July 21, 1805
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July 21, 1805


Set out early this morning and passed a bad rappid [1] where the river enters the mountain about 1 m. from our camp of last evening the Clifts high and covered with fragments of broken rocks.    the current strong; we employed the toe rope principally, and also the pole as the river is not now so deep but reather wider and much more rapid    our progress was therefore slow and laborious.    we saw three swans this morning, which like the geese have not yet recovered the feathers of the wing and could not fly [2]    we killed two of them    the third escaped by diving and passed down with the current; they had no young ones with them therefore presume they do not breed in this country    these are the first we have seen on the river for a great distance.    we daily see great numbers of gees with their young which are perfectly feathered 〈but〉 except the wings which are deficient in both young and old.    my dog caught several today, as he frequently dose.    the young ones are very fine, but the old gees are poor and unfit for uce.    saw several of the large brown or sandhill Crain today with their young. [3]    the young Crain is as large as a turkey and cannot fly they are of a bright red bey colour or that of the common deer at this season.    this bird feeds on grass prinsipally and is found in the river bottoms.    the grass near the river is lofty and green that of the hill sides and high open grounds is perfectly dry and appears to be scorched by the heat of the sun.    the country was rough mountainous & much as that of yesterday untill towards evening when the river entered a beautifull and extensive plain country of about 10 or 12 miles wide which extended upwards further that the eye could reach    this valley is bounded by two nearly parallel ranges of high mountains which have their summits partially covered with snow.    below the snowey region pine succeeds and reaches down their sides in some parts to the plain but much the greater portion of their surfaces is uncovered with timber and expose either a barren sterile soil covered with dry parched grass or black and rugged rocks.    the river immediately on entering this valley assumes a different aspect and character, it spreads to a mile and upwards in width crouded with Islands, some of them large, is shallow enough for the use of the seting pole in almost every part and still more rappid than before; it's bottom is smooth stones and some large rocks as it has been since we have entered the mountains.    the grass in these extensive bottoms is green and fine, about 18 inches or 2 feet high.    the land is a black rich loam and appears very fertile.    we encamped in this beatiful valley on the Lard. side [4]    the party complain of being much fatiegued with this days travel. we killed one deer today.—    This morning we passed a bold creek 28 yds. wide which falls in on Stard. side.    it has a handsome and an extensive valley.    this we called Pryor's Creek after Sergt. 〈John〉 Pryor one of our party. [5] I also saw two fesants today of a dark brown colour much larger than the phesant of the U' States. [6]

this morning Capt. Clark having determined to hunt and wait my arrival somewhere about his preset station was fearfull that some indians might still be on the river above him sufficiently near to hear the report of his guns and therefore proceeded up the river about three miles and [not] finding any indians nor discovering any fresh appearance of them returned about four miles below and fixed his camp near the river; [7] after refreshing themselves with a few hours rest they set out in different directions to hunt. Capt C. killed a buck and Fields a buck and doe.    he caught a young curlooe which was nearly feathered.    the musquetoes were equally as troublesome to them as to ourselves this evening; tho' some hours after dark the air becomes so cold that these insects disappear.    the men are all fortunately supplyed with musquetoe biers [NB: made of duck of gauze, like a trunk—to get under] otherwise it would be impossible for them to exist under the fatiegues which they daily encounter without their natural rest which they could not obtain for those tormenting insects if divested of their biers.    timber still extreemly scant on the river but there is more in this valley than we have seen since we entered the mountains; the creeks which fall into the river are better supplyed with this article than the river itself.—

Courses and distances July 21st 1805.
S. 5° W.      ½ to a Lard. point opposite an Island
S. 30° E.   1 to the center of a Lard. bend, the hills now become low
and the country opens on either side
S. 25° W.   3 to the center of a Stard. bend passing a large island on
Lard. side at one mile.—
S. 80° E.   3 ½ to a point in the Stard. bend passing a large creek 28 yds.
wide on stard. side at 2½ miles Pryor's Creek .    15 yds.
N. 40° E.   1 to the center of a Lard. bend.
S. 65° E.   3 to the center of a Stard. bend
S. 60° E.   3 ½ to the center of a Stard. bend.    throughout this course
the river is divided by a number of islands near the Stard.
side, on the Lard. wide bottoms.    encamped on Lard. in
the bottom.
Miles 15 ½  

Point of Observation No. 36.

On the Lard. side of the Missouri ½ a mile above the extremity of the 2cd course of this day observed time and distance of ☉'s and ☽'s nearcst limbs with Sextant ☉ East.

  Time   Distance
  h    m      s    
A. M. 8    35    31   63°   54'    30"
  "     36    44    "      54
  "     38    20    "      52    30
  "     40    24    "      51    15
  Time   Distance
  h    m      s    
A. M. 8    41    36   63    50    15
  "     43    31    "      50
  "     44    49    "      49    45
  "     46    10    "      49    15

Also Observed Equal altitudes of ☉ with Sextant.

  h    m      s     h    m     s    
A. M. 8    50    44       P. M. 4    21      1 } Altitude at the time
of observation.
75° 29' 3"
  "     52    17     "     22    18
  "     53    52     "     24      7    

Point of Observation No. 37.

On the Lard. side of the river at the extremity of the fourth course of this day; observed Meridian Altitude of ☉'s L. L. with Octant by the back observation    57° 14'    "

Latitude deduced from this observation.    46° 10' 32.9"

we saw a number of trout today since the river has become more shallow; also caught a fish of a white colour on the belly and sides and of a bluish cast on the back which had been accedentally wounded by a setting pole.    it had a long pointed mouth which opened somewhat like the shad. [8]


a fine morning    our feet So brused and Cut that I deturmined to delay for the Canoes, & if possible kill Some meat by the time they arrived, all the Creeks which fall into the Missouri on the Std. Side Since entering the Mountains have extencive Valies of open Plain.    the river bottoms Contain nothing larger than a Srub untill above the last Creek    the Creeks & runs have timber on them generally, the hills or mountains are in Some places thickly covered with pine & Cedar &c. &c. I proceeded on about 3 miles this morning    finding no fresh Indian Sign returned down the river four miles and Camped, turned out to hunt for Some meat, which if we are Suckessfull will be a Seasonable Supply for the partey assending. emence quantities of Sarvice buries, yellow, red, Purple & black Currents ripe and Superior to any I ever tasted particularly the yellow & purple kind. Choke Cheries are Plenty; Some Goose buries—    The wild rose Continue    the Willow more abundant no Cotton wood of the Common kind    Small birds are plenty, Some Deer, Elk, Goats, and Ibex; no buffalow in the Mountains.

Those mountains are high and a great perportion of them rocky; Vallies fertile    I observed on the highest pinicals of Some of the mountains to the West Snow lying in Spots Some Still further North are covered with Snow and cant be Seen from this point

The Winds in those mountains are not Settled generally with the river, to day the wind blow hard from the West at the Camp. The Missouri Continus its width the Current Strong and Crouded with little Islands and Cose graveley bars; but little fine Sand    the Chanel generally a Corse gravel or Soft mud. Musquetors & Knats verry troublesom. I killed a Buck, and J. Fields killed a Buck and Doe this evening. Cought a young Curlough [curlew].


July 21st Sunday 1805.    a clear morning.    we Set out as usal and proceeded on. Saw a nomber of large Swans    Some of the men killed two of them.    passed a Small creek on the Lard. Side and one on the Starbord Side. [9]    the grass in the valley and on the hills look dry and pearched up.    passed a hill & clifts of rocks in the afternoon    the River divides in many channels and full of Islands and Spreads about a mile wide.    the current Swift    our hunter on Shore killed a deer.    we Came 15½ miles this day and Camped on a Smooth plain on the Larbord Side.    the party in general are much fatigued.—


Sunday 21st.    We set out at sunrise and had a pleasant morning; passed some middling high hills on the river, and rocks of a red purple colour; also two small creeks one on each side. [10] There are a few pines on the hills. At noon our course began to change more to the southwest again; the wind blew very hard and some drops of rain fell. In the afternoon we passed through a ridge, [11] where the river is very narrow; and close above a large cluster of small islands, where we had some difficulty to get along, the water being so much separated. We went 15 miles and an half and encamped on the south side, on a beautiful prairie bottom. One of our hunters killed a fine deer.


Sunday 21st July 1805.    a clear morning.    we Set out as usal and proceeded on.    Saw a nomber of large Swans on the River.    Some of the hunters killed 2 of them.    considerable of pine Spruce and bollsom fer trees along the Shore.    we passed a Small Creek on the S. S. and one on the N. S.    the grass in the valley & on the hills look dry & pearchd. up.    the wind high from the N. W.    in the afternoon we passed through a hill & clifts of rocks on each Side.    the River divides in different channels & Spreads about a mile wide.    the Islands verry pleanty.    Saw beaver Sign on them.    this valley is Smoth in places.    Some timber along the Shores    our hunters on Shore killed a deer.    we Came 15½ miles through verry rapid water.    the men party much fatigued.    Camped on a Smooth plain on the South Side.—

Sunday July 21st    We had a clear morning, and set out early on our Voyage, and proceeded on; we saw a number of large Swans in the River, some of our hunters killed two of them, we saw pine, Spruce, and Balsam fir Trees growing along the Shores on both sides of the River, We passed two Creeks lying on each side of the river, the grass in the Valleys, and on the hills appearing to be dry & parched,—    The wind was high from the Northwest.—    In the afternoon we passed 〈through〉 a hill, and clifts of rocks lying on each side of the River, We found the River divided here into different channels, & spreading to the width of 〈a〉 about a Mile.    We saw a number of small Islands as we passed along, & some signs of beaver on them, We passed a Valley, which was plain & Smooth, and timber growing along the Shores, on both sides of the River.    One of our hunters killed a deer, which he brought to us.    We came 15½ Miles this day, the stream running rapid against us, which fataigued our party much and we encamped on a smooth plain, lying on the South side of the Mesouri River

1. Probably later Flume Ripple. Atlas map 62; MRC map 80. (back)
2. These swans and geese were familiar to Lewis and Clark and are respectively, the trumpeter swan and the Canada goose. Holmgren, 33; Burroughs, 193–95, 199. It was probably Biddle who drew a red vertical line through the passages about the swans and geese and the sandhill crane. (back)
3. The sandhill crane, Grus canadensis [AOU, 206], already known to science. Burroughts, 185–86. Holmgren considers the "brown" as an immature or smaller subspecies of the sandhill crane. Holmgren, 29. (back)
4. In Lewis and Clark County, Montana, a few miles east of Helena, about five miles above present Canyon Ferry Dam, near the Lewis and ClarkBroadwater County line. Canyon Ferry Lake probably covers the site today. Atlas map 63; MRC map 81. (back)
5. Pryor's first name was Nathaniel; to Lewis he was probably just "Sergeant Pryor," although he used Nathaniel in a deleted portion of the next day's entry. "John" was crossed out in red ink in this entry, probably by Biddle, but "Nathaniel" was not added, and it is "John" in Biddle's History. The stream is Spokane Creek, labeled "Potts Vally Creek" on Atlas map 62. See notes for July 20, 1805. MRC map 81. (back)
6. Perhaps the blue grouse, Dendragapus obscurus [AOU, 297], then unknown to science. Lewis gives more detail about what may be the same bird on August 1, 1805. Burroughs, 215–16; Holmgren, 30, 32. Biddle corrected Lewis's spelling by overwriting "fesants" to make it "Phesant." (back)
7. Apparently Clark returned to a point about a mile below his previous night's camp, in the vicinity of the mouth of later Beaver Creek, Broadwater County, incorrectly given as "Pryors Vally R or C" on Atlas map 63. MRC map 81. (back)
8. The wounded fish may be any of Salmonidae sp., whitefish or cisco. Lee et al., 76–120. It was probably Biddle who drew a red vertical line through this paragraph. (back)
9. Trout Creek (not mentioned by Lewis and Clark) and Spokane Creek, respectively, Lewis and Clark County, Montana. This is a very confused day in the captains' journals and on the maps. See their entries of this day. (back)
10. Lewis notices one of these, Spokane Creek, Lewis and Clark County, Montana, which he called Pryor's Creek, after Sergeant Nathaniel Pryor of the party. There are various creeks on the other side of the Missouri, of which the first in the day's course, and the closest to Spokane Creek, is Trout Creek. (back)
11. They passed the Spokane Hills into the valley, in Lewis and Clark and Broadwater counties, now largely covered by Canyon Ferry Reservoir. (back)