The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Lewis, May 24, 1805

Lewis, May 24, 1805

Friday May 24th 1805.

The water standing in the vessels freized during the night 1/8 of an inch thick, ice also appears along the verge of the river. the folage of some of the cottonwood trees have been entirely distroyed by the frost and are again puting forth other buds. the high country in which we are at present and have been passing for some days I take to be a continuation of what the Indians as well as the French Engages call the Black hills. This tract of country so called consists of a collection of high broken and irregular hills and short chain of mountains sometimes 120 miles in width and again becomeing much narrower, but always much higher than the country on either side; they commence about the head of the Kanzas river and to the West of that river near the Arkansas, from whence they take their course a little to the W. of N. W. approaching the rockey Mountains obliquely, passing the river platte above the forks and intercepting the Yellowstone river near the big bend and passing the Missouri at this place and probably continuing to swell the country as far North as the Saskashawan river tho they are lower here than they are discribed to the Sth. and may therefore probably terminate before they reach the Suskashawan. the black hills in their course nothwardly appear to approach more nearly to the Rocky Mountains.

We set out at an early hour this morning and proceed on principally by the chord untill about 9 A.M. when a fine breeze sprung up from the S. E. and enabled us though the ballance of the day to employ our sails to advantage; we proceed at a pretty good pace notwithstanding the courant of the river was very strong. we passed two large and four small Islands; also several streams on either side; the first of these is a large Creek or small river which disinboged on the Stard. side about 11/2 miles above our encampment of last evening, it is 30 yards wide and contains some water. the bed is gravley and intermixed with some stone, it takes its rise in the mountains which are situated in a Northwardly direction from its entrance, distant about 30 miles. the air is so pure in this open country that mountains and other elivated objects appear much nearer than they really are; these mountains do not appear to be further than 15 m. we sent a man up this creek to explore the country he returned late in the evening and informed that he had proceeded ten miles directly towards these mountains and that he did not think himself by any mean half way these mountains are rockey and covered with some scattering pine. This stream we call North Mountain creek. the next stream in order is a creek which falls in on Lard. 21/2 miles higher; this is 15 yds. wide no water; a large village of the burrowing or barking squirrels on the Stard. side opposite it's entrance, hence the name Little dog Ck. that being the name by which the French Engages call this anamal. at three miles and at 10 ms. from hence still ascending 2 Small creek fall in on the Stard. side, no water. 51/2 miles higher a small river falls in on Lard. side this we called South Mountain creek as from it's direction it appeared to take it's rise in a range of Mountains lying in a S. Westerly direction from it's entrance distant 50 or 60 m.; this creek is 40 yards wide and discharges a handsome stream of water. it's bed is rockey with gravel and sand, the banks high and country broken it's bottom narrow and no timber. The country high and broken, a considerable portion of black rock and brown sandy rock appear in the faces of the hills; the tops of the hills covered with scattering pine spruce and dwarf cedar; the soil poor and sterile, sandy near the tops of the hills, the whole producing but little grass; the narrow bottoms of the Missouri producing little else but Hysop or southern wood and the pulpy leafed thorn. Capt. Clark walked on shore this evening and killed a buffaloe cow, we left 2 Canoes and six men to dress the Cow and bring on the meat, they did not overtake us this evening. game is becoming more scarce, particularly beaver, of which we have seen but few for several days the beaver appears to keep pace with the timber as it declines in quantity they also become more scarce.