May 8, 1805
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May 8, 1805


Set out at an early hour under a gentle brieze from the East.    a black cloud which suddonly sprung up at S. E.    soon over shaddowed the horizon; at 8 A. M. it gave us a slight sprinke of rain, the wind became much stronger but not so much so as to detain us.    we nooned it just above the entrance of a large river which disimbogues on the Lard. [NB?: Starbd] side; [1] I took the advantage of this leasure moment and examined the river about 3 miles; I found it generally 150 yards wide, and in some places 200.    it is deep, gentle in it's courant and affords a large boddy of water; it's banks which are formed of a dark rich loam and blue clay are abbrupt and about 12 feet high. [2]    it's bed is principally mud. I have no doubt but it is navigable for boats perogues and canoes, for the latter problably a great distance.    the bottoms of this stream ar wide, level, fertile and possess a considerable proportion of timber, principally Cottonwood. from the quantity of water furnised by this river it must water a large extent of country; perhaps this river also might furnish a practicable and advantageous communication with the Saskashiwan river; it is sufficiently large to justify a belief that it might reach to that river if it's direction be such.    the water of this river possesses a peculiar whiteness, being about the colour of a cup of tea with the admixture of a tablespoonfull of milk.    from the colour of it's water we called it Milk river.    (we think it possible that this may be the river called by the Minitares the river which scoalds at all others or [blank][)] [NB: This is Maria's river see aftd.] [3]    Capt Clark who walked this morning on the Lard. shore ascended a very high point opposite to the mouth of this river; he informed me that he had a perfect view of this river and the country through which it passed for a great distance (probably 50 or 60 Miles,) [X: to see 60 miles would require a height of 1000 feet] [4] that the country was level and beautifull on both sides of the river, with large herds of Buffaloe distributed throughout: that the river from it's mouth boar N. W. for 12 or 15 Miles when it forked, the one taking a direction nearly North, and the other to the West of N. West. [5]    from the appearance of the vallies and the timber on each of these streams Capt. C. supposed that they were about the same size.    great appearance of beaver on this river, and I have no doubt but what they continue abundant, there being plenty of cottonwood and willow, the timber on which they subsist. The country on the Lard. side of the river is generally high broken hills, with much broken, grey black and brown grannite scattered on the surface of the earth in a confused manner. [6] The wild Licquorice is found on the sides of these hills, in great abundance. [7]    at a little distance from the river there is no timber to be seen on either side; the bottom lands are not more than one fifth covered with timber; the timber as below is confined to the borders of the river.    in future it will be understood that there is no timber of any discription on the upland unless particularly mentioned; and also that one fifth of the bottom lands being covered with timber is considered a large proportion. The white apple [8] is found in great abundance in this neighbourhood; it is confined to the highlands principally. The whiteapple, so called by the French Engages, is a plant which rises to the hight of 6 or 9 Inchs. rarely exceeding a foot; it puts forth from one to four and sometimes more stalks from the same root, but is most generally found with one only, which is branched but not defusely, is cylindric and villose; the leafstalks, cylindric, villose and very long compared with the hight of the plant, tho' gradually diminish in length as they ascend, and are irregular in point of position; the leaf, digitate, from three to five in number, oval 1 Inch long, absolutely entire and cottony: the whole plant of a pale green, except the under disk of the leaf which is of a white colour from the cottony substance with which it is covered.    the radix a tuberous bulb; generally ova formed, sometimes longer and more rarely partially divided or brancing; always attended with one or more radicles at it's lower extremity which sink from 4 to 6 inches deep.    the bulb covered with a rough black, tough, thin rind which easily seperates from the bulb which is a fine white substance, somewhat porus, spungy and moist, and reather tough before it is dressed; the center of the bulb is penitrated with a small tough string or ligament, which passing from the bottom of the stem terminates in the extrimity of the radicle, which last is also covered by a prolongation of the rind which invellopes the bulb: The bulb is usually found at the debth of 4 inches and frequently much deeper. This root forms a considerable article of food with the Indians of the Missouri, who for this purpose prepare them in several ways.    they are esteemed good at all seasons of the year, but are best from the middle of July to the latter end of Autumn when they are sought and gathered by the provident part of the natives for their winter store.    when collected they are striped of their rhind and strung on small throngs or chords and exposed to the sun or placed in the smoke of their fires to dry; when well dryed they will keep for several years, provided they are not permitted to become moisty or damp; in this situation they usually pound them between two stones placed on a piece of parchment, untill they reduce it to a fine powder    thus prepared they thicken their soope with it; sometimes they also boil these dryed roots with their meat without breaking them; when green they are generally boiled with their meat, sometimes mashing them or otherwise as they think proper.    they also prepare an agreeable dish with them by boiling and mashing them and adding the marrow grease of the buffaloe and some buries, until the whole be of the consistency of a haisty pudding.    they also eat this root roasted and frequently make hearty meals of it raw without sustaining any inconvenience or injury therefrom. The White or brown bear feed very much on this root, which their tallons assist them to procure very readily.    the white apple appears to me to be a tastless insipid food of itself tho' I have no doubt but it is a very healthy and moderately nutricious food. I have no doubt but our epicures would admire this root very much, it would serve them in their ragouts and gravies in stead of the truffles morella.

We saw a great number buffaloe, Elk, common and Black taled deer, goats beaver and wolves. Capt C. killed a beaver and a wolf, the party killed 3 beaver and a deer. We can send out at any time and obtain whatever species of meat the country affords in as large quantity as we wish.    we saw where an Indian had recently grained, or taken the hair off of a goatskin; we do not wish to see those gentlemen just now as we presume they would most probably be the Assinniboins and might be troublesome to us. Capt C. could not be certain but thought he saw the smoke and some Indian lodges at a considrable distance up Milk river.

Courses and distances of May 8th 1805. [9]
S. 88° W. to a point of timbered land on the Stard. side opposite to
a bluff of black earth

  1 ½
N. 60 W. on the Stard. side      ¼
North to some high timber on the Lard. side   2
East to the extremity of a sandbar from a Lard. point; passed a
gulph on Stard.

  1 ¼
N. 70° W. to a point of timber on 〈Stard〉 Lard. side   2
S. 65° W. to a point of timber on the Stard. side   2
S. 55° W. to a point on the Stard. side   2 ¼
S. 85° W. to a point of timbered land on the Lard side, passing a
projecting point in a bend on Stard side at 3½ miles

  5 ¾
S. 74° W. to a point of woodland on the Stard side passing a large
river on the Stard side at ½ a mile—    we call this Milk
N. 5° W. to a sand point on the Lard. side   2 ½
N. 70° W. to some high timber on the Lard. side opposite to a low
bluff on Stard.

  1 ½
S. 18° W. to a point of high timber on the Stard side opposite to a
bluff on the Lard side, short of which one mile, we en-
camped on the Lard. side

  Miles 28

a verry black Cloud to the S W.    we Set out under a gentle breeze from the N. E.    about 8 oClock began to rain, but not Sufficient to wet, we passed the mouth of a large river on the Starboard Side 150 yards wide and appears to be navagable.    the Countrey thro which it passes as far as Could be seen from the top of a verry high hill on which I was, 〈the Country is〉 a butifull leavil plain    this river forks about N W from its mouth 12 or 15 miles    one fork runs from the North & the other to the West of N W.    the water of this river will justify a belief that it has its Sourse at a considerable distance, and waters a great extent of Countrey—    we are willing to believe that this is the River the Minitarres Call the river which Scolds at all others

the Countrey on the Lard. Side is high & broken with much Stone Scattered on the hills, in walking on Shore with the Interpreter & his wife, the Squar Geathered on the Sides of the hills wild Lickerish, & the white apple as called by the angegies [engagés] and gave me to eat, the Indians of the Missouri make great use of the white apple dressed in different ways—    Saw great numbers of Buffalow, Elk, antelope & Deer, also black tale deer beaver & wolves, I killed a beaver which I found on the bank, & a wolf. The party killed 3 Beaver 1 Deer    I saw where an Indian had taken the hair off a goat Skin a fiew days past—    Camped early on the Lard. Side. [11] The river we passed today we call Milk river from the peculiar whiteness of it's water, which precisely resembles tea with a considerable mixture of milk.

  miles   Course and Distance the 8th of May
S. 88° W,   1 ½ to a point of timbered land on the Std. Side opsd. a bluff
of black earth L
N. 60° W      ¼ on the Stardboard Side
North   2 to the high timber on the Lard. Side
East   1 ¼ to the extremity of a Sand bar from the Lard point    passed
a Gulf
N. 70° W.   2 to a point of timber Lard. Side
S. 65° W.   2 to a point of timber on the Stard. Side
S. 55° W.   2 ¼ to a point on the Stard. Side
S. 85° W   5 ¾ to a point of timbered land on the Lard Side, passing a
projected point in a bend to Stard Side at 3½ miles
S. 74° W.   4 to a point of wood land on the Stard. Side    passed a large
river on the Std. Side at ½ a mile
N 5° W.   2 ½ to a Sand point on the Lard Side
N. 70° W.   1 ½ to some high timber on the Ld. Side opposit a low bluff on
the S. S.
S. 18° W.   3    to a point of high trees on the Starbord Side opposit a
bluff on the Lard Side, we Camped one mile Short on the
L. Side
miles 28  

Wednesday 8th May 1805.    we Set off eairly.    it clouded up of a Sudden, and rained Some.    we Sailed on under a fine breeze from the East.    came 20 miles by one oClock, passed the mouth of a large River on N. S. Called Scolding or named milk River.    about 200 yards wide and deep, and 2100 miles from the mouth of the Missourie.—    we halted in a handsom bottom abo. the Mouth of Sd. River to dine. Sergt. Pryor killed a Deer.    about 2 o.C. we proceeded on    passed in the course of this day timbred bottoms on each Side of the river.    a little back from the River their is no timber but high beautiful plains on the N. S. and river hills on S. S. Came 27 miles today and Camped in a handsom bottom covred with Groves of timber on the S. S.    one man Shot a large beaver.


Wednesday 8th.    We were again very early under way in a cloudy morning; about 12 some rain fell: at 2 we passed a handsome river on the North side about 200 yards wide called Milk river. There is a good deal of water in this river which is clear, and its banks beautiful. Our distance this day was about twenty-seven miles, and we encamped in a beautiful bottom on the South side.


Wednesday 8th May 1805.    we Set off eairly.    clouded up and rained Some the current Swift.    we proceeded on under a fine breeze from the East, 20 miles by about 1 oClock    then we passed the mouth of a River on N. S. about 200 yards wide and verry deep.    it is 2100 miles from the mouth of the Missourie R. to the mouth of this River.    we named this River Scolding or milk River.—    we halted on the point above the mouth to dine.    Some men went a Short distance up this River.    one of them killed a deer.    about 2 oC we proceeded on    passed handsom bottoms thinly covered with timber on the River and high beautiful high plains on the N. S. and River hills on the S. S.    Came 27 miles this day and Camped on a timbred bottom on the S. S.    one man killd. a beaver.    we Saw a Great deal of beaver Sign all Sorts of Game on each Side R.

Wednesday May 8th    We set off early this morning, shortly after the weather Clouded up and rained; we found the current of the River to run very strong against us; we proceeded on, and set our Sails, having a fine breeze of wind blowing from the East; we came 20 Miles by 10 o'Clock A. M. not withstanding we had so strong a current against us,—    and passed a River which emties itself into the Mesouri lying on the North side, this River 〈is〉 was about 200 Yards wide at its mouth, and 〈is〉 very deep.    The mouth of this River is 2,100 Miles distant from the Mouth of the Mesouri River, Our Officers gave this River the name, Scalding Milk River.— [12]    We halted at a point above the Mouth of this River to dine, where Some of our party went a short distance up this River, and killed a deer which they brought to us.—

The party that went up Scalding Milk river mentioned, that the River continued its breadth and depth as high up as where they had been—the Water Clear, and deep; the banks tolerably high, and the land very rich, and the country fertile, being partly Priaries and some Skirts of woodland.—    At 2 o'Clock P. M. we proceeded on our Voyage, and passed some handsome River bottoms, thinly cover'd with Timber, and beautiful high plains, lying on the North side of the River; and hills lying along the River on the South side.—    We came too in the Evening, and encamped in a bottom with Timber; lying on the South side of the River    One of our party shortly after we encamped, went out a hunting, and killed One beaver, We have this day seen vast Signs of all kind of Game on both sides of the River, and beaver in particular, We came this day 27 Miles—

1. Milk River, which still bears the name Lewis and Clark gave it; it rises in the mountains of Glacier National Park, in northwestern Montana, flows through southern Alberta, then returns to the United States and enters the Missouri in Valley County, Montana. They concluded, correctly, that this was the "River Which Scolds at All Others" of which the Indians had told them at Fort Mandan. See below, June 2 and 3, 1805. Saindon (RSO); Atlas maps 37, 49, 58; MRC maps 64, 65. (back)
2. Milk River alluvium is derived from weathered glacial till and Bearpaw Shale; some sand comes from the Judith River Formation. (back)
3. Biddle's interlinear note, indicating that the Marias River, not the Milk, was the "River Which Scolds at All Others," was an error on his part. The captains briefly considered this possibility (see below, June 3, 1805), but concluded that their first identification of this stream as the Milk was correct. Saindon (RSO). (back)
4. It may have been Biddle who added the red parentheses around the words, "probably . . . miles"; it may have been Coues who penciled in the words, "to see . . . feet." (back)
5. The first is present Porcupine Creek, in Valley County, the other Milk River. Porcupine Creek, and the Milk below the fork, form the western boundary of Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Atlas maps 37, 49, 58. (back)
6. The hills south of the river are the Milk River Hills; they rise nearly 700 feet above the floodplain of the Missouri. The granite rocks are glacial erratics brought here from the Canadian Shield by glacial ice. (back)
7. Glycyrrhiza lepidota (Nutt.) Pursh, wild liquorice. It is significant that this species, first described by Pursh in 1814 from the expedition's collection, was known to Lewis by its common name even though it was not found growing in the East. Clark indicated on this same day that Sacagawea gathered both this root as well as the breadroot (see next note), indicating that both plants were known and used by Indians of the area. The wild liquorice is related to the cultivated liquorice plan from Southern Europe and Asia, G. glabra L. Fernald, 914; Pursh, 480; Bailey, 561. Someone drew a vertical line through this passage down through the material about the morella. (back)
8. Psoralea esculenta Pursh, breadroot, scurf pea, pomme blanche. Lewis's detailed description of the plant lacks reference to the flowers and the plant was probably not yet in bloom. Based on the early flowering stage of the plant shown in Pursh's illustration, it must have been drawn from Lewis's collection of the previous year on the lower Missouri River. Fernald, 898; Barkley, 181; Cutright (LCPN), 91; Pursh, 475–76. (back)
9. Also given on Atlas map 37, in both captains' hands. (back)
10. Beginning with this entry and appearing occasionally in the remainder of this journal, Voorhis No. 1, are small symbols in the margin by the date line. They appear to be circles with lines coming out, like rays. Their meaning or significance is unknown. (back)
11. Probably in Valley County, a mile or two above present Fort Peck Dam. Atlas maps 37, 49, 58; MRC map 65. (back)
12. This is the copyist's attempt to understand Whitehouse's "Scolding or milk River," which is in fact derived from the captains' correct conclusion that the Milk was the "River Which Scolds at All Others," of which the Indians had told them at Fort Mandan. (back)