The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Lewis, June 17, 1805

Lewis, June 17, 1805

Monday June 17th 1805.

Capt. Clark set out early this morning with five men to examine the country and survey the river and portage as had been concerted last evening. I set six men at work to pepare four sets of truck wheels with couplings, toungs and bodies, that they might either be used without the bodies for transporting our canoes, or with them in transporting our baggage I found that the Elk skins I had prepared for my boat were insufficient to compleat her, some of them having become dammaged by the weather and being frequently wet; to make up this deficiency I sent out two hunters this morning to hunt Elk; the ballance of the party I employed first in unloading the white perogue, which we intend leaving at this place, and bring the whole of our baggage together and arranging it in proper order near our camp. this duty being compleated I employed them in taking five of the small canoes up the creek which we now call portage creek about 13/4 miles; here I had them taken out and lyed in the sun to dry. from this place ther is a gradual ascent to the top of the high plain to which we can now take them with ease; the bluffs of this creek below and those of the river above it's entrance are so steep that it would be almost impracticable to have gotten them on the plain. we found much difficulty in geting the canoes up this creek to the distance we were compelled to take them, in consequence of the rappids and rocks which obstruct the channel of the creek. one of the canoes overset and was very near injuring 2 men essencially. just above the canoes the creek has a perpendicular fall of 5 feet and the cliffts again become very steep and high. we were fortunate enough to find one cottonwood tree just below the entrance of portage creek that was large enough to make our carrage wheels about 22 Inches in diameter; fortunate I say because I do not beleive that we could find another of the same size perfectly sound within 20 miles of us. the cottonwood which we are obliged to employ in the other parts of the work is extreemly illy calculated for it being soft and brittle. we have made two axeltrees of the mast of the white peroge, which I hope will answer tolerably well tho it is reather small. The Indian woman much better today, I have still continued the same course of medecine; she is free from pain clear of fever, her pulse regular, and eats as heartily as I am willing to permit her of broiled buffaloe well seasoned with pepper and salt and rich soope of the same meat; I think therefore that there is every rational hope of her recovery. saw a vast number of buffaloe feeding in every direction arround us in the plains, others coming down in large herds to water at the river; the fragments of many carcases of these poor anamals daily pass down the river, thus mangled I pesume in decending those immence cataracts above us. as the buffaloe generally go in large herds to water and the passages to the river about the falls are narrow and steep the hinder part of the herd press those in front out of their debth and the water instatly takes them over the cataracts where they are instantly crushed to death without the possibility of escaping. in this manner I have seen ten or a douzen disappear in a few minutes. their mangled carcases ly along the shores below the falls in considerable quantities and afford fine amusement for the bear wolves and birds of prey; this may be one reason and I think not a bad one either that the bear are so tenatious of their right of soil in this neighbourhood.