June 4, 1805
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

June 4, 1805


This morning early Capt. C. departed, and at the same time I passed the wright hand fork opposite to our camp below a small Island; from hence I steered N. 30 W. 4½ to a commanding eminence; [1] here I took the following bearings of the mountains which were in view. The North Mountains [2] appear to change their direction from that of being parallel with the Missouri turning to the North and terminating abruptly; their termineation bearing N. 48° E distant by estimate 30 mes. The South Mountains [3] appear to turn to the S. also terminating abrubtly, their extremity bearing S. 8 W. distant 25 mes. The Barn Mountain, [4] a lofty mountain so called from it's resemblance to the roof of a large Barn, is a seperate Mountain and appears reather to the wright of and retreating from the extremity of the S. mts.; this boar S. 38 W. distant 35 ms. The North fork which I am now ascending lies to my left and appears to make a considerable bend to the N. W.    on it's Western border a range of hills about 10 mes. long appear to lye parallel with the river and from hence bear N. 60° W.    to the N. of this range of hills an Elivated point of the river bluff on it's Lard. side boar N. 72° W. distant 12 mes.    to this last object I now directed my course through a high level dry open plain.    the whole country in fact appears to be one continued plain to the foot of the mountains or as far as the eye can reach; the soil appears dark rich and fertile yet the grass is by no means as high nor dose it look so luxurient as I should have expected, it is short just sufficient to conceal the ground.    great abundance of prickly pears which are extreemly troublesome; as the thorns very readily perce the foot through the Mockerson; they are so numerous that it requires one half of the traveler's attention to avoid them    In these plains I [NB: we] observed great numbers of the brown Curloos, a small species of curloo or plover of a brown colour about the size of the common snipe and not unlike it in form with a long celindric curved and pointed beak; it's wings are proportionately long and the tail short; in the act of liteing this bird lets itself down by an extention of it's wings without motion holding their points very much together above it's back, in this rispect differing ascentially from any bird I ever observed. [5]    a number of sparrows also of three distinct species I observed.    also a small bird which in action resembles the lark, [6] it is about the size of a large sparrow of a dark brown colour with some white fathers in the tail; this bird or that which I take to be the male rises into the air about 60 feet and supporting itself in the air with a brisk motion of the wings sings very sweetly, has several shrill soft notes reather of the plaintive order which it frequently repeats and varies, after remaining stationary about a minute in his aireal station he descends obliquely occasionly pausing and accomnying his decension with a note something like twit twit twit; on the ground he is silent.    thirty or forty of these birds will be stationed in the air at a time in view, these larks as I shall call them add much to the gayety and cheerfullness of the scene. All those birds are now seting and laying their eggs in the plains; their little nests are to be seen in great abundance as we pass.    there are meriads of small grasshoppers in these plains which no doubt furnish the principal aliment of this numerous progeny of the feathered creation. after walking about eight miles I grew thisty and there being no water in the plains I changed my direction and boar obliquely in towards the river, on my arrival at which about 3 mes. below the point of observation, we discovered two deer at feed at some distance near the river; I here halted the party and sent Drewyer to kill one of them for breakfast; this excellent hunter so[o]n exceded his orders by killing of them both; they proved to be two Mule Bucks in fine order; we soon kindled a fire cooked and made a hearty meal.    it was not yet twelve when we arrived at the river and I was anxious to take the Meridian Altd. of the sun but the clouds prevented my obtaining the observation.    after refreshing ourselves we proceded up the river to the extremity of the first course, from whence the river boar on it's general course N. 15° W. 2 M. to a bluff point on Stard.    here Drewyer killed four other deer of the common kind; we skined them and hung up a part of the meat and the skins as we did also of the first, and took as much of the meat as we thought would answer for our suppers and proceeded N. 30 W. 2 m. to the entrance of a large creek on Lard. side [7]    the part of the river we have passed is from 40 to 60 yds. wide, is deep, has falling banks, the courant strong, the water terbid and in short has every appearance of the missouri b[e]low except as to size.    it's bottoms narrow but well timbered. Salts coal and other mineral appearances as usual; the bluffs principally of dark brown, yellow and some white clay; some freestone also appears in places. [8] The river now boar N. 20° E. 12 mes. to a bluff on Lard. At the commencement of this course we ascended the hills which are about 200 feet high, and passed through the plains about 3 m. but finding the dry ravines so steep and numerous we determined to return to the river and travel through it's bottoms and along the foot and sides of the bluffs, accordingly we again reached the river about 4 miles from the commencement of the last course and encamped a small distanc above on the Stard. side in a bend among the willow bushes which defended us from the wind which blew hard from the N. W.    it rained this evening and wet us to the skin; the air was extremely could.    just before we encamped Drewyer fired at a large brown bar across the river and wounded him badly but it was too late to pursue him.    killed a braro and a beaver, also at the place of our encampment, a very fine Mule deer.    we saw a great number of Buffaloe, Elk, wolves and foxes today.    the river bottoms form one emence garden of roses, now in full bloe.


Capt. Lewis & my Self each with a Small party of men Set out early—    those who accompanied Capt Lewis were G. Drewyer Serjt. Pryor, J Shields, P. Crusat J. B. de Page, R. Winser, went up the N. side of the N. fork.    those who accompanied me were Serjt. Gass Jos: & Ruben Fields G. Shannon & my black man York, and we Set out to examine the South fork, our first Course was S. 25° W. 7 miles to the S. fork at a Spring, at which place the little river which falls into the N. fork is 100 yards distant only Seperated from the 〈right〉 South fork by a narrow ridge. [9]    our course from thence S. 20° W. 8 miles to the river at an Island where we dined below a Small river falls in on the S E Side which heads in a mountain to the S. E about 20 miles. [10] North of this place about 4 miles the little river brakes thro' a high ridge into the open Leavel plain thro which we have passd. from the point, this plain is covered with low grass & prickley pear, emence number of Prarie dogs or barking Squirel are thro this plain—    after eating we proceeded on N. 45° W. Struck the river at 3 miles 5, 9 & 13 miles at which place we encamped in an old Indian lodge made of Stiks and bark [11]    at the river near our camp we Saw two white Bear, one of them was nearly catching Joseph Fields [12] who could not fire, as his gun was wet    the bear was So near that it Struck his foot, and we were not in a Situation to give him assistance, a Clift of rocks Seperated us    the bear got allarmed at our Shot & yells & took the river.—    Some rain all the afternoon    Saw Several Gangues of Buffalow at a distance in the open plains on each Side, Saw Mule deer antilopes & wolves—    The river is rapid & Closely himed on one or the other Side with high bluffs, Crouded with Islands & graveley bars Containing but a Small quantity of timber on its bottoms & none on the high land.


June 4th Tuesday 1805. Capt. Lewis and 6 men Set out to go up the right hand fork. [13]    Capt Clark & 5 more Set out at the Same time to go up the left hand fork in order to go one day & a halfs march up the River and see if they can find out which will be our best River to proceed on. Some of the men at Camp killed 2 faun Elk near the point for their Skins to dress.    the day proved Cloudy.    2 men who had been from Camp a hunting returned towards evening.    had killed one Elk & a Deer & Set traps for beaver &C.    a fiew drops of rain towards evening & high cold wind from the North.


Tuesday 4th.    Captain Lewis with six men [14] went up the North branch, to see if they could find any certain marks to determine whether that was the Missouri or not; and Captain Clarke myself and four others [15] went up the South branch, for the same purpose with regard to that branch. About eight miles above the confluence, the South branch and the small river which falls into the North branch, are not more than 200 yards apart. Near this place and close on the bank of the South branch is a beautiful spring where we refreshed ourselves with a good drink of grog [16] and proceeded on through the high plains. Here nothing grows but prickly pears, [17] which are in abundance, and some short grass. We sent on about thirty miles and found the river still extending in a South West direction. We saw a mountain [18] to the South about 20 miles off, which appeared to run East and West, and some spots on it resembling snow. In the evening we went towards the river to encamp, where one of the men [19] having got down to a small point of woods on the bank, before the rest of the party, was attacked by a huge he-bear, and his gun missed fire. We were about 200 yards from him, but the bank there was so steep we could not get down to his assistance: we, however, fired at the animal from the place where we stood and he went off without injuring the man. Having got down we all encamped [20] in an old Indian lodge for the night.


Tuesday 4th June 1805.    Capt. Lewis & 6 men Set out to go up the Right hand fork.    Capt. Clark & 5 more Set out to go up the left hand fork.    they intend to go about one day & a halfs walk up the rivers & See what discoveries they can make.    Some of the men at camp killed 2 faun Elk close by the camp for the Skins, to dress.    the day proved cloudy.    a fiew drops of rain towards evening, & high cold wind from the N. E.    2 men who had been from camp a hunting returned had killed an Elk & a Deer, & had Set 2 traps for beaver.    cloudy all day.—

Tuesday June 4th    We remained this day at the place, we encamped at Yesterday; in the forks of the Rivers, The weather was Cloudy, Captain Lewis and Six hunters, set out to go up the North fork of the River; and Captain Clark and five hunters, also set out to go up the South fork, they intend going about One & a half days Journey up each River, in Order to make discoveries, and to ascertain our right Course, and to determine which of those forks was the Mesouri River, Some of the Men at our Camp killed 2 fawn Elk near it; those Fawn Skins, we prepar'd to dress, to make moccasins, towards Evening the Wind rose from the North east, and was Cold, Two of our Men that had went hunting from our Camp, returned.    They had killed an Elk, and one deer.—and had set 2 Traps to catch beaver.—

1. Lewis's courses and distances for this day and the next are summarized in Clark's entry of June 8. (back)
2. Probably the Bears Paw Mountains. (back)
3. Probably the Highwood Mountains. (back)
4. Square Butte, east of the Highwood Mountains and south of Geraldine, Chouteau County, Montana. Lewis's "S. 38 W." should read "S. 38 E."; he says that Barn Mountain is "reather to the wright [east]" of the Highwoods. (back)
5. The long-billed curlew, although Holmgren believes Lewis describes two birds: "brown Curloos" and a "small species of curloo." The latter she supposes to be the Eskimo curlew, Numenius borealis [AOU, 266]. Holmgren, 29. (back)
6. McCown's longspur, Calcarius mccownii [AOU, 539], then new to science. Cutright (LCPN), 157. Someone, perhaps Biddle, drew a red vertical line through these passages, beginning with "I observed" to "numerous progeny." (back)
7. Sheep Coulee, some distance above which Lewis camped on the opposite side. (back)
8. Like the Missouri, the Marias River was forced by glacial ice to cut a new channel. The formations exposed in this trench-like channel are the Claggett Shale, Eagle Sandstone, and Marias River Shale. The Claggett Shale is covered by glacial till. The salts are derived from the shale and the till. The coal occurs in the upper member of the Eagle Sandstone. (back)
9. The Teton River is separated from the Missouri by a ridge or high ground which was later called Cracon du Nez by French rivermen and may be loosely translated, "bridge of the nose." It is now called Vimy Ridge. Wheeler, 1:302; Coues (HLC), 1:346 n. 29; Atlas maps 42, 53, 61; MRC map 75. (back)
10. "Snow River" on Atlas maps 42, 53, 61; later Shonkin Creek, in Chouteau County, Montana. MRC map 75. (back)
11. Marked on Atlas maps 42 and 54 as "my old camp" and on map 61 as "W. Cs Camp 4 June." The last does not quite agree with the other two, which are probably correct. About a mile and one-half upstream of present Carter Ferry, in Chouteau County. MRC map 76. (back)
12. Apparently Lewis added the man's name a second time here, as "Joseph Field." (back)
13. Clark listed the men in each of the detachments in his entry for this day. Ordway remained behind with the main party. (back)
15. With Clark, besides Gass, were Joseph and Reubin Field, Shannon, and York. (back)
16. The "Grog Spring" does not appear on any Atlas maps, but is mentioned by Clark on June 12; the site, as Gass says, is at the place where Teton and Missouri rivers approach very closely, in Chouteau County, Montana. Grog is generally taken to be a mixture of rum and water. (back)
17. Probably plains prickly pear, Opuntia polyacantha Haw. (back)
20. About a mile and a half upstream from Carter Ferry, Chouteau County. (back)