October 23, 1805
69.68% Complete
Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

October 23, 1805


Took the Canoes over the Portage on the Lard. Side with much dificuelty, description on another Paper [1] one Canoe got loose & cought by the Indians which we were obliged to pay.    our old Chiefs over herd the Indians from below Say they would try to kill us & informed us of it, we have all the arm examined and put in order, all th Inds leave us early, Great numbers of flees on the Lard Side—    Shot a Sea Oter [2] which I did not get, Great Numbers about those rapids    we purchased 8 dogs, Small & fat for our party to eate, the Indians not verry fond of Selling their good fish, compells us to make use of dogs for food    Exchanged our Small canoe for a large & a very new one built for riding the waves    obsd Merdn. altd. 66° 27' 30" Latd. prodsd. 45° 42' 57 3/10" North [3]


a fine morning, I with the greater part of the men Crossed in the Canoes to opposit Side above the falls and hauled them across the portage of 457 yards which is on the Lard. Side and certainly the best side to pass the canoes    I then decended through a narrow chanel of about 150 yards wide forming a kind of half circle in it course of a mile to a pitch of 8 feet in which the chanel is divided by 2 large rocks    at this place we were obliged to let the Canoes down by Strong ropes of Elk Skin which we had for the purpose, one Canoe in passing this place got loose by the Cords breaking, and was cought by the Indians below. I accomplished this necessary business and landed Safe with all the Canoes at our Camp below the falls by 3 oClock P. M. nearly covered with flees which were So thick amongst the Straw and fish Skins at the upper part of the portage at which place the nativs had been Camped not long Since; that every man of the party was obliged to Strip naked dureing the time of takeing over the canoes, that they might have an oppertunity of brushing the flees of their legs and bodies— [4]    Great numbers of Sea Otters in the river below the falls, I Shot one in the narrow chanel to day which I could not get. Great numbers of Indians visit us both from above and below—.    one of the old Chiefs who had accompanied us from the head of the river, informed us that he herd the Indians Say that the nation below intended to kill us, we examined all the arms &c. complete the amunition to 100 rounds. The nativs leave us earlyer this evening than usial, which gives a Shadow of Confirmation to the information of our Old Chief, as we are at all times & places on our guard, are under no greater apprehention than is common.

we purchased 8 Small fat dogs for the party to eate    the nativs not being fond of Selling their good fish, compells us to make use of Dog meat for food, the flesh of which the most of the party have become fond of from the habits of useing it for Some time past. The Altitude of this day 66° 27' 30" gave for Latd. 45° 42' 57 3/10" N.

I observed on the beach near the Indian Lodges two Canoes butifull of different Shape & Size to what we had Seen above wide in the midde and tapering to each end, on the bow curious figures were Cut on the wood &c.    Capt. Lewis went up to the Lodges to See those Canoes and exchanged our Smallest Canoe for one of them by giveing a Hatchet & few trinkets to the owner who informed that he purchased it of a white man below for a horse, these Canoes are neeter made than any I have ever Seen and Calculated to ride the waves, and carry emence burthens, they are dug thin and are supported by cross pieces of about 1 inch diamuter tied with Strong bark thro' holes in the Sides. [5]    our two old Chiefs appeared verry uneasy this evening.


Wednesday 23rd Oct. 1805.    a clear pleasant morning.    about 8 oClock Capt. Clark went with the most of the party and took all the canoes across the River and halled them about a quarter of a mile over the rocks past a perpinticular fall of 22 feet and put them in a verry rapid channel below.    this portage has been used by the natives takeing their Small canoes round and close below the great falls is a large fishery in the Spring of the year and the flies at this time are verry numerous and trouble us verry much as the ground is covred with them    we got the canoes all in the channel below the big fall    then the best Swimmers went on board and took them through the whorl pools a little more than half a mile    then came to two more pitches of abt. three feet each    we let the canoes down by ropes.    one of them broke loose from us and went over Safe and was taken up by the natives below.    towards evening we got the canoes all Safe down to camp without dammage—

The Latitude at this place which is called the grand falls of the Columbia River as taken by Capt. Lewis is 45° 42' 57.3' North.    the hight of the particular falls in all is 37 feet eight Inches, and has a large rock Island in the midst of them and look Shocking    the water divided in several channels by the rocks. Some of the cooks at camp bought several fat dogs this day.    in the evening one of our chiefs Signed to us that the natives had a disign to kill us in the night, So we prepared for them &C—


Wednesday 23rd.    A pleasant day. At 9 o'clock in the forenoon all hands, but three left to keep camp, went up and took the canoes over to the south side; as the natives said that was the best side of the river to take them down. Here we had to drag them 450 yards round the first pitch which is 20 feet perpendicular. We then put them into the water and let them down the rest of the way by cords. The whole height of the falls is 37 feet 8 inches, in a distance of 1200 yards. In the evening we got all our canoes safe down to the encampment on the north side. The natives are very numerous about these falls, as it is a great fishing place in the spring of the year. The country on both sides of the river here is high, and the bluffs rocky. Captain Lewis had an observation, which made the latitude of this place 45° 42 57.3 North. We got several dogs from these Indians, which we find strong wholesome diet. The high water mark below the falls is 48 feet, and above only 10 feet four inches from the surface of the water: so that in high water there is nothing but a rapid, and the salmon can pass up without difficulty. The reason of this rise in the water below the falls is, that for three miles down, the river is so confined by rocks (being not more that 70 yards wide) that it cannot discharge the water, as fast as it comes over the falls, until what is deficient in breadth is made up in depth. About the great pitch the appearance of the place is terrifying, with vast rocks, and the river below the pitch, foaming through different channels.


Wednesday 23rd Oct. 1805.    a clear pleasant morning.    we took an eairly breakfast in order to undertake gitting the canoes by the falls.    about 8 oClock A m. we all went with Capt Clark and took the canoes across the River, then halled them round a perpinticular pitch of 21 feet.    we halled all canoes round the high rocks about a quarter of a mile then put them in the water again.    this portage has been frequented by the natives halling their canoes round, and it is a great fishery with them in the Spring, and the flees [6] are now verry thick, the ground covd. with them.    they troubled us verry much this day.    we got the canoes all in the River below the great falls of 22 feet perpinticular then went on board again and ran verry rapid through the whorl pools a little better than a half a mile    then came to 2 little falls of about 3 feet each    we let the canoes down by ropes    one of them got away from us from the Lower Shoot and was taken up by the Indians below.    towards evening we got all the canoes Safe down to Camp. the Latitude at this place which is called the grand falls of the Columbia River is 45° 42' 57'.3.    the hight of the falls is in all 37 feet 8 Inches, and has a large Rock Island in them and look Shocking, but are ordinary looking.    Some of the Sick men at Camp bought Several fat dogs this day.    in the evening one of our chief[s] Signed to us that the Savages had a design to kill us in the night, which put us on our guard.    but we were not afraid of them for we think we can drive three times our nomber.—

Wednesday October 23rd    This morning we had Clear pleasant Weather, We took an early breakfast, in order to get the Canoes from where we left them Yesterday; About 8 o'Clock A. M. the greatest part of our Men, set out with Captain Clark and went up to the head of the falls, where we took our Canoes to the opposite 〈shore,〉 side of the River & hawled them out on the Shore.—

The party then hawled the Canoes, round a perpendicular fall of 21 feet, and also round high rocks for about a quarter of a Mile distance and then put them in the Water again.    This portage is frequently used by the Natives, in hawling their Canoes round & is a great fishery & used by the Natives as such, in the spring of the Year.    we found at this place innumerable Quantities of fleas, the ground being cover'd with them, & they were very troublesome.    the place where we put our Canoes last into the Water, lies below a fall of 22 feet perpendicular.    The Men embark'd on board the Canoes again, and went with great rapidity through the Rocks in a narrow Channel of the River and crossed a whirl pool, which was better than a half Mile across; & came to where lay 2 little falls of about 3 feet each.    They then let the Canoes down through those falls by Ropes.    One of our Canoes got away from the Men who was letting her down at the lower Shoot; & was taken up by some of the Natives, just below where we left our baggage &ca.    Towards evening we got all our Canoes safe down to our Camp.    These falls is called the Grand falls of Columbia River, and lies in Latitude 45° 42' 57 3/10s North, the heighth of them as before mentioned is altogether 37 feet 8 Inches, and has a large Island of rock, lying in the middle of them, & has a terrifying appearance to pass through.    We have some of our Men this day sick at our Camp; owing to fataigue, manner of living, Water &ca.    Our party that were left at the Camp purchased several dogs from the Natives.    In the Evening one of the Indian Chiefs, that descended the River with us; made signs to us, & let us know, that the Indians who are at our Camp, had formed a design to kill us in the night.    We kept up a strong guard all night, but they did not attempt to put their plan into execution.—

1. Possibly a reference to the entry in Codex H for this day. (back)
2. The sea otter, Enhydra lutris, never leaves salt water. They had evidently observed the harbor seal, Phoca vitulina richardii, a species new to science. The captains later corrected this error; see below, February 23, 1806. Cutright (LCPN), 233–34. (back)
3. The observation may be in Lewis's hand. (back)
4. This passage about fleas has a red vertical line through it, perhaps drawn by Biddle. (back)
5. The Chinookan peoples of the lower Columbia and Northwest Coast were master canoe-builders, a skill which helped them immeasurably in coping with their environment. For further observations, see below, February 1, 1806. Ray (CI), 121, 126–27. (back)
6. Fleas belong to the family Pulicidae, but these may in fact be human body lice, Pediculus humanus. See Clark's entry of October 26, 1805. (back)