July 19, 1805
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July 19, 1805


The Musquetoes are very troublesome to us as usual.    this morning we set out early and proceeded on very well tho' the water appears to encrease in volocity as we advance.    the current has been strong all day and obstructed with some rapids, tho' these are but little broken by rocks and are perfectly safe.    the river deep and from 100 to 150 yds. wide. I walked along shore today and killed an Antelope.    whever we get a view of the lofty summits of the mountains the snow presents itself, altho' we are almost suffocated in this confined vally with heat.    the pine cedar and balsum fir [1] grow on the mountains in irregular assemleages or spots mostly high up on their sides and summits.    this evening we entered much the most remarkable clifts that we have yet seen.    these clifts rise from the waters edge on either side perpendicularly to the hight of [NB: about] 1200 feet.    every object here wears a dark and gloomy aspect.    the tow[er]ing and projecting rocks in many places seem ready to tumble on us.    the river appears to have forced it's way through this immence body of solid rock for the distance of 5¾ miles and where it makes it's exit below has thrown on either side vast collumns of rocks mountains high.    the river appears to have woarn a passage just the width of it's channel or 150 yds.    it is deep from side to side nor is ther in the 1st 3 miles of this distance a spot except one of a few yards in extent on which a man could rest the soal of his foot.    several fine springs burst out at the waters edge from the interstices of the rocks.    it happens fortunately that altho' the current is strong it is not so much so but what it may be overcome with the oars for there is hear no possibility of using either the cord or Setting pole.    it was late in the evening before I entered this place and was obliged to continue my rout untill sometime after dark before I found a place sufficiently large to encamp my small party; at length such an one occurred on the lard. side where we found plenty of lightwood [2] and pichpine. this rock is a black grannite below and appears to be of a much lighter colour above and from the fragments I take it to be flint of a yelloish brown and light creemcolourd yellow.— [3]    from the singular appeaerance of this place I called it the gates of the rocky mountains. [4]    the mountains higher today than yesterday, saw some Bighorns and a few Antelopes also beaver and Otter; the latter are now very plenty one of the men killed one of them today with a setting pole.    musquetoes less troublesome than usual.    we had a thundershower today about 1 P. M. which continued about an hour and was attended with som hail.    we have seen no buffaloe since we enterd the mounts.    this morning early Capt. Clark pursued his rout, saw early in the day the remains of several Indians camps formed of willow brush which appeared to have been inhabited some time this spring.    saw where the natives had pealed the bark off the pine trees about this same season.    this the indian woman with us informs that they do to obtain the sap and soft part of the wood [NB: wood] and bark for food.    at 11 A. M. Capt. C. feell in with a gang of Elk of which he killed 2.    and not being able to obtain as much wood as would make a fire substituded the dung of the buffaloe and cooked a part of their meat on which they breakfasted and again pursueed their rout, which lay along an old indian road.    this evening they passed a hansome valley watered by a large creek [5] which extends itself with it's valley into the mountain to a considerable distance.    the latter part of the evening their rout lay over a hilly and mountanous country covered with the sharp fragments of flint which cut and bruised their feet excessively; nor wer the prickly pear of the leveler part of the rout much less painfull; they have now become so abundant in the open uplands that it is impossible to avoid them and their thorns are so keen and stif that they pearce a double thickness of dressed deers skin with ease. Capt. C. informed me that he extracted 17 of these bryers from his feet this evening after he encamped by the light of the fire. I have guarded or reather fortifyed my feet against them by soaling my mockersons with the hide of the buffaloe in parchment.    he encamped on the river [6] much fortiegud having passed two mountains in the course of the day and travelled about 30 miles.—

Courses and distances of the 19th July 1805.
South      ¼ to a pine tree on the Stard. side in a bend
S. 85 E.   2 to the center of a Lard. bend
S. 38 W.   1 to a pine in the Stard. bend
South   1 ½ to the center of a stard bend
N. 10° W.   2 ½ to the center of a Lard. bend
S. 30° E.   1 ¼ to the center of a Stard. bend
S. 25° E.   4 ½ to the center of a Lard. bend
S. 28° W.   1 to the center of a Stard bend passing 2 small islands near
the commencement of this course
S. 60° E.   1 ¼ to the center of a stard. bend
N. 70° E.   1 ½ to the entrance of a small creek [7] in a Lard. bend, passing
an island near the Stard. side.
S. 25° E.   1 ½ to a point of rocks in a bend on the stard. side; those rocks
put in close to the river on both sides, are perpendicular
and about 1200 feet high, this place has so singular an ap-
pearance that I call it the gates of the rocky mountains.
the water appears to have forced it's way through this im-
mence body of solid rock, and thrown on either side be-
low collumns of rock mountains high.
S. 55 E.      ¼ to the center of a lard bend in the gates.
S. 10 W.   3 ½ to a bend on Lard. side passing a small island in the middle
of the river at 1 ½ miles.    a little short of the extremity of
this course we encamped on the lard. side.
Miles 22

a find morning    I proceeded on in an Indian path river verry crooked passed over two mountains    Saw Several Indian Camps which they have left this Spring. Saw trees Peeled & found poles &c.    at 11 oC I Saw a gange of Elk as we had no provision Concluded to kill Some    Killd two and dined being oblige to Substitute dry buffalow dung in place of wood, this evening passed over a Cream Coloured flint which roled down from the Clifts into the bottoms, the Clifts Contain flint a dark grey Stone & a redish brown intermixed and no one clift is Solid rock, all the rocks of everry description is in Small pices appears to have been broken by Some Convulsion— [8]    passed a butifull Creek on the Std. Side this eveng which meanders thro' a butifull Vallie of great extent, I call after Sgt Pryor [9]    the countrey on the Lard Side a high mountain    Saw Several Small rapids to day    the river Keep its width and appear to be deep, my feet is verry much brused & cut walking over the flint, & constantly Stuck full Prickley pear thorns, I puled out 17 by the light of the fire to 〈day〉 night    We camped on the river Same (Lard) Side [10]    Musqutors verry troublesom.


July 19th Friday 1805.    a clear pleasant morning.    we Set out as usal and proceeded on. Capt. Lewis and one hunter walked on Shore & Shortly killed a cabberee or antelope    we took on board the Skin and some of the meat.    the current Swift.    the Mountains high. Some Spots of pine ceeder, and bolsom-fir trees &C.    one of the men killed an otter with a Socket pole they are pleanty &C. Some beaver also along these mountains.    passed the mouth of a Small River on the South Side.    in the afternoon we passed through a verry high part of the Mountain, which is Steep on each Side & about 6 or 700 feet perpinticular up from the Surface of the water & a Solid rock    this curious looking place we call the gates of the Rocky Mountains.    Several fine Springs Issues from under the clifts or in md. near the edge of the River.    about one oClock P. M. we had a Thunder Shower which lasted about one hour    a little hail attended it. Saw Some Spots of pine Spruce ceeder and bolsom fer timber on the Sides of the Mon. and in the vallies &C.    we Came 19 miles this day through verry rapid water & Camped on a narrow bottom on the Lard. Side.


Friday 19th.    A fine morning. At 9 we came to high parts of the mountains, which had a good deal of pine, spruce and cedar [11] on them, and where there were not so many rocks; but no timber in the bottoms except some small willows. About 1 o'clock we had thunder, lightening and rain, which continued an hour or two, and then the weather became clear. This afternoon we passed parts of the mountains, that were very high, and mostly of solid rock of a light colour. The mountains are so close on the river on both sides that we scarcely could find room to encamp. We went 20 miles and encamped [12] on the south side. After night some rain fell.


July 19th Friday 1805.    a clear pleasant morning.    we Set out as usal, and proceeded on.    Capt. Lewis and one hunter walked on Shore Shortly killed a large goat or antelope    we took on board the Skin and Some of the meat.    the current verry Swift.    the mountains verry high & covered with pine & bolsom fir trees many places verry thick.    we went on untill about 11 oClock without breakfast expecting to overtake Capt. Lewis as usal.    the cause we know knot with Some thing has happened.    one of the men killed an otter with his Shocked [13] pole.    they are verry pleanty.    some beaver also in these narrow bottoms.    proceeded on.    Shortly found Capt. Lewis.    passed the mouth of a Small river on the S. Side.    in the afternoon we passed a verry high part of the mountain & Steep up from the River on each Side about 600 feet from the Surface of the water, which we name the gates of the rockey mountains.    Several fine Springs come out under these clifs of light couloured rocks.    about one oClock their came a Thunder Shower which lasted 1 hour.    Saw pine Spruce & ceeder bolsom fer also on the top    & vallies of Sd. Mountains.    the bottoms on the points verry narrow along the Shores.    we Came 19 miles this day through verry rapid water and Camped on the South Side.    a light Sprinkling of rain this evening.—

Friday July 19th    A Clear pleasant morning, We set out as usual, and proceeded on, Captain Lewis & one of the hunters walked along Shore, & shortly killed a large Antelope.    We stopped, and took the Antelope on board of one of the Canoes.    We found that the current still run very strong against us, The Mountains appear'd very high as we passed them, and had Pine & Balsam Fir trees growing on them, & in some places they were very thick, We proceeded on 'till about 11 o'Clock, without breaking our fast, expecting to overtake Captain Lewis and the hunter, who were on shore, & as we expected before us, but it not being the case, we are fearful of some accident having befel them—    We found the Otter plenty in the River, one of our party killed one of them with the Socket of his setting pole.—    We found beaver also tolerably plenty in the narrow bottoms of the River—    We proceeded on our way; at 12 o'Clock A. M. [crossed out, illegible] we overtook Captain Lewis & the hunter; who came aboard of our Canoes.    We passed shortly after the Mouth of a small River lying on the South side of the River which we called Gun brook River —    In the afternoon we passed a very high part of the Mountain running up Steep from the River on both sides of it, which appeared to be 〈200〉 600 feet high from the surface of the Water.    Our Officers named this place, the Gates of the Rockey Mountains, We found several very fine Springs of water which came out from under the Clifts of these high Rocks, which rocks, are of a lightish colour.—    About 1 o'Clock P. M we had a thunder shower, which lasted about One hour.—    The Mountains & Valleys here, have Pine, Cedar & Balsam fir, growing on them,—

The bottoms on the points of land that lay along the River shore, is very narrow, The current of the River, run very strong the whole of this day, and the Water very Clear, we encamped in the Evening on the South side of the Mesouri, having 19 Miles this day, shortly after we had encamped we had a light shower of Rain—

1. The "balsum fir" is actually Douglas fir. (back)
2. Again Lewis uses his familarity with pitch-pine (and a colloquial term for it) for the area's ponderosa pine. (back)
3. The gates are formed of light-to-medium gray, Mississippian-age, Mission Canyon Limestone. Near the upper end of the gates, Mississippian Lodgepole Limestone occurs on the southeast side of the river. These limestones weather to a light gray or yellow-buff color. There is no granite or flint here. There are some dark gray chert nodules in the limestone. The illusion of the black color no doubt comes from the shadows then present on the lower cliffs and the yellow color from sunlight on the upper cliffs. (back)
4. Now called simply "Gates of the Mountains," a stretch of about five and three-quarter miles, roughly midway between Holter and Hauser dams in Lewis and Clark County, Montana. The campsite was apparently at a point where a small drainage enters the river making room for a suitable camp; a short distance downstream from Upper Holter Lake. Appleman (LC), 306–9; Atlas map 62; MRC map 80; USGS map Canyon Ferry Dam. (back)
5. Clark and his party returned to the river and continued for some distance until they discovered an Indian road, perhaps going up Foster Gulch, which they followed. The party then entered Helena Valley and crossed Prickley Pear Creek (Clark's large creek), today joining Hauser Lake to Lake Helena, in Lewis and Clark County. Atlas map 62; MRC map 80; USGS map Canyon Ferry Dam; information of Bergantino, July 18, 1986. (back)
6. Clark apparently continued along the river after crossing Prickley Pear Creek and then probably journeyed overland to his camp. His camp of the evening is not shown on Atlas map 62 and is problematic. Bergantino suggests it is about a mile below the mouth of present Spokane Creek near the Guillot Springs, in Lewis and Clark County. Atlas map 62; MRC map 80; USGS map Canyon Ferry Dam; information of Bergantino, July 18, 1986. This area is very difficult to plot due to confusion between Lewis's and Clark's journals and the Atlas maps. See notes for July 20, 1805. (back)
7. Later Willow Creek, in Lewis and Clark County. Atlas map 62; MRC map 80. (back)
8. The rock described as cream-colored flint is probably the light-gray and yellow-buff weathering limestone of the Madison Group (Mission Canyon or Lodgepole limestones). The other rocks probably belong to the Precambrian Greyson Shale. A thrust fault has brought these different-age rocks together and badly shattered them in the process. (back)
9. Prickley Pear Creek (see n. 5, above). It is not shown on Atlas map 62 and a "Pryors Valley R or C" is clearly misplaced on map 63. The separation of the captains, Clark's illness, and the difficulty of Clark's not having seen portions of the route explain the discrepancies between journals and maps. See the notes for July 20, 1805, for further clarification. (back)
10. This reads "Lard" quite clearly, but Clark was certainly on the starboard (west) side of the Missouri. Atlas map 62; MRC map 80. (back)
11. The pine is probably ponderosa pine, the spruce is probably Engelmann spruce, Picea engelmannii (Parry) Engelm., and the cedar is probably Rocky Mountain red cedar. (back)
12. In Lewis and Clark County, a short distance downstream from Upper Holter Lake. (back)
13. Meaning "socket," as in the fair copy. (back)