About the Expedition
Rivers, Forests & Prairies
Links We Like
Book: Adventuring Along the Lewis and Clark Trail
Join an Outing!
The Two Rivers of Lewis & Clark
Entries For April 27:
Captain Lewis (current)
|<< Previous Entry (4/26/1805)||(4/29/1805) Next Entry >>|
Tis morning I walked through the point formed by the junction of the rivers. The woodland extends about a mile when the rivers approach each other within less than half a mile. Here a beautiful level, low plain commences, and extends up both rivers for many miles, widening as the rivers recede from each other, and extending back half a mile to a plain about 12 feet higher than itself. The low plain appears to be a few inches higher than high-water mark and, of course, will not be liable to be overflowed; though where it joins the high plain, a part of the Missouri, when at its greatest height, passes through a channel 60 or 70 yards wide, and falls into the Yellowstone River.
On the Missouri, about 2 1/2 miles from the entrance of the Yellowstone River and between this high and low plain, a small lake is situated, about 200 yards wide, extending along the edge of the high plain, parallel with the Missouri about one mile. On the point of the high plain, at the lower extremity of this lake, I think would be the most eligible site for an establishment. Between this low plain and the Yellowstone River, there is an extensive body of timbered land extending up the river for many miles. This site recommended is about 400 yards distant from the Missouri, and about double that distance from the River Yellowstone. From it, the high plain, rising very gradually, extends back about three miles to the hills, and continues with the same width between these hills and the timbered land on the Yellowstone River, up that stream, for seven or eight miles; and is one of the handsomest plains I ever beheld.
On the Missouri side, the hills circumscribe its width, and at the distance of three miles up that river from this site, it is not more than 400 yards wide. Captain Clark thinks that the lower extremity of the low plain would be most eligible for this establishment. It is true that it is much nearer both rivers and might answer very well, but I think it rather too low to venture a permanent establishment, particularly if built of brick or other durable materials at any considerable expense. For, so capricious and versatile are these rivers, that it is difficult to say how long it will be until they direct the force of their currents against this narrow part of the low plain, which, when they do, must shortly yield to their influence. In such case, a few years only would be necessary for the annihilation of the plain, and with it the fortification.
I continued my walk on shore. At 11 A.M. the wind became very hard from N.W., insomuch that the pirogues and canoes were unable either to proceed or pass the river to me. I was under the necessity, therefore, of shooting a goose and cooking it for my dinner. The wind abated about 4 P.M., and the party proceeded, though I could not conveniently join them until night.
Although the game is very abundant and gentle, we only kill as much as is necessary for food. I believe that two good hunters could conveniently supply a regiment with provisions. For several days past, we have observed a great number of buffalo lying dead on the shore; some of them entire, and others partly devoured by the wolves and bear. Those animals either drowned during the winter in attempting to pass the river on the ice, or by swimming across, at present, to bluff banks where they are unable to ascend and, feeling themselves too weak to return, remain and perish for the want of food. In this situation we met with several little parties of them.
Beaver are very abundant. The party kill several of them every day. The eagles, magpies, and geese have their nests in trees adjacent to each other. The magpie particularly appears fond of building near the eagle, as we scarcely see an eagle's nest unaccompanied with two or three magpie's nests within a short distance. The bald eagles are more abundant here than I ever observed them in any part of the country.
Reprinted by permission of the American Studies Programs at the University of Virginia.
The complete text can also be downloaded for printing from their website.