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The Journals of Lewis and Clark

Lewis, February 14, 1806

Friday February 14th 1806. We are very uneasy with rispect to our sick men at the salt works. Sergt. Pryor and party have not yet returned nor can we conceive what causes their delay. Drewyer visited his traps today and caught a very fine fat beaver on which we feasted this evening. on the 11th inst. Capt Clark completed a map of the country through which we have been passing from Fort Mandan to this place. in this map the Missouri Jefferson's river the S. E. branch of the Columbia, Kooskooske and Columbia from the entrance of the S. E. fork to the pacific Ocean as well as a part of Flathead river and our tract across the Rocky Mountains are laid down by celestial observation and survey. the rivers are also connected at their sources with other rivers agreeably to the information of the natives and the most probable conjecture arrising from their capacities and the relative positions of their rispective entrances which last have with but few exceptions been established by celestial observation. we now discover that we have found the most practicable and navigable passage across the Continent of North America; it is that which we traveled with the exception of that part of our rout from the neighbourhood of the entrance of Dearborn's River untill we arrived on Clarks river at the entrance of Traveler's rest creek; the distance between those two points would be traveled more advantageously by land as the navigation of the Missouri above the river Dearborn is laborious and 420 miles distant by which no advantage is gained as the rout which we are compelled to travel by land from the source of Jefferson's river to the entrance of Travelers rest Creek is 220 miles being further by 500 miles than that from the entrance of Dearborn's river to the last mentioned point and a much worse rout if Indian information is to be relyed on; from the same information the Flathead river like that of the S. E. fork of the Columbia which heads with Jefferson's and Maddison's Rivers can not be navigated through the Rocky Mountains in consequence of falls & rappids and as a confermation of this fact, we discovered that there were no salmon in the Flathead river, which is the case in the S. E. branch of the Columbia although it is not navigable. added to this, the Indians further inform us, that the Flathead river runs in the direction of the Rocky Mountains for a great distance to the North before it discharges itself into the Columbia river, which last from the same information from the entrance of the S. E. fork to that of Flathead river is obstructed with a great number of difficult and dangerous rappids. considering therefore the danger and difficulties attending the navigation of the Columbia in this part, as well as the circuitous and distant rout formed by itself and the Flathead river we conceive that even admitting the Flathead river contrary to information to be as navigable as the Columbia river below it's entrance, that the tract by land over the Rocky Mountains usually traveled by the natives from the Entrance of Traveller's-rest Creek to the forks of the Kooskooske is preferable; the same being a distance of 184 Miles. The inferrence therefore deduced from those premices are that the best and most Practicable rout across the Continent is by way of the Missouri to the entrance of Dearborn's river or near that place; from thence to flathead river at the entrance of Traveller's rest Creek, from thence up Traveller's rest creek to the forks, from whence you pursue a range of mounttains which divides the waters of the two forks of this creek, and which still continuing it's West wardly course divides the waters of the two forks of the Kooskooske river to their junction; from thence to decend this river by water to the S. E. branch of the Columbia, thence down that river to the Columbia and with the latter to the Pacific Ocean.