May 17, 1805
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

May 17, 1805


Set out at an early hour, and proceeded on very well; we employed the toe line the greater part of the day; the banks were firm and shore boald which favoured the uce of the cord. I find this method of asscending the river, when the shore is such as will permit it, the safest and most expeditious mode of traveling, except with sails in a steady and favourable breze. The country rugged, the hills high, their summits and sides partially covered with pine and cedar, and the river on either side washing their bases.    it is somewhat singular that the lower part of these hills appear to be formed of a dark rich loam while the upper region about 150 feet is formed of a whiteish brown sand, so hard in many parts as to resemble stone; but little rock or stone of any kind to be seen in these hills. [1]    the river is much narrower than usual, the bed from 200 to 300 yards only and possessing a much larger proportion of gravel than usual. a few scattering cottonwood trees are the only timber near the river; the sandbars, and with them the willow points have almost entirely disappeared.    greater appearance than usual of the saline incrustations of the banks and river hills.    we passed two creeks [2] the one on Stard. side, and the other just below our camp on the Lard. side; [3] each of these creeks afford a small quantity of runing water, of a brackish tast.    the great number of large beds of streams perfectly dry which we daily pass indicate a country but badly watered, which I fear is the case with the country through which we have been passing for the last fifteen or twenty days. Capt Clark walked on shore this evening and killed an Elk; buffaloe are not so abundant as they were some days past.    the party with me killed a female brown bear, she was but meagre, and appeared to have suckled young very recently. Capt. Clark narrowly escaped being bitten by a rattlesnake [4] in the course of his walk, the party killed one this evening at our encampment, which he informed me was similar to that he had seen; this snake is smaller than those common to the middle Atlantic States, being about 2 feet 6 inches long; it is of a yellowish brown colour on the back and sides, variagated with one row of oval spots of a dark brown colour lying transversely over the back from the neck to the tail, and two other rows of small circular spots of the same colour which garnis the sides along the edge of the scuta.    it's bely contains 176 scuta on the belly and 17 on the tale. Capt Clark informed me that he saw some coal which had been brought down by the water of the last creek we passed; this creek also throws out considerable quantities of Driftwood, though there is no timber on it which can be perceived from the Missouri; we called this stream rattlesnake creek. Capt Clark saw an Indian fortifyed camp this evening, which appeared to have been recently occupyed, from which we concluded it was probable that it had been formed by a war party of the Menetares who left their vilage in March last with a view to attack the blackfoot Indians in consequence of their having killed some of their principal warriors the previous autumn.    we were roused late at night by the Sergt. of the guard, and warned of the danger we were in from a large tree that had taken fire and which leant immediately over our lodge.    we had the loge removed, and a few minutes after a large proportion of the top of the tree fell on the place the lodge had stood; had we been a few minutes later we should have been crushed to attoms.    the wind blew so hard, that notwithstanding the lodge was fifty paces distant from the fire it sustained considerable injury from the burning coals which were thrown on it; the party were much harrassed also by this fire which communicated to a collection of fallen timber, and could not be extinguished.

  Couses and distances, May 17th [5] miles
S. 70° W. to a point of woodland on Stard. side.   1 ½
S. 75 W. to a point of woods on Stard. side   2
W. along the Stard. point.   1 ½
N. 70 W. to a point of woods on the Lard. side the hills approach
the river on each side

S. 80 W to a point of timber on the Stard. side oppsite the en-
trance of a small creek

  3 ½ [6]
N. 82 W. to a clump of trees on the Lard side   2
West along the Lard. side to a point opposite to the entrance
of a large creek [EC: Brattons ]

S. 70 W. along the highland on Lard. side   1 ½
S. 50 W. along the Lard. side      ¼
S. 30 W. along the Lard. side      ¼
S. 10 W. along the Lard. side      ¼
South along the Lard. side      ¼
S. 15 E. along the Lard. side      ¼
S. 30 E. along the Lard. side      ½
S. 35 E. along the Lard. side to the commencement of a bluff in a
Lard. bend

S. 2 W. to a point of timber on the Stard. side, opposite to a bluff      ½
S. 45 W. to a point of timber on the Lard. side      ½
S. 20 E. to a point of timber on the Stard. side      ¼
South along the Stard. point      ¾
S. 15 W. along the Stard. point, passing the entrance of a large
creek [EC: Rattlesnake ] on Lard. [7] side

S. 80 W. to a point of woodland on Lard. side, passing a bluff on
Lard. side; here we encamped

  1 ¼
  miles— 20 ½

a fine morning    wind from the N W.    mercury at 60° a 0.    river falling a little.    we Set out at an early hour and proceeded on verry well by the assistance of the Toe rope principally, the Countrey verry rugged & hills high and the river washing the base on each Side, Great appearance of the Salt Substance.    a fiew Cotton trees is the only timber which is Scattered in the bottoms & the hills contain a fiew Pine & Cedar, which is Scattered.    river much narrower than below from 2 to 300 yards wide, the bottoms muddey & hills rich earth except near their topes—    We passed 2 large Creeks to day one on the Starbd Side and the other just below our camp on the Lard. Side    each of those creek has a little running water near their mouthes which has a brackish taste, I was nearly treading on a Small fierce rattle Snake different from any I had ever Seen &c.    one man the party killed another of the Same kind. I walked on Shore after dinner & killed an Elk—    the party in my absence Killed a female Brown or yellow Bear which was meagre    the appearances of the Hills & Countrey is as 〈yesterday〉 before mentioned except a greater appearance of the white appearance of Salts or tarter and Some Coal which has been thrown out by the floods in the last Creek— [8]    Buffalow & Deer is not plenty to day, Elk is yet to be Seen in abundance    we Camped in the upper part of a Small timbered bottom on the Lard. Side in which I Saw a fortified Indian Camp, which I Suppose is one of the Camps of a Mi ne tar re war party of about 15 men, that Set out from their village in March last to war against the Blackfoot Indians.

we were roused late at night and warned of the danger of fire from a tree which had Cought and leaned over our Lodge, we had the lodge moved    Soon after the Dry limbs & top of the tree fell in the place the Lodge Stood, the wind blew hard and the dry wood Cought & fire flew in every direction, burnt our Lodge verry much from the Coals which fell on it altho at Some distance in the plain, the whole party was much disturbed by this fire which could not be extinguished &c

  miles   Course & Distance May 17th 1805 [9]
S. 70 W   1 ½ miles to a wooded point on the Std. Side
S. 75° W   2 miles to a wood on the Stard. Side
West   1 ½ miles allong the Stard point
N. 70° W.   2 miles to a point of wood on the Lard. Side    the hills ap-
proach the river on each Side
S. 80° W   3 ½ to a point of timber on the Stard. Side opposit the enter-
ence of a Small Creek on the Lard. Side Brattens Creek
N. 82° W.   2 miles to a fiew trees on the Lard pt.
West   1 mile along the Lard. Side to a point opposit the enterance
of a large Creek on the Stard. Side, but fiew Cotton trees
in the Small bottoms and a fiew Scattering pine & cedar
on the tops & Sides of the hills &c.    I saw a Morking bird [10]
S 70° W.   1 ½ under the high land on the Lard Side
S. 50° W.      ¼ allong the Larboard Side
S. 30° W.      ¼ allong the Lard. Side
S. 10° W.      ¼ allong the Lard. Side
South      ¼ allong the Lard. Side
S. 15° E.      ¼ allong the Lard. Side
S. 30 E.      ½ allong the Lard Side
S. 35° E      ¼ allong the Lard. Side to the Commencement of a Bluff in
a Lard bend
S. 2° W      ½ to a point of timber on the Stard. Side opposit to a Bliff on
the Lard Side
S. 45° W.      ½ to a point of timber on the Lard. Side
S. 20° E.      ¼ to a point of timber on the Stard. Side
South      ¾ allong the Stard. point
S. 15° W.      ¼ allong the Stard. point    passed the enterence of a large
creek on the Lard. Side
S. 80° W   1 ¼ to a point of wood land on the Lard. Side passing a bluff
on the Lard Side    here we incamped for the night
  20 ½  

Friday 17th May 1805.    a clear pleasant morning    we [page faded and worn, perhaps two lines missing] [11] by rains    Saw Spots of pitch pine but the knobs are washed so that their is not ever any grass on them    the River hills look mountainous and make near the river on each Side    we saw large gangs of Elk which are gitting more pleanty than the buffaloe    we saw a nomber of geese and goslins in the River    about 2 oClock P. m. we halted to dine at a narrow bottom on the S. S. where their was Some old Indians camps.    about 3 we proceeded on.    towards evening I and Several more of the party killed a femail brown bear, the first female we killed.    passed a creek on S. S. [12]    verry high hills and white knobs, which are washed by rains. Some Spots of pitch pine on each Side of the River.    came [blank] miles and Camped on a narrow plain on S. S. where Capt. Clark killed 1 Elk.


Friday 17th.    The morning was fine and we embarked early. The hills here come very close to the river on both sides, and have very little timber on them. They are very high and much washed. There are some of them, which at a distance resemble ancient steeples. We passed two rivers one on each side. [13] During the whole of this day's voyage the Missouri was very handsome, and about 300 yards wide. We made 20¼ miles, and encamped on the South side.


Friday 17th May 1805.    a clear pleasant morning.    we Set off eairly and proceeded on.    passed high broken whiteish couloured hills, which wash by rain, and make close to the River on each Side, the bottoms high and narrow.    Some Spots of pitch pine on and between the hills on each Side, but the cottonwood gits Scarser.    we Saw large gangs of Elk, but a fiew buffaloe.    Saw a number of geese and goslings on the river    about 2 oC. we halted to dine at a Small bottom on S. S. where there was Some old Indian Camps.    about 3 oC. P. M. we proceeded on    towards evening we killed a brown bear, the first femal that we killed    we passed a creek on the S. S., & verry high rough naked hills on each Side all this day.    we Came 20¼ miles and Camped [14] on a narrow plain on the South Side—    (killed 2 Elk)

Friday May 17th    A Clear pleasant morning, We set off early, and proceeded on our Voyage, and passed by high, broken whitish colour'd hills, on each side of the River, here the Cotton wood was scarce, The hills which we passed wash by the Rain, and they make close in 〈close〉 to the River on both sides of it.    the bottoms lay high, and are narrow, Some spots of pitch pine, 〈and〉 growing between the hills on both sides of the River,—

We saw large gangs of Elk, and but a few Buffalo this day, we also saw a number of Geese and goslins in the River, about 2 o'Clock we halted to dine, at a small bottom on the South side of the River; where there was some old Indian Camps,—    about 3 o'Clock we proceeded on our way, & towards Evening one of the party killed a brown bear, the first female brown bear that was killed by our party.    We proceeded on, and passed a Creek lying on the South side of the River; and we saw very high rough naked hills lying on both sides of the River all this day, We encamped in the Evening on a narrow plain, on the South side of the River, and One of our hunters brought to us 2 Elk he had killed, We came 20¼ Miles this day.—

1. The Missouri River is bordered by the lighter colored Hell Creek Formation and Fox Hills Sandstone which overlie the darker-colored Bearpaw Shale. Except where the sand is locally cemented to stone, these formations are not especially indurated. (back)
2. The first is "Rattle Snake Creek" on Atlas map 38 (the first draft), and "Bratton's River" on Atlas maps 50, 59. In this same entry Lewis says they named the second creek Rattlesnake Creek; it is Burnt Lodge Creek on the maps. They are later Timber Creek, in Phillips County, Montana, and Seven Blackfoot Creek, in Garfield County. Another dry creek, shown on the maps, is not mentioned in the captains' journals, except in courses and distances. MRC map 68. (back)
3. A little upstream from the mouth of Seven Blackfoot Creek. Atlas maps 38, 50, 59; MRC map 68. (back)
4. The prarie rattlesnake, Crotalus viridus viridus, a subspecies then new to science. Benson (HLCE), 90; Cutright (LCPN), 149. Someone drew a vertical line through part of this passage, from "this snake is smaller" to "17 on the tale." (back)
5. Also given on Atlas map 38, in both captains' hands. (back)
6. Lewis left out the next two courses, inserting them at the end and indicating the proper order by asterisks. (back)
7. Given as "Stard." on Atlas map 38. (back)
8. The presence of salts increases in late spring when ground water discharge is at its maximum and evaporation increases. These salts are from the Bearpaw Shale. Seven Blackfoot Creek is flanked by coal-bearing deposits of the Fort Union Formation (Tullock Member). (back)
9. Clark left out the first seven courses of the day, then inserted them after the remaining courses, using asterisks to indicate the correct placement. The proper order is used here. (back)
10. Mimus polyglottos [AOU, 703]. (back)
11. Whitehouse has, "we Set off eairly and proceeded on.    passed high broken whiteish couloured hills, which wash by rain." (back)
12. Ordway probably means the party's Burnt Lodge Creek, now Seven Blackfoot Creek, Garfield County, Montana (see Lewis's entry for this day). The party camped upstream from the mouth of this creek. (back)
13. The first is the captains' Bratton's Creek, after William Bratton of the party, now Timber Creek, Phillips County, Montana. The second, their Burnt Lodge Creek, is now Seven Blackfoot Creek, Garfield County. See Lewis's entry for confusion about the party's names for these creeks. (back)
14. In Garfield County, a little above the mouth of Seven Blackfoot Creek. (back)