July 9, 1805
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July 9, 1805


The morning was fair and pleant.    the Islands seem crouded with blackbirds; the young brude is now completely feathered and flying in common with the others.    we corked the canoes and put them in the water and also launched the boat, she lay like a perfect cork on the water.    five men would carry her with the greatest ease. I now directed seats to be fixed in her and oars to be fitted.    the men loaded the canoes in readiness to depart.    just at this moment a violent wind commenced and blew so hard that we were obliged to unload the canoes again; a part of the baggage in several of them got wet before it could be taken out.    the wind continued violent untill late in the evening, by which time we discovered that a greater part of the composition had seperated from the skins and left the seams of the boat exposed to the water and she leaked in such manner that she would not answer. I need not add that this circumstance mortifyed me not a little; and to prevent her leaking without pich was impossible with us, and to obtain this article was equally impossible, therefore the evil was irraparable    I now found that the section formed of the buffaloe hides on which some hair had been left, answered much the best purpose; this leaked but little and the parts which were well covered with hair about ⅛th of an inch in length retained the composition perfectly and remained sound and dry.    from these circumstances I am preswaided, that had I formed her with buffaloe skins singed not quite as close as I had done those I employed, that she would have answered even with this composition.    but to make any further experiments in our present situation seemed to me madness; the buffaloe had principally dserted us, and the season was now advancing fast. I therefore relinquished all further hope of my favorite boat and ordered her to be sunk in the water, that the skins might become soft in order the better to take her in peices tomorrow and deposite the iron fraim at this place as it could probably be of no further service to us.    had I only singed my Elk skins in stead of shaving them I beleive the composition would have remained and the boat have answered; at least untill we could have reached the pine country which must be in advance of us from the pine which is brought down by the water and which is probably at no great distance where we might have supplyed ourselves with the necessary pich or gum.    but it was now too late to introduce a remidy and I bid a dieu to my boat, and her expected services.— [1]    The next difficulty which presented itself was how we should convey the stores and baggage which we had purposed carrying in the boat.    both Capt. [NB: Capt] Clark and myself recollected having heard the hunters [NB: Capt Clark had previously sent them in quest of timber for the purpose] mention that the bottoms of the river some few miles above us were much better timbered than below and that some of the trees were large.    the idea therefore suggested itself of building two other canoes sufficiently large to carry the surplus baggage.    on enquiry of the hunters it seemed to be the general opinion that trees sufficiently a large for this purpose might be obtained in a bottom on the opposite side about 8 miles distant by land and reather more than double that distance by water; accordingly Capt. Clark determined to set out early in the morning with ten of the best workmen and proceede by land to that place while the others would in the mean time be employed by myself in taking the Boat in peices and depositing her, toge[the]r with the articles which we had previously determined to deposit at this place, and also in trasporting all the baggage up the river to that point in the six small canoes.    this plan being settled between us orders were accordingly given to the party, and the ten men who were to accompany Capt. Clark had ground and prepared their axes and adds this evening in order to prepare for an early departure in the morning.    we have on this as well as on many former occasions found a small grindstone which I brought with me from Harper's ferry [2] extreemly convenient to us.    if we find trees at the place mentioned sufficiently large for our purposes it will be extreemly fortunate; for we have not seen one for many miles below the entrance of musselshell River to this place, which would have answered.—

July 9th 1805.

Observed Magnetic Azimuth of the ☉

Azimuth by
time by the
Altd. of ☉'s
U. L. by Sextant.
              h    m    s    
N. 73° E. A. M.    8    40    7 62°    38'   15" } Variation of the
Magnetic nedle.
° " E
N. 74° E.             8    44    47 63°    10    00

Equal Altitudes of the ☉ with Sextant.

  h    m      s          
A. M. 8    48    15 } P. M. lost by the
of Clouds
} Altitude at the time
of observation
65° 22' 15"
  "    49    48
  "    51    25

Obseved Meridian Altd. of ☉'s L. L. with octant back Obsn.    55° 4'—"

Latitude deduced from this observation    N. 47° 3' 56. 1/10"


a clear worm morning wind from the S W. Lanced the Leather boat, and found that it leaked a little; Corked Lanced & loaded the Canoes, burried our truk wheels, & made a Carsh for a Skin & a fiew papers I intend to leave here

on trial found the leather boat would not answer without the addition of Tar which we had none of, haveing Substituted Cole & Tallow in its place to Stop the Seams &c. which would not answer as it Seperated from the Skins when exposed to the water and left the Skins naked & Seams exposed to the water    this falire of our favourate boat was a great disapointment to us, we haveing more baggage than our Canoes would Carry. Concluded to build Canoes for to Carry them; no timber near our Camp. I deturmined to proceed on up the river to a bottom in which our hunters reported was large Trees &c.


July 9th Tuesday 1805.    a beautiful pleasant morning.    the Island near the Camp is covered with black birds. [3]    we put the Iron boat which we covered with green hides in to the water. Corked Some of the canoes in order to git in readiness to depart from this place    in the afternoon we loaded the 6 canoes but did not load the Iron boat as it leaked considerable    Soo[n] after we got the canoes loaded Thunder and high wind came on So that we had to unload again.    our officers concludes for to leave & burry the Iron boat, as we cannot git tar or pitch to pay the over the out Side of the Skins. the coal Tallow & bease wax would not stick to the hides as they were Shaved the time is So far expended that they did not think proper to try any more experiments with it. So we Sank hir in the water So that She might be the easier took to peaces tomorrow.    our officers conclude to build 2 canoes more So that we can carry all our baggage without the Iron boat. about 10 men got ready to up the river to build 2 canoes.—


Tuesday 9th.    A fine morning, and heavy dew. In the forenoon we loaded our canoes, and put the Experiment into the water. She rides very light but leaks some. In the afternoon a storm of wind, with some rain came on from the north west, and we had again to unload some of our canoes, the waves ran so high. After the storm we had a fine evening. The tallow and coal were found not to answer the purpose; for as soon as dry, it cracked and scaled off, and the water came through the skins. Therefore for want of tar or pitch we had, after all our labour, to haul our new boat on shore, and leave it at this place.


July 9th Tuesday 1805.    a beautiful morning.    the Island near our Camp is covered with black birds.    the musquetoes verry troublesome.    we put the Iron boat in to the water corked Some of the canoes and git in readiness to depart from this place.    in the afternoon we loaded the 6 canoes but did not load the Iron boat for She leaked Some.    Soon after we got the canoes loaded there came up a Storm of wind & Thunder.    the waves dashed over in the canoes So that we had to unload again.    our officers conclude that the Iron boat will not answer our purpose as we cannot git Tar nor pitch to pay the hir over the hides.    the coal Tallow & bease wax would not Stick to the hides, &c.    the time being So far Spent they concluded to burry hir at this place and go about 20 miles up the River and make 2 canoes which would answer much better.    So we Sunk [4] Sd. Iron boat in the River So that Shee may be taken apart the better tomorrow.    about 10 men got ready to go with Capt. Clark to make the canoes, about 20 mls. by water and only about 5 by land from this place.

Tuesday July 9th    A beautiful morning, the Island near our Camp 〈is〉 were covered with black birds, we found the Musketoes very troublesome at our Camp during last night; & till after sunrise this morning, We were all employed, in calking of our Crafts; and putting our Iron boat into the waters and getting every thing in readiness to leave this place—    In the afternoon we loaded the 6 large Canoes; the Iron boat leaked so much, that we did not put any load into her,—    soon after, we had got the Canoes loaded, & a Violent storm of Wind and thunder came on.—

The waves rose to such a height, as to wash over into the Canoes, so that all hands were employed to unload them as quick as possible—    Our officers found that the Iron boat would not answer our purpose, we not being able, to get sufficient quantity of tar or pitch, to pay her bottom & sides, and that the Coal, tallow, & grease would not prevent her from leaking, which she did very much; The Season being far advanced for the crossing the rocky mountains, the officers concluded to bury the Iron boat at this place; and to proceed about 20 Miles up the Mesouri, and to make 2 large canoes, to answer our purpose, so they had the Iron boat sunk in the River, that she might be more easily taken apart, which they intend having done tomorrow.—    Ten of our party got themselves in readiness to go with Captain Clark, in Order to make the Canoes; they intend going by land the distance being about 5 Miles & 20 Miles by water—

1. Apparently the boat was abandoned for good; there is no record of its recovery on the return trip in 1806. Rose. (back)
2. The federal armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), where Lewis obtained weapons, the iron boat frame, and various other equipment for the expedition. (back)
3. Perhaps rusty blackbird, Euphogus carolinus, or Brewer's blackbird, E. cyanocephalus. The party also apparently called the common grackle, Quisculus quisculus, a blackbird. (back)
4. The word "Sunk" is written over "put." (back)