The Journey of the Corps of Discovery taken from the journals of Captains
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, Sergeants John Ordway and Patrick Gass, and Private
Joseph Whitehouse are arranged in chronological order. The entries of these five
Corps members cover the period of August 12, 1805,
to June 30, 1806.
The Corp of Discovery entered the present day State of Idaho on August 12, 1805,
returning into what is now the State of Montana on September 3, 1805. They
re-entered Idaho on September 13, 1805 and continued traveling westerly into today's
Washington State, where they arrived on October 10, 1805, spending 50 days in Idaho during
the year 1805.
Upon their return journey the Corp of Discovery entered Idaho on May 5, 1806 staying 55
days. They crossed the Bitterroot Mountains leaving Idaho on June 29, 1806 having
spent a total of 105 days among the Shoshoni and Nez Perce of Idaho.
Because the journal writers did not use consistent spelling numerous words are spelled
in many different ways. Every attempt is made to utilize the same spelling as
written by the five journalists.
On August 12, 1805 Lewis and his three men
(George Drouillard, Hugh McNeal, John Shields) continued following Indian paths up later
Trail Creek. At the head of that stream they reached what they considered the source of
the "heretofore deemed endless Missouri." A short distance beyond was the ridge
of the Continental Divide.
Lemhi Pass Looking West
From this vantage point Lewis could look west and see further ranges of
mountains--proof that the portage to the waters of the Columbia would not be as easy as he
had hoped. His immediate problem, however, remained that of making friendly contact with
Lemhi Pass Looking East
Lewis's party had crossed Lemhi Pass into Idaho, the first U.S. citizens to traverse
the Continental Divide. On August 13 they
continued down into the valley of the Lemhi River, still following the Indian trail. Once
again they encountered some Indians, who fled at their approach. Finally they found a
woman and two girls who did not see them until they were quite close. One of the girls
fled, but the woman and the other girl apparently thought it was too late to run and sat
waiting for the strangers to kill them. Lewis took the woman's hand, repeating the word
"ta-ba-bone," which he evidently obtained from Sacagawea and which he
thought meant "white man." He rolled up his sleeve to show his white skin and
gave the two Shoshones presents. Somehow he calmed them and, through George Drouillard's
sign language, persuaded them to call back the girl who had fled before she could raise an
alarm in the main Shoshone camp.
Through these three Shoshones Lewis was able to make contact with their people who were
camped on the Lemhi River. The chief, Cameahwait, seemed friendly, but his people were
still afraid that the strangers were in league with the Blackfeet and would betray them
into the hands of their enemies.
Lewis, trying to persuade them to go with him to meet Clark's party on the Beaverhead
River, feared that they would take alarm and disperse into the mountains, where he knew
that he would never find them, and that his command would be left stranded in the
mountains with winter coming on. To prevent this he used every form of persuasion he could
think of, including promises that white traders would follow him and would provide the
Shoshones with trade goods, such as guns to use against their enemies.
He gave the chief his own gun, saying that Cameahwait could shoot him (August 16) if he proved unfaithful. Recovering a
message he himself had left at the forks of the Beaverhead for Clark, he stalled for a
time, saying it was a message from Clark that the main party would soon be there. These
means, along with stories about a man with black skin and another with red hair--wonders
that greatly intrigued the Indians--persuaded them to wait at the forks until Clark's
party arrived on August 17.
"Camp Fortunate" and/or "Clark Canyon
Such was the captains' relief that they called the campsite at the forks of the
Beaverhead "Camp Fortunate."
Geographical information obtained from the Shoshones was not encouraging. A
reconnaissance, August 19-23, by Clark confirmed
that the principal streams in the vicinity, though they did flow toward the Columbia, were
unnavigable because of rapids. In his journal of August
21 Clark wrote, "I shall in justice to Capt. Lewis who was the first white man
ever on this fork of the Columbia Call this Louis's river." For the 23rd. of August Clark writes, "The Hills or
mountains were not like those I had Seen but like the Side of a tree Streight up."
The alternative as proposed by Clark was to
obtain horses from the Shoshones and cross the mountains by land. Patrick Gass records for that same day that they
"found it was not possible to go down either by land or water without much risk and
trouble." Fortunately, they secured the services of an Indian they called "Toby
or Tobe," who knew of a route over the ranges. The latter part of August and much of
September would be consumed by the overland trek, which would take them back into Montana,
then back to Idaho, and would include a journey over the rugged Lolo Trail. Along the way
they met the Flathead Indians, another tribe who had never seen white men.
Between August 27, 1805 and January 1, 1806
Meriwether Lewis made only eleven (11) journal entries, excluding intermittent weather and
celestial observations. His journal has entries for September 9th. and 10th. , September 18th. through 22nd., November 29th. and 30th.,
and December 1st. and 18th. Of the 50 days the Corp of
Discovery spent in Idaho during 1805 Lewis made 20 entries, 15 of
which were in August and 5 in September.
The trip over the Bitterroot Mountains via the Lolo Trail was perhaps the severest test
of the whole expedition. The party set out early on September
1, traveling cross-country over high, rugged hills, to today's North Fork of the
Salmon river (Fish Creek to Lewis and Clark), following their Shoshone guide. They were
headed almost due north and climbing toward the Continental Divide (on their right, to the
east) in rough, seldom-traveled mountainous country, with no Indian trail or any other
sign of human presence.
They were entering mountains far more difficult to pass than any American had ever
attempted. The confusions of creeks and ravines cutting through the steep mountainsides
has made the route the expedition used one of the most disputed of the entire journey.
Clark described the route: "thro' thickets in which we were obliged to Cut a road,
over rockey hill Sides where our horses were in [perpetual] danger of Slipping to Ther
certain distruction & up & Down Steep hills . . . with the greatest dificuelty
risque &c. we made 7 1/2 miles." Joseph Whitehouse writes on September 1 that "in the afternoon we
descended a Mountain nearly as Steep as the roof of a house." Pack animals slipped
and fell down steep mountain sides.
As the party ascended toward the Divide, the going grew worse. On September 3, it snowed. Winter was already
beginning in the high country in September, and the party would struggle through deepening
snow. Their last thermometer broke. Clark described the misery of the day: "We passed
over emince hils and Some of the worst roade that ever horses passed our horses frequently
fell." Lack of game, except for a few grouse, forced them to kill and eat some of
their horses. The expedition reached the Divide (whether the location be Lost Trail Pass
or Chief Joseph Pass is disputed), which they followed for some miles, along the present
Idaho-Montana border, before beginning their descent to the Bitterroot Valley, west of the
Divide. There was a hard freeze that night.
On September 4, 1805, the party fell down a
very steep descent to a north-flowing river that Lewis named "Clark's River"
(today's Bitterroot River).
Ross' Hole Looking to the East
There, at Ross's Hole, the captains encountered "a part[y] of the Tushepau nation,
of 33 Lodges about 80 men 400 Total and at least 500 horses", a band of the Salish
(Flathead) Indians. Communication was possible but difficult. The Flatheads were allies of
the Shoshones and this band was on its way to join Cameahwait's people at the Three Forks.
Certainly the presence of Toby eased the way for the Americans. In addition, a Shoshone
boy lived with the Flatheads and he could speak with the captains through translation
channels. They were generous even though their provisions were as low as that of the
expedition. The Corp was able to trade for horses at much better prices than the Shoshones
demanded. The captains bought thirteen horses for "a fiew articles of
merchendize," and the Flatheads exchanged seven of the run-down Shoshone ponies for
what Clark called "ellegant horses." Private Joseph Whitehouse refers to the
Flatheads as, "the likelyest and honestst Savages we have ever yet Seen." The
expedition now had approximately thirty-nine horses, three colts, and one mule--for
packing, riding, or food in the last extreme.
Ross's Hole as depicted by Charles M. Russell
On the morning of September 6, the captains
directed the men to lighten the loads on the Shoshone horses and pack the excess on the
Salish horses. by midafternoon, that task was completed and the party set off down the
Bitterroot River (north) while the Salish rode out for the Three Forks and the buffalo
hunt with Cameahwait's people. The expedition made 10 miles and camped, with nothing to
eat but two grouse and some berries. They had still with them a little corn and the
portable soup purchased in Philadelphia.
For the next three days the descent of the Bitterroot Valley was relatively easy. The
expedition made 22 miles on the 7th, 23 miles on
the 8th, and 21 miles on the 9th.
On the Route to "Traveller's Rest"
But as they moved along, the captains and their men kept looking to their left (west)
at the snow-covered Bitterroot Mountains, described by Sergeant Patrick Gass as "the
most terrible mountains I ever beheld."
The Bitterroot River was wide enough to float but the captains did not consider
stopping to make canoes. They asked Toby about its course and he could only inform them
that it continued to flow north and he did not know whether it joined the Columbia River
or not (it did, but far to the north). The absence of salmon on the River told the
captains there had to be a great falls downstream. Making further inquires of Toby, Lewis
learned that a few miles downstream (west of today's Missoula, Montana) the Bitterroot was
joined by another river (today's Clark Fork) that flowed from the Continental Divide
through an extensive valley. Their guide informed them that by traveling up the Clark Fork
to its source they could cross the Divide over a low pass and would then descend down a
gentle slope to the Missouri River near the Gates of the Rocky Mountains. As Toby put it,
"a man might pass to the missouri from hence by that rout in four days." It had
taken the Corp of Discovery 53 days to travel from the Gates of the Rocky Mountains to its
Traveler's Rest to the Clearwater
The party camped the night of September 9 at
the junction of a stream coming in from the west (today's Lolo Creek, some ten miles
south-southwest of Missoula). Toby informed Lewis that at this place the party could leave
the Bitterroot River and head almost straight west, up Lolo Creek, and then over the
mountains. The time had approached that each man had dreaded every time he looked left
toward those snow-capped peaks. Lewis wrote of "those unknown formidable snow clad
Mountains," which the party was about to attempt "on the bare word of a Savage,
while 99/100th of his Countrymen assured us that a passage was impracticable."
Lolo Creek Looking Upstream from "Traveller's
Lolo Creek Looking Downstream from "Traveller's
"The weather appearing settled and fair," Lewis wrote, "I determined to
halt the next day rest our horses and take some scelestial Observations."
He called this camp of September 9-11 "Travellers rest." On the morning of September 10, Lewis sent out all the hunters. They
returned with four deer, a beaver, and three grouse. Private John Colter brought in three
Indians from a tribe that lived across the mountains. The captains called them Flatheads,
but they were, in all probability, Nez Perce. They were in pursuit of a band of Shoshones
that had stolen 21 horses--proof the mountains could be crossed. One of the three agreed
to remain with the Americans "to introduce us to his relations whom he informed us
were numerous and resided in the plain below the mountains on the columbia river, from
whence he said the water was good and capable of being navigated to the sea." He also
told Lewis that "some of his relation were at the sea last fall and saw an old
whiteman who resided there by himself." The best news of all, Lewis recorded, was
that the Indian said "it would require five sleeps wich is six days travel, to reach
Further inquiry revealed the river that flowed into the Bitterroot a few miles north
(today's Clark Fork) received a smaller stream (today's Blackfoot) some little distance to
the east (near today's Missoula, Montana).
It was this stream the Nez Perce followed to get to a low pass over the Continental
Divide, bringing them to the buffalo country in the vicinity of either the Dearborn or the
Medicine (today's Sun) River. That information confirmed there were two mountain crossings
required to get to the Missouri drainage from the Nez Perce country west of the Bitterroot
Mountains. It told the captains there were at least two better routes across the
Continental Divide than the one they had taken--one via today's Clark Fork to today's
MacDonald Pass (6,320 feet) down to today's Helena, a second via the Blackfoot River to
today's Lewis and Clark Pass (6,000 feet) down to the Great Falls, and a possible third,
via Gibbons Pass (6,941 feet), down the Wisdom River (today's Big Hole River) to the
Jefferson River. Which of these answered Jefferson's order to find "the most direct
& practicable water communication across this continent," only further
exploration would tell. Being late in the year the present requirement was to get over the
Bitterroots before the fall snows began. On the return trip they could examine the
During the night of September 10-11, two horses strayed. Not until 3:00 p.m. were
they caught and brought in causing an expensive delay. The Indian who had volunteered to
guide the expedition to his people got impatient and left. Having left their Traveler's
Rest camp late in the afternoon of September 11
they proceeded up Lolo Creek seven miles. Here they stopped for the night on a smooth
bottom beside the creek where Indians had recently encamped. The next day, September 12, they followed a road through thickly
timbered country stopping along the way to briefly inspect an Indian-made, earth-covered
sweathouse and a number of pine trees that had been peeled by the natives to get at the
Early on September 13 the party arrived at a
series of hot springs (Lolo Hot Springs) that "Spouted from the rocks"
and which was "nearly boiling hot". Ordway reported that the party "came to
a warm Spring which run from a ledge of rocks." Clark waited for Lewis to come up.
When he arrived, the party followed what Clark called a "tolerbl rout" that
crossed the Divide, separating the Bitterroot and Lochsa watersheds. Sergeant Ordway said
that they "found it to be only about half a mile from the head Spring of the waters
running East to the head Spring of the waters running West."
Descending the western Slope, they soon came to a large open area, now Packer Meadow,
through which ran a small stream flowing west. Lewis and Clark called it Glade Creek
They camped that night at the lower end of the meadow. Here the mountains, "a vast
mass of curving, winding, peak-crowned spurs," closed in on them. It would take them
eight very difficult days before they would escape to other hardships.
September 14, starting early,
after consuming the last of their meat, the party left Packer Creek and crossed a ridge to
the junction of Crooked Fork and Brushy Creeks.
Lochsa River Looking Upstream to the East
Here they waded Brushy Creek, climbed four miles to the summit of another
ridge, and then descended to the point where Colt-killed (Whitesand) and Crooked Fork
Creeks unite to form Lochsa River (the Kooskooskee of Lewis and Clark).
Lochsa River Looking Downstream to the West
Wading the Lochsa to the north side, Lewis and Clark proceeded downriver for two miles
when darkness forced them to halt for the night (on the site of present-day Powell Ranger
Station). Toby led the party down the drainage to a fishing camp on the Lochsa
(Kooskooskee) where Indians had recently been and whose ponies had eaten all the grass.
The large mountain they crossed during the day, Clark said, was "excessively bad
& thickly strowed with falling timber & Pine Spruce fur Hackmatak &
Tamerack." Private Whitehouse, who often surprises the reader by noting things of
interest overlooked by the other journalists, reported seeing "Some tall Strait
Sipress [cypress] or white ceeder". He was referring to the Western Red Cedar, or
Arbor Vitae, Thuja plicata that grows abundantly at low levels, and to a great
size-as much as seven feet in diameter four and a half feet above the ground and 150 feet
If Lewis and Clark had followed down Crooked Fork Creek instead of crossing the
mountain, they would have passed through a majestic grove of cedars (upstream about four
miles from Powell Ranger Station) dedicated to the memory of Bernard DeVoto,
conservationist, author, and historian. He often camped there while pursuing the trail of
Lewis and Clark, and here, at his request, his ashes were scattered.
Lewis and Clark had this day traveled through cold rain and intermittent hail and snow.
When they camped for the night they were hungry, miserable, and exhausted. Making matters
worse, the hunters had succeeded in killing during the day nothing except two or three
grouse on which, Gass remarked, "without a miracle it was impossible to feed 30
hungry men. . .. So Capt. Lewis gave out some portable soup, which he had along, to be
used in cases of necessity. Some of the men did not relish this soup, and agreed to kill a
colt." So the 193 pounds of portable soup that Lewis had carried all the way from
Philadelphia at last began to serve the purpose for which it had been intended.
By descending into the gorge of the Lochsa River, the party had veered from the main
(Lolo) trail and had let themselves in for all sorts of trouble. At that time a maze of
Indian and as now game trails ran through these mountains, many diverging from the main
one to fisheries along the streams. It seemed to Clark that "Toby," an
infrequent visitor to these parts, became confused and took the wrong one. Whatever the
reason for this circuitous route, it delayed the completion of the Bitterroot crossing by
at least a day.
September 15 after breakfasting
on colt meat, the party went on down the Lochsa about four miles to an old fishing place
recognizable as such by the presence of Indian-made weirs.
Private Whitehouse mentioned passing a pond on the road to this point. The pond is
still there and is today called Whitehouse Pond.
From the fishing place the explorers began the long climb out of the gorge to Wendover
Ridge far above. Because of the extreme steepness of the mountain side and "the
emence quantity of falling timber", the trail wound back and forth as though
reluctant to reach a destination. Sergeant Ordway guessed they climbed at least 10 miles
before reaching the summit. Clark said that the road "was as bad as it can possibly
be to pass." Some of the horses lost their footing and rolled down the abrupt slopes
as much as 30 to 40 yards. One such tumble broke Clark's portable desk. That it was a near
impossible climb may be gauged by the fact that two of the heavily laden pack animals gave
out and had to be left behind.
Once they had gained the top of the ridge (at some 7,000 feet elevation), they struck
the main trail again, a narrow, ill-defined road which followed the elongate hog-back
separating the Lochsa and North Fork of the Clearwater. The scenic grandeur of the
Bitterroots was now in evidence on all sides. Clark remarked on the "high ruged
[rugged] mountains winding in every direction". Darkness brought them to a halt on a
high point of the ridge (possibly about two miles east of Cayuse junction). The hunters
had killed nothing during the day except two grouse. Water was unobtainable. With melted
snow (from an old snow bank), they prepared more portable soup and cooked the last of the
"Maney parts [of this country were] bare of timber," Clark observed,
"they haveing burnt it down & . . . it lies on the ground in every
direction". Clark was suggesting that Indians had been responsible for the fires, as
they may well have been. On the return trip over the Bitterroots, Lewis and Clark told
about their Nez Perce guides creating a tremendous bonfire, explaining that such a
conflagration would produce fair weather for the trip. However, most of the fires
occurring then and now were due to natural causes. Electric storms strike these mountains,
unleashing bolts of lightning which set fires of unbelievable magnitude and destructive
One of the most difficult problems the explorers had to contend with in crossing these
mountains was the profusion of trees that had fallen across the trail. These had to be
climbed over or bypassed, causing exasperating delay, and this situation persisted day
after day throughout the entire decent. Another problem was finding forage and water for
their horses. When Lewis and Clark encountered grassy fields, they had no other choice but
to allow the horses time to graze, even though it meant further delay. Their successful
crossing depended on these animals.
Much of the virgin forest present here when Lewis and Clark passed still stands,
unscarred and unspoiled. As a result, the traveller who crosses the Lolo Motorway today
may view many of the same trees that the explorers gazed upon in 1805-1806.
The more important trees, all evergreens, constituting the Clearwater Forest then and
now are , in the low country. Douglas Fir, Pseudotsuga taxifolia; Ponderosa Pine, Pinus
ponderosa; Grand Fir, Abies grandis; Western Larch, Larix occidentalis;
Western White Pine, Pinus monticola; and Western Red Cedar, Thuja plicata;
and, at higher elevations, Engelmann's Spruce ,Picea engelmannii; Lodgepole Pine, Pinus
contorta; Alpine Fir, Abies lasiocarpa; and Whitebark Pine, Pinus albicaulis.
September 16 saw the men awake to find
themselves covered with a two-inch blanket of snow. This was to become the worst day the
expediton had experienced to date. It was extremely cold and windy, and the snow continued
to fall. Before loading horses, the men mended moccasins and those without socks wrapped
their feet in rags. Whitehouse recorded the cheerless fact that they "Set out without
anything to eat". They might have eased hunger pains with venison if Clark's gun had
not had a loose flint. When he attempted to shoot a mule deer, his rifle failed to fire
seven consecutive times, even though it had a "Steel fuzee and had never Snaped 7
The accumulating snow, six to eight inches by evening, almost obliterated the trail.
The men kept to it only by close scrutiny of trunks and limbs of trees which bore marks
put on them in previous years by Indian packs rubbing against them. Low-hanging clouds
reduced the limit of visibility to less than 200 yards. Ordway's diary for that evening
said, "It appeared as if we have been in the clouds all this day." The road
continued to follow the high ridge, a knobby one, with intervening saddles. Even on the
level, it was a difficult route. Sergeant Gass declared that they "proceeded over the
most terrible mountains I ever beheld." Both men and horses frequently slipped and
fell, and they continued the painful procedure of surmounting or skirting numerous
windfalls. "I have been wet and as cold in every part as I ever was in my life,"
Clark wrote; "indeed I was at one time fearfull my feet would freeze in the thin
Mockirsons which I wore".
At mid-day when the party came to a grass-covered slope, they halted to let the horses
graze and to make fires to melt snow for more portable soup, the first food they had eaten
since the previous evening. Some have suggested the location of this noon camp at or near
a point known as the Indian post office though others believe it was at Spring Hill (about
six miles east of the Post Offices) since the distance checks and there is an abundance of
grass. The Post Offices alluded to are two piles of stone about four or five feet high
that stand conspicuously beside the present Lolo Motorway. Whether they were there in 1805
no one can say, for Lewis and Clark definitely made no reference to them. (They did see
other similar stone piles farther west on the return trip.) It is possible that they
missed them because they were snow-covered, or because the trail then ran differently. The
origin of the name Post Office is unknown, though one story is that the Nez Perce Indians
transmitted information by piling stones in different ways. This the Indians of today
deny, claiming that the mounds are trail markers. If Lewis and Clark did make their noon
stop here on September 16, they were then at the highest point on the trail at an
elevation of 7,036 feet.
After completing lunch, Clark took one man and hurried ahead. Some six miles farther
along, they came to a heavily timbered saddle through which ran a small stream flowing
north. Here they built huge, roaring fires which proved most welcome to the remainder of
the party when they straggled in later on, wet, disheartened, half-starved, and chilled to
the bone. Since they had found no game whatever during the day, they killed another colt
and consumed half of it. They spent the night here, though, according to Clark, the
densely wooded terrain was "scurcely large enough for us to lie leavel." (The
location of this campsite is uncertain.) Whitehouse said it was in a "lonesome
cove". Others believe it was on Moon Creek.
The horses, in a near-starvation situation, strayed during the night, searching for
grass. The morning of September 17 found them
scattered widely. In order to allow the horses to move about at night to obtain what
little forage the woods provided, Lewis and Clark did not hobble them. It was a gamble
whether they would all remain in the immediate vicinity, but a necessary one.
Because of their distressingly late start, the party made only about 10 miles before
darkness compelled them to halt for the night.
Private Whitehouse wrote that they camped "at a Small branch on the mountain near
a round deep Sinque hole full of water".
This "Sinque hole" may be at the first saddle east of Indian Grave Mountain
as there is a small pond there today that fits the description.
The hunters had another bad day and succeeded in shooting only a few grouse. One of the
men chased a bear up a mountain side, but the bear outran him. That night they killed the
last of their colts. "The Want of provisions together with the difficul[t]y of
passing those emence mountains [has] deampened the sperits of the party," Clark
wrote. The successive Bitterroot ranges, tinged blue by distance, had the appearance of
going on forever, and the minds of the men, weakened by privation, began to entertain the
thought that they might never escape from them. To anyone who has traveled the Lolo Trail
throughout its difficult length, this was a quite understandable reaction.
Finally the captains decided to adopt their old procedure of sending one of the
officers ahead with a small party to find open country and make contact with friendly
Indians. Accordingly, Clark, without their guide "Toby", set out with six men on
September 18. At a distance of about 20 miles,
Clark and his men checked their horses on a high, barren part of the ridge. The day was
clear, visibility excellent, and from this vantage point they could see in the distance
southwest "an emence Plain and leavel Countrey". It was a moment of
inexpressible joy for the seven men; their minds were now freed of the gnawing obsession
that these inhospitable mountains would never end. They could only guess at the distance
separating them from the level country ahead and how long it would take them to reach it,
but at least it was in sight. The elevation on which they had halted is today known as
Sherman Peak, and the open Idaho country is that extending from Grangeville, about 45
miles distant, to Winchester (farther north), about 60 miles.
Clark covered 12 additional miles that day. Descending from Sherman Peak, he soon left
the ridge and traveled almost due south until he came to a small stream running to the
Lochsa River. Here he and his men spent the night. Since they had nothing whatever to eat,
they called this stream Hungry Creek. In time it became Obia Creek and so appears on older
maps. Its name was changed back to Hungry Creek in 1961. Leaving the ridge and turning
south, Clark bore away from the main trail.
Back on the trail, Lewis and the rest of the Corp continued to have their problems.
Lewis ordered the horses brought in early, "to force my march as much as the
abilities of our horses would permit." Unfortunately, Private Alexander Willard's
horse had strayed. Lewis sent him to search for it while the men ate what was left of the
colt for breakfast. At 8:30 a.m. the party got started (Willard rejoined the men late in
the afternoon, without his horse). Both men and animals suffered for lack of water and
food. The guns of the hunters remained silent. "There is nothing here upon
earth," declared Lewis, "except ourselves and a few small pheasants, small grey
squirrels, and a blue bird of the vulter kind about the size of a turtle dove or jay
bird". (The squirrel is Sciurus fremonti, the "blue bird"
was probably Maximilian's Jay, Gymnokitta cyanocephala.) This is the first time
Lewis has resumed his writing since laying his pen down on August 26.
After travelling some 18 miles, they halted where they found water in a steep ravine
about one-half mile from their camp. Their supper that night reveals the straits to which
they had been reduced. It consisted of portable soup, a small amount of bear oil and,
topping that off, 20 pounds of candles.
Starting early, on September 19, Clark and
his men moved up Hungry Creek for a distance of about six miles where they came to a small
glade. Here, opportunely and unexpectedly, they encountered a stray Indian horse. Since no
food had entered their stomachs in the last 24 hours, the men were not long in reaching a
decision about what to do with this animal. They promptly shot it and after filling
themselves, hung the balance in a tree where Lewis could be expected to find it.
The road up Hungry Creek had been "much worse than any other part," Clark
wrote, "as the hill sides are steep and at many places obliged for several yds. to
pass on the sides of rocks where one false step of a horse would be certain
destruction". Two miles beyond the glade, they left Hungry Creek on their right
and struggled over two mountains before camping on a small stream (Cedar Creek) in a
beautiful group of huge western red cedar now called "Lewis and Clark Grove."
On this morning Lewis and his party awoke to a clear, sunshiny day. According to
Ordway, they ate "the verry last morcil of our provisions except a little portable
soup." For once the horses had not strayed so they were able to make an early start.
Some six miles farther "the ridge terminated (at today's Sherman Peak) and
we to our inexpressable joy discovered a large tract of Prairie country laying to the S.W.
and widening as it appeared to extend to the W." Here they exulted in the view, as
had Clark the day before, of the distant prairie. Declared Sergeant Gass, "There was
much joy and rejoicing among the men, as happens among passengers at sea, who have
experienced a dangerous and protracted journey, when they first discover land on the long
looked for coast."
With invigorated step, they soon left the ridge, plunged down to Hungry Creek, and
began the ascent of that stream along the part of the trail alluded to by Clark as
particularly precarious. According to Lewis, "The road was excessively dangerous . .
. being a narrow rockey path generally on the side of steep precipice, from which in many
places if ether man or horse were precipitated they would inevitably be dashed in
pieces." Clark had passed it without incident, but Lewis was not so fortunate. Lewis
noted that "Fraziers horse fell from this road in the evening and roled with his load
near a hundred yards into the Creek." Incredibly, twenty minutes later this animal
was on the trail again, moving along with the other horses. Lewis regarded this as
"the most wonderful escape" he had ever witnessed.
They camped that night in a thicket of pine and fir on Hungry Creek and eased their
hunger with more of the unappetizing portable soup. "The most of the party,"
Whitehouse revealed, "is weak and feeble Suffering with hunger". Lewis added
that "several of the men unwell of the disentary, breakings out, or irruptions of the
On September 20 Clark wrote, "I set out
early and proceeded on through a Countrey as ruged as usial passed over a low mountain
into the forks of a large Creek which I kept down 2 miles and assended a high Steep
mountain leaving the Creek to our left hand passed the head of several dreans on a
divideing ridge, and at 12 miles decended the mountain to a leavel pine Country"
This is Weippe Prairie, an open area in west-central Idaho, where he was the first
white man to meet the Nez Perce Indians. As later reconstructed, the route for this
day indicates Clark climbed to the top of the ridge between Cedar and Lolo Creeks. He then
went down this ridge to the forks of Eldorado and Lolo Creeks; thence down Lolo Creek to
the mouth of Trout Creek. From this point he climbed to Crane Meadows on Trout Creek. From
there he went over the shoulder of Brown's ridge and down Miles Creek to Weippe Prairie.
After he had moved west across the prairie some five miles, Clark chanced
upon three Indian boys who quickly tried to hide in the grass. He located two of them,
tamed their fright with presents, and followed them to their village a short distance
away. Here he was conducted to a lodge where a minor chief informed him, through the
medium of sign language, that the head chief and all the warriors had recently departed on
a punitive foray against enemies to the southwest. Indian woman soon produced a small
piece of buffalo meat, dried salmon, and roots of different kinds.
The principle root was from the plant now called Camas, Camassia
quamash, a member of the lily family. In succeeding days and months this root would
play an important role in the lives of the explorers. Clark and his men at once ate freely
of it and then, trailed by some 100 native men, women, and children, moved two miles to
another village where they spent the night. Lewis and Clark most often referred to these
Indians as either the Chopunnish or the Pierced Noses.
On this same day, Lewis had trouble rounding up the horses again and started late.
Ordway wrote, "we found a handful or two of Indian peas and a little bears oil which
we brought with us we finished the last morcil of it and proceeded on half Starved and
very weak." After travelling only two miles, they discovered "the greater part
of a horse which Capt Clark had met with and killed for us." We can imagine
Whitehouse's statement that they "dined sumptiously". There would be no further
need for portable soup. But as Lewis ate, he received more bad news. One of the
packhorses, with his load, was missing. That load was particularly valuable to Lewis, for
it contained his stock of winter clothing. He sent Private Lapage--who was responsible for
the horse--back to search for it, but Lapage returned at 3:00 p.m. without it. Lewis then
sent "two of my best woodsmen in surch of him" and proceeded. Because of the
late start, Lewis made only 12 miles before darkness forced him to halt, probably on a
ridge between Dollar and Sixbit Creeks.
During the five day period when Lewis kept a journal, he contributed more faunal and
floral information than all the other journalists combined during the entire Bitterroot
transit. For instance, as he dropped to lower elevations on Hungry Creek he noted a
pronounced warming trend and, with it, a marked change in the plant life. He mentioned
"a kind of huneysuckle which bears a white bury and rises about 4 feet high not
common but to the western side of the rockey mountains". Beyond reasonable doubt this
was the shrub now called snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus laevigatus. He was
properly impressed with red cedars. "I saw several sticks large enough to form
eligant perogues of at least 45 feet in length". In time he would learn of the
tremendous importance of this magnificent tree to coastal Indians. He referred also to an
alder, Alnus sinuata, a honeysuckle, Lonicera ciliosa, and a huckleberry, Vaccinium
membranaceum. All three have been identified as new to science.
Lewis further described a bird with "a blue shining colour with a very high tuft
of feathers on the head a long tale, it feeds on flesh and the beak and feet black. it's
note is cha-ah, cha-ah. it is about the size of a pigeon, and in shape and action
resembles the blue jay". This noisy bird, the Black-headed Jay, Cyanocitta
stelleri annectens is a subspecies of Steller's jay, the only blue bird of any sort
with a crest found between the Rockies and the Pacific. On this same day Lewis wrote of
encountering "Three species of Pheasants, a large black species, with some feathers
irregularly scattered on the breast neck and belley a smaller kind of a dark
uniform colour with a red stripe above the eye, and a brown and yellow species that a good
deel resembles the phesant common to the Atlantic States". A significant sentence,
containing mention of three pheasants then unknown to science, though Lewis had earlier
discovered the "large black species" Richardson's blue grouse, Dendragapus
obscurus richardsonii on the Jefferson River. The one with a red stripe above the eye
was Franklin's grouse, Canachites canadensis franklinii, and the third, "the
brown and yellow species," was the Oregon ruffed grouse, Bonasa umbellus sabini.
Another grouse found in that general vicinity but apparently not described by any member
of the party is the Spruce grouse, D. Canadensis.
As his initial act of September 21 Clark sent
hunters out in different directions to look for game. To allay suspicion and to gain
information, he himself stayed with the Indians. The chief informed him that one of their
important leaders, Twisted Hair, could then be located on the Clearwater River, to the
west about 15 miles, where he had gone to fish for salmon. When the hunters returned
empty-handed, Clark purchased a horseload of berries, roots, and dried salmon and charged
Reuben Field to deliver it to Lewis. Late that afternoon Clark and the remaining men
set out for the Clearwater, taking a road that paralleled the present Jim Ford Creek.
He arrived late at night, after making the long, steep descent into the gorge of the
Clearwater. Twisted Hair, whom he soon located, proved to be "a Chearfull man with
apparent sincerity". He presented him with a medal, after which the two talked until
after midnight, the conversation of necessity being limited largely to sign language.
Back on the trail, with the horses widely scattered still another time, Lewis was
unable to move until near noon and made only 15 miles before he was compelled to halt for
the night. During the day, the hunters killed a few grouse, some of the other men lifted
several crayfish from a creek, and Lewis himself shot a coyote. That evening, with what
remained of the horse, and with coyote, grouse, and crayfish, they made "one more
hearty meal, not knowing where the next was to be found".
Sunday, September 22 - Clark had made the
forced march to the Clearwater primarily to have a close look at it. He found it to be a
comparatively large stream, about 160 yards wide, and that ponderosa pines large enough
for dugouts stood on its banks. There was no reason why, as he saw it, the Expedition
could not once again take to the water. When he had made up his mind on this point, he
left his men here to hunt and headed back to Weippe Prairie where he found, much to his
delight, that Lewis and the remainder of the party had arrived ahead of him.
That evening Lewis wrote: "The pleasure I now felt in having tryumphed over the
rockey Mountains and descending once more to a level and fertile country where there was
every rational hope of finding a comfortable subsistence for myself and party can be more
readily conceived than expressed, nor was the flattering prospect of the final success of
the expedition less pleasing". However, the long and difficult trip from mountain
pass to meadows dashed all hope of a short portage across the Rocky Mountains and ended
dreams of an easy passage to the Orient.
Clearwater to Snake River
The Indians offered the party such Nez Perce staples as dried salmon and camas roots,
quite a change from that to which the men had long been accustomed, but the food proved a
mixed blessing, for it caused indigestion and diarrhea among most of the Corps' men. In
Clark's entry from September 24 he noted,
"Several 8 or 9 men sick, Capt. Lewis sick and complain of a Lax & heaviness at
the stomack. . . . Capt. Lewis scarcely able to ride on a jentle horse which was furnished
by the chief, Several men so unwell that they were Compelled to lie on the Side of the
road for Some time others obliged to be put on horses".
Gass reported on September 24, "The men
are generally unwell, owing to the change of diet . . . the Indian provisions did not
agree with us. Captain Clarke gave all the sick a dose of Rush's pills, to see what effect
that would have." Clark noted in his journal of September
24 that "We arrived at the Island on which I found Twisted hare and formed a Camp
on a large Island a littl below". This is the same location he had recorded in his
entry of September 21.
On September 25 Clark states, "When I
arrived at camp, found Capt Lewis verry Sick, Several men also verry Sick, I gave some
Salts and Tarter emetic". Clark reports for September
26 that "Capt. Lewis Still very unwell, Several men taken Sick on the way down, I
administered Salts Pils Galip [jalap], Tarter emetic &c. I feel unwell this
evening" Whitehouse further records "Several of the men Sick with the Relax,
caused by a Sudden change of diet and water as well as the climate". Also that
day Clark says, "Set out early and proceeded on down the river to a bottom opposit
the forks of the river on the South Side and formed a Camp." This is the "Canoe
Camp" opposite the mouth of the North Fork Clearwater named by Lewis & Clark as
the Chopunnish River. Here they began building dugout canoes for the trip to the Pacific.
It is quite apparent that the men were in bad shape. With Lewis completely
incapacitated, it was incumbent on Clark to take charge. He was an uncertain and much
puzzled "doctor," but that did not deter him from prescribing Rush's pills,
"to see what effect that would have," nor, as the cases multiplied he
administered at one time not only a dose of salts but also Rush's pills, jalap, and tartar
Though the men attributed the cause of their illness variously, it was undoubtedly a
radical change in diet. The men had come down out of the mountains ravenous as wolves and
had stuffed themselves with salmon and camas roots, foods altogether different from
buffalo, deer, elk, and antelope to which their stomachs had become conditioned. John
Townsend, young Philadelphia ornithologist with the Wyeth Expedition, recorded that when
he crossed the Rockies to the Columbia watershed in 1834: "The sudden and entire
change from flesh exclusively, to fish, has effected us all, more or less, with diarrhoea
and pain in the abdomen; several of the men have been so extremely sick, as scarcely to be
able to travel." The Astorian, Gabriel Franchere, reported similarly. The salmon, he
said was "extremely fat and oily; which renders it unwholesome for those who are not
accustomed to it, and who eat too great a quantity; thus several of our people were
attacked with diarrhoea in a few days after we began to make this fish our ordinary
Camas roots appear to have a similar effect which opinion Lewis and Clark gradually
came around to. "This root," Lewis declared, "is pallateable but disagrees
with me in every shape I have ever used it".
Even though many of the men were feeling the effects of their diet Clark notes for September 27, "all the men able to work
comened building 5 Canoes, Several taken Sick at work, our hunters returned Sick without
On September 28 Clark writes, "Our men
nearly all Complaining of ther bowels, a heaviness at the Stomack & Lax, Some of those
taken first getting better" and the next day September
29 he says, "men Sick as usial, all The men that are able to at work, at the
Canoes" For September 30 his notes state,
"all at work doing Something except 2 which are verry Sick"
For October 1 Clark wrote, "Capt Lewis
getting much better." The next day, October 2,
he notes, "we have nothing to eate but roots, which give the men violent pains in
their bowels after eating much of them. . . . Provisions all out, which Compells us to
kill one of our horses to eate and make Suep for the Sick men."
October 3 Clark indicates "all our men
getting better in helth, and at work at the canoes &c." Then on October 4 he states, "Capt Lewis Still Sick
but able to walk about a little." For October 5
he noted, "nothing to eate but dried roots & Dried fish, Capt Lewis & my Self
eate a Supper of roots boiled, which filled us So full of wind, that we were Scercely able
to Breathe all night felt the effects of it. Lanced 2 Canoes to day one proved a little
leakey the other a verry good one"
He states on October 6, "all the Canoes
finished this evening ready to be put into the water. I am taken verry unwell with a paine
in the bowels & Stomach, which is certainly the effects of my diet"
On October 7 they were ready to start out,
leaving their horses, 38 in all, with the Twisted Hair to await their return. He wrote,
"I continu verry unwell but obliged to attend every thing all the Canoes put into the
water and loaded, fixed our Canoes as well as possible and Set out"
Colter's Creek Known Today as the Potlatch River
The following day October 8 a mishap near
Colter's Creek (Present day Potlatch River) delayed further travel until October 10. Clark states, "one canoe in which
Serjt. Gass was Stearing and was nearle turning over, She Sprung a leak or Split open on
one Side and Bottom filled with water & Sunk on the rapid, the men, Several of which
Could not Swim hung on to the Canoe, I had one of the other Canoes unloaded & with the
assistance of our Small Canoe and one Indian Canoe took out every thing & toed the
empty Canoe on Shore, one man Tompson a little hurt, every thing wet".
During this interval, October 9,
"Toby" and his son left the party unannounced and was last "Seen running up
the river Several miles above". That same evening "a woman faind madness &c.
&c. This was apparently a Nez Perce custom when grieving the loss of a loved one.
The Clearwater epidemic might have dragged on even longer if the men had not been
introduced to food more agreeable to their digestive tracts. On this same day Gass wrote, "We have some Frenchmen, who
prefer dogflesh to fish; and they have got two or three dogs from the Indians." Soon
we find Clark writing, "Purchased all the dogs we could". And from then on while
west of the Rockies, that is exactly what they did--purchase all the dogs they could.
On October 10 the Expedition arrived at the
confluence of the Clearwater with the Snake River, called by the Indians, Kimooenim.
Sergeant Gass said it was very large and "of a goslin-green color." Clark
declared that it was the same stream they had camped on while with the Shoshoni which he
had named Lewis's River.
Lewis and Clark stopped just below the junction of the Clearwater and Snake, near the
present sites of Lewiston, Idaho and Clarkston, Washington. According to Private
Whitehouse the scene was, "No timber, barron & broken prairies on each
On October 18 they bought 40 dogs all told,
giving in return articles of such small value as beads, belts, and thimbles. Until they
climbed back over the Continental Divide the follow spring, back to the land of beaver
tail and buffalo hump, they reduced the dog population of the Columbia River valley
The Return Trip - 1806
On the westward journey the captains had promised Chief Yelleppit that they would
remain with him for a few days on the way back. They kept their promise and camped with
the Walulas from April 27 to 29, at the mouth of
the Walla Walla River. Yelleppit told them about an overland shortcut to the Nez Perces.
On April 30 they continued eastward by
land following a Nez Perce guide they had met several days earlier. They were anxious to
reach the Nez Perces, with whom they had left their horses on the westbound trip.
This east bound trip took the party over new ground; going west they had traveled by canoe
down the Clearwater and Snake rivers to the Columbia. With the advice of their guide they
now took the shortcut between the Walla Walla and the Snake, passing the present towns of
Waitsburg, Dayton, and Pomeroy, Washington. They reached the Snake a little below the
mouth of the Clearwater.
May 3, 1806 Lewis writes, "here we met
with We-ark-koomt whom we have usually distinguished by the name of the
bighorn Cheif from the circumstance of his always wearing a horn of that animal suspended
by a cord to he left arm. he is the 1st Cheif of a large band of the
Chopunnish nation.". ."this man went down Lewis's river by land as we decended
it by water last fall quite to the Columbia and I beleive was very instrumental in
procuring us a hospitable and friendly reception among the natives." John Ordway
notes, "in the evening we Camped (Pataha Creek.) having made 28 miles this
day, having nothing to eat bought the only dog the Indians had with them. the
air is very cold.--"
The next morning May 4 the party, according
to Lewis, "steered N. 60o E. 4 miles through a high level plain to a
ravine which forms the source of a small creek, (Alpowa Creek)
thence down this creek N. 75o E. 8 ms. to it's entrance into Lewis's
river 7 1/2 ms. below the entrance of the Kooskooske." "on the river a
little above this creek we arrived at a lodge of 6 families (On the Snake River at
Alpowa. This Nez Perce village was visited on October
11, 1805. Alpowa or Timothy's village was the home of Chief Timothy or Timootson.)
of which We-ark-koomt had spoken. we halted here for breakfast and with much
difficulty purchase[d] 2 lean dogs. the inhabitants were miserably poor." Clark
writes, "after dinner we Continued our rout up the West Side of the river 3 ms.
opposit 2 Lodges the one Containing 3 and the other 2 families of the Chopunnish Nation;
here we met with Te-toh-ar-sky the oldest of the two Chiefs who accompanied us
last fall to the Great falls of the Columbia. here we also met with our old pilot
who decended the river with us as low as the Columbia these indians
recommended our passing the river at this place and going up on the N E Side of the
Kooskoske." "they Sayed it was nearer and a better rout to the forks
of that river where the twisted hair resided in whose charge we had left our horses;
thither they promised to Conduct us." John Ordway noted, "Soon met one of the
chiefs (Tetoharsky) of the flat head or Chopennish tribe who we left our horses
with & who went down to the narrows with us last fall. he tells us that tobe our
Snake Indn. guide took 2 of our best horses away with him when he left us."
Patrick Gass states in his journal for the day that the men were "occupied in
crossing, during the remainder of the day as we could raise but four small canoes from the
natives at this place. We, however, by dark got all safe over, and encamped on the north
side, accompanied by a great many of the natives, who appear a friendly and well disposed
The next day, May 5, Lewis writes "at 7
A.M. at 4 1/2 miles we arrived at the entrance of the Kooskooske, up the N. Eastern side
of which we continued our march 12 ms. to a large lodge of 10 families having passed two
other large mat lodges the one at 5 and the other at 8 Ms. from the mouth of the
Kooskooske but not being able to obtain any provisions at either of those
lodges continued our march to the third where we arrived at 1 P.M. & with much
difficulty obtained 2 dogs and a small quanty of root bread and dryed roots. at the second
lodge we passed an indian man [who] gave Capt. C. a very eligant grey
mare for which he requested a phial of eye-water which was accordingly given him."
"while we were encamped last fall at the entrance of the Chopunnish
river (September 26 -
October 7, 1805.) Capt. C. gave an indian
man some volitile linniment to rub his k[n]ee and thye for a pain of which he complained,
the fellow soon after recovered and has never ceased to extol the virtues of our medicines
and the skill of my friend Capt. C. as a phisician. this occurrence added to the benefit
which many of them experienced from the eyewater we gave them about the same time has
given them an exalted opinion of our medicine." "my friend Capt. C. is their
favorite phisician and has already received many applications." "in our
present situation I think it pardonable to continue this deseption for they will not give
us any provision without compensation in merchandize and our stock is now reduced to a
mere handfull. . ." "we found our Chopunnish guide at this lodge
with his family." " while at dinner an indian fellow verry impertinently threw a
poor half starved puppy nearly into my plait by way of derision for our eating dogs and
laughed very heartily at his own impertinence; I was so provoked at his insolence that I
caught the puppy and th[r]ew it with great violence at him and stru[c]k him in the breast
and face, siezed my tomahawk and shewed him by signs if he repeated his insolence I would
tommahawk him, the fellow withdrew apparently much mortifyed and I continued my repast on
dog without further molestation." "after dinner we continued our rout
4 miles to the entrance of Colter's Creek (Potlatch River.) about 1/2 a mile
above the rapid where we sunk the 1st canoe as we decended the river last fall."
Clark noted, "This is the residence of one of four principal Cheafs of the nation
whome they call Neesh-ne-park-ke-ook or the Cut nose from the
circumstance of his nose being Cut by the Snake Indians with a launce in battle. to this
man we gave a Medal of the Small Size with a likeness of the President." Ordway
adds additional information when he writes "finding a man of the Snake nation a
prisoner here our officers told the chiefs by intreptation of thro 6 tongues [Actually
5 languages (Nez Perce, Shoshone, Hidatsa, French, and English) through six persons (the
Nez Perce chief, the Shoshone prisoner, Sacagawea, Charbonneau, one of the French speakers
in the party, and Lewis or Clark)] what our business was and that our tradors would come
about the head of the missourie and trade with them for furs &C.--"
The captains assumed a new and demanding role as physicians to the local people. On the
westward trip some medicines they had prescribed had eased the ailments of several
patients, and had, said Clark, "given those nativs an exolted oppinion of my skill as
a phisician." During a period of nearly six weeks that they were forced to remain
with the Nez Perces in May and June of 1806 they were visited by a
host of afflicted, suffering from a variety of ills, notably rheumatic complaints, sore
eyes, and abscesses. As previously stated, Lewis was doubtful if any permanent cures could
result, but the immediate benefit to relations with the Nez Perces was so great that he
decided to continue treatment, wishing that they could indeed cure these "poor
wretches." Remaining at their encampment until late the following day, May 6, they had occasion to meet "with three
men of a nation called the Skeets-so-mish who reside at the falls of a large river
discharging itself into the Columbia on it's East side to the North of the entrance of
Clark's river." These are believed to be the Skitswish, a Salishan-language people
now known as the Coeur d'Alenes, from the French "Pointed Hearts". They lived on
Lake Coeur d'Alene and the Coeur d'Alene River in northern Idaho. Another possibility is
that they were members of those Indians today known as the Spokane Indians as they also
resided in this same general vicinity. Even further speculation may suggest that those
Indians belonged to a band which resided, a short distance further to the north, near Pend
d'Oreille Lake and the river of the same name. This river also has a falls which
eventually discharges itself into the Columbia. These Indians are known as the Pend
d'Oreille and Kootenai's.
On May 7, having traveled only 12 miles,
Lewis records in his journal, "our guide conducted us through the plain and down a
steep and lengthey hill to a creek which we called Musquetoe Creek in consequence of being
infested with swarms of those insects on our arrival at it." This camp was probably
located south of Peck on the east side of Big Canyon Creek in Nez Perce County.
The captains also had to mediate a dispute, May 8,
between the local Nez Perce leaders. The previous fall they had left their horses with the
hospitable chief Twisted Hair; some more prominent chiefs who had then been absent were
vexed with him on returning, thinking that he had presumed too much in taking on the
responsibility. Twisted Hair, disgusted with their criticism, had let the horses wander
over a considerable area. According to Lewis, "the Twisted hair received us
very coolly an occurrence as unexpected as it was unaccountable to us. he shortly
began to speak with a loud voice and in a angry manner, when he had ceased to speak he was
answered by the Cutnose Cheif or Neeshneparkkeook; we readily discovered that a violet
quarrel had taken place between these Cheifs but at that instant knew not the cause; we
afterwards learnt that it was on the subject of our horses". Now Lewis and
Clark did their best to reconcile the squabbling chiefs so that their animals could be
recovered. Lewis wrote in his journal for this day, "The Twisted hair said if we
would spend the day tomorrow at his lodge which was a few miles only from hence and on the
road leading to the Broken arm's lodge, he would collect such of our horses as
were near this place and our saddles, that he would also send some young men over the
Kooskooske to collect those in the forks and bring them to the lodge of the broken Arm to
met us. he advised us to go to the lodge of the broken Arm as he said he was a Cheif
of great emenence among them, and promised to accompany us thither if we wished him.
we told him that we should take his advice in every particular, that we had
confided the horses to his care and expected that he would collect them and deliver them
to us which when he performed we should pay him the two guns and amunition we had promised
him for that service. he seemed much pleased and promised his utmost exertions. we
sent Drewyer to the Cutnose who also came to our fire and smoked with ourselves and the
Twisted hair we took occasion in the course of the evening to express our regret that
there should be a misunderstanding between these Cheifs; the Cutnose told us in the
presents of the Twisted hair that he the twisted hair was a bad old man that he woar two
faces, that in stead of taking care of our horses as he had promised us that he had
suffered his young men to ride them hunting and had injured them very much; that this was
the cause why himself and the Broken arm had forbid his using them. the other made no
reply. we informed the Cutnose of our intention of spending tomorrow at the Twisted
hair's lodge in order to collect our horses and saddles and that we should proceede the
next day to the Broken Arm's lodge, he appeared well satisfyed with this arrangement and
said he would continue with us, and would give us any assitance in his power".
The following day May 9 the party continued
as agreed to the residence of the Twisted Hair. Lewis notes, "at this distance of 6
miles we arrived at the lodge of the twisted hair. . ." "here
we halted as had been previously concerted, and one man with 2 horses accompayed the
twisted hair to the canoe camp, about 4 ms. in quest of the saddles. the Twisted
hair sent two young men in surch of our horses agreeably to his promis."
"late in the evening The Twisted hair and Willard returned; they brought about half
of our saddles, and some powder and lead which had been buried at that place."
"about the same time the young men arrived with 21 of our horses. the greater
part of our horses were in fine order. five of them appeared to have been so much
injured by the indians riding them last fall that they had not yet recovered and were in
low order. three others had soar backs. we had these horses caught and
hubbled." "several indians joined us this evening from the village
of the broken arm or Tunnachemootoolt and continued all night."
"The Cutnose lodged with the twisted hair I beleive they have become good friends
again. several indians slept about us."
On May 10 Lewis writes "at 4 in the
afternoon we descended the hills to Commearp Creek and arrived at the Village of
Tunnachemootoolt, the cheeif at whos lodge we had left a flag last fall."
Clark states in his journal, "we gave Medals to the broken arm or Tin-nach-e-moo
tolt and Hoh-hast-ill-pitp two principal Chiefs of the Chopunnish
Natn." Lewis indicates "broken arm" was given a medal "of the
small size with the likeness of Mr. Jefferson and the latter one of the sewing medals
struck in the presidency of Washington." They were further "informed that
there was one other Great Chief (in all 4) who had but one eye." (This location
is on Lawyer (Commearp) Creek, southwest of present Kamiah where they remained until May 13.)
On May 11 Lewis notes, "The last evening
we were much crouded with the indians in our lodge, the whole floor of which was covered
with their sleeping carcases. we arrose early and took breakfast. at 8
A. M. a Cheif of great note among these people arrived from his village or lodge on the S.
side of Lewis's River. this is a stout fellow of good countenance about 40 years of
age and has lost the left eye. his name is Yoom-park-kar-tim. to this man we
gave a medal of the smal kind. those with the likeness of Mr. Jefferson have all
been disposed of except one of the largest size which we reserve for some great Cheif on
the Yellow rock river. we now pretty fully informed ourselves that
Tunnachemootoolt (Broken Arm.), Neeshneparkkeeook (Cut Nose.),
Yoomparkkartim (Five Big Hearts) and Hohastillpilp (Red Grizzly Bear or The Bloody Chief.)
were the principal Cheif of the Chopunnish nation and ranked in the order here mentioned;
as all those cheifs were present in our lodge we thought it a favourable time to repeat
what had been said yesterday and to enter more minutely into the views of our government
with rispect to the inhabitants of this western part of the continent, their intention of
establishing trading houses for their releif, their wish to restore peace and harmony
among the natives, the strength power and wealth of our nation &c. to this end
we drew a map of the country with a coal on a mat in their way and by the assistance of
the snake boy and our interpretters were enabled to make ourselves understood by them
altho' it had to pass through the French, Minnetare, Shoshone and Chopunnish languages.
the interpretation being tedious it ocupyed nearly half the day before we had communicated
to them what we wished. they appeared highly pleased. after this council was over we
amused ourselves with shewing them the power of magnetism, the spye glass, compass, watch,
airgun and sundry other articles equally novel and incomprehensible to them."
The following day, May 12, Clark writes
"In the Council to day the father of Hohastillpelp Said the Chopunnish were fully
Convinced of the advantages of peace and ardently wished to cultivate peace with their
neighbours. early last Summer 3 of their brave men were Sent with a pipe to
the Shoshones on the S E. fork of Lewis's river in the Plains of Columbia, their pipe was
disreguarded and their 3 men murdered, which had given rise to the War expedition against
that nation last fall"
Overlooking Kamiah, ID with the Site of the "Long
Camp" in the Background
On May 14 the party settled in to a camp on
the east side of the Clearwater at the modern town of Kamiah, Idaho, where they would
remain for nearly a month. The Nez Perces told them that it would be at least that long
before the snows in the Bitterroot Mountains melted sufficiently to allow passage east
over the Lolo Trail. Their campsite has come to be called Camp Chopunnish after the
explorers' name for the Nez Perces. It was never given any name by Lewis nor Clark and has
also been referred to as the "Long Camp" by some students of The Corp of
Early on the morning of May 18 the natives
erected a lodge on the opposite side of the river near a fishing stand a little above the
encampment of the Corp of Discovery. Lewis noted, "no doubt to be in readiness
for the salmon, the arrival of which they are so ardently wishing as well as
ourselves." "this stand is a small stage are warf constructed of sticks
and projecting about 10 feet into the river and about 3 feet above the surface of the
water on the extremity of this the fisherman stands with his scooping net, which differ
but little in their form from those commonly used in our country it is formed
"the fisherman exercised himself some hours today but I believe
without success." See Clarks journal entry for May 11, 1806 regarding a similar description.
On May 21 the party was given the
"remnant of our store of merchandize" and passed their time seeking food,
counciling and socializing with the Nez Perces, and obtaining more horses for the next
stage of the trip.
Some further medical problems engaged their attention during this lengthy sojourn. William Bratton had been suffering ever since Fort
Clatsop from a mysterious back ailment which had virtually incapacitated him. No other
remedy having worked, the captains tried a sweat bath suggested by John Shields, the extreme heat being alternated
with immersion in a cold mountain stream. In a short time Bratton's back loosened up and
he was able to walk again. Another patient was a Nez
Perce chief who had suffered from paralysis for five years, with no apparent cause.
For lack of a better remedy the captains subjected him to the sweat-bath treatment, and to
their amazement he began recovering the use of his limbs.
On May 30 two men in a canoe attempting to
swim their horses across the river struck the canoe against a tree and she immediately
sunk "with the loss of three blankets, a blanket-coat and some articles of
merchandize." The two leaders continued their studies of natural history, native
culture, and geography. Clark gathered what information he could about country to the
north and south of the party's trail, together with the locations of Indian tribes,
obtaining maps from the Nez Perces. Lewis continued his study of the grizzly bears,
concluding that in spite of their many color variations they were all of the same species. He also discovered the cinnamon bear, a
western color variant of the familiar black bear. A number of new animals and plants were
described, including the pygmy horned lizard, western tanager, Columbian ground squirrel,
beargrass, and ragged robin. It was probably here that they collected what seems to be the
only zoological specimen of the expedition to have survived to the present day, the skin
of a Lewis's woodpecker. In the land of the Nez Perce Lewis also made another discovery of
a root much like the sweet potato. Lewis's description of cous (his "cows") is
unmistakable; it constituted one of the basic food sources for natives in the region.
On May 27 John Ordway and two others
(Peter M. Weiser & Robert Frazier) had been sent, according to Lewis, "to Lewis's
river for salmon, which the indians inform us may be procured in abundance at that place,
and that it is but half a days ride, nearly south.--". On May 29 Ordway writes, "Frazer got 2 Spanish
mill dollars from a squaw for an old razer we expect they got them from the Snake Indians
who live near the Spanish country to the South." Patrick Gass claims
in his entry of June 2 that the coins came from
the neck of a dead Shoshone Indian whom the Nez Perces had killed some time before.
Lewis records in his journal of June 2 that
"about Noon Sergt. Ordway Frazier and Wizer returned with 17 salmon and some roots of
cows; the distance was so great from which they had brought the fish that most of them
were nearly spoiled. these fish were as fat as any I ever saw; sufficiently so to
cook themselves without the addition of grease; those which were sound were extreemly
delicious; their flesh is of a fine rose colour with a small admixture of yellow.
these men set out on the 27th ult. and in stead of finding the fishing shore at the
distance of half a days ride as we had been informed, they did not reach the place at
which they obtained their fish untill the evening of the 29th having travelled by their
estimate near 70 miles. the rout they had taken however was not a direct one; the
Indians conducted them in the first instance to the East branch of Lewis's river about 20
miles above it's junction with the South branch", (The "East branch of
Lewis's river" is the Salmon, while the "South branch" is the Snake River
below the mouth of the Salmon.) "a distance of about 50 Ms. where they
informed them they might obtain fish; but on their arrival at that place finding that the
salmon had not yet arrived or were not taken, they were conducted down that river to a
fishery a few miles below the junction of the forks of Lewis's river about 20 Ms. further,
here with some difficulty and remaining one day they purchased the salmon which they
brought with them". (The Ordway party followed an easterly route along Lawyer
("Commeap") Creek to Deer Creek near the Lewis-Nez Perce County Line, then south
to the Salmon and easterly again to the Snake River near the Oregon-Washington border
separating Wallowa and Asotin counties. On their return the party retraced their
route to Deer Creek, then followed a trail south of their outbound passage, reaching the
Clearwater River near Kooskia, Idaho, and finally following the Clearwater back to Camp.
The Idaho Historical Society has been working on a more precise tracing of Ordway's route
that differs somewhat from the above.) "the first 20 Ms. of their
rout was up Commeap Creek and through a plain open country, the hills of the creek
continued high and broken with some timber near it's borders. the ballance of their
rout was though a high broken mountanous country generally well timbered with pine the
soil fertile. in this quarter they met with an abundance of deer and some bighorned
Looking Out Over the Salmon River Breaks to the South
"the East fork of Lewis's river they discribe as one continued rapid about 150
Yds. wide it's banks are in most places solid and perpendicular rocks, which rise to a
great hight; it's hills are mountains high. on the tops of some of those hills
over which they passed, the snow had not entirely disappeared, and the grass was just
springing up. at the fishery on Lewis's river below the forks there is a very
considerable rapid nearly as great from the information of Segt. Ordway as the great falls
of the Columbia the river 200 Yds. wide. their common house at this fishery is
built of split timber 150 feet long and 35 feet wide flat at top. The general course
from hence to the forks of Lewis's river is a little to the West of south about 45 Ms.--
The men at this season resort their fisheries while the women are employed in
collecting roots. both forks of Lewis's river above their junction appear to enter a
high Mountainous country" .--
In council Lewis and Clark promised the Nez Perces that American traders would soon
follow them to provide the Nez Perces with trade goods, especially guns with which to
defend themselves against the Blackfeet and other enemies. They also promised, if they
should meet the Blackfeet on their eastward trip, to try to persuade them to make peace
with the Nez Perces. Their hosts may have been a bit skeptical on this point, but the hope
of obtaining weapons to match those of their enemies inspired even greater regard for
their visitors. The men found much to admire about their hosts' customs, hospitality, and
appearance. The traveling ethnographers recorded much about Nez Perce material culture
during the forced stay. Food, clothes, and housing, of course caught their attention and
the horse culture of this equestrian people was also a matter of serious consideration.
Finally, the captains tried to explain Nez Perce attitudes, ceremonies, and rituals in
On June 6 Lewis writes, "The Broken Arm
informed Capt. C. that the nation would not pass the mountain untill the latter end of the
summer, and that with rispect to the young men whom we had requested should accompany us
to the falls of the Missouri, were not yet scelected for that purpose nor could they be so
untill there was a meeting of the nation in counsil. that this would happen in the
course of ten or twelve days as the whole of the lodges were about to remove to the head
of the Commeap Creek in the plain near Lewis's river..."
By June 9, 1806, the captains decided to
begin their move eastward. According to the Nez Perces the snow would not be gone from the
mountains along the Lolo Trail until the beginning of July, but the whole party was
anxious to start homeward, so they left the valley of the Clearwater for the flats above
the river, "exolted," Clark says, "with the idea of once more proceeding on
towards their friends and Country."
On June 10, 1806, the Corp of Discovery left
their camp on the Clearwater River and moved up to higher ground on Weippe Prairie. Lewis
writes, "at 11 A.M. we set out with the party each man being well mounted and a light
load on a second horse. . .our sourse being N. 22o E. thence N. 15 W. 2 m to
Collins's Creek. (Lolo Creek.) thence due North 5 m. to the Eastern
border of the quawmash flatts where we encamped near the place we first met with the
Chopunnish last fall". John Ordway states that at "about 4 P M. we arived
at the Commass ground where we Camped 22 Sept last but no villages here now".
They had waited over a month for the snow to melt in the Bitterroot Mountains so that
they could proceed eastward on the Lolo Trail. Lewis states in his journal of June 14 the decision to "make a forsed
march" to traveller's rest. They set out on the trail on June 15, but soon realized that they could not find
their way in the deep snow. Patrick Gass in his journal entry of June 16 states "In the evening we came to
Hungry creek and encamped."
On June 17, Lewis writes, "we proceeded
down hungry creek about seven miles passing it twice; we found it difficult and
dangerous to pass the creek in consequence of its debth and rapidity; we avoided two other
passes of the creek by ascending a very steep rocky and difficult hill. . ."
Clark states, "I with great difficulty prosued the direction of the road
one mile further to the top of the mountain where I found the Snow from 12 to 15 feet
deep" Lewis continues, "here was winter with all it's rigors; the air was
cold, my hands and feet were benumbed." John Ordway writes in his journal,
"here is not a sign of any green Shrub or any thing for our horses to eat. . .their
is no Sign of a road or trail here So we halted on the top of this mountain and our
officers consulted on what was best to do." Patrick Gass writes, "as it
appeared not only imprudent but highly dangerous to proceed without a guide of any kind.
After remaining about two hours we concluded it would be most adviseable to go back to
some place where there was food for our horses". Lewis had written in his
journal for this day when discussing the possibility of continuing without the aid of an
Indian guide, "of this Drewyer our principal dependance as a woodsman and guide was
entirely doubtfull". After caching many of their goods in trees, they turned
back. Discouraged Lewis notes, "this is the first time since we have been on this
long tour that we have ever been compelled to retreat or make a retrograde march." He
ended his entry for that day stating, "it rained on us most of this
Lewis notes in his journal of June 18,
"We dispatched Drewyer and Shannon to the Chopunnish Indians in the plains beyond the
Kooskooske in order to hasten the arrival of the indians who had promised to accompany us
or to procure a gude at all events and rejoin us as soon as possible. we sent
by them a rifle which we offered as a reward to any of them who would engage to conduct us
to traveller's rest; we also dirrected them if they found difficulty in induciny any of
them to accompany us to offer the reward of two other guns to be given them immediately
and ten horses at the falls of Missouri." Clark notes, "we had not
proceeded far this morning before J. Potts cut his leg very badly with one of the large
knives; he cut one of the large veins on the iner side of the leg; Colters horse
fell with him in passing hungary creek and himself and horse were driven down the Creek a
considerable distance roleing over each other among the rocks. he fortunately escaped with[out]
much injurey or the loss of his gun. he lost his blanket." Gass writes,
"We halted for dinner at the same place where we dined on the 16th and had a gust of rain, hail, thunder and
lightening, which lasted an hour, when the weather cleared and we had a fine
afternoon." Clark concludes, "Musquetors Troublesome".
On June 19 the men had the following to say
regarding their old nemesis. Lewis states, "the musquetoes have been
excessively troublesome to us since our arrival at this place particularly in the
evening." Clark notes, "Musquetors troublesom" and Ordway
writes, "the musquetoes are verry troublesome"
On the 20th of June after two days of delay
both Lewis and Clark were discussing contingency plans in order to cross the
mountains. Clark writes in his journal, "Should we wait much longer, or untill
the Snow disolves in Such manner as to enable us to follow the road we cannot expect to
reach the U States this Winter". Gass notes, "The musquitoes and gnats are
Clark writes in his journal of June 21,
"we all felt Some mortification in being thus compelled to retrace our Steps through
this tedious and difficuelt part of our rout, obstructed with brush and innumerable logs
and fallen timber which renders the traveling distressing and even dangerous to our
horses. one of Thompsons horses is either choked this morning or has the distemper
badly. I fear he is to be of no further Survice to us. an excellent horse of
Cruzatt's snagged himself So badly in the groin in jumping over a parcel of fallen timber
that he will eventually be of no further Survice to us". They continued their
retrograde march during which Lewis notes, "at the pass of Collin's Creek we met two
indians who were on their way over the mountain; they had brought with them the three
horses and the mule that had left us and returned to the quawmash grounds. these
indians returned with us about 1/2 a mile down the creek where we halted to dine and
graize our horses at the same place I had halted and remained all night with the party. .
.of Septembr last. (September
21, 1805, on Lolo Creek.) as well as we could understand the indians they
informed us that they had seen Drewyer and Shannon and that they would not return untill
the expiration of two days; the cause why Drewyer and Shannon had not returned with these
men we are at a loss to account for. we pressed these indians to remain with
us and to conduct us over the mountain on the return of Drewyer and Shannon. they
consented to remain two nights for us and accordingly deposited their store of roots and
bread in the bushes at no great distance and after dinner returned with us, as far as the
little prarie (Crane Meadows; See June 15, 1806.)
about 2 miles distant from the creek, here they halted with their horses and informed us
they would remain untill we overtook them or at least two nights"
On June 22 Clark notes, "neither Shannon
Drewyer nor whitehouse returned this evening.-- Potts legg is inflamed and very
painfull to him." On June 23 Lewis
was becoming apprehensive regarding the absence of Drouillard and Shannon. He was
concerned "that he had met with some difficulty in procuring a guide, and also that
the two indians who had promised to wait two nights for us would set out today, we thought
it most advisable to dispatch Frazier and Wiser to them this morning with a vew if
possible to detain them a day or two longer; and directed that in the event of their not
being able to detain the indians, that Sergt. Gass, R & J. Feilds and Wiser should
accompany the indians by whatever rout they might take to travellers rest and blaize the
trees well as they proceeded and wait at that place untill our arrival with the
party." Lewis's spirits must have risen when he learned; as Ordway notes,
"Drewyer Shannon & Whitehouse returned with the young chief (The brother of
Cut Nose) and 2 other Indians who has engaged to go over the
mountains as guides for us"
On June 24 the party set out from Weippe
Prairie a second time. The Indians found the trail easily. Lewis noted,
"we continued our rout to Fish Creek a branch of Collins's Creek where we had lain on
the 19th & 20th inst. (The camp of June 18-21,
1806, on Eldorado Creek.) here we found Sergt. Gass Wiser and the two
indians whom they had prevailed on to remain at that place untill our arrival."
On June 25 Lewis states in his journal,
"last evening the indians entertained us with seting the fir trees on fire.
they have a great number of dry lims near their bodies which when set on fire creates a
very suddon and immence blaze from bottom to top of those tall trees. they are a
beatifull object in this situation at night. . . the natives told us that their object in
seting those trees on fire was to bring fair weather for our journey.--"
"We collected our horses readily and set out at an early hour this morning. . .
at 11 A.M. we arrived at the branch of hungary creek where we found R. & J.
Feilds. they had not killed anything. here we halted and dined. . .after
dinner we continued our rout to hungary Creek and encamped about one and a half miles
below our encampment of the 16 inst.--" . . ."the indians continued with us and
I beleive are disposed to be faithfull to their engagement.
On June 26 Lewis writes, "This morning
we collected our horses and set out after an early breakfast or at 6 A.M. we
passed by the same rout we had travelled on the 17th inst. to our deposit on the top of
the snowey mountain to the N.E. of hungary Creek. (The cache on
Willow Ridge; See June 17, 1806.)
here we necessarily halted about 2 hours to arrange our baggage and
prepare our loads." Lewis continues, "the snow has subsided near four feet
since the 17th inst. we now measured it accurately and found from a mark which we had made
on a tree when we were last here on the 17th that it was then 10 feet 10 inches which
appeared to be about the common debth though it is deeper still in some places. it
is now generally about 7 feet." Clark notes, "the Indians hastened us off
and informed us that it was a considerable distance to the place they wished to reach this
evening where there was grass for our horses. accordingly we Set out with our guides
who led us over and along the Steep Sides of tremendious Mountains entirely covered with
Snow except about the roots of the trees where the Snow was partially melted and exposed a
Small Spot of earth. we assended and decended Several Steep lofty hights but keeping
on the dividing ridge of the Chopunnish & Kooskooske river we passed no Stream of
water. late in the evening much to the Satisfaction of ourselves and the Comfort of
the horses we arived at the desired Spot and Encamped on the Steep Side of a Mountain
Convenient to a good Spring. here we found an abundance of fine grass for our
horses. this Situation was the Side of an untimbered mountain with a fair Southern
aspect where the Snow from appearance had been disolved about 10 days, the grass was young
and tender of course and had much the appearance of the Green Swoard". "Soon
after we had encamped we were over taken by a Chopunnish man who had pursued us with a
view to accompany Capt. Lewis to the falls of Missouri. we were now informed that
the two young men we met on the 21st and detained Several days were going on a party of
pleasure mearly to the Oat-lash-shotts or as they call them Sha-lees a
band of the Tush-she-pah Nation who reside on Clarks river in the neighbourhood
of the Mouth of Travelers rest."
Looking East from the "Smoking Place"
Lewis writes on June 27, "the road still
continued on the heights of the same dividing ridge on which we had traveled yesterday for
nine miles or to our encampment of the September last. about one mile short of this
encampment on an elivated point we halted by the request of the Indians a few minutes and
smoked the pipe. on this eminence the natives have raised a conic mound of stones of
6 or eight feet high and on it's summit erected a pine pole of 15 feet long. (On
the first high point west of Indian Grave Peak. Lewis describes it as a mile short of the
party's camp of September 17, 1805, marked on
The "Smoking Place"
"from hence they informed us that when passing over with their familes some of the
men were usually sent on foot by the fishery at the entrance of Colt Creek in order to
take fish and again met the main party at the Quawmash glade on the head of the Kooskooske
river." "we were entirely surrounded by those mountains from which to one
unacquainted with them it would have seemed impossible ever to have escaped; in short
without the assistance of our guides I doubt much whether we who had once passed them
could find our way to Travellers rest in their present situation for the marked trees on
which we had placed considerable reliance are much fewer and more difficult to find than
we had apprehended. these fellows are most admireable pilots; we find the road
wherever the snow has disappeared though it be only for a few hundred paces."
Clark notes, "after haveing Smoked the pipe and Contemplating this Scene Sufficient
to have dampened the Spirits of any except Such hardy travellers as we have become, we
continued our march and at the dist. of 3 m. decended a Steep mountain and passed two
Small branches of the Chopunnish river just above their fork, and again assend the ridge
on which we passed. at the distance of 7 m. arived at our Encampment of 16th Septr.
last passed 3 Small branches passed on a dividing ridge rugid and we
arived at a Situation very Similar to our Situation of last night tho' the ridge was
Somewhat higher and the Snow had not been So long disolved of course there was but little
grass. here we Encamped. (On Spring Hill, or Spring Mountain, between the camps
of September 15 and 16.) for the night haveing traveled 28 Ms.
over these mountains without releiveing the horses from their packs or their haveing any
Looking West from the "Smoking Place"
The following day, June 28 Lewis states,
"we continued our rout along the dividing ridge passing one very deep hollow and at
the distance of six miles passed our encampment of September last, (they
were passing the camp of September 15.)
"one and a half miles further we passed the road which leads by the fishery
falling in on the wright immediately on the dividing ridge. (They deviated here
from their westbound route, which went down into the valley of the Lochsa River. Now
they continued eastward on the Lolo Trail, as it is known today, along the ridge.)
"about eleven O'clock we arrived at an untimbered side of a mountain with a
Southern aspect just above the fishery. here we found an abundance of grass for our
horses as the Indians had informed us. as our horses were very hungary and much
fatiegued and from information no other place where we could obtain grass for them within
the reach of this evening's travel we determined to remain at this place all night having
come 13 miles only." (The camp was near Powell Junction on the
present Forest Road 500, also near Papoose Saddle and a few miles north of Powell Ranger
Station and the camp of September 14, 1805.)
On June 29 Clark notes in his journal,
"we prosued the hights of the ridge on which we have been passing for several days;
it termonated at the distance of 5 M. from our encampment, and we decended to & passed
the main branch of Kooskooke (Present Crooked Fork) 1 1/2 Ms. above the enterance
of Glade Creek (Lewis refers to this as "Quawmash creek", present Brushy
Creek.) which falls in on the N. E. Side. we bid adew to the Snow. near
the River we found a Deer which the hunters had killed and left us. this was a
fortunate Supply as all our bears oil was now exhosted, and we were reduced to our roots
alone without Salt. the river is 30 yds wide and runs with great
velossity. the bead as all the Mountain streams is composed of Smooth
Stone. beyond this river we assended a Steep Mountain about 2 Miles to it's Sumit
where we found the old road which we had passed on as we went out. comeing in one
our right, the road was now much plainer and much beaten." Lewis writes at
noon on June 29, 1806, "we arrived at the
quawmas flatts on the Creek of the same name (Packer Meadows in
the vicinity of their camp of September 13, 1805.)
and halted to graize our horses and dine having traveled 12 miles. we
passed our encampment of the [NB: 13th] of September at 10 ms. where we halted
there is a pretty little plain of about 50 acres plentifully stocked with quawmash and
from apperances this fromes one of the principal stages or encampments of the indians who
pass the mountains on this road. we found after we had halted that one of our
packhorses with his load and one of my riding horses were left behind. we dispatched
J. Feilds and Colter in surch of the lost horses. after dinner we continued our
march seven miles further to the warm springs where we arrived early in the evening"
(They crossed into Montana and camped at the Lolo Hot Springs; See September 13, 1805.) This same day Clark
notes, "the principal Spring is about the temperature of the Warmest baths used at
the Hot Springs in Virginia. in this bath which had been prepared by the Indians by
stopping the river with Stone and mud, I bathed and remained in 10 minits it was with
dificuelty I could remain this long and it causd a profuse swet. two other bold
Springs adjacent to this are much warmer, their heat being so great as to make the hand of
a person Smart extreemly when immerced. we think the temperature of those Springs
about the Same as that of the hotest of the hot Springs of Virginia. both the Men
and the indians amused themselves with the use of the bath this evening. I observe
after the indians remaining in the hot bath as long as they could bear it run and plunge
themselves into the Creek the water of which is now as Cold as ice Can make it; after
remaining here a fiew minits they return again to the worm bath repeeting this transision
Several times but always ending with the worm bath." Ordway states, "a
number of the party as well as myself bathed in these hot Springs, but the water so hot (111oF)
that it makes the Skin Smart when I first entered it." Gass adds, "most of
us bathed in its water."
The following day June 30 Meriwether Lewis
writes, " in descending the creek this morning on the steep side of a high hill my
horse sliped with both his hinder feet out of the road and fell, I also fell off backwards
and slid near 40 feet down the hill before I could stop myself such was the steepness of
the declivity; the horse was near falling on me in the first instance but fortunately
recovers and we both escaped unhirt." Lewis continues, "a little
before sunset we arrived at our old encampment on the south side of the creek a little
above it's entrance into Clark's river. (Travelers' Rest camp of
September 9-11, 1805) here we encamped with a view to remain two days in order
to rest ourselves and horses & make our final arrangements for seperation. we
came 19 ms. after dinner the road being much better than it has been since we entered the
mountains. we found no appearance of the Ootslashshoots having been here
lately." Patrick Gass for this day notes, "In the evening we arrived at
travellers'-rest creek, where the party rested two days last fall, and where it emptied
into Flathead (called Clarke's) river, a beautiful river about one hundred yards wide at
this place; but there is no fish of any consequence in it; and according to the Indian
account, there are falls on it, between this place and its mouth, where it empties into
the Columbia, six or seven hundred feet high; and which probably prevent the fish from
coming up." John Ordway states, "the Musquetoes verry troublesome
Perhaps William Clark, in his succinct manner, puts it best when on this same day June 30 writes, "Descended the mountain to
Travellers rest leaveing these tremendious mountains behind us, in passing of which we
have experienced cold and hunger of which I shall ever remember." They spent a few
days resting for the next stage of the journey.
At Fort Clatsop the captains had decided to divide the party for an extended time to
investigate previously unexplored territory. Lewis would head east across the mountains to
the Great Falls of the Missouri, then explore the Marias River before returning to the
Missouri. His purpose was to discover if the Marias drained northern reaches thus giving
further territorial claims to the United States under the Louisiana Purchase. Clark would
go southeast to the site of Camp Fortunate, then down the Beaverhead and Jefferson rivers
to the Three Forks of the Missouri. Part of his party would then take canoes down the
Missouri to the Great Falls to meet Lewis's party there, while Clark went east to the
Yellowstone and down that river. His object was to inspect the Yellowstone and perhaps
make contact with additional Indian tribes. The two captains and their men would meet at
the mouth of the Yellowstone.
The makeup of the various groups, as best we know, is as follows:
1. Lewis and Party: July 3 - 13, 1806 - Lewis - Gass - Drouillard - J. Fields -
R. Fields - Frazier - Goodrich - McNeal - Thompson - Werner - Seaman (dog) - 5 Indians.
2. Lewis and Party: July 16 - 28, 1806 - Lewis - Drouillard - J. Fields - R.
3. Gass and Party: July 16 - 28, 1806 - Gass - Frazier - Goodrich - McNeal -
Thompson - Werner
4. Lewis and Party July 29 - August 12, 1806 - Lewis - Gass - Ordway - Drouillard
- J. Fields - R. Fields - Frazier - Werner - Thompson - Goodrich - McNeal - Collins -
Colter - Cruzette - Howard - Lepage - Potts - Whitehouse - Willard - Wieser - Seaman (dog)
5. Clark and Party: July 3 - 13, 1806 - Clark - Ordway - Pryor - Bratton - Charbonneau
- Collins - Colter - Cruzatte - Gibson - Hall - Howard - Labische - Lepage - Potts -
Shannon - Shields - Whitehouse - Willard - Windsor - Wieser - York - Sacagawea - Baptiste
- About 50 horses
6. Clark and Party July 13 - August 12, 1806 - Clark - Pryor - Bratton -
Charbonneau - Gibson - Hall - Labische - Shannon - Shields - Windsor - York - Sacagawea -
Babtiste - 49 horses - 1 colt
7. Ordway and Party: July 13 - 19, 1806 - Ordway - Collins - Colter - Cruzatte -
Howard - LePage - Potts - Whitehouse - Willard - Wieser
8. Pryor and Party: July 24 - August 8, 1806 - Pryor - Shannon - Wieser - Hall.
This group was dispatched by Clark to the Mandan Village but returned with a failed
mission due to losing their horses. The journals document 2 occasions when there was
a division in the parties. In both instances, Serg. Pryor was in charge of the
detachments (See July 8, 1806.)
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Lewis & Clark Among the Nez
Perce - August 6-8, 2003
Lewis & Clark Over the
Bitterroot Range - August 4-6, 2003
Lewis & Clark: Encounters with
Indians - July 7-11, 2003
On the Trail of Lewis & Clark - June 16-21,