July 15, 1805
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July 15, 1805


We arrose very early this morning, assigned the canoes their loads and had it put on board.    we now found our vessels eight in number all heavily laden, notwithstanding our several deposits; tho' it is true we have now a considerable stock of dryed meat and grease.    we find it extreemly difficult to keep the baggage of many of our men within reasonable bounds; they will be adding bulky articles of but little use or value to them. At 10 A. M. we once more saw ourselves fairly under way much to my joy and I beleive that of every individual who compose the party. I walked on shore and killed 2 Elk near one of which the party halted and dined.    we took the skins marrow bones and a part of the flesh of these Elk.    in order to lighten the burthen of the canoes I continued my walk all the evening and took our only invalledes Potts an LaPage with me.    we passed the river near where we dined and just above the entrance of a beautifull river 80 yards wide which falls in on the Lard. side which in honour of Mr. Robert Smith the Secretary of the Navy we called Smith's River. [1]    this stream meanders through a most lovely valley to the S. E. for about 25 miles when it enters the Rocky mountains and is concealed from our view.    many herds of buffaloe were feeding in this valley.    we again crossed the river to the Stard. side and passed through a plain and struck the river at a Northwardly bend where there was timber    here we waited untill the canoes arrived by which time it was so late that we concluded to encamp for the night. [2]    here Drewyer wouded a deer which ran into the river    my dog pursued caught it drowned it and brought it to shore at our camp.    we have now passed Fort Mountain on our right it appears to be about ten miles distant.    this mountain has a singular appearance    it is situated in a level plain, it's sides stand nearly at right angles with each other and are each about a mile in extent.    these are formed of a yellow clay only without the mixture of rock or stone of any size and rise perpendicularly to the hight of 300 feet.    the top appears to be a level plain and from the eminence on which I was yesterday I could see that it was covered with a similar cost of grass with the plain on which it stands.    the surface appears also to possess a tolerable fertile mole [mold] of 2 feet thick, and is to all appearance inaccessible.    from it's figure we gave it the name of fort mountain. [3]    those mounds before mentioned near the falls have much the same apeparance but are none of them as large as this one.    the prickly pear is now in full blume and forms one of the beauties as well as the greatest pests of the plains.    the sunflower is also in blume and is abundant. [4]    this plant is common to every part of the Missouri from it's entrance to this place.    the lambsquarter, wild coucumber, sand rush and narrow dock are also common here. [5] Drewyer killed another deer and an Otter today.    we find it inconvenient to take all the short meanders of the river which has now become cooked and much narrower than below, we therefore take it's general course and lay down the small bends by the eye on our daily traverse or chart.    the river is from 100 to 150 yds. wide.    more timber on the river than below the falls for a great distance.    on the banks of the river there are many large banks of sand much elivated above the plains on which they ly and appear as if they had been collected in the course of time from the river by the almost incessant S. W. winds; they always appear on the sides of the river opposite to those winds.—

The couses and distances from the White bear islands to the camp at which we made the canoes as taken by Sergt. Ordway.—

S. 10° E.   1 ½ to a point of low trees on the Lard. side passing a willow
island on Lard. side
S. 36° E.   1 to a point of wood on the Stard. side
South   1 to a clift of rocks in a bend on Lard. side
S. 45° W.   1 ½ to some trees in a bend, passing a timbered islad on the
Stard. side
South   1 ¼ to a point of low timber on Stard. side
S. 24 W.   1 to a bunch of bushes on the Lard. side
West   2 to a grove of trees in a Lard. bend
N. 26° W.   2 to a point of wood on the Lard. side
North   1 Along the Lard. point
N. 20° W.   1 ½ to a small Creek Lard. side
S. 45° W.      ¾ to the lower point of a timbered Isd. S. S.
S. 10° E.   1 ½ opposite the island on the Lard. side
S. 16° W.      ¾ to a point above the Island Lar. side.
South   1 ½ to a point of low timber on the Stard. side opposite to a
bluff on Lard. side
West      ½ to a tree in a Lard. bend.
North      ½ to a point of timbered land on Lard. side
N. 12° W.   1 to a point on Lard. side
West   1 ½ to a point on the Stard. side.
N. 16° W.      ½ to a point of timber on Lard. side
N. 60° W.      ½ along the lard. point, passing a large sand bar on Lard.
S. 54° W.      ½ to a point of woodland Stard. side where we built two
Miles 23 ¼
Courses and distances July 15th 1805.
S. 45° W.      ¼ to the upper part of the timber Stard. side
S. 60° E.      ¾ to a bend on the Lard. side
S. 20° W.      ½ along the lard. side in the bend
N. 70° W.   1 ½ to a point on the Stard. side passing an Isld.
South      ¾ to a lard. bend passing the entrance of Fort Mountain
   at the commencement of this course no water at
present    10 yds.
S. 30° W.   2 ¼ to a bend on the Stard. side oposit an Island passing a
Stard. and Lard. point.
West   1 ½ to the lower point of the woodland at the entrance of
Smith's river, which is 80 yds. wide and falls in on Lard. in
a bend
N. 45° W.   1 ¾ to a Stard bend.
South   3 to the head of an Island in the Lard. bend passing over
the Lard. point
N. 45° W.   1 ¼ to a stard. bend.
West      ½ in the stard. bend.
South      ¾ in the Stard. bend.
S. 45° E.      ¾ in the Stard. bend.
East   1 in the Stard. bend passing an island Lard. side
S. 45° E      ¾ on the Lard. side
West   2 ½ to a wood in the Stard. bend, where we encamped for the
Miles 19 ¾

rained all the last night I was wet all 〈day〉 night    this morning wind hard from the S. W.    we Set out at 10 oClock and proceeded on verry well    passed a river on the Lard Side about 80 yards wide which we Call after the Secy of the Navey Smiths River    the river verry Crooked bottoms extensive rich and Passes thro' a butifull vally between 2 mts. Conts. high grass, our Canoes being So Small 〈we〉 Several of the men Capt. Lewis & my Self Compelled to walked on Shore & Cross the bends to keep up with the Canoes—    a round mountain on our 〈left〉 right abt. 10 miles appears inaxcessable we Call fort mountain. The Prickley pear in bloom but fiew other flowers. Sun flowr are common, also lambs quarter & Nettles. Capt Lew Killed 2 Elk & the hunters killed 2 Deer & a Ortter, we Camped on the Stard Side at which place I Saw many beaver, the timber on the edge of the river more Common than below the falls—    as I am compelled to walk on Shore find it verry dificuelt to take the Courses of the river, as it is verry Crooked more So than below


July 15th Monday 1805.    rained the greater part of last night.    a clear morning.    the wind high from the N. W.    we loaded the 8 Canoes and could hardly find room in them for all our baggage    about 10 oClock A. M. we Set out with the 8 canoes and all our baggage and proceeded on verry well.    passed a large creek or Small River on the S. Side.    passed Several Islands covered with cotton timber.    fine pleasant bottoms & plains on each Side of the river.    the current verry gentle & river Smoth Since we left the falls.    our officers and a hunter [6] who walked on Shore killed two Elk and 2 Deer also an otter.    we Came about 26 miles by water to day and Camped on the N. S. of the River.—


Monday 15th.    After a night of heavy rain, we had a pleasant morning, and loaded the canoes. About 11 o'clock we set out from this place, which we had called Canoe camp; had fine still water, and passed some handsome small bottoms on both sides of the river. We also passed a handsome river on the south side about 100 yards wide, which seemed to have its source in a large mountain on the same side. [7] The snow appears to have melted from all the mountains in view. The country around is composed of dry plains, with short grass. We passed two small creeks, [8] one on each side of the river; made 26 miles, and encamped on the north side.


July 15th Monday 1805.    rained the greater part of last night.    a clear morning, wind high from the N. W.    we loaded the 8 canoes.    had Some difficulty to git all the baggage on board.    about 10 oClock A. M. we Set out and proceeded on verry well.    passed a large Creek or Small River on S. S.    passed Several Islands covered with cotton timber willow & Grass fine bottoms on each Side.    beaver pleanty.    the current verry gentle Since we came above the falls, can Scarsely desern it move as yet.    we or Capt. Lewis & Clark & a hunter who walked on Shore to day killed 2 Elk and 2 Deer & one otter.    we came about 26 miles by water to day, and Camped on the N. Side.—

Monday July 15th    It rained the greater part of last night, and this morning was clear, but the wind blowing hard from the North West, We loaded the 8 large Canoes, and had some difficulty to get all the baggage and Provisions on board,— About 10 oClock A. M. we set out, and proceeded on our Voyage, and passed a large Creek or small River lying on the South side of the River, and several Islands covered with Cotton Trees, Willow and Grass, and fine bottoms lying on both sides of the River, The beaver very plenty, the current of the River running very gentle, since we have come above the falls scarcely descernable in moving and the water very Clear,—Captains Lewis & Clark, and one of the hunters walked on the shore, since we set out this day, they returned to us in the Evening, & had killed 2 Elk, 2 deer and One Otter.—    We came only 6 Miles this day & encamped on the North side of the River

1. Smith River meets the Missouri in Cascade County, Montana, near the present town of Ulm. Robert Smith was secretary of the navy during Jefferson's entire administration, and was also attorney general for a few months in 1805. Atlas maps 54, 62; MRC map 78. (back)
2. In Cascade County, a few miles southwest of Ulm. Atlas map 54; MRC map 78. (back)
3. Fort Mountain, which appears prominently on Atlas map 54, is now Square Butte, south of the town of Fort Shaw, Cascade County. Montana Guide, 267, 284. The lower two-thirds of Square Butte is formed of the late Cretaceous Virgelle Member of the Eagle Sandstone and the Telegraph Creek Formation. The upper third is composed of a basaltic sill. It acts like a caprock to protect the softer sediments below it. The summit of Square Butte is about one thousand feet above the adjacent plains. (back)
4. Helianthus annuus L., common sunflower. Booth & Wright, 274; Cutright (LCPN), 188. It was probably Biddle who drew a red vertical line through the passage about the prickly pear, sunflower, and other plants. (back)
5. These plants may be identified as Chenopodium album L., lambsquarter; Echinocystis lobata (Michx.) T. & G., mock-cucumber; and Rumex salicifolius Weinm. (also called R. mexicanus Meisn.), Mexican dock. Fernald, 568; Barkley, 83; Booth & Wright, 46, 237, 41. (back)
6. The hunter was Drouillard. (back)
7. The sources of Smith River are in the Little Belt Mountains. (back)
8. The captains took little notice of these watercourses in Cascade County, although Clark named the one on the north Fort Mountain Creek. They seem to remain without official names. (back)