June 8, 1805
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June 8, 1805


It continued to rain moderately all last night    this morning was cloudy untill about ten oClock when it cleared off and became a fine day.    we breakfasted and set out about sunrise and continued our rout down the river bottoms through the mud and water as yesterday, tho' the road was somewhat better than yesterday and we were not so often compelled to wade in the river.    we passed some dangerous and difficult bluffs. The river bottoms affording all the timber which is to be seen in the country they are filled with innumerable litle birds that resort thither either for shelter or to build their nests.    when sun began to shine today these birds appeared to be very gay and sung most inchantingly; I observed among them the brown thrush, Robbin, turtle dove, linnit goaldfinch, the large and small blackbird, wren and several other birds of less note. [1]    some of the inhabitants of the praries also take reffuge in these woods at night or from a storm. The whole of my party to a man except myself were fully peswaided that this river was the Missouri, but being fully of opinion that it was neither the main stream or that which it would be advisable for us to take, I determined to give it a name and in honour of Miss Maria W—d. called it Maria's River.    it is true that the hue of the waters of this turbulent and troubled stream but illy comport with the pure celestial virtues and amiable qualifications of that lovely fair one; but on the other hand it is a noble river; one destined to become in my opinion an object of contention between the two great powers of America and Great Britin with rispect to the adjustment of the North westwardly boundary of the former; and that it will become one of the most interesting brances of the Missouri in a commercial point of view, I have but little doubt, as it abounds with anamals of the fur kind, and most probably furnishes a safe and direct communication to that productive country of valuable furs exclusively enjoyed at present by the subjects of his Britanic Majesty; in adition to which it passes through a rich fertile and one of the most beatifully picteresque countries that I ever beheld, through the wide expance of which, innumerable herds of living anamals are seen, it's borders garished with one continued garden of roses, while it's lofty and open forrests, are the habitation of miriads of the feathered tribes who salute the ear of the passing traveler with their wild and simple, yet s[w]eet and cheerfull melody.—    I arrived at camp about 5 OClock in the evening much fatiegued, where I found Capt. Clark and the ballance of the party waiting our return with some anxiety for our safety having been absent near two days longer than we had engaged to return.    on our way to camp we had killed 4 deer and two Antelopes; the skins of which as well as those we killed while on the rout we brought with us. Maria's river may be stated generally from sixty to a hundred yards wide, with a strong and steady current and possessing 5 feet water in the most sholly parts.—

As the incidents which occurred Capt. C. during his rout will be more fully and satisfactoryley expressed by himself I here insert a copy of his journal during the days we wer seperated.— [2]

I now gave myself this evening to rest from my labours, took a drink of grog and gave the men who had accompanyed me each a dram. Capt. Clark ploted the courses of the two rivers as far as we had ascended them. I now began more than ever to suspect the varacity of Mr. Fidler or the correctness of his instruments.    for I see that Arrasmith in his late map of N. America has laid down a remarkable mountain in the chain of the Rocky mountains called the tooth nearly as far South as Latitude 45°, and this is said to be from the discoveries of Mr. Fidler. [3]    we are now within a hundred miles of the Rocky Mountains, and I find from my observation of the 3rd Inst that the latitude of this place is 47° 24' 12.8".    the river must therefore turn much to the South, between this and the rocky Mountain to have permitted Mr. Fidler to have passed along the Eastern border of these mountains as far S. as nearly 45° without even seeing it.    but from hence as far as Capt. C. had ascended the S. fork or Missouri being the distance of 55 [NB: 45 miles in Straight line] miles    it's course is S. 29° W. and it still appeared to bear considerably to the W. of South as far as he could see it. I think therefore that we shall find that the Missouri enters the rocky mountains to the North of 45°—    we did take the liberty of placing his discoveries or at least the Southern extremity of them about a degree further N. in the sketh which we sent on to the government this spring mearly from the Indian information of the bearing from Fort Mandan of the entrance of the Missouri into the Rocky Mountains, and I reather suspect that actual observation will take him at least one other degree further North. The general Course of Maria's river from hence to the extremity of the last course taken by Sergt. pryor is N 69° W. 59 mes.—


rained moderately all the last night & Some this morning untill 10 oClock, I am Some what uneasy for Capt. Lewis & party as days has now passed the time he was to have returned, I had all the arms put in order and permited Severall men to hunt, aired and dried our Stores &c. The rivers at this point has fallen 6 Inches Sinc our arrival, at 10 oClock cleared away and became fair—    the wind all the morning from the S. W. & hard—    The water of the South fork is of a redish brown colour this morning the other river of a whitish colour as usual—The mountains to the South Covered with Snow. Wind Shifted to the N E in the evening, about 5 oClock Capt. Lewis arrived with the party much fatigued, and inform'd me that he had assended the river about 60 miles by Land and that the river had a bold current of about 80 or 100 yards wide the bottoms of Gravel & mud, and may be estimated at 5 feet water in Sholest parts

The courses which Capt. Lewis went to examine the N. fork of the Missouri

the 4th of June 1805
N. 30° W.   4 ½ to a hite on the Stard Side from the top of this hite    the N.
Mountains appear to turn to the N. & terminate, they bear
N. 48° E about 30 miles, the countrey is a leavel plain—
The South mountains bear S, and appear to terminate,
bearing S. 80° W. 35 ms    The barn mountains S. 38° W.
40, the river on the left appears to be 〈about〉 turning to
the N. W.
N. 70° W. 12 to the N. E. of a high hill
N. 15° W.   2 to the river bluff
N. 30° W.   2 to the mouth of a large Creek on Lard. Side a chain of
high hills which run parrelal to the river on the S. Side
N. 20° E 12 to the river Bluffs    camped.    a Dry creek falls in at the
end of the Course on the Stard. Side from the N E.
June 5th
N. 50° W.   4 up the river
North   2 The Tower Mountain bore N. 52 W.    about 60 miles a
high single Mtn.
S. 60° W.   1 ½ allong the river
S. 10° W.   3 allong the river
N. 50° W.   1 ½ allong the river.
West 10 to the river bluff across a Plain    river haveing a consider-
able bend to the South.    Cntr. of bend 5 ms.
N. 80° W.   2 miles on the river
S. 70° W   6 to a high hill on S. S. 2½ miles N. from the river in a plain
S. 80° W. 15 m. with the genl. course of the river    the Countrey leavele
open Plain, near the river Steep reveins    the bottoms nar-
row but well timbered, bluff ¼ to ¾ asunder. The Coun-
trey as far as Could be Seen is a leavel plain
  77 ½  

Some rain in the evening.    the left hand fork rose a little.


Saturday 8th June 1805. Some cloudy.    the wind blew cold from the N. W. Several men went out from Camp to hunt—    about 9 oClock A. M. cleared off pleasant.    the Indian goods &.C. put out to air.    we Saw the high Mountains to the West.    our Camp covered with Snow the greater part of which has fell within a fiew days.    the South fork of the Missourie is high & of a yallow coulour.    the N. fork is more white than common owing as we expect to the late rain which has melted the Snow on the mountains.    about 3 oClock P. M. Capt. Lewis & his party returned to Camp, & Informed us that they had walked through high plains for about 60 miles up the north fork.    they found that it holds its bigness, & depth of water bottoms of timber which is covered with game.    they killed a nomber of buffalow, 16 Deer 6 Elk & a brarow.    they Saw a range of Mountains [4] to the South of them. Capt. Lewis think that the N. fork bears too far north for our course for if we Should take the wrong fork we Should have much further to go by land & more mountains to cross to git over the Columbia River which descends to the western ocean. So our Captains conclude to assend the South fork and burry Some articles which we can do without & leave the largest perogue.    they named the North fork River Mariah and the middle or little River named Tanzey River .    the water & bottoms in everry respect of each resimbles the Missourie below the forks.    only Smaller.    we put a brand on a tree which Stood on the point. the men generally in camp has been employed dressing Skins &.C—

towards evening the hunters all came in    had killed 13 m. mule & common Deer & one beaver. The wind blew from the East    a light Shower of rain this evening.


Saturday 8th.    A fine cool morning. About 10 o'clock A. M. the water of the South river, or branch, became almost of the colour of claret, [5] and remained so all day. The water of the other branch has the appearance of milk when contrasted with the water of this branch in its present state. About 4 in the afternoon Captain Lewis and his party came to camp. They had been up the North branch about 60 miles, and found it navigable that distance; not so full of islands as the other branch and a greater quantity of timber near it and plenty of game, which is not the case on the South branch. Its bearing something north of west a considerable distance, and then to the south of west. The party while out killed 18 deer and some elk. From the appearance of the river where they left it to return, they supposed it might be navigable a considerable distance further. They saw no mountains ahead, but one off towards the north: [6] it was not covered with snow like those we had seen. Both these rivers abound in fish; and we caught some of different kinds, but not large. About five o'clock in the afternoon the weather became cloudy and cold, and it began to rain. The officers concluded that the south branch was the most proper to ascend, which they think is the Missouri. [7] The other they called Maria's river. At dark the rain ceased.


Saturday 8th June 1805.    Some cloudy.    the wind blew cold from the N. W.    Several men went out to hunt.    about 9 oC. cleared off pleasant.    the Indian goods &c put out to air.    we Saw the high mountain to the west of us covered with Snow.    the South fork of the Missourie is high & of a yallow coulour to day, & the North fork more white & rile than before, owing as we expect to the rains & Snow melting above, on the mountains.    about 3 oClock P. M. Capt. Lewis & party returned to Camp, & Informed us that they had been about 60 miles distant up the north fork, had traveled through high plains the greater part of the way.    they found that the N. fork keeps its bigness, pleanty of water, considerable of timber in the bottoms & an amence cite of game.    they killed a great deal of Elk Buffalow Deer &c. &c.    but Capt. Lewis thinks that the N. fork bears too far North for our course to cross the Mountains, for if we Should take the wrong River, we Should have more mountains to cross & further to go by land to git to the Columbia River, which we have to descend to the west.    So the Capt. conclude to take the South fork & proceed, and named the North fork River Mariah , but it has the resemblence of the Missourie below the forks in everry respect, & the middle fork they name Tanzey River the water &c. of which resembles the Missourie also.    the men in Camp generally employed Dressing Skins &c—

towards evening the hunters all returned had killed Sevl. Elk 13 deer and one beaver.    the wind blew from the East, a light Shower of rain this evening.

Saturday June 8th    This morning we had Cloudy weather, and the Wind blowing from the North west; several of our Men went out to hunt, About 7 oClock A. M. the weather cleared off, and became pleasant, the Indians Goods were all put out to air, We saw on the Weather clearing away, a high mountain; lying to the West of us; which was covered with snow, The South fork of the River Mesouri rose to a great heighth, the Water being of a Yellowish Colour today; and the North fork more White and riffling than it was before, the cause of which, we expect, is owing to the Rain that fell lately, and the snow melting in the Mountains.    About 3 o'Clock P. M. Captain Lewis & party returned to Camp, and inform'd us, that they had been about 60 Miles distant, up the North fork of the Mesouri River, & that they had travelled, through high plains, the greater part of the way; they found that the North Fork, kept its width, and plenty of Water, as far as they had been up it.—

The party under Captain Lewis found plenty of timber in the bottoms, the Land extreamly good, and game of all kinds in the greatest abundance, they had killed a great many Buffalo, Elk, deer and other game, Captain Lewis mentioned, that the North fork of the River, bore too far to the Northward, to be our Course to cross the Mountains; and mentioned, that if we should take the wrong river, that we should have more mountains to cross, and a farther distance to travel by land to get to the Columbia River; which we had to descend, it lying to the Westward, Our Officers concluded on proceeding up the South fork of the River, which they deemed as entitled to the Name of the Mesouri River, it being by far the largest; and named the North fork, Maria's River, This River Maria, has the resemblance of the Mesouri below the forks, in every respect.    The middle fork they named Tanzey River; from the great quantity of that herb, which grows wild in its bottoms—    The Tanzey River, is the small River mention'd, which Captain Clarks party came down, on their return to Camp; after having been to take a view, of the South fork.—    The Water, banks, &ca has also the resemblance of the Mesouri River in every respect.—    The Hunters returned in the Evening and had killed 7 Elk, 3 deer, & 1 Beaver, which was brought to our Camp, We had a light shower of Rain and the Wind from the Eastward towards Night.—

1. Lewis's "goaldfinch" is the American goldfinch, Carduelis tristis [AOU, 529]. The wren may be the winter wren, Troglodytes troglodytes [AOU, 722], or any of several other birds. Holmgren, 34. Burroughs questions Criswell's identification of the linnet as the pine siskin, Carduelis pinus [AOU, 533]. Holmgren says the term linnet was used for any small bird with a red crown, especially the common redpoll, C. flammea [AOU, 528], the purple finch, Carpodacus purpureus [AOU, 517], and the house finch, C. mexicanus [AOU, 519]. Burroughs, 259; Criswell, 53; Holmgren, 32. It was probably Biddle who drew a red vertical line through this passage about the birds. (back)
2. Here Lewis copies Clark's entries from Voorhis No.1 covering the period of separation, June 4–8. Having only slight differences in wording, the material is not repeated. Biddle has some emendations in red on the deleted pages, but they are of little consequence to the narrative. (back)
3. Peter Fidler, surveyor for the Hudson's Bay Company, supplied the first information on the drainage network of the upper Missouri along the eastern front of the Rockies, information that went into the 1802 map of the London cartographer Arrasmith , a copy of which Jefferson obtained for Lewis and Clark. Lewis was correct in doubting that Fidler had been as far south as 45° N. Latitude; the surveyor had been no farther south than the Oldman River in southern Alberta, approximately 50° N. Fidler obtained his information in 1801 from a map drawn for him by Ackomokki, a Blackfeet chief. Fidler placed the rivers and mountains too far south because his estimate of distance was based on Indian information, expressed in terms of days' travel, rather than miles. Lewis's impression that Fidler claimed to have seen these landmarks himself was apparently mistaken. MacGregor, 73–75; Moodie & Kaye; Allen (PG), 79–82, 122–23, 276–77; Tooley. (back)
4. Probably the Highwood Mountains. (back)
5. A reddish-brown color, according to Clark. (back)
6. Lewis's Tower Mountain (see his entry of June 5, 1805); the southern end of Sweetgrass Hills, on the Montana-Alberta border. (back)
7. For the captains' reasoning, see Lewis's entry of June 9, 1805. (back)