July 18, 1805
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

July 18, 1805


Set out early this morning.    previous to our departure saw a large herd of the Bighorned anamals on the immencely high and nearly perpendicular clift opposite to us; [1] on the face of this clift they walked about and bounded from rock to rock with apparent unconcern where it appared to me that no quadruped could have stood, and from which had they made one false step the[y] must have been precipitated at least a 500 feet.    this anamal appears to frequent such precepices and clifts where in fact they are perfectly secure from the pursuit of the wolf, bear, or even man himself.—    at the distance of 2½ miles we passed the entrance of a considerable river on the Stard. side; about 80 yds. wide being nearly as wide as the Missouri at that place.    it's current is rapid and water extreamly transparent; the bed is formed of small smooth stones of flat rounded or other figures.    it's bottoms are narrow but possess as much timber as the Missouri.    the country is mountainous and broken through which it passes.    it appears as if it might be navigated but to what extent must be conjectural.    this handsome bold and clear stream we named in honour of the Secretary of war calling it Dearborn's river.— [2]    as we were anxious now to meet with the Sosonees [3] or snake Indians as soon as possible in order to obtain information relative to the geography of the country and also if necessary, some horses we thought it better for one of us either Capt. C. or myself to take a small party & proceed on up the river, some distance before the canoes, in order to discover them, should they be on the river before the daily discharge of our guns, which was necessary in procuring subsistence for the party, should allarm and cause them to retreat to the mountains and conceal themselves, supposing us to be their enemies who visit them usually by the way of this river.    accordingly Capt. Clark set out this morning after breakfast with Joseph Fields, Pots and his servant York.    we proceeded on tolerably well; the current stonger than yesterday we employ the cord and oars principally tho' sometimes the setting pole.    in the evening we passed a large creek about 30 yds. wide which disembogues on the Stard. side; it discharges a bold current of water it's banks low and bed frormed of stones altogether; this stream we called Ordway's creek after Sergt. John Ordway. [4] I have observed for several days a species of flax [5] growing in the river bottoms the leaf stem and pericarp of which resembles the common flax cultivated in the U' States.    the stem rises to the hight of about 2½ or 3 feet high; as many as 8 or ten of which proceede from the same root.    the root appears to be perennial.    the bark of the stem is thick strong and appears as if it would make excellent flax.    the seed are not yet ripe but I hope to have an opportunity of collecting some of them after they are so    if it should on experiment prove to yeald good flax and at the same time admit of being cut without injuring the perennial root it will be a most valuable plant, and I think there is the greatest probability that it will do so, for notwithstanding the seed have not yet arrived at maturity it is puting up suckers or young shoots from the same root and would seem therefore that those which are fully grown and which are in the proper stage of vegitation to produce the best fax are not longer essencial to the preservation or support of the root.    the river somewhat wider than yesterday and the mountains more distant from the river and not so high; the bottoms are but narrow and little or no timber near the river.    some pine on the mountains which seems principally confined to their uper region.    we killed one Elk this morning and found part of the flesh and the skin of a deer this evening which had been kiled and left by Capt. Clark.    we saw several herds of the Bighorn but they were all out of our reach on inacessable clifts.—    we encamped on the lard. side in a small grove of narrow leafed cottonwood. [6]    there is not any of the broad leafed cottonwood on the river since it has entered the mountains. Capt Clark ascended the river on the Stard. side. [7]    in the early part of the day after he left me the hills were so steep that he gained but little off us; in the evening he passed over a mountain by which means he cut off many miles of the river's circuitous rout; the Indian road which he pursued over this mountain is wide and appears as if it had been cut down or dug in many places; he passed two streams of water, the branches of Ordway's creek, on which he saw a number of beaver dams succeeding each other in close order and extending as far up those streams as he could discover them in their couse towards the mountains.    he also saw many bighorn anamals on the clifts of the mountains.    not far beyond the mountain which he passed in the evening he encamped on a small stream of runing water.    having travelled about 20 m.    the water of those rivulets which make down from these mountains is extreemly cold pure and fine.    the soil near the river is of a good quality and produces a luxuriant growth of grass and weeds; among the last the sunflower holds a distinguished place.    the aspin is small but grows very commonly on the river and small streams which make down from the Mouts.

Courses and distances of July 18th 1805.
S. 15° W.   1 ¼ to a Lard. bend a high clift of the mountain on Ld. sd.
West   1 ¼ to the entrance of Dearborn's river on Stard.
S. 45° W.   2 ½ to a Stard. bend
S. 8° E.   6 ½ to the center of a bend on Lard. side, passing several small
bends, a small creek at one mile on Lard. [8] and an island on
Stard. near the extretry of course
S. 80° W.      ½ to a tree in the center of a Stard. bend.
S. 20° W.   1 ½ to the center of a Stard. bend passing an Island.
S. 70° E.      ¼ to a bluff in a Stard. bend.
S. 75° W.   1 ½ to the center of a Stard. bend, passing a small creek at ½ m.
on Stard. side.
S. 5° W.      ½ to the entrance of Ordway's Creek on the Stard. side in a
Stard. bend 30 yds. wide.
S. 30° E.   2 ½ to the center of a Lard. bend.    the vally widens
S. 40° W.      ¾ to the center of a Stard. bend.
S. 85° E.   2 to the center of a Lard. bend, passing 3 short bends, where
we encamped for the evening.—
Miles 21

Point of obsevation No. 33.

On the Lard. shore two miles above the entrance of Dearborn's River observed time and distance ☉'s and moon's neareset limbs with Sextant; ☉ East.

Time       Distance
h    m     s
A. M. 7    55    50 102°  57'    30"
 "    58    33   "      57
8    00    14   "      56    30
 "      2    20   "      54    45
 "      5    50   "      53    45
Time Distance
h     m     s
A. M. 8      7    12 102   53
 "      8    52   "      52    30
 "    10    21   "      51    30
 "    12    47   "      51    15
 "    13    35   "      51    15

I also observed another species [NB: Copy for Dr Barton ] of flax today which is not so large as the first, sildome obtaining a greater hight than 9 Inches or a foot the stem and leaf resemble the other species but the stem is rarely branched, bearing a single monopetallous bellshaped blue flower which is suspended with it's limb downwards, [9]


a fine morning    passed a Considerable river which falls in on the Stard Side and nearly as wide as the Missouri    we call Dearbournes river after the Sety. of war.    we thought it prudent for a partey to go a head for fear our fireing Should allarm the Indians and cause them to leave the river and take to the mountains for Safty from their enemes who visit them thro this rout. I deturmined to go a head with a Small partey a few days and find the Snake Indians if possible    after brackfast I took J. Fields Potts & my Servent proceeded on.    the Country So Hilley that we gained but little of the Canoes untill in the evening I passed over a mountain on an Indian rode by which rout I cut off Several miles of the Meanderings of the River, the roade which passes this mountain is wide and appears to have been dug in maney places, we Camped on a Small run of Clear Cold water, musquitors verry troublesom the forepart of the evening    I Saw great maney Ibex.    we Crossed two Streams of running water [10] on those Streams I saw Several Beaver dams.    ordway 〈river〉 Creek    the Countrey is Mountanious & rockey except the valey &c. which is Covered with earth of a good quallity without timber, The timber which is principally pitch pine is Confined to the mountains, the Small runs & Creeks which have water running in them Contain Cotton-Willow, Willow, & aspin.    trees all Small    I Saw maney fine Springs & Streams of running water which Sink & rise alternately in the Valies    the water of those Streams are fine, those Streams which run off into the river are damed up by the beaver from near ther mouthes up as high as I could See up them


July 18th Thursday 1805.    a clear pleasant morning.    we Saw Mountain Sheep or Ibex on the top of a high Steep pricipice.    they ran along the rocks where it was all most perpentickelier and about 200 feet from the Surface of the water.    we set out at sun rise and proceeded on    about 3 miles passed the mouth of a river [11] on the N. S. about 100 yards wide at its mouth.    one mile further Capt. Clark killed an Elk. Saw Several others.     we Saw a flock of mountain Rams on the Side of a hill which had large horns. Capt. Clark his Servant and 2 other men [12] Set out to go 1 or 2 days march a head to make discoverys &.C.    we proceeded on verry well with the canoes.    towards evening we passed a River [13] which came in on N. S. about 60 yards wide.    the mountains continues but not So high as yesterday.    we Came 19½ miles and Camped in a narrow bottom on the Larbord Side    considerable of fine flax in this bottom now going to Seed.    we found a Deer Skin and Some meat which Capt. Clark had killed.


Thursday 18th.    The morning was fair and we proceeded on early: passed Clear-water river on the north side about 50 yards wide, rapid and shallow. There are a great quantity of currants [14] all along the river on both sides in the small bottoms. At breakfast time Captain Clarke with three men went on ahead. About 11 we got through the higher part of the mountains, and to where there is less timber and the rocks not so large. In the forenoon we passed two small creeks on the north side, [15] and in the afternoon a small river on the same side; above the mouth of which we got a deer skin, that Captain Clarke's man [16] had hung up. The country continues much the same. We made 20 miles this day.


July 18th Thursday 1805.    a clear pleasant morning.    we Saw Some Mountain Sheep on a verry high precipice which is nearly Steep from the river up 2 or 3 100 feet.    we Set out about Sun rise and proceded on about 3 miles    passed the mouth of a River about 100 yd. wide at the mouth    it came in on the N. Side and run Strong.    one mile further up    Capt. [17] Clark killed an Elk    Saw a nomber more.    we Saw a flock of Mountain Rams on the Side of the Mountain on S. Side with verry large horns.    Capt. Clark killd. one    we went near them before they run from us.    the mountains appear not So high ahead, but another range Seen a long distance above which appear much higher than any we See in this range and Some we allow to be 700 feet high    the pitch & yallow pine [18] continues Scatering along these mountains &c.    Capt. Clark & his Servant york & 2 [19] other men Set out to go up one or two days travel by land.    we proceded on with the canoes verry well.    towards evening we passed a Small River on N. S. about 60 yds wide named [blank] River.    the mountains continue but not So high as yesterday.    we Came 19½ miles and Camped in a narrow bottom on the S. Side.    considerable of flax in this bottom half Seded.    we took on board Some deer meat & a Skin which Capt. Clark killed.

Thursday July 18th    This morning clear & pleasant; we saw some Mountain Sheep (Ibex) on a very high Precipice, which is nearly steep from the River, and 〈nearly〉 about 300 feet high, We set out about Sun rise, and proceeded on our way, and about 3 Miles from the place we left this morning, we passed the Mouth of a River, about 100 Yards wide at its mouth called Smiths River, it came in on the North side of the Mesouri, its stream run strong for a mile up it, Captain Clark who went ashore here, killed an Elk, and saw a number more of them.—    We saw another large flock of Mountain Sheep (Ibex[)] on the Side of a mountain; lying on the South Side of the Mesouri River

Those animals had larger horns, than any that we had yet seen.—    Captain Clark kill'd one of them, We got near to them before they ran from us, The mountains appear not to be so high a head of us, as those we are in at present, We saw another range of Mountains a long distance further above us, Which appear to be much higher, than any that we have seen in this range, (some of which are 700 feet high)    The Pitch & Yellow pine appear to be growing, Scattering along these Mountains    Captain Clark, 3 of the party, & his black Servant, left us, and set out one days travel, up the River by land to make discoveries.—    We continued on our Voyage with our Canoes, till towards evening, and passed a small River lying on the North side 60 Yards wide at its mouth which Captain Lewis named Dearbornes River.    The Mountains continue, but not so high as they was Yesterday, We came 19½ Miles this day, and encamped in a narrow bottom, lying on the South side of the River; here we found growing considerable quantity's of wild Flax, having seed about half ripe, This flax was in every appearance like the Flax, which is planted & grows in the United States.    We found hanging up at this place the Meat & Skin of a deer, that Captain Clark had killed and left for our party.—

1. Later called Big Rock, now Eagle Rock. Atlas map 62; MRC map 79; USGS map South Great Falls. (back)
2. Dearborn River forms the boundary between Cascade and Lewis and Clark counties, Montana, for a short distance above its mouth. Henry Dearborn, a Revolutionary War veteran, was secretary of war during Jefferson's entire presidency, and a notably unsuccessful general in the War of 1812. Atlas map 62; MRC map 79. (back)
3. Lewis's first use of this word, a variant of "Shoshone," and apparently the only one before meeting these people in August. It is not clear whether he wrote the entry after the August meeting or learned the word earlier. It was not the Shoshone name for themselves. (back)
4. Later Little Prickly Pear Creek, in Lewis and Clark County. Atlas map 62; MRC map 79. (back)
5. Linum perenne L. var. lewisii (Pursh) Eat. & Wright, blue flax. This variety of wild flax was named by Pursh in honor of Lewis from the expedition's botanical collections which he examined. The annual cultivated flax is L. usitatissimum L., common flax, linseed. Pursh, 210; Hitchcock & Cronquist, 282; Cutright (LCPN), 173. It may have been Biddle who drew a vertical line through this passage about the flax. (back)
6. In Lewis and Clark County, above the present Holter Dam. Atlas map 62; MRC map 80. (back)
7. Clark's route is marked by a dotted line on Atlas maps 62 and 63. He appears not to have kept separate course tables during this period of separation. MRC maps 79, 80. Robert N. Bergantino suggests the following for his route and camp of this day. Clark probably left the Missouri River near Holter Dam and continued south-southeast to Falls Gulch. He then followed that gulch to Towhead Gulch and down that to Hilger Valley. Clark's camp appears to be south of the summit of the pass on Towhead Gulch about two miles west of Beartooth Mountain. A jeep trail and power line now follow this route. Information of Bergantino, July 18, 1986. (back)
8. Later Stickney Creek, in Lewis and Clark County. Atlas map 62; MRC map 79. (back)
9. Campanula rotundifolia L., roundleaf harebell. The flower color and leaves are superficially similar to the flax. Booth & Wright, 237. It was probably Biddle who drew a red vertical line through this paragraph. (back)
10. Perhaps later Rock Creek and Little Prickly Pear Creek. Atlas map 62; MRC maps 79, 80. (back)
11. Dearborn River, named by Lewis and Clark for Jefferson's secretary of war, Henry Dearborn, forms the boundary between Cascade and Lewis and Clark counties, Montana, for a short distance above its mouth. (back)
12. Clark was joined by York, Joseph Field, and Potts. (back)
13. Named by the captains Ordway's Creek, for Sergeant John Ordway of the party, later Little Prickly Pear Creek, Lewis and Clark County. (back)
14. See Lewis's entry of July 17, 1805, for a discussion of the currants of the region. (back)
15. The two small creeks should be Stickney and Werner creeks, Lewis and Clark County, except it is hard to see how Gass places them on the north side of the Missouri, or on the same side of the river as the "small river" which follows. Perhaps this is an error by McKeehan. (back)
16. Presumably York. (back)
17. The word "Capt." is written over "we." (back)
18. "Pitch" is the familiar ponderosa pine. The most likely species for the "yallow pine" is limber pine, Pinus flexilis James. (back)
19. The number "2" is written over "3"; 2 is correct. The men were Joseph Field and John Potts. (back)