July 22, 1806
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July 22, 1806

 

We set out very early this morning as usual and proceeded up the river.    for the first seven miles of our travel this morning the country was broken the land poor and intermixed with a greater quantity of gravel than usual; the ravines were steep and numerous and our horses feet have become extreemly soar in traveling over the gravel [1]    we therefore traveled but slow. [2]    we met with a doe Elk which we wounded but did not get her.    the river is confined closely between clifts of perpendicular rocks in most parts.    after the distance of seven miles the country became more level les gravly and some bottoms to the river but not a particle of timber nor underbush of any discription is to be seen.    we continued up the river on it's South side for 17 miles when we halted to glaize our horses and eat; there being no wood we were compelled to make our fire with the buffaloe dung which I found answered the purpose very well.    we cooked and eat all the meat we had except a small peice of buffaloe meat which was a little tainted.    after dinner we passed the river and took our course through a level and beautifull plain on the N. side. the country has now become level, the river bottoms wide and the adjoining plains but little elivated above them; the banks of the river are not usually more than from 3 to four feet yet it dose not appear ever to overflow them.    we found no timber untill we had traveled 12 miles further when we arrived at a clump of large cottonwood trees in a beautifull and extensive bottom of the river about 10 miles below the foot of the rocky mountains where this river enters them; as I could see from hence very distinctly where the river entered the mountains and the bearing of this point being S of West I thought it unnecessary to proceed further and therefore encamped resolving to rest ourselves and horses a couple of days at this place and take the necessary observations. [3]    this plain on which we are is very high; the rocky mountains to the S. W. of us appear but low from their base up yet are partially covered with snow nearly to their bases.    there is no timber on those mountains within our view; they are very irregular and broken in their form and seem to be composed principally of clay with but little rock or stone.    the river appears to possess at least double the vollume of water which it had where we first arrived on it below; this no doubt proceeds from the avapparation 〈of〉 caused by the sun and air and the absorbing of the earth in it's passage through these open plains. [4] The course of the mountains still continues from S. E. to N. W.    the front rang appears to terminate abrubtly about 35 ms. to the N. W. of us. [5] I believe that the waters of the Suskashawan apporoach the borders of this river very nearly. I now have lost all hope of the waters of this river ever extending to N Latitude 50° though I still hope and think it more than probable that both white earth river and milk river extend as far north as latd. 50°— [6]    we have seen but few buffaloe today no deer and very few Antelopes; gam of every discription is extreemly wild which induces me to beleive that the indians are now, or have been lately in this neighbourhood.    we wounded a buffaloe this evening but our horses were so much fatiegued that we were unable to pursue it with success.—

Courses and distances July 22ed 1806.
N. 30° W.   7 ms. with the course of the river upwards.    river closely con-
fined between low but steep and rocky Clifts.    water transpent.
S. 80° W. 10 ms. through the plains, the river making a considerable bend
to the wright or N W
S. 75° W. 11 ms. through the plains on the N side of the river which here
made a considerable bend to the left or South.    we passed
the river to it's N. side at one mile from the commencement of
this course and again recrossed it at the extremity of the
course and encamped on it's S. side.—
Ms.
28
 

The wind continued to blow very hard from the N. E. and a little before day light was moderately Cool. I Sent Sergt. Pryor and Shabono in Serch of the horses with directions to proceed up the river as far as the 1st narrows [7] and examine particularly for their tracks, they returned at 3 P M and informed me that they had proceeded up the distance I derected them to go and could See neither horses nor tracks; the Plains imediately out from Camp is So dry and hard that the track of a horse Cannot be Seen without close examination. I therefore derected Sergt. Pryor Shannon Shabono & Bratten to incircle the Camp at Some distance around and find the tracks of the horses and prosue them, they Serched for tracks all the evening without finding which Course the horses had taken, the plains being so remarkably hard and dry as to render it impossible to See a track of a horse passing through the hard parts of them. being to Suspect that they are taken by the Indians and taken over the hard plains to prevent our following them.    my Suspicions is grounded on the improbibility of the horses leaveing the grass and rushes of the river bottoms of which they are very fond, and takeing imediately out into the open dry plains where the grass is but Short and dry.    if they had Continued in the bottoms either up or down, their tracks Could be followed very well. I directed Labeech who understands traking very well to Set out early in the morning and find what rout the horses had taken if possible

 

Tuesday 22nd July 1806.    a fair morning    we rose eairly and turned out in different directions in Search of our 4 horses    about noon they were found at the grand falls of Missourie [8] and we tackled up the horses and set out with 2 canoes    part of the men not returnd from hunting the horses.    we proced. about 5 miles then our extletree broke down and we had to turn back with our truck wheels leaving a man to take care of the baggage &C.    we made another extletree and Started with 2 more canoes & Camped    Some of the men came in from hunting the horses    had killed three buffaloe and one goat or antelope.

 

Tuesday 22nd.    We had a fine morning. Eight of us started in various directions to look for the horses, and in a short time two of the men found them; harnessed them in the waggons and moved on about four miles, when one of the axletrees broke; and they returned to the river to mend it. Myself and one of the men did not return till dark, and then came to the place where the canoes were up on the plains, with some of the men. Here a heavy shower of rain came on with thunder and lightning; and we remained at this place all night.

1. In preglacial times, Cut Bank Creek flowed northeast from the mountains, passed about seven miles north of Cut Bank, and either joined the Milk River in Canada or it joined the Marias River near Tiber Dam. Glacial ice, however, diverted the stream to the south, causing it to cut a new valley west of Cut Bank in sandstone rocks. From about seven miles north of Cut Bank to the mountains, the creek occupies its preglacial channel, and the topography is much more subdued near the creek. The gravel is both glacial outwash and pebbles or cobbles left behind after the finer-grained portion of the till has been removed. (back)
2. Lewis continued up the west side of Cut Bank Creek in Glacier County, Montana. After a few miles his course turned west, still following the creek. (back)
3. This was the camp Lewis would name Camp Disappointment, where they would remain until July 26. It was in Glacier County, on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, along the south side of Cut Bank Creek just above the mouth of Cut Bank John Coulee (sometimes given under its previous name, Trail Coulee), about twelve miles northeast of present Browning and some six miles north of U.S. Highway 2. (back)
4. Although much glacial material blankets the lower portion of the mountains, and Cretaceious shale forms their base, the mountains are composed of extremely resistant Precambrian quartzite, argillite, and limestone. Part of the volume of the Cut Bank CreekMarias River system is lost to evaporation, but at least an equal amount is lost to recharge to the permeable sand, gravel, and sandstone through which the stream passes. The late snowmelt of 1806, combined with a winter 1805–6 snowpack that greatly exceeded present average snowpacks, would have created a much greater volume of water than normal, especially in the upper portion of the drainage. Nevertheless, it is not likely that Cut Bank Creek could have been carrying twice the volume of water that the lower Marias River did. Stream-gauging records show that Cut Bank Creek at Cut Bank has an average monthly maximum flow of about 600 cubic feet per second (cfs) and at the mouth of the Marias River the average flow for the Marias River for the following month is about 950 cfs (prorated to adjust for releases from the Tiber Reservoir). Therefore, at the place where Lewis reached the Marias, the equivalent average flow would be between 900 and 1,100 cfs. On the other hand, if Lewis had been comparing the flow in the area immediately downstream from the junction of Cut Bank Creek and Two Medicine River (about 2,000 cfs) with that at the place where he reached the Marias River, his estimate would be close to the mark. (back)
5. Lewis was looking toward the main ridge of the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park, Montana. (back)
6. White Earth River is Little Muddy River, or Creek, in Williams County, North Dakota; see April 21, 1805. In later years Clark explained to Biddle that the hope was to find rivers extending to 50° North so as to gain more territory for the United States. Biddle Notes [ca. April 1810], Jackson (LLC), 2:544. (back)
7. Perhaps the area, in Stillwater County, Montana, between the present camp and the camp of July 18, where the bluffs close in on the Yellowstone River. (back)