July 27, 1805
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

July 27, 1805


We set out at an early hour and proceeded on but slowly    the current still so rapid that the men are in a continual state of their utmost exertion to get on, and they begin to weaken fast from this continual state of violent exertion.    at the distance of 1¾ miles the river was again closely hemned in by high Clifts of a solid limestone rock which appear to have tumbled or sunk in the same manner of those discribed yesterday.    the limestone appears to be of an excellent quality of deep blue colour when fractured and of a light led colour where exposed to the weather.    it appears to be of a very fine gr[a]in the fracture like that of marble. [1]    we saw a great number of the bighorn on those Clifts.    at the distance of 3¾ ms. further we arrived at 9 A. M. at the junction of the S. E. fork of the Missouri and the country opens suddonly to extensive and beatifull plains and meadows which appear to be surrounded in every direction with distant and lofty mountains; supposing this to be the three forks of the Missouri I halted the party on the Lard. shore for breakfast and walked up the S. E. fork about ½ a mile and ascended the point of a high limestone clift from whence I commanded a most perfect view of the neighbouring country. From this point I could see the S. E. fork about 7 miles.    it is rapid and about 70 yards wide.    throughout the distance I saw it, it passes through a smoth extensive green meadow of fine grass in it's course meandering in several streams the largest of which passes near the Lard. hills, of which, the one I stand on is the extremity in this direction.    a high wide and extensive plain succeeds the meadow and extends back several miles from the river on the Stard. sade and with the range of mountains up the Lard. side of the middle fork.    a large spring arrises in this meadow about ¼ of a mile from the S. E. fork into which it discharges itself on the Stard. side about 400 paces above me.    from E to S. between the S. E. and middle forks a distant range of lofty mountains rose their snow-clad tops [2] above the irregular and broken mountains which lie adjacent to this beautifull spot.    the extreme point to which I could see the S. E. fork boar S. 65° E. distant 7 ms. as before observed.    between the middle and S. E. forks near their junctions with the S. W. fork there is a handsom site for a fortification    it consists of a limestone rock of an oblong form; it's sides perpendicular and about 25 ft high except at the extremity towards the middle fork where it ascends gradually and like the top is covered with a fine terf of greenswoard.    the top is level and contains about 2 Acres.    the rock [r]ises from the level plain as if it had been designed for some such purpose. [3]    the extream point to which I can see the bottom and meandering of the Middle fork bears S. 15 E distant about 14 miles. here it turns to the right around a point of a high plain and disappears to my view.    it's bottoms are several miles in width and like that of the S. E. fork form one smoth and beautifull green meadow.    it is also divided into several streams.    between this and the S. W. fork there is an extensive plain which appears to extend up both those rivers many miles and back to the mountains.    the extreme point to which I can see the S. W. fork bears S. 30 W. distant about 12 miles.    this stream passes through a similar country with the other two and is more divided and serpentine in it's course than either of the others; it a[l]so possesses abundantly more timber in it's bottoms.    the timber here consists of the narrowleafed cottonwood almost entirely.    but little box alder or sweet willow the underbrush thick and as heretofore discribed in the quarter of the missouri.    a range of high mountains at a considerable distance appear to reach from South to West and are partially covered with snow    the country to the right of the S. W. fork like that to the left of the S. E. fork is high broken and mountainous as is that also down the missouri behind us, through which, these three rivers after assembling their united force at this point seem to have forced a passage    these bottom lands tho' not more than 8 or 9 feet above the water seem never to overflow.    after making a draught of the connection and meanders of these streams [4] I decended the hill and returned to the party, took breakfast and ascended the S. W. fork 1¾ miles and encamped at a Lard. bend in a handsome level smooth plain just below a bayou, having passed the entrance of the middle fork at ½ a mile. here I encamped to wait the return of Capt. Clark and to give the men a little rest which seemed absolutely necessary to them. [5]    at the junction of the S. W. and Middle forks I found a note which had been left by Capt. Clark informing me of his intended rout, and that he would rejoin me at this place provided he did not fall in with any fresh sighn of Indians, in which case he intended to pursue untill he over took them calculating on my taking the S. W. fork, which I most certainly prefer as it's direction is much more promising than any other.    beleiving this to be an essential point in the geography of this western part of the Continent I determined to remain at all events untill I obtained the necessary data for fixing it's latitude Longitude &c.    after fixing my camp I had the canoes all unloaded and the baggage stoed away and securely covered on shore, and then permitted several men to hunt. I walked down to the middle fork and examined and compared it with the S. W. fork but could not satisfy myself which was the largest stream of the two, in fact they appeared as if they had been cast in the same mould there being no difference in character or size, therefore to call either of these streams the Missouri would be giving it a preference wich it's size dose not warrant as it is not larger then the other.    they are each 90 yds. wide.    in these meadows I saw a number of the duckanmallad [6] with their young which are now nearly grown. Currants of every species as well as goosberries are found her[e] in great abundance and perfection.    a large black goosberry [7] which grows to the hight of five or six feet is also found here.    this is the growth of the bottom lands and is found also near the little rivulets which make down from the hills and mountains    it puts up many stems from the same root, some of which are partialy branched and all reclining.    the berry is attatched seperately by a long peduncle to the stem from which they hang pendant underneath.    the berry is of an ovate form smooth as large as the common garden goosberry when arrived at maturity and is as black as jet, tho' the pulp is of a cimson colour.    this fruit is extreemly asced.    the leaf resembles the common goosberry in form but is reather larger and somewhat proportioned to the superior size of it's stem when compared with the common goosberry.    the stem is covered with very sharp thorns or bryers.    below the tree forks as we passed this morning I observed many collections of the mud nests of the small martin attatched to the smooth face of the limestone rocks sheltered by projections of the same rock above. Our hunters returned this evening with 6 deer 3 Otter and a musk rat.    they informed me that they had seen great numbers of Antelopes, and much sign of beaver Otter deer Elk, &c.    at 3 P. M. Capt clark arrived very sick with a high fever on him and much fatiegued and exhausted.    he informed me that he was very sick all last night had a high fever and frequent chills & constant aking pains in all his mustles.    this morning notwithstanding his indisposition he pursued his intended rout to the middle fork about 8 miles and finding no recent sign of Indians rested about an hour and came down the middle fork to this place. Capt. C. thought himself somewhat bilious and had not had a passage for several days; I prevailed on him to take a doze of Rushes pills, which I have always found sovereign in such cases and to bath his feet in warm water and rest himself. Capt. C's indisposition was a further inducement for my remaining here a couple of days; I therefore informed the men of my intention, and they put their deer skins in the water in order to prepare them for dressing tomorrow.    we begin to feel considerable anxiety with rispect to the Snake Indians.    if we do not find them or some other nation who have horses I fear the successfull issue of our voyage will be very doubtfull or at all events much more difficult in it's accomplishment.    we are now several hundred miles within the bosom of this wild and mountanous country, where game may rationally be expected shortly to become scarce and subsistence precarious without any information with rispect to the country not knowing how far these mountains continue, or wher to direct our course to pass them to advantage or intersept a navigable branch of the Columbia, or even were we on such an one the probability is that we should not find any timber within these mountains large enough for canoes if we judge from the portion of them through which we have passed.    however I still hope for the best, and intend taking a tramp myself in a few days to find these yellow gentlemen if possible.    my two principal consolations are that from our present position it is impossible that the S. W. fork can head with the waters of any other river but the Columbia, and that if any Indians can subsist in the form of a nation in these mountains with the means they have of acquiring food we can also subsist. Capt. C. informed me that there is a part of this bottom on the West side of the Middle fork near the plain, which appears to overflow occasionally and is stony.

Courses and distances of July 27th 1805.
N. 65° W.    ½ to the center of a Stard. bend passing an Island.
South 1 ¼ to a clift of high rocks on the Stard.    here the river is again
confined between high and perpendicular clifts of rock.—
S. 2° E. 2 ½ to the center of a Lard. bend passing a small Island
S. 45 W. 1 ¼ to the upper point of a high clift of rocks in a Stard. op-
posite or a little below the entrance of the S. E. fork of the
Missouri which we called Gallitin's river [8] in honor of Albert
Secretary of the Treasury
S. 45° W.    ½ to the confluence of the middle and S. W. forks of the Mis-
each 90 yds. wide; the Middle fork we called Mad-
dison's river
in honor of James Maddison the Secretary of
State.— [9]    and the S. W. fork we called Jefferson's River in
honor that illustratious peronage Thomas Jefferson Presi-
dent of the United States.
N. 45° W.    ¼ to the entrance of a Bayou on Stard. side
S. 30° W.    ¼ to a Stard. bend.
S. 20° E.    ¼ to the center of a Lard. bend where we encamped on Lard.
in Camp Island.—
Miles 7

I was verry unwell all last night with a high fever & akeing in all my bones.    my fever &c. continus, deturmind to prosue my intended rout to the middle fork, accordingly Set out in great pain across a Prarie 8 miles to the Middle    this fork is nearly as large as the North fork & appears to be more rapid, we examined and found no fresh Sign of Indians, and after resting about an hour, proceeded down to the junction thro a wide bottom which appears to be overflown every year, & maney parts Stoney this river has Several Islands and number of beaver & orter, but little timber.    we could See no fresh Sign of Indians    just above the Point I found Capt Lewis encamped haveing arrived about 2 oClock. Several Deer killed this evening. I continue to be verry unwell fever verry high; take 5 of rushes pills & bathe my feet & legs in hot water


July 27th Saturday 1805.    a clear morning.    we Set off as usal and proceeded on.    the current Swift as usal.    passed clifts of rocks.    villages of little birds [10] under the Shelveing rocks.    the hills not So high as below.    the currents abound along the Shores.    about 9 oClock we arived at the three forks of the Missourie, which is in open view of the high Mountains covered in Some places with Snow    Saw large flocks of Mountain Sheep or Ibex and antelopes &C. on the plain.    we passed the South & west forks, and Camped at an old Indian Camp on the point a Short distance up the North fork.    this is a handsom pleasant plain considerable of cotton timber about the points of the forks.    we unloaded the canoes. Several men went out in the bottoms to hunt. Capt. Clark joined us and the men who were with him.    he informed us that he had been about 40 miles up the west fork and over to the North fork and came down that to the forks.    they had killed several deer antelopes and a cub bear. Capt. Clark verry unwell.    he had Seen a large elagant horse in the plains which appeared to be verry wild.    the hunters killed Several or 6 deer, and 3 otter and a musk rat.    we had a Shower of rain this afternoon.    came 7 mls. to day, which brought us to this Camp where we intend to rest a day or two.    we expected to have found the Snake nation of Indians at this place, but as we expect they are further up the River, or perhaps they are gone over the mountains to the Columbian River [11] on the other Side to fish &C.    this is the place where our Intrepters wife was taken prisoner by the Grossvauntaus, about 4 years ago, &C. [12]


Saturday 27th.    We continued our voyage early, and had a pleasant morning; proceeded on, and at 9 o'clock got through the small mountain. At the entrance of the valley, a branch of the Missouri comes in on the south side, about 60 yards wide; the current rapid but not very deep. Here we took breakfast, and having proceeded on a mile, came to another branch of the same size. There is very little difference in the size of the 3 branches. On the bank of the north branch [13] we found a note Captain Clarke had left informing us, he was ahead and had gone up that branch. We went on to the point, and, as the men were much fatigued, encamped in order to rest a day or two. After we halted here, it began to rain and continued three hours. About 12 o'clock Capt. Clarke and his men [14] came to our encampment, and told us they had been up both branches [15] a considerable distance, but could discover none of the natives. There is a beautiful valley at these forks; and a good deal of timber on the branches, chiefly cotton-wood. Also currants, goose and service berries, [16] and choak-cherries on the banks. The deer are plenty too; some of the men went out and killed several to day. Capt. Clarke was very unwell and had been so all last night. In the evening the weather became clear and we had a fine night.


Saturday 27th July 1805.    a clear morning.    we Set off at Sun rise and proceeded on.    the current as rapid as yesterday.    passed clifts of rocks where was villages of little birds under the Shelving rocks &c.    the hills not So high as below.    the currents of different kinds abound along the Shores.    about 9 oClock we Came or arived at the 3 forks of the Missourie which is in a 〈wide〉 valley in open view of the high Mountains which has white Spots on it which has the appearence of Snow.    Saw large flocks of mountain Sheep or Ibex, and goats or antelopes.    the plain on N. Side of the forks has lately been burned over by the natives.    we went on passed the South fork, and west fork.    went a Short distance up the North fork and Camped on the point which is a Smoth plain.    a large Camp of Indians has been encamped here Some time ago.    our Intrepters wife was taken prisoner at this place 3 or 4 years ago by the Gross vauntous Indians.    their came up Showers of rain which lasted untill evening.    Capt. Clark & men returned & Joined us.    had found no Indians, but had Seen fresh Sign of horses.    Saw one elegant horse in the plains which appeared wild.    they had been about 40 miles up the middle or west fork then Struck across the plains to the North fork, and was near the mountains, and informs us that their is considerable of Snow on them.    our hunters killed in these bottoms in the forks of the Rivers, 6 Deer 3 otter & a musk rat.    Capt. Clark & party had killed Several Deer goats or antelopes and a young bear.    this is a verry pleasant handsome place, fine bottoms of timber &c.    we expected to have found the Snake nation of Indians about this place, but as they are gone we expect they are gone over the mountains to the River called the Columbian River [17] to fish &c. but perhaps we may find Some this Side of the mountains yet.    we Came only 7 miles to day.    at this Camp we unloaded all the canoes & conclude to rest & refresh ourselves a day or too &c.—    Capt. Clark taken Sick.—

Saturday July 27th    A Clear morning, We set off early, and proceeded on; the current was as rapid as it was Yesterday, we passed some Clifts of rocks, where there was a quantity of small bird's nests, built under the shelving rocks.    The hills were not so high, as they had been some distance below.    We found currants of different kinds in abundance, growing along the shores of the River.—    At 9 o'Clock A. M. we arrived at the three forks of the Mesouri River, which lays in a Valley, in open View of the high mountains, which have white spots on them, and has the appearance of being Snow.—    We saw on the Hills large flocks of mountain Sheep (or Ibex) and flocks of Antelopes.—    The plain lying on the North side of those 3 forks, had been burnt by the natives, We proceeded on, and passed the South and West forks of the Mesouri River; and went a short distance up the North fork, & encamped on the Point, which is a large smooth plain—    We found here a large Camp, where the Indians had been encamped sometime past.—    Our Indian woman (Interpreter) informed us that she was taken prisoner at this place between 3 & 4 Years ago, by a party of the Gross Vaunter (or big Belley) Indians who had carried her away to their Nation

We had showers of rain that continued till the evening.—    Captain Clark and the party that was with him returned; and joined us here.—    they informed us, that they had seen no Indians, but that they had come across fresh tracts of horses, and had seen one of the horses, which was elegant, they found this Horse in the plains and he appeared to them to be perfectly wild—    They also mentioned that they had been 40 Miles from the best calculation up the Middle or West fork of the River, and then had struck across the plains to the North fork, and had been near the Mountains, and that there was a considerable quantity of snow on them.—    Our hunters killed in the forks of these Rivers 6 deer, 3 Otters, and a muskrat, Captain Clarke & his party had killed several deer, Antelope, and a Young bear since they had left us.—    The forks that we are present at, is a most delightful situated place, and exceeds any that we have yet seen, it affording a most delightfull prospect, the land extreamly rich & fertile; and the bottoms large and well timbered, and to all appearance must be healthy,—    and may be called the Paradice of the Mesouri River.    We expected to have found the Snake Nation of Indians here, but they being gone, we now expect that they are gone over the Mountains, to the Columbia River to fish.—    The party here are of opinion, that they may find some of those Indians, yet; on this side of the Mountains.    We came only 7 Miles this day; to where we are encamp'd    We unloaded all the Canoes this day.—

Our officers concluded on the party staying here, for some days; in order to refresh themselves.—    Captain Clark was this day taken Ill, which was supposed to be occasioned by fataigue.—

1. The limestone belongs to the Mission Canyon or Lodgepole limestones of the Madison Group. The rocks in this area have been tilted to steep angles by faulting and folding. It was probably Biddle who drew a red vertical line through part of these geology notes. (back)
3. This is a monolithic outcrop of Mississippian-age limestone of the Madison Group. (back)
4. Like other maps Lewis may have made, this apparently has not survived; the information was probably incorporated into Atlas map 65. (back)
5. This site, where they remained until July 30, was apparently on later Barkers Island (not now named), between two branches of the Jefferson, northeast of the present town of Three Forks, Gallatin County, Montana, and two miles northeast of the present town of Three Forks, Gallatin County, Montana, and two miles northeast of where Interstate Highway 90 crosses the Jefferson River. Atlas map 65; MRC map 83. (back)
6. An old colloquial name for the mallard. Burroughs, 188–89; Holmgren, 30. It was probably Biddle who drew a red vertical line through the passages beginning with "duckanmallard" to "same rock above." (back)
7. The swamp currant (see July 17, 1805). (back)
8. The Three Forks of the Missouri meet near the Broadwater-Gallatin county line, Montana, about four miles northeast of the town of Three Forks. The names the captains gave to the three forks have remained, unlike many others they bestowed. Albert Gallatin, born in Geneva, came to the United States in 1780 and settled in southwest Pennsylvania. He was secretary of the treasury under Jefferson and Madison (1801–11), helped negotiate the Treaty of Ghent ending the War of 1812, was minister to France, 1816–23, and minister to Great Britain, 1826–27. He was active in preparations for the Lewis and Clark expedition, and devoted much of his later life to a study of the American Indians, being recognized as having made the first steps toward a systematic classification of Indian languages. Walters. (back)
9. James Madison, one of the leading figures of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and co-founder, with Jefferson, of the Democratic Republican Party, was Jefferson's secretary of state and president from 1809 to 1817. (back)
10. Bank swallow, Riparia riparia. (back)
11. Ordway means a branch of the Columbia River, in this case the Lemhi River. He uses the term "Columbian River" very broadly in the next few weeks. (back)
12. The best evidence is that Sacagawea was captured by Hidatsa ( Gros Ventres ) raiders in about 1800 near the town of Three Forks. See Lewis's entries for July 28 and 30. (back)
13. The Jefferson. (back)
15. The Jefferson and the Madison. (back)
16. Serviceberry, Amerlanchier alnifolia Nutt. (back)
17. Like Ordway, Whitehouse uses the term "Columbia River" broadly. Here it is the Lemhi River, a distant branch of the Columbia. (back)