May 27, 1805
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

May 27, 1805


The wind blew so hard this morning that we did not sent out untill 10 A. M.    we employed the chord most of the day; the river becomes more rappid and is intercepted by shoals and a greater number of rocky points at the mouths of the little gulies than we experienced yesterday.    the bluffs are very high steep rugged, containing considerable quantities of stone and border the river closely on both sides; once perhaps in the course of several miles there will be a few acres of tolerably level land in which two or thre impoverished cottonwood trees will be seen. [1]    great quantities of stone also lye in the river and garnish it's borders, which appears to have tumbled from the bluffs where the 〈water〉 rains had washed away the sand and clay in which they were imbeded.    the bluffs are composed of irregular tho' horizontal stratas of yellow and brown or black clay, brown and yellowish white sand, of soft yellowish white sand stone and a hard dark brown free stone, also of large round kidneyformed and irregular seperate masses of a hard black Iron stone, which is imbeded in the Clay and sand.    some little pine spruce and dwarf cedar on the hills.    some coal or carbonated wood still makes it's appearance in these bluffs, pumicestone and birnt hills it's concommutants also are seen.    the salts and quarts are seen but not in such abundance. [2]    the country more broken and barren than yesterday if possible.    about midday it was very warm to this the high bluffs and narrow channel of the river no doubt contributed greatly. we passed a small untimbered Island this morning on the Lard. side of the river just above our encampment of last evening. [3]    saw a few small herds of the Bighorned anamals and two Elk only, of the last we killed one, the river is generally about 200 yds. wide, very rappid and has a perceptable fall or declination through it's whole course.

This evening we encamped, for the benefit of wood, near two dead toped cottonwood trees on the Lard. side; the dead limbs which had fallen from these trees furnished us with a scanty supply only, and more was not to be obtained in the neighbourhood.— [4]

Courses and Distances May 27th 1805. [5]
West   1 ¾ Along the Lard. shore to a point on the Lard. side    no
timber a bluff close on both sides.
S 80° W.   3 ¼ to a bluff point on the Stard. side, in a Stard. bend
S. 50° W.   1 to a Lard. point.
S. 8° W.   1 ½ to the point of a bluff Lard. in a Lard. bend, the river
making a considerable bend to the S. E.
S 60° W.      ½ to a point on the Lard. side
S. 26° W.   1 ½ to a single cottonwood tree on the Lard. point.
S. 55° W.   1 to a bluff point on the Lard. side.
S. 45° W.   3 ½ [6] to a bluff on the Lard. side, passing a Lard. point at 1 m.
& a Stard. point at 2½ ms.    we encamped on Lard. side
1½ ms. on this course.
Miles 14  

Point of Observation No. 24.

On the Lard. shore one mile short of the extremity of the second course of this day, observed Merdn. Altd. of ☉'s L. L. with Octant by the back Observatn. 57° 27'

Latitude deduced from this observation [blank]


The wind blew hard from the S W. which detained us untill about 10 oClock, at which time we Set out and proceeded on, passed a Small nacked Island on the Lard Side imediately above the timber in which we Camped    The river is verry Shoaley and the bad places are verry numerous, i e at the mouth of every Drean the rocks which is a hard dark gritey Stone [7] is thrown out Some distance in the river which Cause a Considerable riffle on that Side, the hills approach the river verry Close on either Side, river narrow & no timber except Some Scattering pine on the hills & hill Sides, the Salts, Coal, burn hills & Pumice Stone &c. Continue, the hills are Generally Bluffs of various Coloured earth 〈Genly〉 most commonly black with different quallities stone intermixed Some Stratums of Soft Sand Stone, Some hard, Some a dark brown & yellow hard grit, those Stones are loosened by the earths washing from them into the river and ultimately role Down into the river, which appears to be Crowded with them. [8] This day is verry worm—    we only Saw a fiew Small herds of the big horn animals on the hills, and two Elk one of which We killed, we Camped at 2 dead top trees on the Lard Side. The river is Genly about 200 yards wide and Current very Swift to day and has a verry perceptiable fall in all its Course—    it rises a little.

Course & Distance May 27th
West   1 ¾ allong the Lard Shore to a point on the Lard Sd. (no tim-
ber)    a Bluff opposit on both Sides
S. 80° W.   3 ¼ a bluff point on the Stard. Side in a Stard. Bend.
S. 50° W.   1 to a Larboard point.
S. 8° W.   1 ½ to the point of a Bluff on Lard. in a Lard. Bend; the river
makeing a Considerable bend to the S. E.
S. 60° W.      ½ to a open point on the Lard. Side
S. 26° W.   1 ½ to a Single Cotton tree on Stard. point
S 55° W.   1 to a bluff point on the Lard. Side
S. 45° W.   3 ½ to a Bluff on the Lard. Side, passed a Lard point at 1 miles,
a Stard. point at 2½ miles.    we Camped on Lard Sd.    1½
on this Course
miles 14  

May 27th Monday 1805.    the wind blew hard from the S. W. which detained us untill about 10 oClock at which time we Set out & proceeded on. passed a Small necked Island on the Lard. Side immediately above the timber in which we Camped    the river is verry Shoaley and the bad places are verry numerous.—    at the mouth of every dreen the rocks is thrown Some distance in the river which causes the riffles.    this day is verry warm.    we Saw only a fiew herds of Big horned animel on the hills, & 2 Elk, one of which we killed.    we Camped at 2 dead top trees on the Larboard Side.    the river is generally about 200 yards wide & current verry Swift to day, and has a verry prosperous falls in all its course    it rises a little. Came 14 miles to day.—


Monday 27th.    We have now got into a country which presents little to our view, but scenes of barrenness and desolation; and see no encouraging prospects that it will terminate. Having proceeded (by the course of this river) about two thousand three hundred miles, it may therefore not be improper to make two or three general observations respecting the country we have passed.

From the mouth of the Missouri to that of the river Platte, a distance of more than six hundred miles, the land is generally of a good quality, with a sufficient quantity of timber; in many places very rich, and the country pleasant and beautiful.

From the confluence of the river Platte with the Missouri to the Sterile desert we lately entered a distance of upwards of fifteen hundred miles the soil is less rich, and except in the bottoms, the land of an inferior quality; but may in general be called good second rate land. The country is rather hilly than level, though not mountainous, rocky or stony. The hills in their unsheltered state are much exposed to be washed by heavy rains. This kind of country and soil which has fallen under our observation in our progress up the Missouri, extends it is understood, to a great distance on both sides of the river. Along the Missouri and the waters which flow into it, cotton wood and willows are frequent in the bottoms and islands; but the upland is almost entirely without timber, and consists of large prairies or plains the boundaries of which the eye cannot reach. The grass is generally short on these immense natural pastures, which in the proper seasons are decorated with blossoms and flowers of various colours. The views from the hills are interesting and grand. Wide extended plains with their hills and vales, stretching away in lessening wavy ridges, until by their distance they fade from the sight; large rivers and streams in their rapid course, winding in various meanders; groves of cotton wood and willow along the waters intersecting the landscapes in different directions, dividing them into various forms, at length appearing like dark clouds and sinking in the horizon; these enlivened with the buffaloe, elk, deer, and other animals which in vast numbers feed upon the plains or pursue their prey, are the prominent objects, which compose the extensive prospects presented to the view and strike the attention of the beholder.

The islands in the Missouri are of various sizes; in general not large and during high water mostly overflowed.

There are Indian paths along the Missouri and some in other parts of the country. Those along that river do not generally follow its windings but cut off points of land and pursue a direct course. There are also roads and paths made by the buffaloe and other animals; some of the buffaloe roads are at least ten feet wide. We did not embark this morning until 8 o'clock. The day was fine, but the wind ahead. We had difficult water, and passed through the most dismal country I ever beheld; nothing but barren mountains on both sides of the river, as far as our view could extend. The bed of the river is rocky, and also the banks and hills in some places; but these are chiefly of earth. We went thirteen miles and encamped in a bottom, just large enough for the purpose, and made out to get enough of drift wood to cook with.


Monday 27th May 1805.    pleasant weather.    the wind high from the N. W.    about 10 oC. we Set off and proceeded on with the towing lines.    the current verry Swift.    passed a great nomber of rapid places.    passed verry high Steep mountains and clifts Steep precipices.    these mountains appear to be a desert part of the country.    they wash by rains, but a little rain in this part.    no diews like other parts but barron broken rich Soil but too much of a desert to be inhabited, or cultivated.    Some Spots of pitch & Spruce pine. [9]    the game is Scarcer than it has been.    no grass nor timber for them to live in, but what Ibex or Mountain Sheep, Elk deer &c live on what little grass their is in the vallies and narrow plains on river, which is covered with wild hysop rose bush & Some grass.    Some different kinds of mint [10] along the Shore.    Saw mussel [11] Shells also.    the Shore is Stoney & gravvelly.    no falling in banks but the creeks drive the earth and gravvel in Some distance in the river which causes the most of the hard riffles, which we have had all day and had to Double man our perogues to git them over Safe.    one mountain ram or Ibex killed to day.    we Came 13 mes today, and Camped at an old Indian Camp on the S. Side [of] River    we are 800 & 10 miles from the Mandans, 2415 [from the mouth of the Missouri?]

[undated] [12]

Remarks of Different places—
Latd of the Gasnage 38 15 57 N
   Do    Gran zoe 39 16 23 N
   Do    rock pole 38 16 00 N
   Do    the two Cherottors 38½ 19 00 N
   Do    Decough 38 31 13 N
            River plate 41 3 19¾ N
   Do    Camp of the Brareow on
     Council Bluffs



To St Charles        21 Miles by water
" Gasconade     104    "     "    —
Unto the Osage River     138    "     "     "
" Mine River     201    "    —    —
2 Charottoes Rivers     226—  
" Old village of Misuries     246—  
" Grand River     254—  
" Kanzies River     366—  
2nd Old Village of Kanzies     433—  
" Nodoway River     481—  
" Grand Na, mahawr     511—  
" Bald pated prarie     570—  
Moute of plate River     632—  
Council Bluffs     682—  
Little Scioux River     766—  
Mahars Village     870—  
The Mouth of the Big Souix River     880—  
The Mouth of the river Jacque     970—  
Grand Calumet Bluffs     980—  
the River of rapid water   1020—  
Ceeder Island   1090—  
River White R   1142—  
To the Island in the Big bend or Grand } 1183—  
   detorture of the Missouri River
round the Bend 30 miles—   1213—  
To the Ceeder Island above the Big Bend   1235—  
To the Mouth of the Teton River   1275—  
To the 1st Village of Rickieree   1480— 1430
To Mouth of the River Bullette   1505—  
River Chiss-Che-tar above the old } 1550—  
   village of Mandans
Fort Mandans on the N. Side—   1600½  
1600   1550   45 Bolet  
1550   1505   25 Rikeres  
     50        45   50    
1505     120   1600
     55         1480
    1480 1183    
    1505 1142    
         25 41    
    205 1275      
  1480 1235      
Latudes of the Different Remarkable Places
   on the Missourie River of St. Charles



Gasconade   38 44 35  
Mo of the Osage River   38 31   6  
mo of the Grand River   38 47 54 9/10  
mo of the Kanzies River   39   5 25  
12 ms. above Dimond Isl.   39   9 38  
3 ms. below the [crossed out]          
   2nd Old Village of Kanzies   39 25 42  
mo. of the Nordaway   39 39 22  
mo of Na mahaw   39 55 56  
Good Isld.   40 20 12  
Bald Pated Prarie   40 27   6  
white Catfish Camp   41   3 19  
Council Bluff   41 17 00  
Mo of Stone River or the } 41 42 34  
little Sioux
On the South Side whare the
   late King of the Mahars



Fish Camp Neer the Mahars Village
August 14th 1804



Septmb. 1 Calimet Bluffs opsite } 42 53 13—  
the Sues 〈Village〉
Lodges whare we met the
Nation of the Sues
Ceeder Island Louesells Fort   44 11 33—  
the Mouth of the Chien River   44 19 36—  
Mouth of the Water-hoo River   45 39   5—  
the Mouth of the River bullette   46 29 00—  
Fort Mandans on N. Side—   47 21 00—  
at the forks of Mariah   47 24 12—  

Monday May 27th    This morning pleasant weather, but the wind high, from the Northwest, about 10 o'Clock A. M. we set out, and proceeded on our Voyage, towing the Craft, the current of the River running very Swift.    We passed a number of rapid places, Steep mountains, Clifts and precipices.—    This place appear'd to be a desert Country,—    The hills washing by the Rains, No dews fall here, and it seldom Rains, The Soil is rich, but has the appearance of being too much a desert, ever to be Inhabited.    The Game became scarcer here, than they have been for some time past, owing to their being no Grass, or Timber'd land for them to live in.—    no Trees to be seen here, but a few Pitch pine & Spruce.—    The Ibex, Elk & deer, being in the Valleys, & narrow plains below this on the River.—    Those Valleys and plains are covered with wild hysop, Rose bushes, and some Grass.—    some different kinds of wild mint grow along the Shore of the River, and Mussles are to be found in great abundance.—    The land along the Shore is Stoney, & Gravelly; and no falling in banks.—    The water that comes in here from the Creeks, runs so strong that it drives the Stones, and gravel, some distance into the River; which caused most of the hard Riffles, that we passed this day.—    And we had to Man our Crafts doubly in order to get them over Safe.—    One of our party kill'd a Mountain Sheep (Ibex,) this day; We came too and encamp'd where we found an old Indian Camp on the South side of the River, we are now 800 Miles above the Mandan Nation & 2,415 Miles from the mouth of the Mesouri River

1. The party was traveling through the Missouri River Breaks, a region which today is still much as it was in Lewis and Clark's time. The Missouri cuts through another preglacial stream divide here creating a deep, narrow channel. See also the geology note of May 25, 1805. (back)
2. The stone along the river is derived from the fractured sandstones and from the concretions of the Judith River Formation, which is the only formation exposed along today's route. The Bearpaw Shale, with its salts and selenite, caps some of the river hills. The kidney-form stones are concretions, often up to five feet in diameter; they are dark, reddish brown and cemented with iron compounds. The coal is part of the Judith River Formation but is present in limited quantities and does not produce the extensive baked and fused rocks of the Paleocene coals downstream. (back)
3. The island is misplaced in relation to the campsite on Atlas map 60, but is correct on maps 40 and 52; apparently it no longer exists. MRC map 72. (back)
4. In Fergus County, Montana, near later McGarry Bar. Atlas maps 40, 52, 60; MRC map 72. The dearth of wood was a problem to later steamboat traffic on the river. Wood hawkers nearly denuded the river banks in the last century. (back)
5. Also given on Atlas map 40, in both captains' hands. (back)
6. Given as "3" on Atlas map 40, giving a total mileage of 13½. (back)
7. Blocks of sandstone or concreations derived from the Judith River Formation. (back)
8. The Judith River Formation commonly weathers to a light-brown color but many variations occur because of the several types of rock found in this formation. The darker color may be derived from the overlying Bearpaw Shale which also contains most of the salts. (back)
9. Douglas fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco. (back)
10. Probably field mint, Mentha arvenis L. (back)
11. Mussels could be from either the Margaritanidae or Unionidae family. (back)
12. At the end of Whitehouse's entry of May 27 in the original version and partly running into it comes the following miscellaneous material. It consists of eight pages of mileage figures, latitude tables, and random scribbles, some illegible. The random scribbles, for the most part repetitions of Joseph Whitehouse's signature, are not given here. The tables and mileage figures are transcribed as fully as possible and may be compared with similar material in Clark's journals as published in Fort Mandan Miscellany. Whitehouse's notations are written upside down in the notebook and across the page as in a conventional book, rather than from top to bottom of the page as in a stenographer's notebook as is the practice with the narrative portion of the journal. The material is placed here reading from back to front in the notebook, which is the progression of the tables. The date of its composition is unknown, but Whitehouse does give the latitude of the Marias River where the party arrived on June 2. The entry of May 28 begins on a new page and section of the notebook. From here the pages are somewhat larger than the preceding section and are bound separately to the animal skin cover. (back)