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The Two Rivers of Lewis & Clark
Entries For July 14:
Captain Clark (current)
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Sent Shields ahead to kill a deer for our breakfast, and at an early hour set out with the party. Crossed Gallatin River, which makes a considerable bend to the N.E. and proceeded on nearly S. 78° E. through an open level plain. At 6 miles I struck the river and crossed a part of it and attempted to proceed on through the river bottoms, which were several miles wide at this place. I crossed several channels of the river running through the bottom in different directions. I proceeded on about two miles, crossing those different channels, all of which were dammed with beaver in such a manner as to render the passage impracticable, and after being swamped, as I may say, in this bottom of beaver, I was compelled to turn short about to the right, and after some difficulty made my way good to an open, low, but firm plain which was an island, and extended nearly the course I wished to proceed.
Here the squaw informed me that there was a large road passing through the upper part of this low plain from Madison River through the gap, which I was steering my course to. I proceeded up this plain 4 miles, and crossed the main channel of the river having passed through a skirt of cotton timber to an open low plain on the N.E. side of the river and nooned it. The river is much divided, and on all the small streams innumerable quantities of beaver dams, though the river is yet navigable for canoes. I overtook Shields soon after I set out. He had killed a large fat buck. I saw elk, deer, and antelopes, and a great deal of old signs of buffalo. Their roads are in every direction.
The Indian woman informs me that a few years ago buffalo were very plenty in those plains and valleys, quite as high as the head of Jefferson's River, but few of them ever come into those valleys of late years, owing to the Shoshones, who are fearful of passing into the plains west of the mountains, and subsist on what game they can catch in the mountains, principally, and the fish which they take in the east fork of Lewis's River. Small parties of Shoshones do pass over to the plains for a few days at a time and kill buffalo for their skins and dried meat, and return immediately into the mountains.
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.