Lewis, June 9, 1805
Sunday June 9th 1805.
We determined to deposite at this place the large red perogue all the heavy baggage which we could possibly do without and some provision, salt, tools powder and Lead &c with a view to lighten our vessels and at the same time to strengthen their crews by means of the seven hands who have been heretofore employd. in navigating the red perogue; accordingly we set some hands to diging a hole or cellar for the reception of our stores. these holes in the ground or deposits are called by the engages cashes; on enquiry I found that Cruzatte was well acquainted this business and therefore left the management of it intirely to him. today we examined our maps, and compared the information derived as well from them as from the Indians and fully settled in our minds the propryety of addopting the South fork for the Missouri, as that which it would be most expedient for us to take. The information of Mr. Fidler incorrect as it is strongly argued the necessity of taking the South fork, for if he has been along the Eastern side of the rocky mountains as far as even Latd. 47°, which I think fully as far south as he ever was in that direction, and saw only small rivulets making down from those mountains the presumption is very strong that those little streams do not penetrate the rocky Mountains to such distance as would afford rational grownds for a conjecture that they had their sources near any navigable branch of the Columbia, and if he has seen those rivulets as far south as 47° they are most probably the waters of some Nothern branch of the Missouri or South fork probably the river called by the Indians Medicine River; we therefore cannot hope by going Northwardly of this place being already in Latititude 47° 24" to find a stream between this place and the Saskashawan which dose penetrate the Rocky mountains, and which agreeably to the information of the Indians with rispect to the Missouri, dose possess a navigable curent some distance in those mountains. The Indian information also argued strongly in favour of the South fork. they informed us that the water of the Missouri was nearly transparent at the great falls, this is the case with the water of the South fork; that the falls lay a little to the South of sunset from them; this is also brobable as we are only a few minutes North of Fort Mandan and the South fork bears considerably South from hence to the Mountains; that the falls are below the rocky mountains and near the Nothern termineation of one range of those mountains. a range of mountains which apear behind the S. Mountains and which appear to terminate S. W. from this place and on this side of the unbroken chain of the Rocky Mountains gives us hope that this part of their information is also correct, and there is sufficient distance between this and the mountains for many and I fear for us much too many falls. another impression on my mind is that if the Indians had passed any stream as large as the South fork on their way to the Missouri that they would not have omitted mentioning it; and the South fork from it's size and complexion of it's waters must enter the Ry. Mountains and in my opinion penetrates them to a great distance, or els whence such an immence body of water as it discharges; it cannot procede from the dry plains to the N. W. of the Yellow Stone river on the East side of the Rocky Mountains for those numerous large dry channels which we witnessed on that side as we ascended the Missouri forbid such a conjecture; and that it should take it's sourses to the N. W. under those mountains the travels of Mr. Fidler fobid us to beleive. Those ideas as they occurred to me I indevoured to impress on the minds of the party all of whom except Capt. C. being still firm in the beleif that the N. Fork was the Missouri and that which we ought to take; they said very cheerfully that they were ready to follow us any wher we thought proper to direct but that they still thought that the other was the river and that they were affraid that the South fork would soon termineate in the mountains and leave us at a great distance from the Columbia. Cruzatte who had been an old Missouri navigator and who from his integrity knowledge and skill as a waterman had acquired the confidence of every individual of the party declared it as his opinion that the N. fork was the true genuine Missouri and could be no other. finding them so determined in this beleif, and wishing that if we were in an error to be able to detect it and rectify it as soon as possible it was agreed between Capt. C. and myself that one of us should set out with a small party by land up the South fork and continue our rout up it untill we found the falls or reached the snowy Mountains by which means we should be enabled to determine this question prety accurately. this expedition I prefered undertaking as Capt. C best waterman &c. and determined to set out the day after tomorrow; I wished to make some further observations at this place, and as we had determined to leave our blacksmith's bellows and tools here it was necessary to repare some of our arms, and particularly my Airgun the main spring of which was broken, before we left this place. these and some other preperations will necessarily detain us two perhaps three days. I felt myself very unwell this morning and took a portion of salts from which I feel much releif this evening. The cash being completed I walked to it and examined it's construction. it is in a high plain about 40 yards distant from a steep bluff of the South branch on it's nothern side; the situation a dry one which is always necessary. a place being fixed on for a cash, a circle abut 20 inches in diameter is first discribed, the terf or sod of this circle is carefully removed, being taken out as entire as possible in order that it may be replaced in the same situation when the chash is filled and secured. this circular hole is then sunk perpendicularly to the debth of one foot, if the ground be not firm somewhat deeper. they then begin to work it out wider as they proceed downwards untill they get it about six or seven feet deep giving it nearly the shape of the kettle or lower part of a large still. it's bottom is also somewhat sunk in the center. the dementions of the cash is in proportion to the quantity of articles intended to be deposited. as the earth is dug it is handed up in a vessel and carefully laid on a skin or cloth and then carryed to some place where it can be thrown in such manner as to conseal it usually into some runing stream wher it is washed away and leaves no traces which might lead to the discovery of the cash. before the goods are deposited they must be well dryed; a parsel of small dry sticks are then collected and with them a floor is maid of three or four inches thick which is then covered with some dry hay or a raw hide well dryed; on this the articles are deposited, taking care to keep them from touching the walls by putting other dry sticks between as you stoe away the merchandize, when nearly full the goods are covered with a skin and earth thrown in and well ramed untill with the addition of the turf furst removed the whole is on a level with the serface of the ground. in this manner dryed skins or merchandize will keep perfectly sound for several years. the traders of the Missouri, particularly those engaged in the trade with the Siouxs are obliged to have frequent recourse to this method in order to avoyd being robed. most of the men are busily engaged dressing skins for cloathing. In the evening Cruzatte gave us some music on the violin and the men passed the evening in dancing singing &c and were extreemly cheerfull.-