Lewis and Clark Title Timeline.1805

THE ABBREVIATED JOURNALS OF THE LEWIS AND CLARK EXPEDITION:

Great Falls to Camp Fortunate, MT

July 10 - August 23, 1805

 NOTE: The following is an abbreviated summary for each day of the Lewis and Clark journey, combining the journal entries of Lewis, Clark, Ordway, Floyd, Gass and Whitehouse into one seamless account. As much as possible, the original thoughts were retained. In cases of quotes or unique information, the individual who made the statement is added in parenthesis (). The original journal entries have also been corrected for spelling, grammar and readability. Click to view the journals in their original state.

The Corps of Discovery officially began their journey to the Pacific on May 14, 1804.

 

CLICK EACH DAY'S SUB-HEADING FOR A MORE IN-DEPTH "DAY-BY-DAY" EXPLANATION.

 

July 10:

"A New Canoe Camp"

UPPER PORTAGE CAMP AT GREAT FALLS (LEWIS) and CANOE CAMP, SOUTHEAST OF ULM (CLARK), MT

Clark departed early with Pryor, four axemen, two “invalids” (Bratton had a finger infection) and another hunter to start a new “Canoe Camp” up river. Clark and his men traveled overland (8 miles), shaving miles off the 23-mile river trip. Lewis dispatched Ordway with four canoes and eight men to transport a load of baggage to the Canoe Camp, with orders to return for the rest of the baggage.

Lewis and six men went to work dismantling the iron-frame boat. They dug a new cache and buried the frame, along with some papers and disposable items the men no longer needed. Then Lewis buried the “truck wheels” in the tar pit, and went fishing (he caught a few white chub).

Near the newly established Canoe Camp, Clark discovered two large cottonwood trees. They were perfect for constructing a long canoe (thankfully one was hollow), and so his men felled them. The axe men broke thirteen hickory axe handles bringing down the two trees. They made replacement handles out of chokecherry wood. Ordway and his canoe crew managed five miles before the winds stopped their progress. They waited for the winds to die down and then set out again. They traveled late into the night, and finally halted about three miles from Canoe Camp. Ordway's party camped in a grove of cottonwood trees, and awakened a large rattler that they dutifully killed. The gnats swarmed the men and the mosquitoes proved “immensely numerous and troublesome.”

 

July 11:

"Unaccountable Artillery of the Rockies"

UPPER PORTAGE CAMP AT GREAT FALLS (LEWIS) and CANOE CAMP, SOUTHEAST OF ULM (CLARK), MT

Lewis and his party wasted the day waiting for Ordway to return (but the sergeant's party never showed). Some of the men hunted and killed a fat buffalo. Around sunset Lewis heard those unexplainable “booms” that sounded like thunder. There’s a lot of false ideas and superstition surrounding these loud sounds, but Lewis entertained none of it.

At Canoe Camp, Clark sent Bratton (still suffering from an infection under his fingernail) downriver to find Ordway and retrieve a couple axes. He was back in two hours. Ordway’s crew was still stuck three miles downriver, unable to move due to continued high winds. He finally allowed the canoe with the tools to leave early, but the other three canoes remained docked until late afternoon. The “tool” canoe arrived back at Canoe Camp around 10 a.m., but the rest of Ordway’s canoes didn’t arrive until sunset. The men quickly unloaded the canoes and Clark sent returned Ordway's party back downriver in the dark. However, once again, high winds forced Ordway’s men to halt for the night (they managed to travel only eight miles).

Earlier that day, Whitehouse hiked on the plains and stepped on a four foot prairie rattler (that, struck at his leggings). He shot it dead. Pryor severely dislocated his shoulder as he carried meat. They were able to pop it back into place but he remained in serious pain.

 

July 12:

"Hewing Two New Canoes"

UPPER PORTAGE CAMP AT GREAT FALLS (LEWIS) and CANOE CAMP, SOUTHEAST OF ULM (CLARK), MT

It was a very windy day. When Ordway’s canoes failed to return to Upper Portage Camp, Lewis dispatched Gass and three men to join Clark and help dig out two new canoes (they arrived at Canoe Camp around 10 a.m.). Lewis believed the rest of the baggage could make the return trip in their six canoes. The senior captain was growing anxious. They needed to get moving.

Clark sent Bratton downriver to retrieve two more axes from Lewis. Ordway and his canoe crew continued to struggle to move downriver (due to high winds). One canoe nearly sunk. Two other vessels took on much water. By the time the Ordway party reached Upper Portage Camp, it was too late to make another trip back to the Canoe Camp. So Lewis called it a day.

It was a day for some discovery. Clark spotted several passenger pigeons (extinct since 1914). Lewis spied a Kingfisher bird. It’s rare to see this bird on the Missouri River. The mosquitoes, however, aren’t rare. In fact they are “very troublesome.” But the new pest were swarms of gnats. “Our eyes are filled with them,” Lewis wrote.

 

July 13:

"Leaving Upper Portage Camp"

UPPER PORTAGE CAMP AT GREAT FALLS (LEWIS) and CANOE CAMP, SOUTHEAST OF ULM (CLARK), MT

Lewis and the men packed the remaining baggage into the six canoes (and assigned two men to each vessel). They said goodbye to Upper Portage Camp and departed. Lewis took the French interpreter Lepage (who was sick), Sacagawea and her infant son “Pomp” across the river and walked overland towards the Canoe Camp. Along the way they passed a large, extraordinary Indian lodge—constructed from sixteen 50’ cottonwood poles—used for large gatherings. It was likely a Blackfeet medicine lodge where the tribe held their sun dance. Lewis arrived at Canoe Camp around 9 a.m. Clark had the men finishing the two new canoes, corking and preparing oars.

Meanwhile, Ordway and six canoes traveled back upriver until high winds, once again, forced them to stop to dry baggage and drain the canoes. Like clockwork, around 5 p.m., they were back on the river. The canoe crew traveled another eight miles and camped. The river is now populated with more timber along the bottoms.

The hunters at the Canoe Camp killed three buffalo. They needed more skins to cover the baggage. Lewis noted the Corps devoured “an immensity of meat.” So much meat that their hunters needed to cultivate at least four deer a day. Or an elk and a deer. Or a buffalo. Meat was now their primary food. They intended to save their flour and corn for crossing over the Rocky Mountains. The captains had heard game was scarce in the high country.

Lewis collected several plant specimens. He also noted the mosquitoes and gnats were worse at Canoe Camp, so he dispatched a man to find Ordway's canoe party to bring his mosquito netting. Lewis can’t sleep a wink without it. Mosquitoes, he journaled, were “the most tormenting of all insects.”

 

July 14:

"Launching the New Canoes"

CANOE CAMP, SOUTHEAST OF ULM, MT

It’s a calm and warm Sunday. The men completed the new canoes and tested them in the evening. One canoe was 25 feet long and the other was 33 feet in length (both were about three feet wide). Lewis hiked to some nearby bluffs and had a “commanding view of the country.” By the time he returned to Canoe Camp, Ordway and his canoe crew had arrived (at noon). The men unloaded the canoes and prepared for departure the next morning. On the plains the grasshoppers were thick...as were the mosquitoes (“troublesome”) and gnats.

 

July 15:

"Leaving the Falls of the Missouri"

SOUTHWEST OF ULM, MT 

The Corps woke at sunrise and loaded the baggage into their assigned canoes. All eight vessels were heavy, even with all the stuff they had buried in caches. The Corps is carrying a lot of meat and grease. It’s also been hard to keep the men’s personal baggage to “reasonable bounds,” Lewis noted. They continue to collect articles they find along the trail.

Around 10 a.m. the Corps shoved off to much joy. Every man was equally happy to be moving forward again. To lighten the canoes, Lewis, Clark, and some of the men walked ashore. Lewis shot a couple elk for lunch. The prickly pear and sunflower are in full bloom.

In the evening the sick men Lepage and Potts walked with their captain. They halted for supper near a beautiful river they named “Smith’s River” (after Robert Smith, Jefferson’s Secretary of the Treasury). The Missouri was very crooked and meandered through lovely valleys before it disappeared into the Rocky Mountains. Lewis and his men discovered a nice shade of timber and stop to wait for the canoes. It’s a good place to camp for the night, in the shadows of “Fort Mountain” (now known as Square Butte, north of Cascade, MT). Drouillard shot a deer that Lewis’ dog “Seaman” chased into the river. After catching and drowning the deer, the dog dutifully returned with the carcass to give to his master. 20 miles

 

July 16:

"The First Gate: Tower Rock"

EIGHT MILES SOUTHWEST OF CASCADE, MT

The Corps departed at sunrise. The captains dispatched Ordway downriver (four miles) to recover an axe he “carelessly left” behind. The party passed forty small willow huts the Indians used for shade. It’s likely Shoshone. They saw evidence for horses (and that gave Lewis hope). They need horses to cross the Rockies. Drouillard shot a buffalo for the men’s breakfast. Lewis tried “cooked buffalo guts”—cooked Indian-style over a blazing fire—for the first time. They were “very good.” After breakfast, Lewis took Drouillard and his two sick men (Potts and Lepage) to scout the land ahead and made observations. The three men spent the night alone. The Missouri River continued to move through beautiful country. It’s current flowed faster as they neared the Rocky Mountain entrance (where the rest of the Corps camped for the night on a nice sand beach). 23 miles

 

July 17:

"Climbing Pine Tree Rapids"

DEARBORN RIVER, MT

Lewis observed the many uses Indians had for sunflower seeds, including bread and soup thickener. The senior captain also enjoyed a taste for currants and service berries. Around 8 a.m. Clark’s canoe party caught up to Lewis. They breakfasted together. Lewis removed the box with his instruments to walk them around the rapids ahead. The canoes traversed the white water (using towing lines) with some difficulty. Thankfully, there was no loss or injury). The men spotted bighorn sheep in the evening, otherwise they saw little big game. The rugged landscape is populated with high cliffs of aspen, spruce and fir trees. The Corps camped on an island. The mosquitoes remained “troublesome” but the gnats were less a problem. 11 miles

 

July 18:

"Clark Seeks the Shoshone"

HOLTER LAKE, MT

The men awoke to a herd of bighorn sheep running and jumping on the cliff opposite their camp. It was quite a show. Lewis anticipated a meeting with the Shoshone Indians very soon. They needed intelligence on the country plus horses to cross the Rocky Mountain range. However, Lewis was concerned if the Shoshone heard their guns (shooting wild game). They might retreat into the mountains or hide (thinking the Corps were enemies). Consequently, Clark decided to explore ahead of the canoes working upstream. The captains hoped that one of them working ahead in this fashion might successfully intercept the Shoshone in a more peaceful manner. Initially the Corps traveled together. Two and a half miles upriver they passed the mouth of a large and rapid river with clear water. The captain’s named it “Dearborn’s River” in honor of Henry Dearborn, the current Secretary of War.

Clark shot an elk for breakfast, and then took Joseph Field, Potts and his black servant York to accompany him. His exploratory party soon ran into “hilly” country that slowed their ability to put distance between them and the Corps on the river. In the evening Clark discovered an Indian road that shaved off several miles and greatly extended their lead. They camped that night beside a small creek with clear and cold water. The mosquitoes were thick and “troublesome.”

The Missouri River current ran faster and forced the men to use ropes and a “setting pole.” The men killed an elk and later found a deer carcass that Clark shot. The company camped in a small grove of cottonwood trees on the south shore near present-day Holter Reservoir dam. The mosquitoes were “troublesome.” 21 miles

 

July 19:

"Gates of the Mountains"

GATES OF THE MOUNTAINS, MT

The Corps departed at dawn. The Missouri River continued to increase in velocity, with some whitewater rapids. Lewis walked the shore and shot an antelope. The summer heat was “suffocating.” In the evening the Corps “entered...the most remarkable cliffs” they had yet encountered. These cliffs were rugged and rocky (200 feet high). For nearly six miles they traveled through this impressive water canyon. The men spotted several springs that drained into the river.

The current proved easier to manage inside the canyon. However, due to the geography there was no place to camp. Lewis' party eventually found a sufficient, shady area (among the Ponderosa pines) to stop for the night. The senior captain named this grand entrance into the Rocky Mountain range the “Gates of the [Rocky] Mountains.” During the day the Corps spotted bighorn sheep, antelope, beavers, and otters. The mosquitoes were less trouble too, possibly thanks to an afternoon thunderstorm with hail. Lewis’ party traveled 22 miles on the river.

Clark’s party also left early and discovered several old Indian camps. Around 11 a.m., they stumbled into a herd of elk. The men were out of meat so they killed a couple for dinner. With little available firewood, Clark’s men substituted buffalo pies (dung) for wood. Throughout the day they traveled overland and eventually returned to the Missouri river. The prickly pear cacti nicked up Clark’s feet something fierce. The captain pulled seventeen thorns from his soles by the light of his evening fire. The mosquitoes were “very troublesome.”

 

July 20:

"Indian Smoke Signals"

HELENA VALLEY, MT

The Corps left at dawn. The current was strong and required ropes to move the canoes upstream. Around 6 a.m. the company left the “Gates of the Mountains” and moved into a spacious valley filled with currants, gooseberries, and service berries. Lewis loved the currants and preferred their taste to anything he could buy in the markets back home. The men killed an elk.

Mid-morning they witnessed smoke up a particular valley. Was it Indians signaling amongst themselves, warning other Indians of the Corps presence? Or could it be Clark’s fire? Lewis believed it was an Indian warning smoke, perhaps spooked by one of Clark’s guns. Later the Corps discovered an elk skin with a note from Clark (containing information on reuniting). In the afternoon the Corps passed through a range of low mountains that opened into wider prairie land. There’s little timber to be found. Lewis identified a new kind of woodpecker (Lewis’ woodpecker). The Corps named a creek after Private John Pott's. They camped on a high bank dense with prickly pear cacti. It was hard to find a place to lie down, reported Lewis. His canoe party traveled 15 miles.

Clark’s exploratory party left the river and followed an Indian road for about 18 miles. They were tortured by mosquitoes. Clark’s black servant York was exhausted. The captain’s feet burned with blisters. Clark also spotted smoke in a distant valley. He suspected the gunfire of Lewis had tipped the Indians off. Clark doesn’t want the natives to think they’re a war party, so he left signs along their trail to show their friendliness. The men’s march became a crawl due to the prickly pear cacti thorns and deep cuts (from walking over rocks) that tore up their feet.

 

July 21:

"Clark Wait's for Lewis"

CANYON FERRY LAKE, MT

Lewis' party departed at sunrise and worked through a bad patch of whitewater. The current remained strong and forced the need for tow ropes. Their progress was “slow and laborious.” They spotted some swans and killed a couple for their meal. Lewis’ dog “Seaman” caught several geese (a frequent occurrence) but few were edible. The men also saw sandhill cranes. The Corps traveled through rough mountain country most of the day on a southerly route. Around noon, their course turned toward the southwest. The wind blew hard all day, with intermittent showers of rain.

In the evening Lewis’ party emerged into a beautiful and great meadow (10-12 miles wide), framed by two mountain ranges featuring summits still covered with snow. This massive meadow has “fine” grass two feet tall. It's a great place to camp for the night (about five miles east of present-day Helena, MT). His men were worn out and complaining. The “troublesome” mosquitoes added to their misery, especially during the day. During the night it got so cold the mosquitoes left the area. The men all had a “movable frame” (bier), that they covered with a mosquito netting, to escape the tortures of this blood-sucking insect. Without their “mosquito biers” none of the men could sleep. Lewis’ party traveled 15.5 miles on the river.

Clark’s exploratory party awoke to a “fine morning,” but their feet were so shredded the captain decided to wait there for the canoes. He went hunting for some game and to look for sign of Indians. Finding nothing, he returned to camp. Like Lewis, he enjoyed the tasty and plentiful service berries, currants, chokecherries, and gooseberries. Clark shot a buck. Field killed a buck and doe.

 

July 22:

"Sacagawea Recognizes the Area"

BEAVER CREEK, HELENA VALLEY, MT

The Corp departed at sunrise. The river now had several channels, creating islands. Lewis found it difficult to navigate in the right channel. So the captain took to higher ground where he could better see the lay of the land and river. The men discovered wild onions on one island. Lewis gathered half a bushel himself, and the men, when they stopped for breakfast, harvested their own bountiful crop. The onion was quite flavorful. Lewis named the island “Onion Island.” After breakfast Lewis once again hit the higher ground to walk ahead of the canoes. At one spot he stopped and killed an otter, but it sunk to the bottom. However, the water was so clear he could still see the otter, so he dove into the water and retrieved it.

Upriver at Clark’s camp, the air was quite chilly during the night. Clark possessed only a small blanket, so he slept in the grass and covered himself the best he could. The captain lanced the blisters on his feet, which proved painful. Clark also dispatched his men to hunt the area while he nursed his blistered and bruised feet. He felt weak. He had had nothing to eat save some currants and venison. He hoped his men could bring in some game, but all they harvested was a single deer.

The late afternoon temperature was 80 degrees (in the shade), the warmest day yet in these high mountains. Sacagawea now recognized the landmarks. She assured Lewis her Shoshone relatives lived in the area and the “three forks” of the Missouri River were close. This news encouraged the men (especially Lewis) greatly. In the evening Lewis’ party finally reached Clark’s camp. The entire company continued further upriver to camp on an island. Clark’s men killed an elk, while Lewis’ men shot a deer and antelope. Clark insisted on working ahead of the canoe party to find the Shoshone. He did not want Lewis to relieve him yet. Lewis permitted Clark's request because he found him “anxious.” Frazier, Joseph and Reuben Field were assigned to accompany Clark on this exploratory. Charbonneau requested to rejoin and was granted permission. The gnats and mosquitoes were terribly “troublesome” in the evening hours. 19.5 miles

 

July 23:

"Signaling the Shoshone"

TOWNSEND AND TOSTON, MT

The Corps departed at dawn. Clark took his party of four men (Frazier, Charbonneau and the Field brothers) to work ahead of the canoes and look for the Shoshone. They hoped to find Sacagawea’s tribe around the Three Forks area. Drouillard, who hadn’t returned to camp from the previous day, finally showed up with five deer in tow. Islands continued to populate the Missouri, which ran fast with some rapids. They passed a cluster of ten islands and a creek they named after Pvt. Joseph Whitehouse (Gurnett Creek). Thistles and onions abound (the latter collected for future use). Lewis discovered a western garter snake in melanistic state (which made it jet black).

Clark’s excursion took him overland. Around the six mile mark he crossed paths with Drouillard. The captain and his men killed four deer and an antelope and left them on the riverbank for the canoe party. Then they traveled another 25 miles on an Indian path through a wide valley with high mountains on either side and camped. Clark spotted no sign of Indians.

Lewis halted the Corps early. Some baggage was wet and needed to dry. He ordered the canoes to hoist their small flags to show peaceful intents toward any Indians they might encounter. The mosquitoes are “very troublesome,” wrote Whitehouse. He could not “keep them out of [his] face.” They Corps camped on the south side of the river and were “much fatigued.” 22 miles

 

July 24:

"A Biblical Trio of Pests"

CLARKSTON, MT

The Corps left at first light. The Missouri current remained swift. Lewis feared, despite assurances from Sacagawea to the contrary, that they might encounter another set of “considerable falls or obstruction” to slow them down. He couldn’t conceive how a river could run through “rough mountainous country” without points of “difficult and dangerous rapids.” Some of the rapids they now passed were 150 yards long and dropped one to three feet. The high mountains all around him, still covered with snow in mid-summer, also gave Lewis little peace.

The Corps spotted beaver and otter, as well as antelope, cranes, geese, ducks and a grizzly. They witnessed non-poisonous bull and garter snakes. The beaver and its dams, Lewis ruminated, might be the reason there are many islands in the river. There’s no sign of bison. The fondness of buffalo “white pudding” will likely wait until their return. Lewis journaled the three pests that "invade and obstruct" the Corps to biblical proportions were mosquitoes, gnats and prickly pear cacti.

Clark and his four men left early and traveled up a creek in the direction of the Indian path. They spotted a fat, wild horse but couldn’t approach him. They saw sign of Indians but it was old. The party journeyed back toward the Missouri river and killed a deer. Then “proceeded on” upriver a few miles and camped.

The men back at the Lewis camp were much fatigued. They haven’t had a day off in weeks and they were wore out. Lewis helped occasionally to assist in moving the canoes through the swift waters. He’s learned, to quote the men, to “push a tolerable good pole.”  19.5 miles

 

July 25:

"The End of the Missouri River"

THREE FORKS OF THE MISSOURI RIVER, MONTANA

The Corps departed early. The current remained swift with some rapids. In the late morning they spotted a grizzly on an island, but he scampered out of sight. The grizzlies in the area appeared less aggressive and shy than the ones encountered further downriver on the Missouri. The antelope were gathered in small herds, females with babies and a couple males to protect them. They were equally elusive and will bolt with “superior fleetness.” The men shot a few young geese, but Lewis forbade wasting too much ammunition on small game.

Clark and his four men arrived at the Three Forks of the Missouri. Clark surveyed the rivers and felt the “north fork” appeared to be both deepest and “best calculated for [the Corps] to ascend.” The Indians on the north side had started prairie fires for no reason. His party dined on a buck’s ribs for breakfast, then started up the North Fork (later determined to be the Southwest Fork) to reconnoiter the river. Clark left a note of his intentions for Lewis. The party explored about 6-8 miles, until they came to a small rapid and waterfalls. They traveled another 12 miles further up the Southwest Fork and camped. Charbonneau was worn out, his ankles failing him. There was a lot of tall grass and prickly pear, with high and steep hills. There was game in the area (elk, bear, deer), plus plenty of berries.

In the afternoon, Lewis’ canoe party passed where Clark previously camped and eventually past a creek they named “Gass Creek.” They navigated through two difficult rapids (“the worst we’ve seen since...entering the Rocky Mountains,” journaled Lewis. Whitehouse cut his foot on a sharp rock, running the tow rope from shore. The mosquitoes and gnats remained thick and “troublesome.” 16 miles

 

July 26:

"Charbonneau Nearly Drowns"

THREE FORKS OF THE MISSOURI, MT

Lewis’ canoe party departed at dawn to face more swift water and rapids. They named a creek after Pvt. Thomas P. Howard. Some light rain. The men continued to fight sharp grasses, cacti and thistles that painfully penetrated their moccasins and leggings. Lewis’ dog “Seaman” suffered as well, “constantly biting and scratching” to ease the pain. The men killed a beaver, plus four deer. They continued to find notes left by Clark, who provided information on his whereabouts and important intelligence. The Corps viewed he rugged snow-capped Tobacco Root and Madison Mountain range to the southwest. 16.5 miles.

Clark took Frazier and Reubin Field on an excursion, leaving Charbonneau and Joseph Field at camp to rest their sore feet. The trio summited a mountain (around 11 a.m.) for a good view of the river and valleys ahead. There’s still no sign of Indians, at least not fresh sign. On their return to camp, they found a cold spring. Being a hot day, Clark and his men dipped their tired feet in the spring and washed their heads and hands. They also drank its cold waters until they had their fill (“as we were almost famished,” Clark penned).

Not too long afterward, Clark felt nauseous. Once back at camp, the party dined on a fawn but Clark had no stomach to eat and his feet were tore up with blisters and prickly pear thorns. After some rest, the party headed toward the Middle Fork. As they crossed the river, Charbonneau was swept into the swift current and nearly drowned. Thankfully Clark saved his French interpreter (who couldn't swim). His party traveled a few miles further up the Middle Fork, but Clark’s nausea forced them to camp early. They killed two grizzlies on an island.

 

July 27:

"Naming the Three Forks"

THREE FORKS OF THE MISSOURI RIVER, MT

Lewis’ canoe party left at first light but proceeded slowly due to swift current. The men now tired faster and earlier from the “violent exertion.” They passed through some high cliffs with bighorn sheep. Around 9 a.m., Lewis ascended a hill to see the Three Forks of the Missouri. The canoe party eventually arrived at a junction of the Southwest and Middle Fork and found Clark’s note with instructions for reconnecting. It was time to give the men some rest and wait for Clark’s party. The men unloaded the canoes and stored the baggage, then Lewis dispatched several men to hunt. The senior captain explored the Middle Fork and compared it to the Southwest Fork. He couldn’t tell which was the true Missouri. The hunters returned with six deer, three otter and a muskrat. They also witnessed great herds of antelope, plus sign of beaver, deer and elk.

Clark was very sick with a high fever, chills and body aches. Nevertheless, he remained determined to explore the Middle Fork and, in great pain, managed to hike eight miles. He still found no sign of the Shoshone. After a rest he returned downriver and reunited with Lewis around 3 p.m. Clark also suffered from constipation (no bowel movement in several days). Lewis gave him a dose of Rush’s “Thunderbolt Pills” (a potent diuretic) and prescribed a warm foot bath and rest. Clark’s illness forced the Corps to halt for a couple days to rest everyone.

Lewis was anxious about meeting the Shoshone. “If we do not find them or some nation who have horses,” he wrote, “I fear the successful issue of our voyage will be very doubtful or...more difficult in its accomplishment.” Three Forks was where Sacagawea claimed she was captured by the Hidatsa four years earlier. Lewis knew the Corps were now in the “bosom of this wild and mountainous country” where there was little game to feed the men. Furthermore, the objective to find a passage to the Columbia River was still a huge question. There were also no trees large enough to make more canoes. All these problems were bugging Lewis. “However I still hope for the best,” Lewis concluded. The good news is that if the Indians could survive this land (and find food), he wrote, then surely his company could too.

They named the "three forks" of the Missouri after the three individuals so critical to their success. The Southeast Fork was tagged the "Gallatin" after Albert Gallatin, the Secretary of the Treasury. The Middle Fork was named after James Madison the Secretary of State. And the Southwest Fork they called "The Jefferson River" after President Thomas Jefferson. 7 miles

 

July 28:

"Sacagawea's Capture"

THREE FORKS OF THE MISSOURI. MT

Clark remained sick but felt some improvement. Lewis dispatched two men to explore the Southeast Fork and other men to hunt the area for game. The captains agreed that none of these three rivers were the true “Missouri.” They also agreed the Jefferson River or the Southwest Fork (Clark originally named it the “North” Fork) was the best route to find passage to the Columbia River on the other side of the Rocky Mountains.

Lewis used the hot late July day to air out the baggage, then created a shady place for Clark to rest. Their leather tent got quite hot during the day. The men, though tired and suffering from sore feet, dressed skins, made moccasins and leggings (with Whitehouse as their leader). The mosquitoes continued to be a pest. Around 4 p.m. a southwest wind blew in a thunderstorm with a “refreshing shower.”

That evening the hunters returned with eight deer and two elk. The men who reconnoitered the Gallatin informed Lewis this river clearly headed east. It was not the direction they needed to go. Sacagawea claimed their campsite was the same place where her Shoshone tribe were camped when the Hidatsa arrived in the area. She told how the Shoshone retreated three miles up the Jefferson to hide, but the Hidatsa pursued and attacked them (killing four men, four women, and several boys). The Hidatsa also captured all the girls and took four boys as slaves. Sacagawea impressed Lewis. “She shows [no emotion] of sorrow in recollecting this , nor...joy in being again restored to her native country; if she has enough to eat and a few trinkets to wear I believe she would be perfectly content anywhere.”

 

July 29:

"Missouri Headwaters Observations"

HEADWATERS OF THE MISSOURI RIVER, MT

Several hunters spent the morning hunting (returned with four fat white-tailed bucks). They also caught a live baby sandhill crane. The young crane proved feisty (striking severe blows with its beak). After the amusement wore off, Lewis set it free. The men continued to dress skins and make clothing. There’s plenty of trout in the rivers too (but none bit their bait). Clark was much improved (no fever), but still weak and complained of body aches (arms and legs). Lewis gave him a Peruvian bark to remedy any lingering fever.

 

July 30:

"Up The Jefferson"

JEFFERSON RIVER AT WILLOW CREEK, MT

Clark continued to improve, so after Lewis finished his observations, the Corps packed their canoes and departed up the Jefferson River. Charbonneau, Sacagawea (with her infant “Pomp”) and two sick men, along with Lewis, walked about four and half miles (to the very place Sacagawea claimed she was captured). According to Ordway, Sacagawea shared how she was captured in the middle of the river as she crossed in a shallow spot. The Shoshone who weren’t killed or captured in the Hidatsa raid, escaped on their horses. The Lewis party of five (plus baby) halted to wait for Clark. He didn’t arrive until early afternoon due to strong currents and a crooked water route.

After lunch, Lewis’ hiking party opted for the canoes, so Lewis walked alone. Tired of wading in waist deep mud and water, Lewis ventured to higher ground. At sunset he descended to the river, around six miles (as the crow flies) from their last camp. He figured the canoe party was still behind him, so he found a place to wait on them. He fired his gun and hollered but heard nothing. It was now near dark. So the captain killed a duck, started a large fire, and ate his supper. He then “looked...for a suitable place to amuse myself in combating the mosquitoes for the balance of the evening.”

Clark’s canoe party was slowed by the swift Jefferson currents. They camped on a high spot on the north side of the Jefferson. 13.5 miles

 

July 31:

"The Tobacco Root Mountains"

SAPPINGTON, MT

Lewis waited patiently for the arrival of Clark’s canoe party. He was nervous. Maybe they had already passed him? He was just about to head further upriver when he spotted Charbonneau walking the shore. They were behind him after all. Once the Corps arrived at Lewis’ campsite, they stopped for breakfast. The Jefferson River remained swift, with some islands and much submerged timber. Lewis named a clear stream that emptied into the Jefferson as the “River Philosophy.”

Despite Drouillard spotting (and wounding) a grizzly, the company failed to kill anything. They were now out of fresh meat (which was extremely uncommon). The company normally had “double as much” as they could eat (Ordway). But Lewis couldn't get the men to ration their fresh meat. They ate it as fast as they killed it. Several men were hurt. Some with severe blisters. Another badly bruised. Another man had a dislocated shoulder (easily fixed). And yet another (Sgt. Gass) wrenched his back when he slipped and fell inside the canoe. He claimed he could walk ashore better than work the canoe. Consequently, Lewis tapped Gass (along with Drouillard and Charbonneau) to join his party to search for the Shoshone Indians. Charbonneau claimed his ankle was fully recovered, but Lewis wasn’t so sure. The French interpreter seemed anxious to accompany the captain. Could he be trying to get out of working the river? He hasn’t been a good riverman. 17.5 miles

 

August 1:

"Clark's Birthday"

JEFFERSON RIVER VALLEY, MT

The Corps left early and stopped for breakfast at 8 a.m. Afterwards, Lewis took Drouillard, Charbonneau and Gass to search for the Shoshone. They hiked towards the western horizon, between the Bull and Tobacco Root Mountains. The 11-mile journey was hot and exhausting. It didn't help that Lewis was suffering yet again from dysentery. He was weak and ingested a dose of “Glauber salts” to ease his bowel problem. The captain’s spirits lifted when he and Drouillard shot a couple elk. The Lewis party enjoyed an elk steak lunch, then left the rest of the meat for Clark’s canoe party. They also spotted a blue grouse and pinyon jay, the first ever recorded. Lewis and his three men hiked another six miles before setting camp. He was happy he packed his mosquito netting (as they were “troublesome”).

Clark’s party continued up the Jefferson River. The water was swift and shallow in spots. At one point the tow rope for Clark’s canoe snapped and nearly capsized. The captain killed a bighorn sheep for his birthday lunch (so they “floured” the steak to cook a special, hearty meal). The Corps eventually entered a wide and extensive valley, some four to eight miles wide. Clark dispatched the Field brothers to hunt, and they returned with five deer. The Corps found the elk meat Lewis had left them. Whitehouse forgot his tomahawk at last night’s camp. The Corps named a creek after Robert Frazier (“Frazier’s Creek”) and another for Reubin Field (“Reubin Field Valley Creek”). 13.5 miles

 

August 2:

"A Bountiful Valley"

THE JEFFERSON RIVER VALLEY, MT

At first light, the Lewis party resumed their search for the Shoshone. They decided to ford the Jefferson River to make an overland shortcut. They found the current swift and the 90 yard crossing in waist deep water daring. Shortly after they forded, Gass lost Lewis’ tomahawk in the brush, but the senior captain refused to let the loss get him down. “I consoled myself,” Lewis wrote, “with the recollection that it was not the only one we had with us.” They continued up the fertile valley towards snow-capped mountains. It’s littered with the bones and old pies (excrement) of bison. During the day the party “suffocated” from the “intense heat” but at night it was so cold that two blankets wouldn’t cut the chill. They feasted on currants and service berries. They also spotted an abundance of deer and antelope, however the two elk they shot provided the most meat. The Lewis party traveled about 24 miles, and the captain felt “perfectly recovered” from his bout with dysentery. He had no doubt in his ability to continue forward.

The Clark canoe party also departed at dawn. It was another day of working the canoes up a swift Jefferson River. It was exhausting, difficult and long work. Clark walked ashore and encountered several rattlers. Somewhere along the way he was bitten by a poisonous insect that produced a painful swelling on his ankle. Whitehouse suffered from shoulder pain. The country, according to Ordway, is “broken and mountainous.” 17 miles

 

August 3:

"Forks Ahead"

THE JEFFERSON RIVER VALLEY, MT

It was a “disagreeably cold” night, wrote Gass. Nevertheless, the Lewis party resumed their hike at first light and continued through the valley alongside the Jefferson River (which is starting to fork into smaller streams). Lewis leaves a note for Clark so he is sure to follow the right fork. Around 11 a.m., Drouillard shot a doe for a late breakfast. They continued to see little to no timber, save the cottonwood on the river. The plain is covered with prickly pear cacti and “bearded grass.” The grass along the river was so tall and thick it tripped them on every step. In the river they found trout and northern suckers.  23 miles.

Clark’s canoe party also left at dawn. The captain walked the shore. At one point he spotted a fresh Indian track. There was evidence the Indian spied on last night’s camp from the top of the hill. The Jefferson River proved crooked, plus swifter and more populated with shoals, forcing the Corps to double up and drag the canoes over numerous shoals and around several islands. Frazier killed a large mountain lion. They also spotted deer, elk and bear. The company camped on an island among a forest of willows. 13 miles

 

August 4:

"Philanthropy, Jefferson and Wisdom"

FORKS OF THE JEFFERSON, MT

The Lewis party departed very early on Sunday morning and soon discovered the “Forks of the Jefferson.” Three mountain creeks converge into the Jefferson: the “Philanthropy” or Ruby, “Jefferson” (later known as the Beaverhead) and “Wisdom” (Big Hole) rivers. Lewis wrote a note to Clark to continue up the middle fork or Beaverhead. His party took a siesta and devoured a hearty venison meal. Lewis and his men then traveled up the “Wisdom” (Big Hole) river several miles and camped. There’s still no sign of the Shoshone, although they spotted plenty of antelope, deer, cranes, geese and ducks. Charbonneau continually complained about his aching leg (which caused “considerable detention” to Lewis’ itinerary). 23 miles

The Clark canoe party also departed at dawn and breakfasted at a former Lewis party’s camp. Clark’s ankle (thanks to an insect bite) continued to fester and bother him. He couldn’t even walk the shore. The labor of hauling the canoes over shallow, swift water was "fatiguing and laborious in the extreme," Clark journaled. The men were soaked to the bone with feet that were killing them. Their hunters shot a couple deer. The bigger game had grown sparse, but beaver, geese and ducks still abounded along the Jefferson River. Some of the mountains were burned out (by the natives, it’s believed) and all the timber killed. 15 miles

 

August 5:

"The Wrong River"

THE FORKS OF THE JEFFERSON RIVER, MT

Charbonneau’s complaints and inability to hike forced Lewis to send him and Gass toward the Middle Fork (Beaverhead River). They gave the disabled men their packs—containing the meat—and ordered them to wait for their return. Lewis and Drouillard continued up the Big Hole another four miles. The river was rapid and shallow to navigate by canoe. They continued further to a high mountain spot with “pleasing view of the valley” below them. Everywhere he looked Lewis saw more mountains. It’s clear to the captain the Middle Fork (Beaverhead River) was their best route.

Lewis and Drouillard returned down the mountain to search for Gass and Charbonneau. At one point, Drouillard slipped and slid down the mountain, spraining a finger and hurting his leg. Lewis now had three disabled men in his party. When the two reached the meeting place, Gass and Charbonneau weren’t there. It was now dark. Lewis hooped and hollered but heard no reply. So the captain and Drouillard continued downstream, dodging prickly pear and thick brush, until they found them. Drouillard and Lewis enjoyed a small cut of venison, then quickly fell into a sound sleep. They traveled about 25 miles.

The Clark canoe party left at first light. It’s a clear cool morning. The captain dispatched the Field brothers to hunt, and they returned with two deer. The Jefferson River is straight and swift, only making it harder to move the canoes upstream. The men suffered all day, growing tired of working in the water. Their feet were so swollen that most could hardly walk. At 4 p.m. they reached the “forks of the Jefferson,” but the Corps never saw Lewis’ note (hung on a green pole), because beaver had cut it down and carried it away. This mishap meant Clark was navigating blind and took the wrong river.

The canoe party left their own note for Lewis and ascended the Big Hole River. The company fought a swift current with occasional small falls and thick, overgrown brush. The Clark party spent the night on a muddy, recently flooded island, overgrown with willow brush. It proved a miserable night. Clark’s ankle was killing him. And the men were so fatigued they wished for the river to end so they could travel overland. 9 miles

 

August 6:

"Down the Big Hole"

FORKS OF THE JEFFERSON RIVER, MT

The Lewis party left at first light and returned to the “Forks of the Jefferson.” Lewis dispatched Drouillard to the left bank and Gass to the right bank to hunt, then the captain headed downriver with Charbonneau.

The Clark canoe party continued to find the Big Hole River difficult and wearisome. During breakfast, Drouillard showed up at their camp and informed Clark his party was on the wrong river. Clark immediately turned his crew around and returned to the “Forks of the Jefferson” to meet Lewis.

As they descended downriver one of the canoes flipped on a rapid and sunk. Everything she carried was soaked. Another canoe nearly capsized, filling half full of water (wetting even more baggage). Their medicine box was drenched. They lost a knapsack, shot pouch, powder horn and moccasins. Whitehouse’s canoe hit a rapid. He jumped into the river to keep her upright when the swift moved the canoe over him. The vessel pinned him to the bottom of the shallow stream and nearly broke his leg. Whitehouse lost his powder horn, thread, and moccasins, but could’ve lost his life. He was lucky to survive with just an injured leg. In general, the Corps’ baggage was soaked (including their parched meal, corn, Indian gifts, and other valuable storage).

At noon the men fixed their camp and unloaded the canoes to dry out their baggage. Each canoe carried a lead canister filled with 20 pounds of powder. Surprisingly only one of the powder kegs was damaged, including canisters that remained underwater nearly an hour. Lewis credited his pre-planning for this success. These lead canisters, once empty, were melted down for more ammunition, but they were also highly secured containers for a most precious commodity (gunpowder).

In the afternoon the hunters killed a young elk, antelope and three deer. One of the men (Shannon) didn’t return to camp. Drouillard was sent to find him but no luck. They sounded their trumpet and fired their guns, but Shannon was lost...again. Lewis feared for his life. This was the same man who spent two weeks lost on the Missouri last season. But Lewis’ whole party was worn out. Clark’s ankle remained painful. By nightfall the stuff set out to dry was still wet. It wasn’t a very good day.

 

August 7:

"Up the Beaverhead"

SOUTH OF TWIN BRIDGES, MT

The fair morning allowed the Corps to spread their baggage to dry out some more. Reubin Field was dispatched to search for Shannon. Due to their consumable goods being exhausted, they were able to reduce their canoes by one. So they hid one in the brush and tied her down. The air rifle was inspected and Lewis found her sighting apparatus had been removed. He fixed these problems and fired the gun  (“she shot as well as she ever did,” wrote the captain).

By early afternoon the baggage was dry, so the Corps loaded the canoes and started up the Middle Fork or Beaverhead River. Lewis and Gass stayed behind for observations. They rejoined the Corps later in the evening. Drouillard killed a deer. Still no word from Shannon. The “troublesome” mosquitoes and gnats were largely history, but in their place came horse and deer flies that tormented the flesh. 7 miles

 

August 8:

"Beaverhead Rock in View"

SOUTHWEST OF TWIN BRIDGES, MT

The Corps woke to a heavy dew. With one less canoe, more hunters could search for food, however game was becoming scarce. The Beaverhead River proved gentler and deeper, but crooked and twisted. Although they made better time, the actual mileage (as the crow flew) was less than desirable. There’s little timber, but plenty of clover, sunflowers, flax and rye grass. Reubin Field returned and reported no sight of Shannon, but he was packing a deer and antelope. Two of the hunters returned with a two deer and two antelope. Another hunter killed a deer in the evening. Clark’s infected foot remained swollen and painful.

Sacagawea recognized a high rise rock on the plain near where the Shoshone traditionally lived in the summer. Her people called the mount “Beaver’s Head” because it resembled a beaver. She assured the captains her people could soon be found on this river. It’s critical for the Corps to find and procure horses to move the baggage through the Rocky Mountains. 8 miles

 

August 9:

"Lewis Scouts Ahead"

BEAVERHEAD ROCK, MT

The Corps departed at dawn. Lewis walked on shore and took a shortcut that gave him time to write in his journal (and wait for his men to catch up). However, when his party failed to show, he went back downstream to meet them. The senior captain killed a couple geese, and everyone enjoyed a great breakfast. Shannon finally caught up to the Corps. He had gone further up the same Big Hole River where Clark had dispatched him, and realized it couldn’t be the right river. So Shannon returned to the “Fork” and followed the Beaverhead instead, eventually catching up. Other than anxiety of being alone in the wilderness, Shannon seemed to thrive not just survive.

After breakfast, Lewis took Drouillard, Shields and McNeal and headed toward the Beaverhead Mountain. His objective was twofold: 1) Find the Shoshone Indians, and 2) Reconnoiter the river to find a portage to the Columbia River. Clark wrote “I should have taken this trip,” but his infected ankle kept him from hiking. The Lewis party traveled 16 miles before camping. They killed a couple antelope for supper and breakfast. Clark’s canoe party continued up the Beaverhead River. Besides being very crooked, the current was also swifter. A thunder shower in the evening couldn’t keep the “troublesome” mosquitoes away. Game of every kind were getting scarce. There’s snow on the mountains in the distance. 5 miles

 

August 10:

"End of the Navigable River"

GRANT, MT (LEWIS)/BEAVERHEAD ROCK, MT (CLARK)

Lewis’ party left at first light and continued up the Beaverhead River to its forks, then followed an Indian path that traveled along a creek. It was the end of a navigable river. Lewis journaled, "I do not believe that the world can furnish an example of a river running to the extent which the Missouri and Jefferson’s rivers do through such a mountainous country and at the same time so navigable as they are."

Lewis dispatched Drouillard to the right to hunt deer while he, Shields and McNeal started a fire in the shadow of Rattlesnake Cliffs (near present-day Dillon, MT). The cliffs were thick with prairie rattlers and aptly named by the Lewis party. Ninety minutes later Drouillard returned with three deer skins and several cuts of fine venison for the party to enjoy for a hasty breakfast. The Indian path (with horse prints) was leading toward (and through) the mountains and that was a good sign.

Eventually the party came to another fork with two streams and paths. From the southeast flowed Red Rock River and from the west ran Horse Prairie Creek. Lewis sent Drouillard to explore one path, and Shields to reconnoiter the other. Lewis needed to ascertain which one led toward the headwaters of the Missouri. He penned a note to Clark explaining the situation and recommended he stop until Lewis could decide on the best route. The southwestern (Red Rock River) route his party favored, but that path proved difficult. Plus, the Indian horse tracks were gone. So they returned to travel the other path, penned Clark a second note to inform of their new direction and headed west. Lewis began to doubt a “practical and safe” water passage existed. The geography was “mountainous country” and their river became a stream and then a creek.

As they headed west, the Lewis party entered a “beautiful and extensive” narrow mountain valley (10 miles long and 5-6 miles wide), watered by “several little rivulets.” They saw few trees in this plain. The Lewis party killed a deer and fixed camp. They had traveled about 30 miles.

The Clark party also left at dawn and continued up the Beaverhead River. It was getting shallow and very crooked. Even though they traveled over a dozen miles, in reality they only gained a few due to the river’s twisty nature. They now dragged their canoes over rapids. They passed the Beaver Head’s rock. Around 4 p.m. they were drenched for an hour by a thunderstorm with hail. The men dived under willow brush to escape the hail stones. Afterwards they resumed their journey. One deer killed, but thanks to the Lewis party they found another one hung for them. The men started to feel some hunger. They were used to eating much more meat. 4 miles

 

August 11:

"First Shoshone Encounter"

GRANT, MT (LEWIS)/SIX MILES NORTHEAST OF DILLON, MT (CLARK)

The Lewis party left at dawn but quickly lost their Indian track. Lewis decided to continue moving to the west, following Horse Prairie Creek. He dispatched Drouillard and Shields to search either bank for the Indian path. A few miles later Lewis spotted an Indian on horseback approaching them. From his dress it was a Shoshone! Lewis was “overjoyed” to see the Indian and slowly walked toward him. Within a mile of each other, the Indian spotted Lewis and stopped (the captain did the same). Lewis made a common and universal Indian sign for friendship by throwing his robe three times in the air and spreading it on the ground. But the sign did nothing. The Indian also spotted Drouillard and Shields approaching on the plain. They were too far away for Lewis to halt them and the captain feared spooking the Indian or wrongly communicating their intentions. Lewis removed some beads and trinkets and left his gun and powder with McNeal, then walked slowly unarmed toward the Indian (who never moved).

Lewis got within 200 steps of the Indian when he turned his horse. Lewis yelled “tab-ba-bone” (“white man”) at the Indian—a phrase that likely meant “alien or stranger,” or “look at the sun”—but the Indian grew nervous. Lewis motioned for Drouillard and Shields to stop but only Drouillard did. Lewis walked closer and repeated “tab-ba-bone!” He pulled up his sleeves to show he was white. However, Shields unwillingness to halt spooked the Indian. At about 100 feet, the Indian whipped his horse and bolted over the creek and disappeared. Lewis was mortified and disappointed...and frustrated with Shields failure to stop. He gave Drouillard and Shields a tongue-lashing for their lack of attention and caution.

The Lewis party followed the Indian horse tracks into the hills, hoping to find their camp. Expecting the Indians to be spying on them, the party stopped and kindled a fire for breakfast. Lewis prepared a small gift of moccasin awls, strings of glass beads and a mirror. He hung the gift from a pole by their fire as a sign to the Indians that they were friendly whites. Then the party continued to follow the horse path. They saw sign of horses and root diggings. After 20 miles searching for the Shoshone, they set camp. Lewis attached a small U.S. flag to a stick for McNeal to carry and plant wherever they stopped.

The Clark canoe party left after breakfast. The captain dispatched several hunters to look for food. They passed “3000 Mile Island”—named for marking three thousand miles since leaving St. Louis. The Beaverhead River is shallow and rapid (meaning more hard labor to drag canoes upstream). The hunters returned with three deer and an antelope. The men tomahawked several otter. The trees were scarce. It’s mostly willow brush and currant bushes. They camped on at the upper point of a large island. The mosquitoes and horseflies were “troublesome.” 5 miles

 

August 12:

"Across the Divide"

LEMHI PASS (LEWIS)/DILLON (CLARK), MT

Lewis sent Drouillard to ascertain the direction of the Indians. He returned with no news. Lewis decided to continue around the mountain. Eventually they discovered an Indian path that led them to a new stream (Trail Creek). Lewis felt he was getting close to the Missouri River headwaters. “I therefore did not despair,” he optimistically wrote, “of shortly finding a passage over the mountains and...tasting the waters of the great Columbia this evening.”

Four miles further, and Lewis was satisfied he found the headwaters (“the most distant fountain of the waters of the mighty Missouri”). He reminisced about the “many toilsome days and restless nights” his party had endured. McNeal placed one foot on either side of Trail Creek and “thanked his God that had lived to bestride the mighty...Missouri.” Lewis satisfied his thirst with a long drink of the “pure and ice cold water” that bubbled from the spring. He was a half mile from a mountain ridge (Lemhi Pass) and the Montana-Idaho line. Surely on the other side was another spring and another creek. After a short rest, the men climbed over the ridge and found a beautiful cold and clear stream (Agency Creek) running to the west. “Here I first tasted the water of the Great Columbia River,” recalled Lewis. They continued to follow the Indian path and, after 20 miles, decided to camp for the night. The party had no fresh meat, so the men dined on salted pork, flour and parched meal.

The Clark canoe party departed at first light. The Beaverhead grew shallower and swifter. It was extremely difficult and slow going (one canoe nearly capsized). The men grew weak, sore and tired. They pined to travel by land, but Clark encouraged them to stay the course (and their captain’s motivation pacified their spirits). The hunters killed three deer and a fawn. They camped near present-day Dillon, MT. 4 miles

 

August 13:

"Shoshone Diplomacy"

SHOSHONE VILLAGE, TENDOY, ID (LEWIS)/SOUTHWEST OF DILLON (CLARK), MT

The Lewis party left at first light. Now in Idaho, they continued to follow the Indian path through “open broken country” to the west. They could see the snow-capped Lemhi Mountain range and the Lemhi River Valley. As they explored the area, they spied on a distant hill two Indian women, a man and several dogs, but the Indians had already spotted Lewis. The women sat down to await their arrival. Lewis and his men walked toward the Indians. About a half mile away, Lewis halted his party.

He removed his pack and rifle, then unfurled a U.S. flag and advanced alone. The women disappeared behind the hill, but the man remained and watched the captain. Lewis, once again, repeated the phrase “tab-ba-bone” in a loud voice. Once he topped the hill, all the Indians were gone. But their dogs weren’t. They sniffed out Lewis pretty good. Lewis tried to tie a handkerchief (filled with trinkets) to one of the dog’s necks but the canines wouldn’t cooperate and ran off.

Lewis signaled for his men to join him, and they quickly followed the Indians’ tracks. It was a well-traveled Indian path. The Lewis party followed the path for over a mile when they surprised three Indian women (an elderly woman and two adolescent girls). The older  Indian teen fled and hid, leaving behind the old woman and 12-year old girl. Lewis laid his gun down and slowly advanced. The two Indian women feared him, but knew there was no escape. So they sat down, lowered their heads and “reconciled to die.”

Lewis helped the elderly woman to her feet and repeated “tab-ba-bone” (white man). He rolled up his sleeves to display his white skin (as his face and hands were well-tanned). He gave the elderly woman and the girl beads, a few moccasin awls, pewter mirrors, and paint. Lewis ordered Drouillard to sign the old woman to call the teenaged girl from her hiding spot. The captain feared she might alarm the warriors and force an unwarranted attack. The old woman obeyed, and the teenaged Indian girl returned (to receive her own gift). Using signs, they asked the women to take them to their camp.

Suddenly sixty warriors on horses approached at full speed. It was the Lemhi Shoshones, or Snake Indians, the tribe of Sacagawea. It was the first time the Shoshones had met a white person. Lewis left his gun and, once again, boldly approached the warriors with only a U.S. flag. The chief of the warriors immediately spoke to the women, who informed them of Lewis’ identity and what his party represented. They displayed their gifts.

Immediately the chief and warriors began to “affectionately” hug Lewis, Drouillard, Shields and McNeal. They embraced them tightly, cheek to cheek, and said “ah-hi-e, ah-hi-e” (translation: “I am much pleased, I am much rejoiced”). After everyone got their physical greeting (Lewis was covered with Indian paint and grease, and “heartily tired of the national hug”), they sat down, removed their moccasins, and smoked the peace pipe to show a “sacred obligation of sincerity...[and] friendship.” Lewis distributed more gifts (blue beads and vermillion). He informed the chief (named Cameahwait) their visit was friendly, and Lewis wanted to explain everything later at their camp. Cameahwait instructed his warriors about the situation. Lewis gave him a U.S. flag as a “bond of union.”

Then the entire group went to Cameahwait’s "Shoshone Village" for the night (located seven miles north of Tendoy, ID on the Lemhi River near Sandy Creek). Lewis and his men bunked in a willow brush and old leather lodge. That evening they gathered in a lodge, once again barefoot (to show sincerity to promises), and smoked with Cameahwait. The chief gave another speech (of which they understood little). Cameahwait then handed the pipe to Lewis only to withdraw it...and then repeated the ceremony three times. Lewis and his men smoked with Cameahwait.

The captain, through sign, explained the objectives of their mission. Meanwhile the Shoshone women and children gathered outside to gawk at Lewis and his “white skinned” party. By now it was late. Lewis and his men were hungry. The Shoshone had no meat but gave the men sun-dried serviceberries and chokecherries. Lewis walked to the Lemhi River. Cameahwait told the captain this river dumped into another larger river (Salmon River), but the Salmon River ran through a difficult mountain terrain. Nevertheless it would lead to the Pacific Ocean (“the great lake where the white men lived”). Lewis hoped the chief exaggerated the situation to detain them. Lewis noticed there was no timber suitable for making canoes. It wasn’t the best of news.

That evening the Shoshone danced for the Lewis party until the midnight hour. By that time the captain was ready for bed. He left his men to “amuse themselves with the Indians.” The captain learned the Shoshone had been attacked in the spring by the Hidatsa. They killed 20 and kidnapped many others. They also lost several horses and all their lodges, save the ones Lewis and his party used. The captain still observed a large herd of horses at camp, more than enough to service their needs. On his way to bed, a Shoshone gave him boiled antelope and a piece of fresh roasted salmon. It’s the first time he had tasted this fish...and it was good. The captain was convinced he was on the “waters of the Pacific Ocean.”

As for the Clark canoe party, they again departed at down and sent hunters ahead to forage food. The men were in the water most of the day, often dragging the canoes over the shoals. All but two of the hunters returned...toting a single deer. Consequently, the men fished for trout (catching several big ones). Clark shot a duck. The men gathered the seeds of flax off the prairie. They stopped for the night near a patch of cottonwoods. 5 miles

 

August 14:

"Asking for Shoshone Help"

SHOSHONE VILLAGE/NORTH OF TENDOY, ID (LEWIS)/TEN MILES SOUTHWEST OF DILLON, MT (CLARK)

In order to give Clark time catch up, Lewis spent the day at the Shoshone village learning whatever he could “with respect to the country.” Drouillard and Shields went hunting, as their food stock was down to flour and parched meal. The Shoshone loaned them horses and several young men joined their hunting expedition. The Shoshone primarily hunted antelope. They used horses to pursue antelope until they tire and can kill them with arrows. Forty or fifty hunters on horses will spend half a day to kill two or three antelope. Elk and mule deer were scarce. Lewis was “entertained” by the “Indian chase” of ten antelope “in view of [his] tent.” Unfortunately, no antelope (or anything else) was killed. Lewis ate a “paste” of flour sprinkled with berries instead.

Lewis and Drouillard communicated with the Shoshone through “universally understood” signs. Lewis journaled, “It is true that this language is imperfect and liable to error but is much less so than would be expected.” Lewis leaned on Chief Cameahwait to understand “the geography of his country.” The chief created a map of branches (for rivers) and piles of sand (for mountains) to show Lewis the mountainous terrain and the rivers that led to the “great lake of water which was ill-tasted (the ocean).” He also told Lewis that “the mountains were...inaccessible to man or horse.” Cameahwait could give Lewis no help beyond this point, but mentioned there was an old Shoshone who might assist. The chief also informed Lewis about “the pierced nosed Indians” (Nez Perce) who lived beyond these mountains.

Cameawhait described another route to the ocean over “steep and rocky” mountains where they would find “no game to kill” nor anything to eat but roots. He noted how horses “would be so much wounded” walking upon the stones in these mountains. They’d also have to cross a “desert plain” that was “scorched” of “all the grass.” No animals lived there either. However, they’d eventually come to a navigable river known as the “Snake.” From this point, the chief did not know much, except that his relatives said it was still a “great distance to the great or stinking lake as they call the Ocean.”

Cameahwait encouraged Lewis to wait until spring to make this journey. Lewis thanked him for the information and gave him a knife as a gift. Lewis also told the chief the southern route was out of the way and inquired about what route the Nez Perce used to cross the Rocky Mountains. Unfortunately Cameahwait knew little except the “road was very bad one” with scarce food (save berries). Lewis’ mind was settled, however, and wrote: “I felt perfectly satisfied, that if the Indians would pass these mountains with their women and children, that we could also pass them.”

The captain also learned there were no buffalo west of the Rocky Mountains, only elk and deer...and fish and roots. Lewis was told the Shoshone and Spaniards did not get along, mostly because the Spanish refused to give them guns and ammunition (and left the Shoshone defenseless to all their enemies, who harass, steal, plunder and murder them). It’s why Cameahwait’s tribe lived in the mountains to suffered “two thirds of the year.” The chief said if his tribe had firearms they'd have “equal footing” with other tribes, especially the Hidatsa, Mandans and Arikaras (who regularly made war on them). Cameahwait hoped Lewis and his men returned to their homes in the East and brought back “an abundance of guns” to the Shoshone.

Lewis asked the chief to encourage his people to return with him to the “forks of the Jefferson” to meet with Clark and the rest of his party. He inquired about trading for horses to transport their baggage, and to help them get to the ocean. Drouillard counted about 400 “fine” horses, several branded by the Spanish. Lewis wrote: “Notwithstanding the extreme poverty of [these] poor people, they are very merry. They danced again this evening until midnight and are always prepared for action at a moment’s warning. They fight on horseback all together.”

The Clark party woke to a cold morning all “stiff and sore.” They departed around 7 a.m. but made little headway due to the river's crookedness and the fact it was “very cold.” Ordway noted the frigid water made “[their] feet and legs ache.” That evening Charbonneau smacked Sacagawea in a heated moment at dinner. Clark felt prompted to issue him “a severe reprimand.” The Fields brothers killed four deer and an antelope. Several of the men were lame due to various accidents in “working the canoes through this difficult part of the river” (forcing Clark to help to “pole” the vessels). They camped about 10 miles southwest of modern-day Dillon “near the rattlesnake cliff.” 7 miles

 

August 15:

"Reluctant Shoshone Helpers"

SHOSHONE COVE, GRANT (LEWIS)/CLARK CANYON (CLARK), MT

Lewis rose early and was “as hungry as a wolf.” He directed McNeal to cook half the last two pounds of flour into “a kind of pudding with berries” (then save the rest for supper). Even Chief Cameahwait loved the flour pastry and was quite curious about flour in general. The Shoshone were reluctant to accompany Lewis, as some in the tribe had spread a rumor Lewis intended to ambush them. Thankfully, the Chief didn’t believe it. Lewis told Cameahwait he was sorry to hear his people had little confidence in him. He told them “among white men it was considered disgraceful to lie or entrap an enemy by falsehood.” If the Shoshone thought ill of the whites it could have unintended consequences later when they hoped to trade for things they needed (like firearms). It was better to trust Lewis.

Cameahwait was “determined to go” and “not afraid to die.” He also “harangued” his people to behave and believe. Initially only six or eight men agreed to travel with their chief, but another 10-12 joined later and, finally, the entire village followed “very cheerful and gay.” Lewis sent Drouillard ahead to hunt but by the time they set camp in the evening, he still found nothing.

Clark again delayed his start until after breakfast. The icy river stressed and fatigued the men. They passed “Willards Creek.” Clark noted several rattlers in his walk and was nearly bitten...twice...by the vipers (he killed 2 or 3). One of the incidents happened while he fished from shore. Evidently a snake was coiled in the grass between his legs. Sacagawea, on a walk with her husband, also had a close call. The men caught several “fine trout” and Clark shot a buck (although the meat was strangely “bitter”). Lewis speculated it was due to the leaves on a certain willow the deer ate. 7 miles

 

August 16:

"Too Many Worries"

CAMP FORTUNATE (LEWIS)/WEST OF CLARK CANYON (CLARK), MT

Lewis dispatched Drouillard and Shields to hunt for meat as the Indians nor themselves had anything to eat. Once again, the Shoshone grew suspicious of Lewis and his party. Lewis allowed the Shoshone to watch them hunt to alleviate concerns. A few hours later, a young Shoshone rode back to their caravan to inform them a buck had been killed. The Shoshone were so hungry they raced to the deer kill and “like a parcel of famished dogs” began to “seize and tear” at the guts that Drouillard had tossed aside. They ate the intestines, kidneys, spleen, and liver...as blood ran from the corners of their mouths.

Lewis was shocked by the sight. “I viewed these poor, starved devils,” he wrote, “with pity and compassion.” The captain told McNeal to skin the buck and save a quarter, then give the rest to Chief Cameahwait to be shared among his people. By evening the entire deer was gone...without cooking a single slice. Thankfully, Drouillard shot another deer. This time they kindled a fire, cooked the venison and shared the roasted meat with their new Shoshone friends.

When they camped, the Chief held a ceremony and placed “tippets about [Lewis and his men’s] necks” to “disguise” them to look more Shoshone. To give them confidence, Lewis placed his “cocked hat with feather” on Chief Cameahwait’s head. Lewis, with his unruly hair and well-tanned skin, looked like a “complete Indian in appearance." The men followed his example to look more like the Indians. Their disguise was so good, the Shoshone carried the Lewis’ party U.S. flag so the Clark party recognized them as they drew closer to reunion.

But Clark wasn’t at the forks...and Lewis was concerned. The Shoshone, once again, grew suspicious. Lewis gave his rifle to the Chief and told him if his enemies were waiting to ambush that he could use Lewis' gun for defense. Plus, if the captain was being deceptive, the chief could shoot him. Lewis’ men also gave their guns to the Indians...which inspired confidence.

Lewis wrote a note to Clark, with plans to dispatch Drouillard the next morning. Lewis continued to deal with suspicions among the Shoshone, who remain quite fearful of an ambush. Lewis was concerned the Shoshone might leave him and return to the mountains before they could obtain the horses they needed to travel over the Rocky Mountains. He also feared the Shoshone might do a foolish thing and attempt to “defeat the expedition altogether.” Lewis journaled: “My mind was in reality quite as gloomy all this evening, as the most frightened Indian, but I affected cheerfulness to keep the [Shoshone] so who were about me.” Lewis informed Cameahwait that Clark had among his party a Shoshone woman who could speak their language, as well as a “man...who was black and had short curling hair.” The information seemed to work and provoked the Shoshone curiosity to hang around, if for no other reason than to view the merchandise available to trade for horses.

At 7 a.m., the Clark party departed. The river was ice-cold, rapid and shallow. Most of the day they dragged their larger canoes up the creek. The hills showed little to no timber. Along the bank the men gathered considerable amounts of service berries and currants. They caught trout and observed much clover. The “fatigued and exhausted” men camped among the willows (which they used for fire fuel). 6.5 miles

 

August 17:

"Happy Camp Fortunate Reunions

WEST OF "FORKS OF JEFFERSON RIVER," CLARK CANYON RESERVOIR, MT

Lewis rose early and dispatched Drouillard and a Shoshone down river to find Clark. He also sent Shields to hunt and McNeal to finish cooking their venison for breakfast. Shortly a report returned that Drouillard had found Clark and the rest of the Corps of Discovery. Charbonneau and Sacagawea “danced for the joyful sight” and she told Clark the Indians with Drouillard were “her nation” (Shoshone). In fact, as the Indians returned to their camp with Clark (and Sacagawea and Charbonneau), they happily “sung all the way.” The canoe party arrived around 10 a.m. The Shoshone “all appeared transported with joy,” wrote Lewis later (including the Chief, who returned to his “fraternal hug” of happiness).

When Clark arrived with Charbonneau and Sacagawea, there was a new surprise. Sacagawea recognized the Chief. It turned out that  Cameahwait was her brother! “The [reunion]...was really affecting,” wrote Lewis, “particularly between Sah cah-gar-we-ah and an Indian woman” named “Jumping Fish” (who had also been captured with Sacagawea but somehow escaped her Hidatsa captors). Clark penned, “The Great Chief of this nation proved to be the brother of the woman with us (Sacagawea) and is a man of influence, sense, easy and reserved manners. [He] appears to possess a great deal of sincerity.” Sacagawea was back among her people and proved instrumental in procuring horses from the Shoshone to cross the Rocky Mountains.

The Corps formed “Camp Fortunate” near the forks of the Beaverhead River. They unloaded their canoes, set up a canopy and prepared for a 4 p.m. tribal council. Using the interpreters Sacagawea (Shoshone to Hidatsa), Charbonneau (Hidatsa to French) and Labiche (French to English), the Shoshone communicated with Lewis and Clark (who delivered their scripted message about their friendly mission, Jefferson’s vision and wishes, strength of their government and desire to open a trading route from east to west).

Furthermore, since it was critical the Corps of Discovery reach the Pacific Ocean and return to the States, it was in the Shoshone’s best interest to assist them in achieving that goal. Their biggest need was horses to carry the baggage. The Shoshone chief Cameahwait and his people were thankful for their friendship and seemed please. He was only disappointed Lewis and Clark could not provide them with firearms. Cameahwait promised to deliver all the horses they needed. Lewis and Clark distributed peace medals to Cameahwait and two other Shoshone chiefs. They distributed George Washington coins, shirts, leggings, tobacco, knives, paint, moccasin awls, beads, mirrors and other small articles to various influential members in the tribe.

Lewis journaled: “[We] gave them a plentiful meal of...corn which was the first they had every eaten in their lives. They were much pleased with it. Every article...appeared to excite astonishment in their minds...[as well as] the appearance of the men, their [fire] arms, the canoes, our manner of working them, the black man York and the sagacity of my dog were equally objects of admiration. I also shot my air-gun, which was so perfectly incomprehensible that they immediately denominated it the great medicine.”

The Lewis and Clark party shared a meal of venison and antelope with the Shoshone (offering them good portions), then smoked the peace pipe in their bare feet as was tribal traditional. Lewis noted it was important to “not fatigue” the Indians “with too much business at one time.” Consequently they continued to show various items that “amused” the Shoshone. Nevertheless, the captains felt they had gathered enough information to plan an exploration into the wilderness with 11 men (packing tools and axes to build canoes).

Lewis had located the Missouri headwaters and believed “the head spring of the Columbia River” was only a mile further on the other side of the ridge (easily traversed with horses carrying their baggage). Gass estimated the distance between Camp Fortunate and the “waters of the Columbia” was “about 40 miles.” Consequently, once they located the Columbia River, they could build new canoes. “The spirits of their men,” Lewis wrote, “were now much elated as the prospect of getting horses.” 10 miles

 

August 18:

"Searching for a Navigable River"

CAMP FORTUNATE (LEWIS)/RED BUTTE (CLARK), MT

The day started early. Clark was “busily engaged” in preparations to lead an exploration into the mountains. Meanwhile, Lewis opened some containers filled with trading articles. He wanted some horses to relieve Clark’s men from carrying their baggage, plus secure a horse for the hunters to pack their meat to camp. In the end, he traded a uniform coat, a pair of pants, a few handkerchiefs, three knives and some other small articles (about $20) for “three very good horses.”

Clark left at 10 a.m. with his detachment of 11 men (plus Charbonneau and Sacagawea) and all the Shoshone, save two of their men and three women. Clark’s party camped “on Jefferson’s river [Horse Prairie Creek] in the Shoshone Cove” (about 8 miles west of Grant, MT). The three chiefs and two young men remained with Clark, while the rest of the tribe returned to the main camp. Mid-afternoon a “violent gust of wind, and some rain fell.” Clark’s hunters killed a deer which, with the Shoshone men, was “readily consumed.”

Meanwhile Lewis, back at Camp Fortunate, opened all the bags and storage to dry everything out. He then reorganized the parcels for transport by horse. A hard rain forced him to stop working. Drouillard killed a deer for supper and someone else trapped a beaver. Today was Lewis’ 31st birthday. He journaled: “This day I completed my thirty first year, and conceived that I had in all human probability now existed about half the period which I am to remain in this...world. I reflected that I had as yet done little, very little indeed, to further the happiness of the human race, or to advance the information of the succeeding generation. I viewed with regret the many hours I have spent in indolence, and now sorely feel the want of that information which those hours would have given me had they been judiciously expended. But since they are past and cannot be recalled, I dash from me the gloomy though and resolved in future, to redouble my exertions and at least endeavor to promote those two primary objects of human existence, by giving them the aid of that portion of talents which nature and fortune have bestowed on me; or in the future, to live for mankind, as I have heretofore lived for myself.”

 

August 19:

"Trading for a Mule"

CAMP FORTUNE (LEWIS)/LEMHI RIVER, ID (CLARK)

Lewis awoke early and dispatched three hunters (who killed three deer). He helped dressed their hides for pants and moccasins, while others repacked the bags for horse travel. A willow brush net trapped several cutthroat trout and a northern sucker (previously unknown).

Lewis noted the poverty of the Shoshone, but also their positivity and good “cheer.” They’re fond of “gaudy dress and amusements,” are arrogant and boastful of “heroic acts with they never performed.” They like games of risk and are frank, communicative, fair in their deals, generous (even with so little), honest and “by no means beggarly.” As for their government, “every man is a chief...with equal influence, on the minds of [their] community.” There is no ceremony for chiefs and they do not get the title by heredity. Nevertheless there is a single “principle chief” for the Shoshone. Lewis estimated there were about a hundred warriors and 300 women and children in the tribe.

He noted there were lots of kids but very few elderly. The male owns his wives (polygamous) and children “and can barter or dispose of either as he thinks proper.” The fathers broker husbands for their infant girls to full-grown men or to men with sons who’ll take them as wives. Around 13 or 14 years, the girl is considered an adult and then “surrendered to her sovereign lord and husband.” Sacagawea, for example, was “disposed of” when she was captured by the Hidatsas. Her Shoshone husband was still alive (more than double her age and possessing two other wives). He still claimed her, but since she was the mother of Charbonneau’s son, no longer wanted her.

The Shoshone “seldom correct their children” (especially the boys) in order not to “break their spirit.” They also don’t “whip” their kids. The women are treated “with little respect” and forced to do “every species of drudgery” (gathering food, handling horses, cook, dressing skins, making clothes, collecting wood, constructing fires, build lodges, packing their horses, caring for all baggage). The male does “little else” save attend to his horses, hunt and fish. It’s degrading for a male Shoshone to walk and even the poorest own two horses (the best one to ride and the other for the woman to use to transport their bags or kids).

A Shoshone husband will barter his wife to another man for a night (or longer) if the compensation is worth it. However, Lewis and the Corps were not given the same sexual privileges that the eastern Indians allowed. Consequently, Lewis ordered his men not to create any jealousy by consorting with the Shoshone women. Although Lewis knew to “prevent this mutual exchange” was “impossible” due to the long abstinence of his young men. However, “no evil” had happened yet. Lewis used Charbonneau and Sacagawea to learn more about the extent of venereal diseases, particularly gonorrhea, among the tribe. He learned some had caught it, but without a remedy, it’s fatal. The “anxious” captain concluded venereal disease (as well as small pox) were “imported” by either Europeans or Americans into western tribes.

Lewis estimated the Shoshone horse stock numbered around 700 (of which there were about 40 colts and 20 mules). From mid-May to September, the Shoshone live in the mountains on the Idaho side of the Rockies (retreating from their enemies who “war” upon them during the summers). From September to early May, the Lemhi Shoshone dwell in the valleys of western Montana near the Missouri headwaters. Here they have abundant game, including buffalo.

The Shoshone were a short people with thick ankle and flat feet...and crooked legs. They are similar in complexion to the Sioux but darker than the Hidatsa, Mandans and Shawnees. They tend to wear their hair long, except those who had their hair cut short by the Hidatsa. Cameahwait’s hair was cut short due to mourning a deceased relation. They wear robes, long pants, shirts, moccasins and jewelry made of shells, beads, corded sweet grass and leather with porcupine quills. While they hunt wolves and foxes, they favor the salmon. Gass noted the Shoshone don’t shake hands. Instead, to show their friendship, they wrapped their arms around their new friend’s neck instead. It’s their “national hug.”

As for the Clark party, they continued to move west with the five Shoshone (including Cameahwait) accompanying them. They traversed several steep “assents.” On one of the ridges, they met an Indian with two mules. He offered one of his mules to Clark (who was on foot) and the captain gave him a “waistcoat” to reward his polite manners. Lewis noted a mule is highly valued (costing three or four horses). The party camped west of the Continental Divide in Lemhi county, Idaho.

 

August 20:

"Toby Shows the Way"

CAMP FORTUNE (LEWIS)/LEMHI RIVER, ID (CLARK)

The day was a repeat of the previous day at Camp Fortunate for Lewis. A couple men went hunting. Other men prepared their baggage for horse transport. Lewis explored the river for a good place to “cache” more supplies. He wanted a place the Indians wouldn’t find to prevent any theft. When the captain found his cache location, he ordered three men to dig the hole and set a sentinel to watch for Indians. Lewis planned to deposit in the cache “a small assortment of medicine,” as well as plant specimens, minerals and seeds he found since leaving Great Falls.

One of the difficulties was making pack saddles without boards and nails. So they substituted rawhide strappings and paddle blades instead. The Lewis party made 20 saddles.

The Shoshone, Lewis noted, “behave themselves extremely well” and their women were helpful in “making and mending the moccasins” of the Corps. Both sexes of the Shoshone wore a robe “loosely thrown about their shoulders." The robe was made of antelope, bighorn sheep or deer...but buffalo was the most prized. In the summer, the Shoshone preferred elk hide robes. Their “deeply fringed” shirts featured porcupine quills, beads and hooves. Their pants were usually made of antelope skin. “They are much more decent,” Lewis wrote, “in concealing [their private] parts than any nation on the Missouri.” Gass noted their economic disparities, “[The Shoshone] are the poorest and most miserable nation I ever beheld; having scarcely anything to subsist on, except berries and a few fish...They have a great many fine horses, and nothing more; and on account of these they are much harassed by other nations.”

The hunters returned without a kill. Drouillard trapped a beaver and Goodrich “caught several dozen fine trout” (which was all the food they procured).

The Clark party left at 6 a.m. and soon arrived at the Shoshone camp. Chief Cameahwait desired to halt, and Clark agreed. A number of Indians soon gathered to smoke pipes. Then Clark conducted another council with the Shoshone, to explain their mission, the desires and dictates of Jefferson, his concerns for their “distressed situation,” and request their assistance in transporting their baggage across the mountains. Clark also asked for a guide to accompany them down the river and an elderly Shoshone (known as “Toby”) was selected by Chief Cameahwait for the task. Clark distributed presents and then at 3 p.m. departed with his detachment of 10 men (leaving Cruzatte to buy a horse and join when he was able). Charbonneau and Sacagawea returned to Camp Fortunate with the Shoshone.

 

August 21:

"Drouillard Gives Chase"

CAMP FORTUNE (LEWIS)/TOWER CREEK, ID (CLARK)

The morning was very cold with a quarter inch of ice in any container of water left outside overnight. Several deer skins were frozen solid. Even the ink in Lewis’ pen was frozen. The frost was so thick it looked like snow.

Lewis dispatched two hunters and Drouillard, on a horse, to search for game. The rest of the men continued to prepare baggage, build saddles and harnesses. By evening everything was ready to go. After dark, Lewis had his men bury a number of bags and articles in the secret cache. So far the Shoshone had not discovered it. Once again, the hunters returned without meat. Lewis was forced to break into their pork and corn storage.

Lewis observed how the Shoshone moccasins were the same for men and women, and composed of hairless deer, elk or buffalo hide. In the winter, they employed buffalo hide exclusively and inverted the hair to the inside of the moccasin to keep their feet warm. Some of the more fashionable young men decorated their moccasins with skunk skins (with the tail attached to the heel). The women wore an undergarment made of deer, bighorn sheep or elk skin. Both sexes wore jewelry made from sea shells (pearl oyster was the most prized). Courageous warriors wore collars of grizzly claws. Lewis concluded, “The dress of these people is quite as decent and convenient as that of any nation of Indians I ever saw.”

Clark resumed his march to find the closest tributary of the “Columbia River” river. After five miles he arrived at a Shoshone camp of seven families several miles south of present-day Salmon, ID. Clark halted to meet the Shoshone and was greeted kindly with friendliness. They all shared a meal of boiled salmon and dried chokecherries. The Shoshone showed Clark how they used a fish “weir” (and basket fish traps) to catch large quantities of salmon.

Afterwards, Clark continued his journey down the Lemhi to where it joined the Salmon River. He dispatched Collins with another Indian to search for Cruzatte, who failed to show. It turned out Cruzatte had somehow passed Clark and was ahead of him, but they finally reunited. One of the Shoshone returned a tomahawk (Drouillard’s) that was missing. Lewis believed the young Indian had stolen it (the first and only thing they’ve “pilfered”).

The Clark party traveled about 20 miles and camped a few miles north of present-day Carmen, ID. Their guide—Toby—appeared to be a “very friendly, intelligent old man” with whom Clark was “much pleased.” One of the “forks” of the “Columbia River,” Clark named “Lewis’ River” after his co-captain (because he was the first white man to see it). Today it’s known as the Salmon River.

 

August 22:

"Cameahwait's Band Arrives"

CAMP FORTUNE (LEWIS)/SALMON RIVER, ID (CLARK)

Lewis sent two men to finish covering the cache, as it got too dark to do the job well. Most of the men dressed deer skins and made leather shirts and overalls. Drouillard had an encounter with some Shoshone (with whom he communicated by sign). After the Indians finished lunch, they saddled their horses. Drouillard decided to get back to hunting. He went to get his horse (which was grazing) and “neglected” to take his gun. That’s when the Shoshone (mostly women and a young man) mounted their horses, stole Drouillard’s gun, and headed into the mountains (leaving their personal bags behind).

Drouillard chased them for a good ten miles and tired the two horses the women were riding. He eventually caught up to the women and persuaded them he had no intention of harm. When the young man returned to find the women, Drouillard asked for his gun, but he refused to return it. At a convenient moment, when the young Indian was caught “off guard,” Drouillard grabbed his gun and yanked it from his hands. Drouillard kicked his horse into high gear, chased by the young Indian. Drouillard returned to the spot where he met the Shoshone, saw their baggage still there and took it back to Lewis. When they searched the bags, they found only some skins, a couple bags of bark, dried service and chokecherries, some roots, and flint for making arrowheads.

Around 11 a.m., Charbonneau, Sacagawea, Chief Cameahwait and about fifty men (plus women and children) arrived back a Camp Fortunate. After they were settled, Lewis convened another council with the chiefs and warriors. He gave them more gifts, then “prepared a good meal...of boiled corn and beans.” Lewis wrote: “The Chief wished that his nation could live in a country where they could provide such food. I told him that it would not be many years before the white men would put it in the power of his nation to live in the country below the mountains where they might cultivate corn, beans and squashes.” Lewis gave Cameahwait a dried squash. He declared it the best thing he ever tasted, save the sugar lump his sister Sacagawea shared with him.

In the evening, Lewis had his men form a “bush drag” to fish the river. In two hours they caught 528 fish, most of them large trout, including a dozen steelhead trout. Lewis gave the majority of the fish catch to the Shoshone. He also purchased five good horses for about $6/each in merchandise trade. Lewis noted the Shoshone are “very orderly” and they don’t crowd nor disturb anything they find lying around. If they borrow something, they return it.

The Clark party left at 7 a.m. and traveled some steep, high and rocky trails. In some places, the loose rocks caused slides and slippage. The Shoshone horses traverse these rocky trails “as fast as a man” (Clark). At one point, they surprised and alarmed a group of Shoshone camped in the trees. They had no knowledge of white men being in their country. Some of the Indians wept. Others ran and hid. Still others offered “everything they possessed” to Clark’s party. Their guide “Toby” and Clark pacified the Shoshone with gifts. The Indians also offered a meager meal of salmon and berries. After two hours, Clark proceeded on up the “very steep and rocky mountain” for three miles. The detachment encamped on a small island in the north fork of the Salmon River in north Idaho. Ordway notes that game is scarce and their provisional food stock is “exhausted.” 15 miles

 

August 23:

"The River of No Return"

CAMP FORTUNE (LEWIS)/SALMON RIVER, ID (CLARK)

Lewis dispatched two hunters to procure meat for the Corps and the Shoshone (who were dependent upon meat in their food storage)...except this time he told them to go further than previous hunts. He planned to leave Camp Fortunate but Chief Cameahwait asked him to wait for some Shoshone who were expected to arrive. The captain had their canoes sunk in a nearby pond and weighted down with stones (to protect them from both high water and plains fires). The Shoshone promised to leave the canoes alone and Lewis believed they were “too lazy...to give themselves the trouble to raise them...to cut or burn them.”

The Indians killed two mule deer and three mountain goats. Lewis noted the Shoshone didn't evenly divide their hunted meat among the families in the tribe. He asked Cameahwait about this practice and was told those who kill get to eat (along with their families). Later when Lewis’ hunters arrived with two mule deer and three white tailed deer, he evenly distributed the meat to the Shoshone families who had received nothing.

Around 3 p.m., the Shoshone party arrived (with around 50 men, women and children). They were headed into the eastern valleys where the buffalo roamed during the winter. Lewis noticed some anxiety among Cameahwait’s band of Shoshone, who had promised to help the Corps get over the mountains. Lewis was ready to leave the next morning.

Clark departed early and continued, with “much risk and pain” up the “steep side of a mountain over large irregular and broken masses of rocks.” He and his men crossed through a deep and rapid river where the horses had to swim. At one point, he left the horses and most of the men at a spot that was “perfectly inaccessible to horses.” Sgt. Pryor is sick (according to Gass). With his Shoshone guide “Toby” and three men he continued down the Salmon River to calculate it’s “practicality” for use. While he was gone his men with the horses went hunting and fishing (they killed three prairie hens and caught some small fish). Clark eventually concluded it would be too risky and require too much time to portage canoes through this spot of the river. Lewis wrote: “The season is now far advanced to remain in these mountains, as the Indians inform us we shall shortly have snow; the salmon have so far declined...and not an animal of any description is to be seen...larger than a pheasant or a squirrel, and they are not abundant.”

Clark continued further down the Salmon but eventually ran into “one of the most lofty mountains...he had ever seen...covered with snow.” Clark camped on Squaw Creek near the mouth of Papoose Creek.