June 20, 1805
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

June 20, 1805


This morning we had but little to do; waiting the return of Capt. Clark; I am apprehensive from his stay that the portage is longer than we had calculated on. I sent out 4 hunters this morning on the opposite side of the river to kill buffaloe; the country being more broken on that side and cut with ravenes they can get within shoot of the buffaloe with more ease and certainty than on this side of the river.    my object is if possible while we have now but little to do, to lay in a large stock of dryed meat at this end of the portage to subsist the party while engaged in the transportation of our baggage &c, to the end, that they may not be taken from this duty when once commenced in order to surch for the necessary subsistence. The Indian woman is qute free from pain and fever this morning and appears to be in a fair way for recovery, she has been walking about and fishing. In the evening 2 of the hunters returned and informed me that they had killed eleven buffaloe eight of which were in very fine order, I sent off all hands immediately to bring in the meat    they soon returned with about half of the best meat leaving three men to remain all night in order to secure the ballance.    the buffaloe are in immence numbers, they have been constantly coming down in large herds to water opposite to us for some hours sometimes two or three herds wartering at the same instant and scarcely disappear before others supply their places.    they appear to make great use of the mineral water, whether this be owing to it's being more convenient to them than the river or that they actually prefer it I am at a loss to determine for they do not use it invaryably, but sometimes pass at no great distance from it and water at the river.    brackish water or that of a dark colour impregnated with mineral salts such as I have frequenly mentioned on the Missouri is found in small quantities in some of the steep ravenes on the N. side of the river opposite to us and the falls. Capt. Clark and party returned late this evening when he gave me the following relation of his rout and the occurrences which had taken place with them since their departure. [1]

Capt. Clark now furnished me with the field notes of the survey which he had made of the Missouri and it's Cataracts cascades &c. from the entrance of portage Creek to the South Eastwardly bend of the Missouri above the White bear Islands, which are as follow. [2]

June 20th 1805    At our camp below the entrance of portage creek observed Meridian Altd. of ☉'s L. L. with Octant by the back Observtn. 53° 10'

Latitude deduced from this observation 47° 7' 10.3"


a Cloudy morning, a hard wind all night and this morning, I direct Stakes to be Cut to Stick up in the prarie to Show the way for the party to transport the baggage &c. &c.    we Set out early on the portage, Soon after we Set out it began to rain and continued a Short time    we proceeded on thro' a tolerable leavel plain, and found the hollow of a Deep rivein to obstruct our rout as it Could not be passed with Canos & baggage for Some distance above the place we Struck it    I examined it for Some time and finding it late deturmined to Strike the river & take its Course & distance to Camp which I accordingly did    the wind hard from the S. W.    a fair after noon, the river on both Sides Cut with raveins Some of which is passes thro Steep Clifts into the river, the Countrey above the falls & up the Medison river is leavel, with low banks, a chain of mountains to the west Some part of which particuler those to the N W. & S W are Covered with Snow and appear verry high—    I Saw a rattle Snake in an open plain 2 miles from any Creek or wood. When I arrived at Camp found all well with great quantites of meet, the Canoes Capt. Lewis had Carried up the Creek 1 ¾ 〈of an〉 mile to a good place to assend the band & taken up. Not haveing Seen [3] the Snake Indians or knowing in fact whither to Calculate on their friendship or hostillity, we have Conceived our party Sufficiently Small, and therefore have Concluded not to dispatch a Canoe with a part of our men to St. Louis as we have intended early in the Spring.    we fear also that Such a measure might also discourage those who would in Such Case remain, and migh possibly hazard the fate of the expedition.    we have never hinted to anyone of the party that we had Such a Scheem in contemplation, and all appear perfectly to have made up their minds, to Succeed in the expedition or perish in the attempt.    we all believe that we are about to enter on the most perilous and dificuelt part of our Voyage, yet I See no one repineing; all appear ready to meet those dificuelties which await us with resolution and becomeing fortitude.

We had a heavy dew this morning.    the Clouds near those mountains rise Suddonly and discharge their Contents partially on the neighbouring Plains; the Same Cloud discharge hail alone in one part, hail and rain in another and rain only in a third all within the Space of a fiew Miles; and on the Mountains to the South & S. E. of us Sometimes Snow.    at present there is no Snow on those mountains; that which covered them a fiew days ago has all disappeared.    the Mountains to the N. W. and West of us are Still entirely Covered are white and glitter with the reflection of the Sun.

I do not believe that the Clouds that pervale at this Season of the year reach the Summits of those lofty mountains; and if they do the probabillty is that they deposit Snow only for there has been no proceptable diminution of the Snow which they Contain Since we first Saw them. I have thought it probable that these mountains might have derived their appellation of Shineing Mountains , from their glittering appearance when the Sun Shines in certain directions on the Snow which Cover them.

Dureing the time of my being on the Plains and above the falls I as also all my party repeatedly heard a nois which proceeded from a Direction a little to the N. of West, as loud and resembling precisely the discharge of a piece of ordinance of 6 pounds at the distance of 5 or six miles. [4] I was informed of it Several times by the men J. Fields particularly before I paid any attention to it, thinking it was thunder most probably which they had mistaken.    at length walking in the plains yesterday near the most extreem S. E. bend of the River above the falls I heard this nois very distinctly, it was perfectly calm clear and not a Cloud to be Seen, I halted and listened attentively about two hour dureing which time I heard two other discharges, and took the direction of the Sound with my pocket Compass which was as nearly West from me as I could estimate from the Sound. I have no doubt but if I had leasure I could find from whence it issued. I have thought it probable that it might be caused by running water in Some of the caverns of those emence mountains, on the principal of the blowing caverns; [5] but in Such case the Sounds would be periodical and regular, which is not the Case with this, being Sometimes heard once only and at other times Several discharges in quick Succession.    it is heard also at different times of the day and night. I am at a great loss to account for this Phenomenon. I well recollect hereing the Minitarees Say that those Rocky Mountains make a great noise, but they could not tell me the Cause, neither Could they inform me of any remarkable substance or situation in these mountains which would autherise a conjecture of a probable cause of this noise—.    it is probable that the large river just above those Great falls which heads in the derection of the noise has taken it's name Medicine River from this unaccountable rumbling Sound, which like all unacountable thing with the Indians of the Missouri is Called Medicine.

The Ricaras inform us of the black mountains making a Simalar noise &c. &c. and maney other wonderfull tales of those Rocky mountains and those great falls.

June 20th [6]

at our Camp below the enterance of Portage River observed Meridian altitude of ☉s L. L. with Octant by the back observation    53° 10' 0"

Latitude deduced from the observation 47° 7' 10" 3/10


Thursday 20th June 1805. Some cloudy & cold for the Season.    the wind continues high from the west off the mountains.    4 men Sent across the river to hunt.    a light Sprinkling of rain about noon    we are now waiting the arival of Capt. Clark.    late in the afternoon 2 of the hunters Came in and informed us that they had got 11 buffalow killed & the most of them fat. the other 2 Stayed to butcher.    all hands in Camp turned out for the meat, & brought about the half of what was fat    3 men Stayed all night to dress the remainder.    verry large gangs all around the place within Shot of the butchers &C.    a light Sprinkling of rain.    late in the evening Capt. Clark and party returned to Camp    they informed us that they traversed & measured the River and falls, as they went up.    measured all the Small or little falls which were common & of different hites.    the highest catteract or falls is 87 feet perpinticular.    the next highest 47 feet 8 Ich    the next or 3rd about 30 or upwards.    a nomber of Small ones & a continued rapid the whole way for 17 miles to where we can take water again. those large falls all have a mist which rises about 200 yards from the Shoot.    about a mile above the falls of 47 feet, 8 Inches, the largest fountan or Spring [7] falls in that we ever Saw before and it is the oppinion of Capt. Clark that it is the largest Spring in america known.    this water boils up from under the rocks near the River & falls immediately in to the river 8 feet & keeps its colour for ½ a mile, which is verry clear and of a blueish cast&c — two of Capt. Clarks party was attacted by a large white bear on an Island [8] near where they had camped one night.    one of them A. Willard like to have been caught.    the other chased in the water after Willard made his ascape towards camp. Capt. Clark and 3 others went to their assistance.    the bear ratreated.    night came on    the bushes thick.    So they did not kill him, they Saw but little timber.    the country up the medicine River above the falls is level with low banks.    they Saw a chain of Mountains [9] to the west Some of which perticular those to the N. W. and S. W. are covered with Snow, and appear to be verry high.    they turned back in order to look out the levelest way for the portage. Capt. Clark lost a part of his notes which could not be found. Capt. Clark Saw a rattle Snake out in the plains a long distance from timber or water.    they Saw verry large innumerable quantyties of buffalow while they were gone.    they killed 7 buffalow & Saved as much of the meat as possable. killed a beaver also,

they Saw buffalow attempt to Swim the River above the falls. Some of which was Sucked over and Seen no more.    great numbers of those animels are lost in these falls which is the cause of our Seeing So many below for a long distance washed up on Shore. Some make the Shore above the falls half drowned.—


Thursday 20th.    A cloudy morning: four hunters went out to kill some fat buffaloe. About 4 o'clock one of them came in for men to carry the meat to camp; as they had 14 down ready to butcher. We went out about a mile and an half, and brought in a load, leaving three men to dress the rest. Captain Clarke and his party returned, having found a tolerable good road except where some draughts crossed it. They had left their blankets and provision at the place where they expect we will again embark. [10]


Thursday 20th June 1805.    Some cloudy & cold.    the wind continues high from the west.    three or 4 men went across the River to hunt &c.    we lay at Camp at the commencement of the carrying place, to wait the arival of Capt. Clark & party.    a light Squall of rain about noon.    in the afternoon 〈the〉 Some of the hunters came in had killed 11 buffalow the most of them verry fat.    all hands turned out after the meat, but could not fetch more than half of what was fat.    3 men Stayed all night to butcher the remainder of the buffalow, which lay dead.    Saw large gangs come about close to the men which was dressing the meat &c—    a little rain.

in the evening Capt. Clark & party returned.    they informed us that they traversed the River going up & measured the falls & river found the first to be about 30 feet the highest & middle 87 feet the upper one a 45 feet all of which is perpinticular, a continued rapids between each other. [11]    they found it to be 17 miles to the head to where we can take water again.    two men was attacted by a verry large White bear one of them A Willard near being caught.    Capt. Clark went & relieved them & 3 men with him.    but night comming on & the bushes thick it being on an Island they did not kill it.    they Saw 1 or 2 other white bear.    they Saw also innumerable gangs of buffalow & killed 8 of those animels, & one beaver.    they Saved as much of the buffalow meat as possable.    〈one mile above〉 1 mile above the fall of 47 feet 8 Inches is the largest fountain or Spring, as they think is the largest in america known.    this water boils up from under the rocks near the river & falls immediately into the river 8 feet & keeps its coulour for ½ a mile which is clear & of a blueish cast.    they inform us that their is many Shoots or little falls between the high ones.    the large catteract or falls [12] is a large mist quite across the fall, for a long distance from them.    Capt. Clark Saw rattle Snakes but Saw verry little timber.    they turned back this morning in order to look out the best & Smoothest portage possable to take the canoes & baggage &. up to the medicine River.    they informed us that the Country above the falls & up the meddicine River is level with low banks & Smoth water.    they Saw a chain of mountains to the west, Some of which particular those to N. W. & S. W. are covered with Snow, & appear to be verry high.    Capt. Clark lost a part of his notes which could not be found, as the wind blew high & took them off.    they did not look out & marke the road for the baggage &c much more than half way down to Camp it being too late to go round the deep gulleys &c.    Capt. Clark Saw gangs of buffalow attempt to Swim the river abo. the falls.    Some went over.

Thursday June 20th    This morning we had Cloudy weather, and cold; and the wind continued high from the West, four of our Men were sent across the River to hunt, We now lay at Camp, at the commencement of the carrying place, waiting the arrival of Captain Clark & party.—    We had about noon some Squalls of wind, attended with Rain.—    In the afternoon some of our Hunters returned to us; and had killed 11 Buffalo, the most of them, they said were very fat, all our spare hands turned out, in Order to bring the Meat to our Camp.—    they returned, and had brought with them but above one half of it and that was very fat—    Three of the party that went after the meat, staid all night, to butcher the remainder of the buffalo, that the hunters had killed, the party that was sent for the meat mentioned that large Gangs of Buffalo came about close to the Men, who were employ'd dressing the Meat, & that they appeared no ways shy of them.—    We had small Showers of rain this afternoon.—    In the evening Captain Clarke and his party returned to us, they informed us, that they had travers'd this small river, in going up; and had measured the falls—of the Mesouri, of which there was three.—    the first falls being 30 feet high by measurement, the second or middle fall, being the highest 87 feet perpendicular, and the third fall 47 feet 8 Inches also perpendicular, and the Water running exceedingly Rapid, between each of these falls, and found the distance to be 17 Miles to the head fall, where we expect to proceed on again with our Crafts, & take Water.—

The party that was with Captain Clark, mentioned, that two of their Men were attackted by a very large white or brown coloured bear, and that one of them had nearly been caught by that huge animal, & that it certainly had been the case, had not Captain Clark and three of the party releived him, but night coming on, the Bear made his escape among some very thick bushes, and got off from them, this happened on an Island—    They also mentioned of having Seen also two more very large 〈white〉 Bear of the same kind, and saw innumerable large Gangs of Buffalo in every direction, as far as their sight extended, they had killed 8 of them, and One beaver, they saved as much of the buffalo meat, as possible, they also mentioned that one Mile above the fall of 47 feet 8 Inches, is the largest fountain or spring, they had ever seen, and that they beleived it, to be the largest, in America that was known; this spring boils up from under the Rocks near the River, and falls immediately into it 8 feet 3 Inches, and keeps it colour for half a Mile in the River, which is Clear & of a blueish colour, and mention'd that there was many Shoots or little falls of water, which lay between the large falls, and at where the Cataracts or large falls lay, that a large mists was quite across them and that it was the same a great distance below each of them.—    Captain Clark mention'd that on his route he had seen a number of Rattle Snakes, and but little timber,—

The party under Captain Clark, had left the falls this morning, and had returned back, in order to look out for the best and smoothest Portage, for us to Convey the Crafts and baggage up to the head of the falls on the Mesouri River, they mentioned that the Country above the falls, and up the Medecine River is level, with low banks, & smooth Water.—    They saw a chain of mountains lying to the West, and some laying to the North West and South West; 〈both〉 all of which chains of mountains appear'd to them to be covered with snow, and lay very high, Captain Clark had lost part of the notes that he had taken which could not be found the Wind blowing hard, had taken them off.—    they had not marked the road, above half the way down to our Camp; it being too late to go round the deep Gullys.—    The party mentioned of having seen Gangs of buffalo swimming the River above the falls, some of which from the Rapidity of the current, was washed down over them, We remained still at our encampment, preparing every thing necessary in Order to assend to the head of Portage.—

1. Lewis gives Clark's narrative of his survey. It is not repeated here being a copy of the material from Voorhis No. 1. (back)
2. Lewis repeats Clark's survey as found in Voorhis No. 1 with only slight variations; it is not included here. (back)
3. Here Clark writes "Continues 10 pages back," a reference to the material written in the midst of the entry of June 17, 1805. The material is dated June 20 but is copied in fact from Lewis's entries of July 4 and 11. See further explanation at June 17. (back)
4. This description largely follows that of Lewis for July 4, 1805. Apparently the captains never did find an explanation for the phenomenon, which is still heard today in the region. Biddle later suggested to Clark that the sound was that of an avalanche. A "piece of ordinance of 6 pounds" would be a cannon firing six-pound iron balls. Clark to Biddle, December 20, 1810, Jackson (LLC), 2:565; Wheeler, 1:337–38; Willard, 13. (back)
5. The Blowing Cave, in Bath County, Virginia, constantly emitted a strong current of air. Jefferson, 24; Virginia Guide, 512. (back)
6. This observation appears with Clark's Great Falls survey notes dated June 17–19, 1805. It is placed by its own date. (back)
7. Giant Springs, now located in a park northeast of the city of Great Falls, Cascade County, Montana. (back)
8. The party's White Bear Islands, since nearly disappeared, a short distance north of Sand Coulee Creek, Cascade County. It became the upper portage camp. (back)
9. Probably the Lewis Range and the main Rockies. (back)
10. At the upper portage camp, Cascade County, Montana, on the Missouri about three-quarters of a mile north of Sand Coulee Creek. (back)
11. See Clark's survey notes of June 17–19, 1805. (back)