The Journals of Lewis & Clark: April 12, 1805

by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
April 11, 1805
April 13, 1805

April 12, 1805

Friday April the 12th 1805.

Set out at an early hour. our peroge and the Canoes passed over to the Lard side in order to avoid a bank which was rappidly falling in on the Stard. the red perogue contrary to my expectation or wish passed under this bank by means of her toe line where I expected to have seen her carried under every instant. I did not discover that she was about to make this attempt untill it was too late for the men to reembark, and retreating is more dangerous than proceeding in such cases; they therefore continued their passage up this bank, and much to my satisfaction arrived safe above it. this cost me some moments of uneasiness, her cargo was of much importance to us in our present advanced situation- We proceeded on six miles and came too on the lower side of the entrance of the little Missouri on the Lard shore in a fine plain where we determined to spend the day for the purpose of celestial observation. we sent out 10 hunters to procure some fresh meat. at this place made the following observations.-

The night proved so cloudy that I could make no further observations. George Drewyer shot a Beaver this morning, which we found swiming in the river a small distance below the entrance of the little Missouri. the beaver being seen in the day, is a proof that they have been but little hunted, as they always keep themselves closly concealed during the day where they are so.- found a great quantity of small onions in the plain where we encamped; had some of them collected and cooked, found them agreeable. the bulb grows single, is of an oval form, white, and about the size of a small bullet; the leaf resembles that of the shive, and the hunters returned this eying with one deer only. the country about the mouth of this river had been recently hunted by the Minetares, and the little game which they had not killed and frightened away, was so extreemly shy that the hunters could not get in shoot of them.

The little Missouri disembogues on the S. side of the Missouri 1693 miles from the confluence of the latter with the Mississippi. it is 134 yards wide at it's mouth, and sets in with a bould current but it's greatest debth is not more than 21/2 feet. it's navigation is extreemly difficult, owing to it's rapidity, shoals and sand bars. it may however be navigated with small canoes a considerable distance. this river passes through the Northern extremity of the black hills where it is very narrow and rapid and it's banks high an perpendicular. it takes it's rise in a broken country West of the Black hills with the waters of the yellow stone river, and a considerable distance S. W. of the point at which it passes the black hills. the country through which it passes is generally broken and the highlands possess but little timber. there is some timber in it's bottom lands, which consists of Cottonwood red Elm, with a small proportion of small Ash and box alder. the under brush is willow, red wood, (sometimes called red or swamp willow-) the red burry, and Choke cherry the country is extreamly broken about the mouth of this river, and as far up on both sides, as we could observe it from the tops of some elivated hills, which stand betwen these two rivers, about 3 miles from their junction. the soil appears fertile and deep, it consists generally of a dark rich loam intermixed with a small proportion of fine sand. this river in it's course passed near the N. W. side of the turtle mountain, which is said to be no more than 4 or 5 leagues distant from it's entrance in a straight direction, a little to the S. of West.- this mountain and the knife river have therefore been laid down too far S. W. the colour of the water, the bed of the river, and it's appearance in every respect, resembles the Missouri; I am therefore induced to believe that the texture of the soil of the country in which it takes it's rise, and that through which it passes, is similar to the country through which the Missouri passes after leaving the woody country, or such as we are now in.- on the side of a hill not distant from our camp I found some of the dwarf cedar of which I preserved a specimen (See No. 2). this plant spreads it's limbs alonge the surface of the earth, where they are sometimes covered, and always put forth a number of roots on the under side, while on the upper there are a great number of small shoots which with their leaves seldom rise higher than 6 or eight inches. they grow so close as perfectly to conceal the eath. it is an evergreen; the leaf is much more delicate than the common Cedar, and it's taste and smell the same. I have often thought that this plant would make very handsome edgings to the borders and walks of a garden; it is quite as handsom as box, and would be much more easily propegated.- the appearance of the glauber salts and Carbonated wood still continue.

12th April Friday 1805

a fine morning Set out verry early, the murcery Stood 56° above 0. proceeded on to the mouth of the Little Missouri river and formed a Camp in a butifull elivated plain on the lower Side for the purpose of takeing Some observations to fix the Latitude & Longitude of this river. this river falls in on the L. Side and is 134 yards wide and 2 feet 6 Inches deep at the mouth, it takes its rise in the N W extremity of the black mountains, and through a broken countrey in its whole course washing the N W base of the Turtle Mountain which is Situated about 6 Leagues S W of its mouth, one of our men Baptiest who came down this river in a canoe informs me that it is not navagable, he was 45 days descending.

One of our men Shot a beaver Swimming below the mouth of this river.

I walked out on the lower Side of this river and found the countrey hilley the Soil composed of black mole & a Small perportion of Sand containing great quantity of Small peable Some limestone, black flint, & Sand Stone I killed a Hare Changeing its Colour Some parts retaining its long white fur & other parts assumeing the Short grey, I Saw the Magpie in pars, flocks of Grouse, the old field lark & Crows, & observed the leaf of the wild Chery half grown, many flowers are to be seen in the plains, remains of Minetarra & Ossinneboin hunting Camps are to be Seen on each Side of the two Missouris

The wind blew verry hard from the S. all the after part of the day, at 3 oClock P M. it became violent & flowey accompanied with thunder and a little rain. We examined our canoes &c found Several mice which had already commenced cutting our bags of corn & parched meal, the water of the little Missouri is of the Same texture Colour & quallity of that of the Big Missouri the after part of the day so Cloudy that we lost the evening observation.