The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Lewis, July 18, 1805
Lewis, July 18, 1805
Thursday July 18th 1805.
Set out early this morning. previous to our departure saw a large herd of the Bighorned anamals on the immencely high and nearly perpendicular clift opposite to us; on the fase of this clift they walked about and hounded from rock to rock with apparent unconcern where it appared to me that no quadruped could have stood, and from which had they made one false step they must have been precipitated at least a 500 feet. this anamal appears to frequent such precepices and clifts where in fact they are perfectly secure from the pursuit of the wolf, bear, or even man himself.- at the distance of 21/2 miles we passed the entrance of a considerable river on the Stard. side; about 80 yds. wide being nearly as wide as the Missouri at that place. it's current is rapid and water extreamly transparent; the bed is formed of small smooth stones of flat rounded or other figures. it's bottoms are narrow but possess as much timber as the Missouri. the country is mountainous and broken through which it passes. it appears as if it might be navigated but to what extent must be conjectural. this handsome bold and clear stream we named in honour of the Secretary of war calling it Dearborn's river.- as we were anxious now to meet with the Sosonees or snake Indians as soon as possible in order to obtain information relative to the geography of the country and also if necessary, some horses we thought it better for one of us either Capt. C. or myself to take a small party & proceed on up the river, some distance before the canoes, in order to discover them, should they be on the river before the daily discharge of our guns, which was necessary in procuring subsistence for the party, should allarm and cause them to retreat to the mountains and conceal themselves, supposing us to be their enemies who visit them usually by the way of this river. accordingly Capt. Clark set out this morning after breakfast with Joseph Fields, Pots and his servant York. we proceeded on tolerably well; the current stonger than yesterday we employ the cord and oars principally tho sometimes the setting pole. in the evening we passed a large creek about 30 yds. wide which disembogues on the Stard. side; it discharges a bold current of water it's banks low and bed frormed of stones altogether; this stream we called Ordway's creek after Sergt. John Ordway. I have observed for several days a species of flax growing in the river bottoms the leaf stem and pericarp of which resembles the common flax cultivated in the U States. the stem rises to the hight of about 21/2 or 3 feet high; as many as 8 or ten of which proceede from the same root. the root appears to be perennial. the bark of the stem is thick strong and appears as if it would make excellent Hax. the seed are not yet ripe but I hope to have an opportunity of collecting some of them after they are so if it should on experiment prove to yeald good flax and at the same time admit of being cut without injuring the perennial root it will be a most valuable plant, and I think there is the greatest probability that it will do so, for notwithstanding the seed have not yet arrived at maturity it is puting up suckers or young shoots from the same root and would seem therefore that those which are fully grown and which are in the proper stage of vegitation to produce the best fax are not longer essencial to the preservation or support of the root. the river somewhat wider than yesterday and the mountains more distant from the river and not so high; the bottoms are but narrow and little or no timber near the river. some pine on the mountains which seems principally confined to their uper region. we killed one Elk this morning and found part of the flesh and the skin of a deer this evening which had been kited and left by Capt. Clark. we saw several herds of the Bighorn but they were all out of our reach on inacessable clifts.- we encamped on the Lard. side in a small grove of narrow leafed cottonwood there is not any of the broad leafed cottonwood on the river since it has entered the mountains. Capt Clark ascended the river on the Stard. side. in the early part of the day after he left me the hills were so steep that he gained but little off us; in the evening he passed over a mountain by which means he cut off many miles of the river's circuitous rout; the Indian road which he pursued over this mountain is wide and appears as if it had been cut down or dug in many places; he passed two streams of water, the branches of Ordway's creek, on which he saw a number of beaver dams succeeding each other in close order and extending as far up those streams as he could discover them in their couse towards the mountains. he also saw many bighorn anamals on the clifts of the mountains. not far beyond the mountain which he passed in the evening he encamped on a small stream of runing water. having travelled about 20 m. the water of those rivulets which make down from these mountains is extreemly cold pure and fine. the soil near the river is of a good quality and produces a luxuriant growth of grass and weeds; among the last the sunflower holds a distinguished place. the aspin is small but grows very commonly on the river and small streams which make down from the Mouts.
I also observed another species of flax today which is not so large as the first, sildome obtaining a greater hight than 9 Inches or a foot the stem and leaf resemble the other species but the stem is rarely branched, bearing a single monopetallous bellshaped blue flower which is suspended with it's limb downwards,