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The Two Rivers of Lewis & Clark
Entries For June 18:
Captain Clark (current)
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We set out early and arrived at the second great cataract about 200 yards above the last, of 19 feet pitch. This is one of the grandest views in nature, and by far exceeds anything I ever saw: the Missouri falling over a shelving rock for 47 feet 8 inches, with a cascade, &c., of 14 feet 7 inches above the chute, for 1/4 mile. I descended the cliff below this cataract with ease, measured the height of the perpendicular fall of 47 feet 8 inches, at which place the river is 473 yards wide, as also the height of the cascade, &c. A continual mist quite across this fall.
After which, we proceeded on up the river a little more than a mile to the largest fountain or spring I ever saw, and doubt if it is not the largest in America known. This water boils up from under the rocks near the edge of the river and falls immediately into the river eight feet, and keeps its color for 1/2 a mile, which is immensely clear and of a bluish cast.
Proceeded on up the river past a succession of rapids to the next great fall of 26 feet 5 inches, river 580 yards wide. This fall is not entirely perpendicular. A short bench gives a curve to the water as it falls. A beautiful small island at the foot of this fall near the center of the channel, covered with trees.
This evening one man, A. Willard, going for a load of meat at 170 yards distance on an island, was attacked by a white bear, and very near being caught. Pursued within 40 yards of camp, where I was, with one man. I collected three others of the party and pursued the bear (who had pursued my track from a buffalo I had killed on the island at about 300 yards distance and chanced to meet Willard), for fear of his attacking one man, Colter, at the lower point of the island. Before we had got down, the bear had alarmed the man and pursued him into the water. At our approach he retreated, and we relieved the man in the water. I saw the bear, but the bushes were so thick that I could not shoot him and it was nearly dark. The wind from the S.W. and cool. Killed a beaver and an elk for their skins this evening.
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.