The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Lewis, July 4, 1805

Updated February 28, 2017 | Infoplease Staff

Lewis, July 4, 1805

Thursday July 4th 1805.

Yesterday we permitted Sergt. Gass McNeal and several others who had not yet seen the falls to visit them. no appearance of tar yet and I am now confident that we shall not be able to obtain any; a serious misfortune. I employed a number of hands on the boat today and by 4 P.M. in the evening completed her except the most difficult part of the work that of making her seams secure. I had her turned up and some small fires kindled underneath to dry her. Capt. C. completed a draught of the river from Fort Mandan to this place which we intend depositing at this place in order to guard against accedents. not having seen the Snake Indians or knowing in fact whether to calculate on their friendship or hostility or friendship we have conceived our party sufficiently small and therefore have concluded not to dispatch a canoe with a part of our men to St. Louis as we had intended early in the spring. we fear also that such a measure might possibly discourage those who would in such case remain, and might possibly hazzard the fate of the expedition. we have never once hinted to any one of the party that we had such a scheme in contemplation, and all appear perfectly to have made up their minds to suceed in the expedition or purish in the attempt. we all beleive that we are now about to enter on the most perilous and difficult part of our voyage, yet I see no one repining; all appear ready to met those difficulties which wait us with resolution and becoming fortitude. we had a heavy dew this morning. the clouds near these mountains rise suddonly and discharge their contents partially on the neighbouring plains; the same cloud will discharge hail alone in one part hail and rain in another and rain only in a third all within the space of a few miles; and on the Mountains to the S. E. of us sometimes snow. at present there is no snow on those mountains; that which covered them when we first saw them and which has fallen on them several times since has all disappeared. the Mountains to the N. W. & W. of us are still entirely covered are white and glitter with the reflection of the sun. I do not beleive that the clouds which prevail at this season of the year reach the summits of those lofty mountains; and if they do the probability is that they deposit snow only for there has been no perceptible deminution of the snow which they contain since we first saw them. I have thought it probable that these mountains might have derived their appellation of shining Mountains, from their glittering appearance when the sun shines in certain directions on the snow which covers them. since our arrival at the falls we have repeatedly witnessed a nois which proceeds from a direction a little to the N. of West as loud and resembling precisely the discharge of a piece of ordinance of 6 pounds at the distance of three miles. I was informed of it by the men several times before I paid any attention to it, thinking it was thunder most probably which they had mistaken at length walking in the plains the other day I heard this noise very distictly, it was perfectly calm clear and not a cloud to be seen, I halted and listened attentively about an hour during which time I heard two other discharges and tok the direction of the sound with my pocket compass. I have no doubt but if I had leasure I could find from whence it issued. I have thout it probable that it might be caused by runing water in some of the caverns of those immence mountains, on the principal of the blowing caverns; but in such case the sounds would be periodical & regular, which is not the case with this, being sometimes heard once only and at other times, six or seven discharges in quick succession. it is heard also at different seasons of the day and night. I am at a loss to account for this phenomenon. our work being at an end this evening, we gave the men a drink of sperits, it being the last of our stock, and some of them appeared a little sensible of it's effects the fiddle was plyed and they danced very merrily untill 9 in the evening when a heavy shower of rain put an end to that part of the amusement tho they continued their mirth with songs and festive jokes and were extreemly merry untill late at night. we had a very comfortable dinner, of bacon, beans, suit dumplings & buffaloe beaf &c. in short we had no just cause to covet the sumptuous feasts of our countrymen on this day.- one Elk and a beaver were all that was killed by the hunters today; the buffaloe seem to have withdrawn themselves from this neighbourhood; tho the men inform us that they are still abundant about the falls.