September 20, 1805
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

September 20, 1805


This morning my attention was called to a species of bird [1] which I had never seen before. [NB: Copy for Dr Barton ] It was reather larger than a robbin, tho' much it's form and action.    the colours were a blueish brown on the back the wings and tale black, as wass a stripe above the croop ¾ of an inch wide in front of the neck, and two others of the same colour passed from it's eyes back along the sides of the head.    the top of the head, neck brest and belley and butts of the wing were of a fine yellowish brick 〈yellow〉 reed.    it was feeding on the buries of a species of shoemake or ash [2] which grows common in country & which I first observed on 2d of this month. I have also observed two birds of a blue colour both of which I believe to be of the haulk or vulter kind.    the one [3] of the blue shining colour with a very high tuft of feathers on the head a long tale, it feeds on flesh the beak and feet black.    it's note is chǎ-ǎh, chǎ-ǎh.    it is about the size of a pigeon; and in shape and action resembles the jay bird.—    another bird [4] of very similar genus, the note resembling the mewing of the cat, with a white head and a light blue colour is also common, as are a black species of woodpecker about the size of the lark woodpecker [5]    Three species of Pheasants, [6] a large black species, with some white feathers irregularly scattered on the brest neck and belley    a smaller kind of a dark uniform colour with a red stripe above the eye, and a brown and yellow and a brown and yellow species that a good deel resembles the phesant common to the Atlantic States.    we were detained this morning untill ten oclock in consequence of not being enabled to 〈get up〉 collect our horses. we had proceeded about 2 miles when we found the greater part of a horse which Capt Clark had met with and killed for us. [7]    he informed me by note that he should proceed as fast as possible to the leavel country which lay to the S. W. of us, which we discovered from the hights of the mountains on the 19th there he intended to hunt untill our arrival.    at one oclock we halted [X: on a small branch runing to the left] [8] and made a hearty meal on our horse beef much to the comfort of our hungry stomachs.    here I larnt that one of the Packhorses with his load was missing and immediately dispatched Baptiest Lapage who had charge of him, to surch for him.    he returned at 3 OC. without the horse. The load of the horse was of considerable value consisting of merchandize and all my stock of winter cloathing. I therefore dispatched two of my best woodsmen in surch of him, and proceeded with the party. Our rout lay through a thick forrest of large pine the general course being S. 25 W. and distance about 15 miles.    our road was much obstructed by fallen timber particularly in the evening    we encamped on a ridge [9] where ther was but little grass for our horses, and at a distance from water.    however we obtained as much as served our culinary purposes and suped on our beef.    the soil as you leave the hights of the mountains becomes gradually more fertile.    the land through which we passed this evening is of an excellent quality tho very broken, it is a dary grey soil.    a grey free stone appearing in large masses above the earth in many places. [10]    saw the hucklebury, [NB: Copy for Dr Barton ] honeysuckle, and alder common to the Atlantic states, also a kind of honeysuckle which bears a white bury and rises about 4 feet high not common but to the western side of the rockey mountains.    a growth which resembles the choke cherry bears a black bury with a single stone of a sweetish taste, it rises to the hight of 8 or 10 feet and grows in thick clumps.    the Arborvita is also common and grows to an immence size, being from 2 to 6 feet in diameter. [11]

Course Dist. Friday 20th Septr 1805
Nearly S W 12 miles over a mountain to a low ridgey Countrey covered
with large pine, passed into the forks of a large Creek
which we kept down about 2 miles & left it to the left hand
and crossed the heads of Som Dreans of the Creek & on a
ruged Deviding ridge, road as bad as usial    no game of
Sign to day
West   3 miles to an Indian Camp in a leavel rich open Plain    I met
3 boys who I gave a pice of ribin to each & Sent them to the
〈Ca〉 Villages, I Soon after met a man whome I gave a
handkerchief and he escorted me to the grand Chiefs
Lodge, who was with the most of the nation gorn to war
those people treated us well    gave us to eate roots dried
roots made in bread, roots boiled, one Sammon, Berries of
red haws some dried, my arrival raised great Confusion,
all running to See us, after a Delay of an hour I detur-
mined to go lower & turn out & hunt, a principal man in-
formed me his Camp was on my way and there was fish    I
concluded to go to his village, and Set out accompd. by
about 100 men womin & boys 2 mile across the Plains, &
halted    tuned. out 4 men to hunt, he gave us a Sammon
to eate, I found that his Situation was not on the river as I
expected & that this Sammon was dried, & but fiew—
This course is N. 70° W. 2 miles across a rich leavel Plain in
which grt quantities of roots have been geathered and in
heaps.    those roots are like onions, Sweet when Dried,
and tolerably good in bread, I eate much & am Sick in
the evening.    those people have an emence quantities of
Roots which is their Principal food. The hunters discov-
ered Som Signs but killed nothing

On the Lolo Trail, Idaho, September 18–20, 1805,
Elkskin-bound Journal
Missouri Historical Society

On the Lolo Trail to Canoe Camp at the Junction
of the North Fork Clearwater and Clearwater Rivers, Idaho,
September 20–October 7, 1805, Elkskin-bound Journal
Missouri Historical Society


I Set out early and proceeded on through a Countrey as ruged as usial    passed over a low mountain into the forks of a large Creek which I kept down 2 miles [13] and assended a Steep mountain leaveing the Creek to our left hand    passed the head of Several dreans on a divideing ridge, and at 12 miles decended the mountain to a leavel pine Countrey    proceeded on through a butifull Countrey for three miles to a Small Plain in which I found maney Indian lodges, [14] at the distance of 1 mile from the lodges I met 3 [WC: Indian] boys, when they Saw me ran and hid themselves [WC: in the grass I dismounted gave my gun & horse to one of the men,] searched [WC: in the grass and] found [WC: 2 of the boys] gave them Small pieces of ribin & Sent them forward to the village    [WC: Soon after] a man Came out to meet me with great Caution & Conducted 〈me〉 us to a lage Spacious Lodge which he told me (by Signs) was the Lodge of his great Chief who had Set out 3 days previous with all the Warriers of the nation to war on a South West derection & would return in 15 or 18 days. the fiew men that were left in the Village aged, great numbers of women geathered around me with much apparent Signs of fear, and apr. pleased they 〈those people〉 gave us a Small piece of Buffalow meat, Some dried Salmon beries & roots in different States, Some round and much like an onion which they call 〈Pas she co〉 quamash the Bread or Cake is called Passhe-co Sweet, of this they make bread & Supe [15]    they also gave us the bread made of this root all of which we eate hartily, I gave them a fiew Small articles as preasents, and proceeded on with a Chief to this Village 2 miles in the Same Plain, where we were treated kindly in their way and continued with them all night [16]    Those two Villages consist of about 30 double lodges, but fiew men a number of women & children; They call themselves Cho pun-nish or Pierced Noses; [17] their dialect appears verry different from the 〈flat headsTushapaws altho origneally the Same people [18] They are darker than the 〈Flat headsTushapaws 〈I have seen〉    Their dress Similar, with more beads white & blue principally, brass & Copper in different forms, Shells and ware their haire in the Same way.    they are large Portley men Small women & handsom fetued [NB?: & featured] Emence quantity of the quawmash or Pas-shi-co root gathered & in piles about the plains, those roots [19] grow much an onion in marshey places the seed are in triangular Shell on the Stalk.    they Sweat them in the following manner i. e. dig a large hole 3 feet deep Cover the bottom with Split wood on the top of which they lay Small Stones of about 3 or 4 Inches thick, a Second layer of Splited wood & Set the whole on fire which heats the Stones, after the fire is extinguished they lay grass & mud mixed on the Stones, on that dry grass which Supports the Pâsh-Shi-co root a thin Coat of the Same grass is laid on the top, a Small fire is kept when necessary in the Center of the kile &c.

I find myself verry unwell all the evening from eateing the fish & roots too freely. Sent out the hunters    they killed nothing    Saw Some Signs of deer.


Friday 20th Sept. 1805.    a cold frosty morning    we found a handful or 2 of Indian peas [20] and a little bears oil which we brought with us    we finished the last morcil of it and proceeded on half Starved and very weak.    our horses feet gitting Sore.    came a Short distance and found a line which Capt Clark had left with the meat of a horse which they found in the woods and killed for our use    as they had killed nothing but 1 or 2 phasants after they left us.    we took the meat and proceeded on a Short distance further    one horse Strayed from us yesterday with a pair of port Mantaus with Some Marchandize and Capt. Lewises winter cloths &C—    2 men went back to hunt for him.    we proceeded on along a ridge where we had a bad road which was filled with logs.    our horses got Stung by the wasps. [21]    we came on untill after dark before we found any water.    came 14 miles this day.— [22]


Friday 20th.    It was late before our horses were collected, but the day was fine; and at 9 o'clock we continued our march. Having proceeded about a mile, we came to a small glade, where our hunters had found a horse, and had killed, dressed and hung him up. Capt. Clarke, who had gone forward with the hunters, left a note informing us that he and they intended to go on to the valley or level country ahead, as there was no chance of killing any game in these desert mountains. We loaded the meat and proceeded along the mountains. At noon we stopped and dined, on our horse flesh: here we discovered that a horse, having Capt. Lewis's clothes and baggage on him, had got into the bushes while we were loading the meat, and was left behind. One of the men [23] therefore was sent back, but returned without finding him. Two other men with a horse were then sent back, and we continued our march along a ridge, where there are rocks, that appear to be well calculated for making millstones; and some beautiful tall cedars [24] among the spruce pine. Night came on before we got off this ridge, and we had much difficulty in finding water. The soil on the western side of the mountains appears much better than on the east; and not so rocky. We can see the valley ahead, but a great way off.


Friday 20th Sept. 1805.    a cold frosty morning.    we eat a fiew peas & a little greece which was the verry last kind of eatables of any kind we had except a little portable Soup.    we got up our horses except one which detained us untill about 8 oClock before we found him.    we then load up our horses and Set out.    proceeded on up the creek a Short distance and found a line which Capt. Clark had left with the meat of a horse which they found and killed as they had killed nothing after they left us only three prarie hens or Phesants.    we took the horse meat and put it on our horses and proceeded on a Short distance further.    then left the creek and went over a mountain S. W.    then followed down a ridge, came to a Spring run and halted and dined Sumptiously on our horse meat.    one horse Strayed from us which had on him a pear of portmantaus which had in it Some marchandize and Capt. Lewis winter cloaths &c.    2 men Sent back to the creek to hunt him.    we proceeded on up and down Several hills and followed a ridge where the timber was fell So thick across the trail that we could hardly git along.    our horses got Stung by the yallow wasps.    we did not find any water to Camp untill after dark, and then Camped on a ridge    found a little water in a deep gulley a Short distance from us.    the different kinds of pine continues as usal.    considerable of Strait handsome timber on these ridges, which resembles white ceeder but is called Arbervity. [25]    no other kind except the pine & bolsom fer, all of which grows verry tall and Strait.    the mountains not So high as back but verry broken.    Came about 14 miles this day.    the plains appear Some distance off yet.    it is twice as far as we expected where we first discovred it from a high mountain.—

Friday Septemr 20th    This morning was cold, with frost, we did not set out, 'till after we had eat breakfast, which consisted of a few pease & bears Oil, which was the last kind of eatables, that we had with us (excepting a little Portable Soup)    we loaded all our horses, but one which had strayed off, which detain'd us untill 8 o'Clock at which time we proceeded on our Journey.—    we went up the Creek we had been at last evening a short distance, & found a line from Captain Clark, with the flesh of a horse which the party with him had found & killed.    they informed us, that he nor his party had not killed any 〈thing〉 kind of game since they left us, excepting 3 Pheasants, We put the horse meat on our Horses, and proceeded a short distance further up the Creek, we then left the Creek, and went over a Mountain a South west course, & went down a ridge, and came to a Spring where we halted, & dined sumptuously on our horse meat.—    One of our horses during the time that we were at dinner, strayed away from us; he was loaded with two portmanteaus, which had in them some Merchandise & Captain Lewis's winter Cloathes.—    Captain Lewis sent 2 of the Men back to the Creek to look after him, and we continued on our Journey, We ascended & descended several hills, and passed along a ridge of mountains, where the timber had fell so thick across the trail, that it was with great difficulty that we got our horses along, & the Yellow wasps was very troublesome to them, there being a great abundance of them at that place.    We did not find any Water to encamp at, 'till after it was dark, and it lay in a gully, a short distance from the Ridge of mountains that we encamped at.    We found growing on these Ridges, different kinds of Pine timber, and some tall White Cedar Trees.    The Mountains which we crossed this day, are not so high as those Mountains, we crossed some distance back; but are very broken.—    We came about 14 Miles this day & the plains appear to lay some considerable distance from us still, & We expect it is double the distance that we supposed it to be, when we first saw them from the high Mountain.—

1. The varied thrush, Ixoreus naevius [AOU, 763], already known to science but not to Lewis. He gave a longer description in January 31, 1806. Burroughs, 252–54. It was probably Biddle who drew a red vertical line through this material. (back)
2. Sorbus stichensis Roem., Pacific, or Sitka, mountain ash, or more likely Greene mountain ash, S. scopulina Greene, which has red-scarlet berries attractive to birds at this time of year. It also occurs on the North Fork Salmon River in the location of the party's route of September 2, as Lewis indicates. A specimen of this new discovery was collected on September 4. Hitchcock et al., 3:189–90; Booth & Wright, 120; Little (MWH), 194-W; Cutright (LCPN), 196, 416. (back)
3. Steller's jay and new to science. Cutright (LCPN), 210. See Lewis's full description at December 18, 1805. (back)
4. Perhaps the gray jay, Perisoreus canadensis [AOU, 484]. Holmgren, 29. See also Lewis's entry of December 18, 1805. (back)
5. The black woodpecker is Lewis's woodpecker while the lark woodpecker is the northern, or common, flicker, Colaptes auratus [AOU, 412]. Ibid., 34. (back)
6. All three species were then unknown to science. The first, the blue grouse, Lewis had noted on August 1. The second is the spruce grouse, first noted on September 13, 1805. The third is the Oregon ruffed grouse, Bonasa umbellus sabini, now combined with B. umbellus, which Lewis again calls a pheasant in comparison. See also February 5 and March 3, 1806. Cutright (LCPN), 210; Burroughs, 215–19. (back)
7. The spot on Hungery Creek, just beyond Lewis's camp of September 19, is marked on Atlas map 70. (back)
8. On Fish Creek, or one of its branches in Idaho County, Idaho. Space, 17; Peebles (LT), 9; Atlas map 70. (back)
9. Between Dollar and Sixbit creeks, in Idaho County. Space, 17; Peebles (LT), 9; Atlas map 70. (back)
10. The short growing season and the high rate of erosion in the steeper mountains combine to produce a soil composed largely of rocky parent materials with little humus. In the forested areas the soil is acidic from decomposition of evergreen needles. This acid leaches minerals from the soil, leaving the soil light colored. The gray freestone is actually granitic rock of the Cretaceous-age Idaho batholith. The granitic rock has a tendency to spall off in slabs that are approximately parallel or comformable to the general erosion surface. This feature causes the weathered rock to appear layered in places. (back)
11. Huckleberry is possibly mountain huckleberry, Vaccinium membranaceum Dougl. ex Hook., then new to science. Honeysuckle is western trumpet honeysuckle. Alder is probably Sitka, or wavyleaf, alder, Alnus sinuata (Regel) Rydb., or thin-leaved alder, A. incana (L.) Moench, if so, then new to science. The alder used for comparison is A. serrulata (Ait.) Willd., of the eastern United States. The honeysuckle which bears a white berry is the common snowberry. The plant which resembles the choke cherry is the choke cherry itself. Arborvita is western redcedar. Cutright (LCPN), 210, 212, 402; Hitchcock et al., 4:43, 2:74–76; Booth & Wright, 233. It was probably Biddle who drew a red verical line through this passage. (back)
12. Opposite Clark's entry of September 30 in the Elkskin-bound Journal is sketch map (fig. 9) showing the party's route for about September 20-25, with some of the campsites of Clark and of the main party during this time, and with the camp of September 26-October 7 noted. (back)
13. Clark reached the forks of Lolo and Eldorado creeks, crossed the former and went down it. Space, 15. Lolo Creek is "Collins Creek" on Atlas map 71, after John Collins of the party. (back)
14. Clark went over Brown's Ridge and down Miles Creek to Weippe Prairie, in Clearwater County, Idaho. Appleman (LC), 283–85; Space, 15; Atlas map 71. Weippe Prairie was one of the major camas collecting grounds in the interior Pacific Northwest. Camas was an essential part of the native diet, particularly as a winter store. Not only Nez Perce, but people from as far away as the Pacific Coast came to Weippe to dig camas roots and participate in social activities. Most of the lodges Clark observed were probably late summer or early fall camps. Lodges of poles and bark mats were erected at the camas meadows and in the fall the people retired into the canyons to spend the winter. When people left in the fall, the poles were frequently cached in the area, while the mats were taken into the canyons for use there. Marshall; Ames & Marshall. (back)
15. Camas, a member of the lily family and then new to science. See Lewis's description below, June 11, 1806. Cutright (LCPN), 209. The term pasigoo (Clark's "Pas-she-co") is the Shoshone designation for the camas and its edible bulb, historically a staple food. The word literally means "water sego," in reference to the sego lily, a common food in the region. Lewis and Clark wrote this word together with "quamash," that is, mes, the Nez Perce term for camas, from which the Latin and English designations derive. Sven Liljeblad, personal communication. (back)
16. The first village Clark came to was south of present Weippe, Clearwater County. The second, where they spent the night, was about a mile southwest of Weippe; both were on a branch of Jim Ford Creek. The villages were probably seasonal camps. Appleman (LC), 283–85; Atlas map 71. (back)
17. These people are now known as the Nez Perces, from the French for "pierced noses," which corresponds to their sign language designation. The Nez Perce name for themselves is nimí·pu·, "the people" or cú·pnit or cú·pnitpel̓u·; the etymology of the latter term is not known, but suggests pierced noses. Haro Aoki believes that Lewis and Clark's word Chopunnish may derive from tsoopnit, "(the act of) punching a hole with a pointed object," and by extension tsoopnitpeloo meaning "piercing people." The question of whether they ever did pierce their noses is still a subject of debate. Nevertheless, Lewis and Clark saw them with ornaments in their noses and the best authorities acknowledge the practice. See Clark's entry of May 7, 1806, and Lewis's of May 13, 1806. They are noted for breeding the spotted Appaloosa horse, but again it is a disputed topic whether they developed the breed. Like many of the mountain tribes of the Northwest, after acquiring horses they made periodic trips across the Rockies to hunt buffalo and assumed many elements of plains culture. American missionaries converted a large portion of the tribe to Christianity in the 1830s and 1840s. Their long history of friendly relations with the whites, beginning with Lewis and Clark, came to an end with the war of 1877, in which a part of the tribe conducted their famous retreat over the Lolo Trail and into Montana, where they were finally captured. Nez Perce tradition says that they first considered killing the members of the Corps of Discovery but were dissuaded by a woman who first met white men while a prisoner of Indians in Canada and was kindly treated by them. See below, Clark's first entry for September 21, 1805. Aoki; Josephy (NP), 3–15, 37–38, 645–46, and passim; Josephy (NNP); Hodge 2:65–68; Space, 16; Ronda (LCAI), 158–61. (back)
18. How Clark reached this conclusion is not apparent. The Nez Perces belong to the Shahaptian (Sahaptin) language family, the Flatheads (Salish) to the Salishan family. Hodge, 2:416–18, 519–20. (back)
19. Someone, perhaps Biddle, has drawn a vertical line through this passage to the end of the paragraph, but not in the usual red ink. (back)
20. The peas may be the hog peanut, Amphicarpa bracteata (L.) Fern., which the party would have gathered on the Missouri River in North Dakota and carried with them, perhaps forgotten, to this place. (back)
21. Whitehouse identified them as "yallow wasps," perhaps the western yellow jacket, Vespula pensylvanica. (back)
22. The main party camped between Dollar and Sixbit creeks, Idaho County, Idaho. (back)
23. Lepage. (back)
24. Presumably western redcedar, Thuja plicata Donn., which Lewis notes on this date as "arborvita," an alternate name. (back)
25. That is, arborvitae, another name for western redcedar. (back)