June 5, 1805
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

June 5, 1805


This morning was cloudy and so could that I was obleged to have recourse to a blanket coat in order to keep myself comfortable altho' walking.    the rain continued during the greater part of last night.    the wind hard from N. W.    we set out at sunrise and proceded up the river eight miles on the course last taken yesterday evening, at the extremity of which a large creek falls in on the Stard. 25 yards. wide at it's entrance, some timber but no water, notwithstanding the rain; it's course upwards is N. E. it is astonishing what a quantity of water it takes to saturate the soil of this country, the earth of the plains are now opened in large crivices in many places and yet looks like a rich loam from the entrance of this Creek (which I called Lark C.) [1] the river boar N. 50. W. 4 m.    at the entrance of this creek the bluffs were very steep and approached the river so near on the Stard. side that we assended the hills and passed through the plains; at the extremity of this course we returned to the river which then boar North 2 mes. from the same point, I discovered a lofty single mountain which appeard to be at a great distance, perhaps 80 or more miles    it boar N. 52 W.    from it's conic figure I called it tower Mountain. [2]    we now passed through the river bottoms to the extremity of the last course thence with the river S 60° W 1½ m. S 10 W. 3 m N 50 W 1½ at the extremity of which I again ascended the bluffs and took a course to a point of the Lard. bluffs of the river which boar West 10 m. the river making a deep bend to the south that is of at least five miles from the center of the chord line to the center of the bend.    on this course we passed through the plains found the plains as yesterday extreemly leavel and beautifull, great quanties of Buffaloe, some wolves foxes and Antelopes seen.    near the river the plain is cut by deep ravines in this plain and from one to nine miles from the river or any water, we saw the largest collection of the burrowing or barking squirrels that we had ever yet seen; [3] we passed through a skirt of the territory of this community for about 7 miles. I [NB: we] saw [NB: near the hills] a flock of the mountain cock, [4] or a large species of heath hen with a long pointed tail which the Indians informed us were common to the Rockey Mountains, I sent Shields to kill one of them but he was obliged to fire a long distance at them and missed his aim.    as we had not killed or eat anything today we each killed a burrowing squrrel as we passed them in order to make shure of our suppers.    we again [in]tersepted the river at the expiration of the last course or the lard. bluffs, from whence it now boar N 80° W.    2 mes. from this point saw some other lofty mountains to the N. W. of Tower Mtn. which boar N. 65° W. 80 or 100 mes. distant [5]    at the expiration of this course we killed five Elk and a blacktailed or mule deer and encamped on Stard. side of the river in a handsome well timbered bottom [6] where there were several old stick lodges. in the forepart of the day there was but little timber in the river bottoms but the quantity is now greater than usual.    the river is about 80 yds. wide with a strong steady courant and from 6 to 10 feet water. I had the burrowing squirrels roasted by way of experiment and found the flesh well flavored and tender; some of them were very fat.


Some little rain & Snow last night    the mountains to our S E. covered with Snow this morning    air verry Cold & raining a little, we Saw 8 buffalow opposit, the[y] made 2 attempts to Cross, the water being So Swift they Could not, about the time we were Setting out three white bear approached our Camp    we killed the three & eate part of one & Set out & proceeded on N. 20° W 11 miles. Struck the river at maney places in this distance to a ridge on the N. Side from the top of which I could plainly See a mountain to the South & W. covered with Snow at a long distance, [7] The mountains opposit to us to the S. E. is also Covered with Snow this morning.—    a high ridge from those mountains approach the river on the S E Side forming Some Clifts of hard dark Stone. [8]—    From the ridge at which place I Struck the river last, I could [letters unclear] discover that the river run west of South a long distance, and has a Strong rapid Current, 〈a few minets of〉    as this river Continued its width debth & rapidity and the Course west of South, going up further would be useless, I deturmined to return, I accordingly Set out, thro' the plain on a Course N. 30° E on my return & Struck the little river at 20 miles passing thro a Leavel plain, at the little river we killed 2 buck Elk & dined on their marrow 〈bones〉, proceeded on a few miles & Camped, haveing killed 2 deer which was verry fat, Some few drops of rain to day, the evening fair wind hard from the N. E.    I Saw great numbers of Elk & white tale deer, Some beaver, antelope mule deer & wolves & one bear on this little river marked my name in a tree N. Side near the ridge where the little river brakes thro' [9]


Wednesday 5th June 1805.—    the wind blew high from the North all last night    a Cloudy Cold windy morning.    one beaver caught last night.    the men engaged Dressing Skins for to make themselves moccasons leggins &C. one man by the name of Goodrich has caught a considerable quantity of fish. Some of which are Shell fish, but the most part are Small cat fish.    we have caught none as large this Season as we did last as yet, as we have a great pleanty of meat we do not trouble ourselves for to catch fish.—


Wednesday 5th.    Some light showers of rain fell in the night, and the morning was cloudy. When preparing to set out we discovered three bears coming up the river towards us; we therefore halted a while and killed the whole of them. About 7 we set out along the plains again, and discovered the mountain South of us covered with snow, that had fallen last night. When we had gone about 11 miles we saw a large mountain [10] to the West of us also covered with snow. This mountain appeared to run from North to South, and to be very high. The bearing of the river is still South West. Captain Clarke thought this a good course for us to proceed on our voyage, and we turned back towards the camp again. We went about 15 miles and struck the small river [11] about 20 miles from its mouth. Here we killed some elk and deer and encamped [12] all night. There is a great deal of timber in the bottoms of this little river, and plenty of different kinds of game. In these bottoms I saw the stalks of a plant [13] resembling flax in every particular.


Wednesday 5th June 1805.    the wind blew high from the N. E. all last night.    a cloudy cold windy morning.    one beaver caught in a trap last night.    I Stayed in Camp dressing Skins for to make myself moccasons &c.    one of the men by the name of goodrich has caught a considerable quantity of Small fish.    Some of them Skale fish    the most part are a [sort?] of a Smallish sized cat fish. [14]    we have caught no large ones this Season as we did last as yet, &c.

Wednesday June 5th    The wind blew during last night, from the North east, and we have a cold windy & Cloudy morning; One beaver was caught in the Traps set last night, part of the Men were employed, in dressing Skins to make Moccasins for the party.—    One of our party was employ'd fishing; he caught a considerable number of small Cat fish.—

1. Later Black Coulee. Coues (HLC), 1:349 n. 34. (back)
2. The southern end of the Sweetgrass Hills, on the Montana-Alberta border. Allen (LCDM), 12. (back)
3. Lewis's wording seems to imply this was the already familiar prairie dog (see above, September 7, 1804); Coues believes it to be Richardson's ground squirrel. Since Lewis's party actually killed some to eat, it would seem he would have noted the difference in size and color. See also April 9, 1805. Coues (HLC), 1:349–50 n. 36; Burroughs, 102–6. (back)
4. The sage grouse, Centrocercus urophasianus [AOU, 309], then unknown to science. Lewis gave a detailed description on March 2, 1806. Cutright (LCPN), 157; Burroughs, 213–15. It was probably Biddle who drew a red vertical line through the passage about the grouse. (back)
5. The rest of the Sweetgrass Hills. (back)
6. Lewis's farthest point up the Marias in 1805; on July 19, 1806, he described it as being about six miles below where he reached the river in the latter year, and about four miles downstream from the mouth of later Pondera Creek. (back)
7. Probably the Little Belt range, perhaps with the Big Belt range behind. (back)
8. The high ridge is probably part of Shepherd Butte. The dark stone is shale and siltstone of the Blackleaf Formation. (back)
9. Roughly west or west-northwest of present Fort Benton, Chouteau County, Montana. Clark's camp this day was evidently somewhere east of this point on the Teton River. Atlas maps 42, 53, 61; MRC map 75. (back)
10. The Little Belt Mountains, perhaps with the Big Belt Mountains behind. (back)
12. Gass gives the impression that they camped where they reached Teton River, but Clark indicates they went down the river a few miles. They camped west or west-northwest of Fort Benton, Chouteau County. (back)
13. Perhaps blue flax, Linum perenne L., or roundleaf harebell, Campanula rotundifolia L., which resembles flax. See Lewis's entry of July 18. (back)
14. Probably channel catfish. (back)