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

June 17, 1805


Capt. Clark set out early this morning with five me[n] [1] to examine the country and survey the river and portage as had been concerted last evening. I set six men at work to pepare four sets of truck wheels with couplings, toungs and bodies, that they might either be used without the bodies for transporting our canoes, or with them in transporting our baggage    I found that the Elk skins I had prepared for my boat were insufficient to compleat her, some of them having become dammaged by the weather and being frequently wet; to make up this deficiency I sent out two hunters this morning to hunt Elk; the ballance of the party I employed first in unloading the white perogue, which we intend leaving at this place, and bring the whole of our baggage together and arranging it in proper order near our camp.    this duty being compleated I employed them in taking five of the small canoes up the creek which we now call portage creek about 1¾ miles; here I had them taken out and Iyed in the sun to dry.    from this place ther is a gradual ascent to the top of the high plain to which we can now take them with ease; the bluffs of this creek below and those of the river above it's entrance are so steep that it would be almost impracticable to have gotten them on the plain.    we found much difficulty in geting the canoes up this creek to the distance we were compelled to take them, in consequence of the rappids and rocks which obstruct the channel of the creek.    one of the canoes overset and was very near injuring 2 men essencially.    just above the canoes the creek has a perpendicular fall of 5 feet and the cliffts again become very steep and high. we were fortunate enough to find one cottonwood tree just below the entrance of portage creek that was large enough to make our carrage wheels about 22 Inches in diameter; fortunate I say because I do not beleive that we could find another of the same size perfectly sound within 20 miles of us. the cottonwood which we are obliged to employ in the other parts of the work is extreemly illy calculated for it being soft and brittle.    we have made two axeltrees of the mast of the white peroge, which I hope will answer tolerably well tho' it is reather small. The Indian woman much better today, I have still continued the same course of medecine; she is free from pain clear of fever, her pulse regular, and eats as heartily as I am willing to permit her of broiled buffaloe well seasoned with pepper and salt and rich soope of the same meat; I think therefore that there is every rational hope of her recovery.    saw a vast number of buffaloe feeding in every direction arround us in the plains, others coming down in large herds to water at the river; the fragments of many carcases of these poor anamals daily pass down the river, thus mangled I pesume in decending those immence cataracts above us.    as the buffaloe generally go in large herds to water and the passages to the river about the falls are narrow and steep the hi[n]der part of the herd press those in front out of their debth and the water instatly takes them over the cataracts where they are instantly crushed to death without the possibility of escaping.    in this manner I have seen ten or a douzen disappear in a few minutes.    their mangled carcases ly along the shores below the falls in considerable quantities and afford fine amusement for the bear wolves and birds of prey; this may be one reason and I think not a bad one either that the bear are so tenatious of their right of soil in this neighbourhood.


a fine morning    wind as usial    Capt. Lewis with the party unloaded the Perogue & he determined to keep the party employed in getting the loading to the Creek about 1 mile over a low hill in my absence on the Portage.

I Set out with 5 men at 8 oClock, and proceeded on up the Creek Some distance to examine that & if possable assend that Suffcently high, that a Streight Cours to the mouth of Medison river would head the 2 〈hollo〉 reveins, the Creek I found Confined rapid and Shallow [g]eneralley [2]

Monday 17th of June    passed through an open roleing Prarie, So as to head the two reveins    after heading two we Stand our Course So as to Strike the river below the great pitch on our Course to the river Crossed a Deep rivein near its mouth with Steep Clifts    this rivein had running water which was very fine, the river at this place is narrow & Confined in perpindicular clifts of 170 feet from the tops of those Clifts the Countrey rises with a Steep assent for about 250 feet more    we proceeded up the river passing a Sucession of rapids & Cascades to the Falls, which we had herd for Several miles makeing a dedly Sound, I beheld those Cateracts with astonishment    the whole of the water of this great river Confined in a Channel of 280 yards and pitching over a rock of 97 feet ¾ of an, from the foot of the falls arrises a Continued mist which is extended for 150 yds. down & to near the top of the Clifts on L Sd.    the river below is Confined a narrow Chanl. of 93 yards haveing a Small bottom of timber on the Stard Side which is definded by a rock, rangeing Cross wise the river a little below the Shoot, a Short distance below this Cataract a large rock divides the Stream, I in assendending the Clifts to take the hith of the fall was near Slipping into the water, at which place I must have been Sucked under in an instant, and with deficuelty and great risque I assended again, and decended the Clift lower down (but few places Can be descended to the river) and took the hight with as much accuricy as possible with a Spirit Leavels &c.    dined at a fine Spring 200 yards below the pitch near which place 4 Cotton willow trees grew.    on one of them I marked my name the date, and hight of the falls,—    we then proceeded up on the river passing a Continued Cascade & rapid to a fall of 19 feet at 4 Small Islands, this fall is diaguanally across the river from the Lard Side, forming an angle of ¾ of the width from 〈to〉 the Lard. from which Side it pitches for ⅔ of that distance.    on the Stard Side is a rapid decline—    below this Shoot a Deep revein falls in in [which?] we Camped [3] for the night which was Cold    (The mountains in every derection has Snow on Them)    The plain to our left is leavel    we Saw one Bear & inumerable numbers of Buffalow, I Saw 2 herds of those animals watering immediately above a considerable rapid, they decended by a narrow pass to the bottom Small, the rier forced those forwd into the water Some of which was taken down in an instant, and Seen no more [4]    others made Shore with difficuelty, I beheld 40 or 50 of those Swimming at the Same time    those animals in this way are lost and accounts for the number of buffalow carcases below the rapids


Monday 17th June 1805.    a clear morning. Some men employed taking the canoes up the little River. [5] 6 men employed making Small low waggons for the purpose of halling the canoes, Goods & baggage through the plains by the falls. Capt. Clark and five men went to Survey and measure the distance &.C. to the head of the falls to where we could take the water again 2 hunters out in order to git Elk Skins to cover or bottom our Iron boat when we git abo. the falls, as we will Stand in need of it as we leave our largest craft at this place.    the timber is verry Scarse about the falls.    the buffalow pleanty.    in the evening we got the canoes up the Small River about 1¾ miles to the falls of it of about 4 feet prepinticular.    we had some difficulty in gitting them up the rapids to this place    one canoe turned over.    was near hurting the 2 men in hir. Several others filled with water halling them up Such Steep rapids, but we got them all up Safe to this falls of the little River, and carried them out on a level, turned them on one Side to dry &.C.


Monday 17th.    Part of the men were employed in taking the canoes up the small river about a mile and an half; and some engaged in making small waggons to haul the canoes and loading above the falls. Captain Clarke and 4 men [6] went to view and survey our road to the place where we were to embark above the falls. Opposite the mouth of the small river, a beautiful sulphur spring [7] rises out of the bank, of as strong sulphur water as I have ever seen. On the bottoms of this small river and also on the Missouri is a great quantity of flax growing, and at this time in bloom. Two men went out this morning to hunt for elk, in order to get their skins for covering to the iron frame of a boat, which we had with us. In the evening the men got the canoes to a proper place to take them upon land.


Monday 17th June 1805.    a cloudy morning.    Some men employed taking the canoes up the little River about 1¾ miles.    6 men employed makeing Small low waggons to hall the canoes and baggage by the carrying place above the falls.    Capt. Clark and five men went to Survey & measure the distance up to the head of the falls, to where we can take water again, & to look out a road for us to go up with the waggons, &c.    2 hunters out to git Elk Skins, to put our Iron boat together above the falls, as we leave our largest craft here.    the timber is verry Scarse above the falls.    verry high plains    the buffalow pleanty.    in the evening we got the canoes up the Small River to the falls of it which is about 4 feet perpenticular.    we had Some difficulty in gitting them up the rapids to day, as well as a dangerous job    one canoe turned upside down in a bad rapid, & was near drowning the 2 men which was in hir.    Several others filled with water but we haled them up Safe to the place convenient at the falls to take them up the bank. [8]    we caried them out on a livel & turned them up on edge to dry.

Monday June 17th    This morning we had cloudy weather, our men were employed, in taking the Crafts up the little River, about 1¾ miles, and some of them were also employ'd making small low truck carriages, to transport our Crafts, and the baggage on by a carrying place, above the falls of the River, Captain Clarke took a small party of our men & went to measure the distance, up to the head of the falls of the River, and to find the best rout for our carriages to go, to that place; where we intend embarking again in our Crafts.    Two of our hunters went out hunting in order to procure some Elk skins, to cover the frame of an Iron boat, which we had brought with us, which our Officers intend putting together above the falls.—

Our officers concluded to leave our largest Craft at this place, knowing the difficulty that we should experience in getting them even over the falls, which was on this small River of 8 feet; We found Timber very scarce about those falls, and very high plains, and Buffalo in very great abundance.—    In the Evening we got our Crafts up the small River to the falls of it, which was about 8 feet perpendicular, and the Water running very rapid down them,—We experienc'd much difficulty, as well as danger in getting our Crafts up the rapids this day.—    One of our craft turned upside down & the 2 Men that were in her narrowly escaped being drownded, several others of them filled with water.    With much difficulty & fataigue we hawled those Crafts on our Carriages up to where the falls commenced, and took them up the bank, out to a level piece of Ground, and turned them up on their edges to dry, We encamped here for this night, all our party being much fataigued.—

1. Including Alexander Willard, John Colter, and perhaps Joseph Field. (back)
2. At this point Clark apparently inserted four extra sheets (eight pages) into Voorhis No. 1, on which he wrote a clean copy of the notes of the survey of the Great Falls portage and the falls themselves (six pages), with a two-page map of the area (see figure). Evidently he still had more empty space than he needed and for some reason he carried a portion of his entry of June 20 to this spot. That material was actually copied from Lewis's entries of July 4 and 11, but he also included some reflections on his personal experience with the mysterious noise of which Lewis wrote in the copied passages (see June 20 below). Since the captains were separated from July 10 to 13, he could not have done this copying from Lewis until after the latter date. See Introduction. (back)
3. Clark's camp was below Crooked Falls in Cascade County, Montana, north of present Malmstrom Air Force Base. Atlas maps 54, 61; MRC map 77. (back)
4. Before the next sentence, at the top of a page of Voorhis No. 1, Clark has written, "No.10." The meaning is unknown. (back)
6. Actually five men, including Alexander Willard, Colter, and perhaps Joseph Field. (back)
7. Sulphur, or Sacagawea, Springs still exists about three hundred yards from the Missouri, opposite the mouth of Belt Creek, Cascade County, Montana. (back)
8. Apparently they camped on Belt Creek, in Cascade County, Montana, below the falls of the creek. (back)