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The Two Rivers of Lewis & Clark
Entries For June 29:
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Not having seen the large fountain of which Captain Clark spoke, I determined to visit it today, as I could better spare this day from my attention to the boat than probably any other when the work would be further advanced. Accordingly, after setting the hands at their several employments, I took Drouilliard and set out for the fountain, and passed through a level beautiful plain for about six miles, when I reached the break of the river hills. Here we were overtaken by a violent gust of wind and rain from the S.W., attended with thunder and lightning. I expected a hailstorm probably from this cloud and therefore took refuge in a little gully, where there were some broad stones with which I purposed protecting my head if we should have a repetition of the scene of the 27th. But fortunately, we had but little hail and that not large. I sat very composedly for about an hour without shelter and took a copious drenching of rain.
After the shower was over I continued my route to the fountain, which I found much as Captain Clark had described, and think it may well be retained on the list of prodigies of this neighborhood, toward which Nature seems to have dealt with a liberal hand, for I have scarcely experienced a day since my first arrival in this quarter without experiencing some novel occurrence among the party or witnessing the appearance of some uncommon object. I think this fountain the largest I ever beheld, and the handsome cascade which it affords over some steep and irregular rocks in its passage to the river adds not a little to its beauty. It is about 25 yards from the river, situated in a pretty little level plain, and has a sudden descent of about 6 feet in one part of its course. The water of this fountain is extremely transparent and cold, nor is it impregnated with lime or any other extraneous matter which I can discover, but is very pure and pleasant. Its waters mark their passage, as Captain Clark observes, for a considerable distance down the Missouri, notwithstanding its rapidity and force. The water of the fountain boils up with such force near its center that its surface in that part seems even higher than the surrounding earth, which is a firm handsome turf of fine green grass.
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.