The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Lewis, June 29, 1805
Lewis, June 29, 1805
Saturday June 29th 1805.
This morning we experienced a heavy shower of rain for about an hour after which it became fair. not having seen the large fountain of which Capt. Clark spoke I determined to visit it today as I could better spare this day from my attention to the boat than probably any other when the work would be further advanced; accordingly after seting the hands at their several employments I took Drewyer and seet out for the fountain and passed through a level beautiful plain for about Six miles when I reached the brake of the river hills here we were overtaken by a violent gust of wind and rain from the S. W. attended with thunder and Litning. I expected a hail storm probably from this cloud and therefore took refuge in a little gully wher there were some broad stones with which I purposed protecting my head if we should have a repetition of the seene of the 27th but fortunately we had but little hail and that not large; I sat very composedly for about an hour without sheter and took a copious drenching of rain; after the shower was over I continued my rout to the fountain which I found much as Capt. C; had discribed & think it may well be retained on the list of prodegies of this neighbourhood towards which, nature seems to have dealt with a liberal hand, for I have scarcely experienced a day since my first arrival in this quarter without experiencing some novel occurrence among the party or witnessing the appearance of some uncommon object. I think this fountain the largest I ever beheld, and the hadsome cascade which it affords over some steep and irregular rocks in it's passage to the river adds not a little to it's beauty. it is about 25 yds. from the river, situated in a pretty little level plain, and has a suddon decent of about 6 feet in one part of it's course. the water of this fountain is extreemly tranparent and cold; nor is it impregnated with lime or any other extranious matter which I can discover, but is very pure and pleasent. it's waters marke their passage as Capt. Clark observes for a considerable distance down the Missouri notwithstanding it's rapidity and force. the water of the fountain boil up with such force near it's center that it's surface in that part seems even higher than the surrounding earth which is a firm handsom terf of fine green grass. after amusing myself about 20 minutes in examining the fountain I found myself so chilled with my wet cloaths that I determined to return and accordingly set out; on our way to camp we found a buffaloe dead which we had shot as we came out and took a parsel of the meat to camp it was in very good order; the hump and tongue of a fat buffaloe I esteem great delicasies. on my arrival at camp I was astonished not to find the party yet arrived, but then concluded that probably the state of the praries had detained them, as in the wet state in which they are at present the mud sticks to the wheels is such manner that they are obliged to halt frequently and clense them. Transaction and occurrencies which took place with Capt. Clark and party today.
Shortly after the rain which fell early this morning he found it imposseble from the state of the plains for the party to reach the upper extremity of the portage with their present load, and therefore sent back almost all of the party to bring the baggage which had been left behind yesterday. he determined himself to pass by the way of the river to camp in order to supply the deficiency of some notes and remarks which he had made as he first ascended the river but which he had unfortunately lost. accordingly he left one man at Willow run to guard the baggage and took with him his black man York, Sharbono and his indian woman also accompanyed Capt. C. on his arrival at the falls he perceived a very black cloud rising in the West which threatened immediate rain; he looked about for a shelter but could find none without being in great danger of being blown into the river should the wind prove as violent as it sometimes is on those occasions in these plains; at length about a 1/4 of a mile above the falls he discovered a deep rivene where there were some shelving rocks under which he took shelter near the river with Sharbono and the Indian woman; laying their guns compass &c. under a shelving rock on the upper side of the rivene where they were perfectly secure from the rain. the first shower was moderate accompanyed by a violent rain the effects of which they did but little feel; soon after a most violent torrent of rain decended accompanyed with hail; the rain appeared to decend in a body and instantly collected in the rivene and came down in a roling torrent with irrisistable force driving rocks mud and everything before it which opposed it's passage, Capt. C. fortunately discovered it a moment before it reached them and seizing his gun and shot pouch with his left hand with the right he assisted himself up the steep bluff shoving occasionaly the Indian woman before him who had her child in her arms; Sharbono had the woman by the hand indeavouring to pull her up the hill but was so much frightened that he remained frequently motionless and but for Capt. C. both himself and his woman and child must have perished. so suddon was the rise of the water that before Capt C could reach his gun and begin to ascend the bank it was up to his waist and wet his watch; and he could scarcely ascend faster than it arrose till it had obtained the debth of 15 feet with a current tremendious to behold. one moment longer & it would have swept them into the river just above the great cataract of 87 feet where they must have inevitably perished. Sarbono lost his gun shot pouch, horn, tomahawk, and my wiping rod; Capt. Clark his Umbrella and compas or circumferenter. they fortunately arrived on the plain safe, where they found the black man, York, in surch of them; york had seperated from them a little while before the storm, in pursuit of some buffaloe and had not seen them enter the rivene; when this gust came on he returned in surch of them & not being able to find them for some time was much allarmed. the bier in which the woman carrys her child and all it's cloaths wer swept away as they lay at her feet she having time only to grasp her child; the infant was therefore very cold and the woman also who had just recovered from a severe indisposition was also wet and cold, Capt C. therefore relinquished his intended rout and returned to the camp at willow run in order also to obtain dry cloathes for himself and directed them to follow him. on Capt. Clark's arrival at camp he found that the party dispatched for the baggage had returned in great confusion and consternation leaving their loads in the plains; the men who were all nearly naked and no covering on the head were sorely mawled with the hail which was so large and driven with such force by the wind that it nocked many of them (town and one particulary as many as three times most of them were bleeding freely and complained of being much bruised. willow run raised about 6 feet with this rain and the plains were so wet they could do nothing more this evening. Capt. C. gave the party a dram to console them in some measure for their general defeat.