July 16, 1805
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

July 16, 1805


We had a heavy dew last night    sen one man back this morning for an ax that he had carelessly left last evening some miles below, [1] and set out at an early hour.    early this morning we passed about 40 little booths formed of willow bushes to shelter them from the sun; they appeared to have been deserted about 10 days; we supposed that they were snake Indians.    they appeared to have a number of horses with them—.    this appearance gives me much hope of meeting with these people shortly. Drewyer killed a buffaloe this morning near the river and we halted and breakfasted on it.    here for the first time I ate of the small guts of the buffaloe cooked [NB: Qu:] over a blazing fire in the Indian stile without any preperation of washing or other clensing and found them very good.—    After breakfast I determined to leave Capt. C. and party, and go on to the point where the river enters the Rocky Mountains and make the necessary observations against their arrival; accordingly I set out with the two invalleds Potts and LaPage and Drewyer; I passed through a very handsome level plain on the Stard. side of the river, the country equally level and beautifull on the opposite side; at the distance of 8 mes. passed a small stream on which I observed a considerable quantity of aspin. [2]    a little before 12 I halted on the river at a Stard. bend and well timbered bottom about 4 ½ miles below the mountains and made the following observation.

Point of observation No. 30.

Observed Meridian Altd. of ☉'s L. L. with Octant by the back Observation.    56° 38' —"

Latitude deduced from this observation.    N. 46 46 50.2

after this observation we pursued our rout through a high roling plain to a rappid immediately at the foot of the mountain where the Missouri first enters them. [3]    the current of the missouri below these rappids is strong for several miles, tho' just above there is scarcely any current, the river very narrow and deep abot 70 yds. wide only and seems to be closely hemned in by the mountains on both sides, the bottoms only a few yards in width.    an Indian road enters the mountain at the same place with the river on the Stard side and continues along it's border under the steep clifts    these mountains appear to be only about 800 feet above the river and are formed almost entirely of a hard black grannite. [4]    with a few dwarf pine and cedar scattered on them.    at this palce there is a large rock of 400 feet high wich stands immediately in the gap which the missouri makes on it's passage from the mountains; it is insulated from the neighbouring mountains by a handsome little plain which surrounds it base on 3 sides and the Missouri washes it's base on the other, leaving it on the Lard. as it decends.    this rock I called the tower. [5]    it may be ascended with some difficulty nearly to it's summit, and from it there is a most pleasing view of the country we are now about to leave.    from it I saw this evening immence herds of buffaloe in the plains below.    near this palce we killed a fat elk on which we both dined and suped.    the Musquetoes are extreemly troublesome this evening and I 〈have〉 had left my bier, of course suffered considerably, and promised in my wrath that I never will be guily of a similar peice of negligence while on this voyage.—


a fair morning after a verry cold night, heavy dew, dispatched one man back for an ax left a fiew miles below, and Set out early    Killed a Buffalow on which we Brackfast    Capt Lewis & 3 men went on to the mountain to take a meridian altitude, passed about 40 Small Camps, which appeared to be abandoned about 10 or 12 days, Suppose they were Snake Indians, a fiew miles above I Saw the poles Standing in thir position of a verry large lodge of 60 feet Diamater, & the appearance of a number of Leather Lodges about, this Sign was old & appeared to have been last fall    great number of buffalow    the river is not So wide as below from 100 to 150 yards wide & Deep Crouded with Islands & Crooked    Some Scattering timber on its edge Such as Cotton wood Cotton willow, willow and box elder, the Srubs are arrow wod, red wood, Choke Cherry, red berries, Goose beries, Sarvis burey, red & yellow Currents a Spcie of Shomake [6] &c.

I camped on the head of a Small Island near the Stard. Shore at the Rockey Mountains [7]    this Range of mountains appears to run N W & S E and is about 800 feet higher than the Water in the river faced with a hard black rock    the current of the River from the Medison river to the mountain is gentle bottoms low and extensive, and its General Course is S. 10° W. about 30 mies on a direct line

Course Distances &c. from White bear Island Camp to the mountains
July 13th 14th 15th & 16 1805 [8]
S. 10° E   1 ½ to a point of low trees on the Lard Side    passed a Willow
Island L.
S 36° E   1 to a point of wood on the Stard Side
South   1 to a Clift of rocks in a bend on the L. S.
S W   1 ½ to Some trees in a bend    passed a timbered Island on the
Std. Side
South   1 ¼ to a point of low wood Std. Side
S. 24° W   1 to a bunch of bushes on the L. S.
West   2 to a grove of trees in a bend L. S.
N. 26° W.   2 to a point of wood on the L. S
North   1 allong the Lard point 〈psd a Creek〉
12 ¼
〈16〉 14
N. 20° W   1 ½ to a Creek on the 〈Stard〉 Lard. Side
S. W.      ¾ to the lower point of an Island. S. S.
S. 10° E   1 ½ opposit the Island on the L. S.
S. 16° W.      ¾ to a point above the Island L. Side.
South   1 ½ to a point of low timber on the Stard. Side a Bluff & rocks
on L. S
West      ½ to a tree in a bend on the L. Side
North      ½ to a point of wood on the L. Side
N. 12° W.   1 to a point on the Lard Side
West   1 ½ to a point on the Stard. Side
N. 16° W      ½ to a point of wood on L. Side
N. 60° W.      ½ along Said point, passing 2 large Sand bar L. S
S. 54° W.      ½ to a point of wood Stard Side at which place I built 2
23 ¼
〈17〉 15
S W      ¼ to the upper part of a wood St Side
S. 60° E      ¾ to a bend on the Lard. Side
S. 20° W.      ½ on the Lard Side in the bend
N. 70° W.   1 ½ to a point on the Stard. Side    passed an Island
South      ¾ to the Lard Bend
S. 30° W.   2 ¼ to a bend on the Stard. Side opsd. an Isld.    passed a Stard.
& Lard point
West   1 ½ to the lower point of a wood at the mouth of 〈a〉 Smiths
in the Lard bend 80 yards wide
N. 45° W   1 ¾ to the 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 the 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    passd. an Isld. L. S.
S E      ¾ on the Lard Side
West   2 ½ to a wood in the Std bend
〈18th〉 16th
S 30 E   1 ½ to tree in the Lard bend
West   1 ½ to the Stard. bend passing over a Sd. pt.
S. 10° E      ¾ to the mouth of a run Lard bend
S W   1 ½ to a bend on the Stard Side
S 15° E      ½ to a bend on the Lard. Side
S W.   2 to the mouth of a run on Std. Side
S E.   1 to a bend Lard Side (opsd. a big Lodge)
South   1 on the Lard Side in a bend opposit an Island
S. 70° W   1 in the Lard bend
53 ¾
S. 30° W   1 in the bend to the Lard. Side
South      ¾ in the bend to the Lard Side
N. 30° W   1 ¼ to a bend on the Stard. Side    passed a Small Island
South   4 to the Lower point of a timber on the Stard Side    passed
6 Islands
S. 60° E      ½ to the bend on the Lard. Side
S. 50° W   1 ½ to the upper point of an Island
S 18° E   1 to the lower point of an Island
S W   2 to a Bayou on the S. S.    passed an Isld.
South      ¼ to the Lard. bend    encamped on the upper point of the
West   1 ½ to a Spur of the rocky mountain in a bend to the Stard.
S. 10° E   1 ¼ to a Spur of the do. on the L. Side
S. 60° W.   2 to a Small Island in the bend to the Stard Side
South      ¼ to a pine tree on the lower point of an Island above 〈at〉 a
rapid, at the mountains.    high rocks on each side
miles 71

July 16th Tuesday 1805.    a clear pleasant morning. I went about 4 miles back down the River after an axe forgot last evening.    the party proceeded on with the canoes.    we passed a round hill on N. S. which at a distance look like a large fort or fortifycation.    so we called it fort mountain. [9]    passed a large creek on S. S. [10] Saw large Indian Camps on N. S. back of the bottoms in the edge of the Smooth plains.    the hunters killed 2 buffalow. I Saw verry large gangs of buffalow on the plains under the rockey mountains, which we are now approaching.    in the afternoon I joined the party. Capt. Lewis and 2 men was gone on a head.    the current Swift towards evening    we Came 20 miles this day and Camped near the entrence of the Rocky Mountain, which appear verry high & rocky. Some pine &C.


Tuesday 16th.    We embarked early and had a fine morning. Captain Lewis and two men [11] went on ahead to the mountain to take an observation. We passed the channel of a river on the south side without water, about 60 yards wide. [12] We had fine water until about 1 o'clock, when we came within about two miles of the mountain; when the water became more rapid; but the current not so swift as below the falls. At this place there are a number of small islands. One of our men has been taken unwell. In the afternoon we continued our voyage, and the water continued very rapid. We got about 3 miles into the first range of the Rock mountains, and encamped on the north side of the river on a sand beach. There is some fine timber on the mountains, but not much in this part. There are great hills of solid rock of a dark colour. This day we went about 20 miles.


July 16th Tuesday 1805.    a clear pleasant morning.    Sergt. Ordway went about 4 miles back for an axe which forgot last evening.    we proceeded on verry well the current begin to git Swifter.    we passed a high round hill a Short distance from the river which at a distance look like a large fortifycation So we named it Fort Mountain, lying on N. S. of the river.    we passed a large creek on S. Side 100 yds. wide.    passed Several Isld. covered with Timber.    also bottoms on each Side covered with cotton Timber, &c.    Saw fresh Indian Sign.    large Camps back of Several bottoms.    the hunters killed 2 buffalow.    we Saw verry large gangs in the plains under the rockey mountan which we are now approaching.    we Came 20 Miles and Camped at the Entrence of the rockey mountains.—

Tuesday July 16th    A Clear pleasant morning, One of our Men went back, about 4 Miles for an Axe that was left last evening, We set out early, and proceeded on, the current of the River being much stronger than Yesterday, We passed a high round hill, which lay a short distance from the River, which at a distance has the resemblance of a large fortification, Our Officers named that place Fort mountain, it lies on the North side of the River.—    We passed a large Creek lying on the South side of the River 100 Yards wide at its mouth, and several Islands covered with timber,—    and bottoms covered with Cotton wood on both sides of the River, and some fresh signs of Indians, and large Indian Camps lying in the bottoms.—    The hunters that were out killed 2 Buffalo, and we saw very large Gangs of them in the Plains, below the Rocky mountains, which we are approaching near to, We came 20 Miles this day, and encamped at the entrance to the Rocky Mountains.—

1. Although the captains did not mention his name, Ordway admits to being the guilty man. (back)
2. Probably one of the several creeks near the town of Cascade, Cascade County, Montana, nameless on Atlas map 62; MRC map 78. The "aspin" is quaking aspen. (back)
3. Probably the later Half-Breed, or Lone Pine, Rapids, in Cascade County, the Pine Island Rapid of Atlas map 62. In this vicinity Lewis made his camp for the day. Coues (HLC), 2:416; MRC map 79. (back)
4. The mountains are composed of the Adel Mountains volcanics of Paleocene age. Near the river the rocks are principally pyroclastic in origin. There is no granite here. The rocks are usually described as pale, red, reddish-purple, brown, and gray in color. (back)
5. Perhaps the "Big Rock" of MRC map 79, now Eagle Rock, but this would appear to be too far upstream. "The Tower" does not apear on Atlas map 62. (back)
6. Probably Rhus trilobata (Nutt.) Gray, skunkbush sumac, which is common in the area, but also possibly R. glabra L., smooth sumac, which is more common in the east and probably familiar to Clark. Booth & Wright, 149; Kartesz & Kartesz, 30. (back)
7. Near what was later called Blackbird Ripple, now Tintinger Slough, Cascade County. Atlas map 62; MRC map 79; USGS map South Great Falls. (back)
8. Here Clark begins a practice he often followed subsequently, of placing several days' courses and distances together. He originally misdated these courses July 15, 16, 17, and 18, then corrected by writing over. Part of the courses for July 17 are included, although that date is not in the heading as corrected. There is a gap of most of a page between the end of the July 16 entry and the start of these courses. Clark may have written the courses of these four days first and left space to insert the narrative entries later. The July 17 entry follows immediately after the partial courses and distances for that day. (back)
9. Mentioned by Lewis and Clark the previous day; it is Square Butte, south of the town of Fort Shaw, Cascade County, Montana. (back)
10. Bird Creek, Cascade County; not mentioned by the captains. (back)
11. Three, according to Lewis: John Potts, Lepage, and Drouillard. (back)
12. They were setting out for the point where the Missouri emerged from the mountains. Apparently Bird Creek, Cascade County, Montana; perhaps the nameless "bayou" noted in Clark's courses for the day. (back)