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The Two Rivers of Lewis & Clark
Entries For August 24:
Captain Clark (current)
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Some rain last night. A continuation this morning. We set out at the usual time and proceeded on the course of last night, to the commencement of a blue clay bluff 180 or 190 feet high on the L.S. Those bluffs appear to have been latterly on fire and at this time are too hot for a man to bear his hand in the earth at any depth. Great appearance of coal. An immense quantity of cobalt, or a crystalized substance which answers its description, is on the face of the bluff.
Great quantities of a kind of berry resembling a currant, except double the size, and grows on a bush like a privet, and the size of a damson, deliciously flavored, and makes delightful tarts. This fruit is now ripe. I took my servant (York) and a French boy and walked on shore. Killed two buck elks and a fawn, and intercepted the boat, and had all the meat butchered and in by sunset, at which time it began to rain and rained hard. Captain Lewis and myself walked out and got very wet. A cloudy, rainy night. In my absence, the boat passed a small river, called by the Indians Whitestone River. This river is about 30 yards wide, and runs through a plain or prairie in its whole course.
In a northerly direction from the mouth of this creek, in an immense plain, a high hill is situated, and appears of a conic form, and by the different nations of Indians in this quarter, is supposed to be the residence of devils: that they are in human form with remarkable large heads, and about 18 inches high, that they are very watchful, and are armed with sharp arrows with which they can kill at a great distance. They are said to kill all persons who are so hardy as to attempt to approach the hill. They state that tradition informs them that many Indians have suffered by those little people, and, among others, three Maha men fell a sacrifice to their merciless fury not many years since. So much do the Maha, Sioux, Otos, and other neighboring nations, believe this fable, that no consideration is sufficient to induce them to approach the hill.
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.