distance 6th of May
S. 30° W.   1 ½ to the Std Side, at a point opsd. a low bluff [8] just above
which on Lard. Little dry creek falls in 25.
N. 45° W.   1 ½ to a point of high timber in a bend to the Std. Side, at the
Mo: of a Creek 25 yd.
N. 40° W.   3 to a point of high timber on the Std. Side
S. 55° W.   3 to a point of wood land on the Lad. Side
S. 70° W   2 ½ to a point of wood Land on the Std. Side passing a large
creek on L. S. at ½ a mile Containing but little water
S. 55° W.   2 to a point of wood land on the Lard Side the river making
a Deep bend to the N. W.
S. 50° W.   1 ¼ to a point of wood land on the Std. Side opposit a bluff on
the Lard Side
S. 60° W.      ¾ to the mouth of a river 200 yds wide in a bend to the Lard.
Side, no water running in it at present
North   2 ½ to an object in the center of a Stard. bend, a large Sand
Island on Ld pt.
S. 40° W.   4 to a willow point on the Std. Side opposit to a bluff on the
Lard Side
S 80° W.   3    to a Clump of high trees on the Stard. Side, passing a point
on the Lard Side at 2 miles on which we encamped
miles 25  

Monday 6th May 1805.    pleasant and warm.    we Set off early    Sailed on under a gentle breeze from the East. Some of the party caught two beaver last night.    we Saw a brown bair Swimming the River before us. Saw beaver looking out of their holes along the bank.    we came 16 miles by 2 O.C. then halted to dine    Capt. Clark killed an Elk on N. S. in a bottom covred with timber.    one man killed a beaver.    we proceed on    passed a large Creek or Small River which came in on the S. S. about 200 yards wide named [blank] [9]    Some Sprinkling rain, but did not last long.    proceeded on    passed high land on S. S. Smoth plains on N. S. and timbred bottoms on each side. Came 26½ miles in all this day, and Camped in a bottom of Small timber on the S Side.


Monday 6th.    We set sail with a fair wind and pleasant weather. At 12 a few drops of rain fell, but it soon cleared up. We passed a river on the South side about 200 yards wide; but the water of this river sinks in the sand on the side of the Missouri. We went twenty-six miles and encamped on the South side.


Monday 6th May 1805.    clear pleasant and warm.    the wind from the East.    we Sailed on verry well.    Caught two beaver last night.    Saw a brown bair Swim the River before us.    about 2 oC. we halted to dine at a handsom bottom covered with timber on the N. S.    Capt. Clark killed an Elk, a light Sprinkling of rain, but did not last long.    passed a bluff on S. S. and Some hills also.    high plains & bottoms 0n the N. Side and on the S. S.    Came about 27 miles in all this day, and Camped in a bottom of timber on the S. Side.    the bottoms is all trod up by the Game, and different paths in all directions &c—

Monday May 6th    We had this morning the weather pleasant, and Warm, and a fair wind from the East, We set out early, and proceeded on with our Sails set, some of the party during last night caught 2 Beaver, about 2 hours after we started we saw a brown Bear swimming the River before us    About 2 o'Clock P. M, we halted to dine at a handsome bottom, covered with Timber lying on the North side of the River.    Captain Clark went out here a hunting, and killed an Elk which was brought by our Men to us.—    We proceeded on our Voyage, at 4 o'Clock P. M; and passed a Bluff lying on the south side of the River, and some hills on the same side, & bottoms & high plains also lying on the South side—    We had sprinkling rain fell this afternoon but it lasted but for a short time.—    In the Evening we came too; and encamped in a bottom cover'd with Timber lying on the South side of the River, This bottom as well as that we dined at was much trod with Game of different kinds, and they had made fair paths in them in different directions—

1. The late Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation, Fox Hills Sandstone, and Bearpaw Shale form the hills along the river. Glacial till is present mainly north of the river. These formations contain no coal here. The salts are sodium sulphate, sodium bicarbonate, and magnesium sulphate. They form where ground water, and sometimes surface water, evaporates. (back)
2. Little Dry Creek is probably either Spring Creek or an unnamed creek west of it; Big Dry Creek, Little Dry River, present Prarie Elk Creek, all in McCone County, Montana. Lackwater Creek, mentioned in the courses and distances, is now Wolf Creek, in Roosevelt County. Atlas maps 36, 49, 57; MRC maps 63, 64. (back)
3. Also given on Atlas map 36, in both captains' hands. (back)
4. Given as "S. 40 W." on Atlas map 36. (back)
5. Given as "S. 78° W." on Atlas map 36. (back)
6. In McCone County, a few miles southwest of the present town of Oswego. Atlas maps 36, 49, 57, MRC map 64. (back)
7. The letters "Qu" are written in red over the first lines of this observation, perhaps by Biddle. (back)
8. The rest of this course appears to be in Lewis's hand. (back)
9. The party passed three streams on the south side during the day's course, this last and most prominent is Prairie Elk Creek (Lewis and Clark's Little Dry River), McCone County, Montana, above which the party camped. (back)