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The Two Rivers of Lewis & Clark
Entries For October 25:
Captain Clark (current)
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Captain Lewis and myself walked down to see the place the Indians pointed out as the worst place in passing through the gut, which we found difficult of passing without great danger. But, as the portage was impractical with our large canoes, we concluded to make a portage of our most valuable articles and run the canoes through. Accordingly, on our return, divided the party: some to take over the canoes, and others to take our stores across a portage of a mile, to a place on the channel below this bad whorl and suck, with some others I had fixed on the channel with ropes to throw out to any who should unfortunately meet with difficulty in passing through. Great numbers of Indians viewing us from the high rocks under which we had to pass. The three first canoes passed through very well; the fourth nearly filled with water; the last passed through by taking in a little water. Thus, safely below what I conceived to be the worst part of this channel, felt myself extremely gratified and pleased.
We loaded the canoes and set out, and had not proceeded more than 2 miles before the unfortunate canoe which filled crossing the bad place above, ran against a rock and was in great danger of being lost. This channel is through a hard, rough black rock, from 50 to 100 yards wide, swelling and boiling in a most tremendous manner. Several places on which the Indians inform me they take the salmon as fast as they wish. We passed through a deep basin to the starboard side of 1 mile, below which the river narrows and is divided by a rock. The current we found quite gentle.
Here we met with our two old chiefs, who had been to a village below to smoke a friendly pipe, and at this place they met the chief and party from the village above, on his return from hunting, all of whom were then crossing over their horses. We landed to smoke a pipe with this chief, whom we found to be a bold, pleasing-looking man of about 50 years of age, dressed in a war jacket, a cap, leggings, and moccasins. He gave us some meat, of which he had but little, and informed us he, in his route, met with a war party of Snake Indians from the great river of the S.E., which falls in a few miles above, and had a fight. We gave this chief a medal, &c. Had a parting smoke with our two faithful friends, the chiefs who accompanied us from the head of the river.
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.