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The Two Rivers of Lewis & Clark
Entries For September 21:
Captain Lewis (current)
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At half-past one o'clock this morning the sand bar on which we camped began to undermine and give way, which alarmed the sergeant on guard. The motion of the boat awakened me. I got up and by the light of the moon observed that the sand had given way both above and below our camp, and was falling in fast. I ordered all hands on, as quick as possible, and pushed off. We had pushed off but a few minutes before the bank, under which the boat and pirogues lay, gave way, which would certainly have sunk both pirogues. By the time we made the opposite shore, our camp fell in.
We made a second camp for the remainder of the night, and at daylight proceeded on to the gorge of this great bend, and breakfast. We sent a man to measure (step off) the distance across the gorge. He made it 2,000 yards. The distance around is 30 miles. The hills extend through the gorge and are about 200 feet above the water. In the bend as also the opposite sides, both above and below the bend, is a beautiful inclined plain, in which there are great numbers of buffalo, elk, and goats in view, feeding and sipping on those plains. Grouse, larks, and the prairie bird are common in those plains.
We proceeded on, past a willow island below the mouth of a small river, called Tylor's River, about 35 yards wide, which comes in on the L.S. 6 miles above the gorge of the bend. At the mouth of this river, the two hunters ahead left a deer and its skin, also the skin of a white wolf. We observe an immense number of plover of different kinds collecting and taking their flight southerly; also brants, which appear to move in the same direction. The catfish are small and not so plenty as below.
The shore on each side is lined with hard rough gulley stones of different sizes, which have rolled from the hills and out of small brooks. Cedar is common here. This day is warm. The wind, which is not hard, blows from the S.E. We camped at the lower point of the Mock Island on the S.S. This now connected with the mainland; it has the appearance of once being an island detached from the mainland, covered with tall cottonwood. We saw some camps and tracks of the Sioux which appear to be old, three or four weeks ago. One Frenchman, I fear, has got an abscess on his thigh. He complains very much. We are making every exertion to relieve him.
The prairies in this quarter contain great quantities of prickly pears.
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.