July 24, 1805
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July 24, 1805


Set out at sunrise; the current very strong; passed a remarkable bluff of a crimson coloured earth on Stard. intermixed with Stratas of black and brick red slate. [1]    the valley through which the river passed today is much as that of yesterday nor is there any difference in the appearance of the mountains, they still continue high and seem to rise in some places like an amphatheater one rang above another as they receede from the river untill the most distant and lofty have their tops clad with snow.    the adjacent mountains commonly rise so high as to conceal the more distant and lofty mountains from our view. I fear every day that we shall meet with some considerable falls or obstruction in the river notwithstanding the information of the Indian woman to the contrary who assures us that the river continues much as we see it. I can scarcely form an idea of a river runing to great extent through such a rough mountainous country without having it's stream intersepted by some difficult and gangerous rappids or falls.    we daily pass a great number of small rappids or riffles which decend one to or 3 feet in 150 yards but they are rarely incommoded with fixed or standing rocks and altho' strong rappid water are nevertheless quite practicable & by no means dangerous.    we saw many beaver and some otter today; the former dam up the small channels of the river between the islands and compell the river in these parts to make other channels; which as soon as it has effected that which was stoped by the beaver becomes dry and is filled up with mud sand gravel and drift wood.    the beaver is then compelled to seek another spot for his habitation wher he again erects his dam.    thus the river in many places among the clusters of islands is constantly changing the direction of such sluices as the beaver are capable of stoping or of 20 yds. in width.    this anamal in that way I beleive to be very instrumental in adding to the number of islands with which we find the river crouded.    we killed one deer today and found a goat or Antelope which had been left by Capt. Clark.    we saw a large bear but could not get a shoot at him.    we also saw a great number of Crains & Antelopes, some gees and a few red-headed ducks [2] the small bird of the plains and curloos still abundant.    we observed a great number of snakes about the water of a brown uniform colour, some black, and others speckled on the abdomen and striped with black and brownish yellow on the back and sides.    the first of these is the largest being about 4 feet long, the second is of that kind mentioned yesterday, and the last is much like the garter snake of our country and about it's size. [3]    none of these species are poisonous I examined their teeth and fund them innosent.    they all appear to be fond of the water, to which they fly for shelter immediately on being pursued.—    we saw much sign of Elk but met with none of them.    from the appearance of bones and excrement of old date the buffaloe sometimes straggle into this valley; but there is no fresh sighn of them and I begin think that our harrvest of white puddings is at an end, at least untill our return to the buffaloe country.    our trio of pests still invade and obstruct us on all occasions, these are the Musquetoes eye knats and prickley pears, equal to any three curses that ever poor Egypt laiboured under, [4] except the Mahometant yoke.    the men complain of being much fortiegued, their labour is excessively great. I occasionly encourage them by assisting in the labour of navigating the canoes, and have learned to push a tolerable good pole in their fraize. This morning Capt. Clark [NB: had] set out early and pursued the Indian road whih took him up a creek some miles abot 10 A. M. he discovered a horse about six miles distant on his left, he changed his rout towards the horse, on approaching him he found the horse in fine order but so wild he could not get within less than several hundred paces of him.    he still saw much indian sign but none of recent date.    from this horse he directed his course obliquely to the river where on his arrival he killed a deer and dined.    in this wide valley where he met with the horse he passed five handsome streams, one of which only had timber another some willows and much stoped by the beaver.    after dinner he continued his rout along the river upwards and encamped having traveled about 30 mes. [5]

Courses and distances of the 24th July 1805.
S. 40° E.   1 to a Lard. bend.    passing between two large islands
S. 50° W.      ½ to the center of a Stard. bend opposite to an Island
S. 15° E.   1 ½ to a point of high timber in a Lard bend opposite to an
S. 40° W.   1 ¼ to the center of a Stard. bend low bluffs touching the river
at this point, a small run just below.
South   3 ½ to a bluff point in a Stard. bend passing a small island on
Stard. and a bluff of crimson earth & slate.
S. 85° E.      ½ to a Lard. bend opposite to a large Island
S. 30° E.   1 to a bluff point in a Stard bend passing an Isld.
East      ¾ to a point in a Lard. bend passing a small Isld
S. 30° E.   3 to the lower point of a large island.
S. 85° E.   1 ½ to a tree in a lard. bend passing an assemblage of Islds.
South      ½ to a tree on the Stard. shore opposite to the upper point of
an island.
S. 80° E.   1 to the center of a Lard. bend passing the upper point of
an Island on Lard.
S. 10° W.   1 ½ to the center of a Stard. bend passing an Isld. at ¾ of
a mile
East   2 to the center of a Lard. bend passing 2 small islands; en-
camped on Stard. a little short of this course. [6]
Miles 19 ½  

Point of Observation No. 38.

On the Stard. side of the Missouri at the extremity of the 8th course of this day observed Equal Altitudes of the ☉ with Sextant.

  h m  s     h m  s    
A. M. 9 1 37       P. M. 4 6 20 } Altitude at the
time of Observation
79° 8' 15"
  " 3 10     " 7 53
  " 4 45     " 9 30

a fine day wind from the N W. I proceeded on up a Creek [7] on the direction of the Indian road    at 10 oClock discovered a horse 6 miles to my left towards the river    as I approached the horse found him fat and verry wild    we could not get near him, we changed our Direction to the river for water haveing previously Crossed 5 handsom Streams in one Vallie [8]    one only had any timber on it one other Willows only & a number of beaver Dams.    when I Struck the river turned down to kill a Deer which we dined on & proceeded on up the river a fiew miles an Campd. on the river.    the river much like it was yesterday.    the mountains on either Side appear like the hills had fallen half down & turned Side up-wards [9] the bottoms narrow and no timber a fiew bushes only. [10]


July 24th Wednesday 1805.    a clear pleasant morning    we Set out at Sun rise and proceeded on.    the current Swift.    we found a goat or antelopes Skin which Capt. Clark killed and left for us—    we passed a redish clift of rocks [11] on Stard Side    in the aftrernoon we passed a large plain on the Stard Side, the prickley pears abound on it    Saw otter and beaver in great abundance &C.    the Swift water continues    Some bad rapids which it is with difficulty we passed over them. Saw many different kinds of Snakes along the Shores.    we Came 19½ miles this day and Camped [12] on the Stard. Side.    one deer killed to day.    a white bear Seen.    considerable of Elk Sign &C.


Wednesday 24th.    The morning was fine, and we early prosecuted our voyage; passed a bank of very red earth, which our squaw told us the natives use for paint. Deer are plenty among the bushes, and one of our men killed one on the bank. We continued through the valley all day: Went 19 miles and encamped on the north side.


Wednesday 24th July 1805.    a clear pleasant morning.    we Set out as usal and proceeded on.    the current verry rapid.    we found a goat Skin which Capt. Clarks party had killed and left on Shore.    passed a yallow or redish clift of rocks on N. S.    Saw considerable of ceeder on the Islands and along the Shores.    in the afternoon we passed a large plain on the N. S.    the prickley pear abound on it.    Saw otter and beaver in great abundence.    the willow verry thick on the Islands and along the Shores.    the Currents Still abound also the Rabit berrys, which the french call graze the buff. [13]    the rapid water continues all day.    Some bad rapids which it was with difficulty we passed over them.    Came 19½ mls this day and Camped on the large plain N. S.    one deer killed this day.    a white bear Seen.    leant of Elk Sign—    we Saw a great many different kinds of Snakes along the R.—

Wednesday July 24th    A Clear pleasant morning, we set out as usual, and proceeded on; the current still running very Rapid, and found a Goat skin & the meat which Captain Clark and his party had killed, and left hanging up on the Shore, We passed by a Reddish or Yellow Clift of rocks, lying on the North side of the River, and saw some considerable Quantity of Cedar Trees growing on the Islands & along the Shores.—    In the afternoon we passed a large plain lying on the No. Side of the River, which abounded with prickley Pears.    We saw some Otter, and 〈the〉 Beaver in the greatest abundance.—    We also saw some small Islands with Willows growing on them,— along the Shores abound with Currants & Rabbit berries.—    The Current run very strong the whole of this day, and we crossed bad Rapids, which we got over with some difficulty, We came 19½ Miles this day and encamped on a large plain, lying on the North side of the River

The hunters killed this day a White or brown bear, and one deer, & saw Elk signs in great abundance, and 〈we saw〉 a great many different kinds of Snakes along the River Shores.—

1. The rocks exposed in this bluff belong to the upper part of the Pre-Cambrian Greyson Shale near its contact with the Spokane Shale. (back)
2. Perhaps the same as the "red-headed fishing duck" noted on June 21, 1805, that is, either the red-breasted or common merganser. (back)
3. The brown snake may be the bullsnake, Pituophis melanoleucus sayi. The striped snake is the wandering garter snake, Thamnophis elegans vagrans, which will enter water when frightened. Burroughs, 277; Benson (HLCE), 89–90. (back)
4. One of the few Biblical references in the journals; see Exodus, 7–12. (back)
5. Clark camped somewhere short of the Three Forks of the Missouri, north of the present village of Trident, in Broadwater County, Montana. Atlas map 64; MRC map 83. (back)
6. The camp of the main party was in Broadwater County, about seven miles north of present Toston, Broadwater County, near the mouth of Dry Creek. Atlas map 63; MRC map 82. (back)
7. Probably Crow Creek, which mouths a few miles below present Toston. On Atlas map 63 it is Gass's Creek, and Clark's route is shown by a dotted line. MRC map 82. (back)
8. Apparently upper branches of Crow (Gass's) Creek. Atlas map 64. (back)
9. The Lombard thrust fault crosses through here. The rocks have been intensely deformed and steeply tilted by this fault. (back)
10. At this point Clark enters course and distance material for July 17–20, 1805, which he labels: "Course of the Missouri through the 1st Rock Mountain and distance estimated." This covers the route of the main party from which he was separated. As it is largely a copy of Lewis's daily course log, we do not repeat it. (back)
11. The red rocks (and Gass's "red earth") are shale, formerly a lateritic soil horizon. (back)
12. About seven miles north of Toston, Broadwater County, Montana. (back)
13. It is French, graisse de boeuf, "buffalo grease," for the buffaloberry. (back)