The Journals of Lewis & Clark: May 3, 1805

by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
May 2, 1805
May 4, 1805

May 3, 1805

Friday May 3rd 1805.

The morning being very could we did not set out as early as usual; ice formed on a kettle of water 1/4 of an inch thick. the snow has melted generally in the bottoms, but the hills still remain covered. on the lard side at the distance of 2 miles we passed a curious collection of bushes which had been tyed up in the form of a faciene and standing on end in the open bottom it appeared to be about 30 feet high and ten or twelve feet in diameter, this we supposed to have been placed there by the Indians, as a sacrefice for some purpose. The wind continued to blow hard from the West but not so strong as to compel us to ly by. Capt. Clark walked on shore and killed an Elk which he caused to be butched by the time I arrived with the party, here we halted and dined being about 12 OCk. our usual time of halting for that purpose. after dinner Capt. Clark pursued his walk, while I continued with the party, it being a rule which we had established, never to be absent at the same time from the party. the plains or high lands are much less elivated than they were, not being more than from 50 to 60 feet above the river bottom, which is also wider than usual being from 5 to 9 ms. in width; traces of the ancient beds of the river are visible in many places through the whole extent of this valley. since the hills have become lower the appearance of the stratas of coal burnt hills and pumice stone have in a great measure ceased; I saw none today. we saw vast quantities of Buffaloe, Elk, deer principally of the long tale kind, Antelope or goats, beaver, geese, ducks, brant and some swan. near the entrance of the river mentioned in the 10th course of this day, we saw an unusual number of Porcupines from which we determined to call the river after that anamal, and accordingly denominated it Porcupine river. this stream discharges itself into the Missouri on the Stard. side 2000 miles above the mouth of the latter, it is a beatifull bold runing stream, 40 yards wide at it's entrance; the water is transparent, it being the first of this discription that I have yet seen discharge itself into the Missouri; before it enters a large sand bar through which it discharges itself into the missouri it's banks and bottom are formed of a stiff blue and black clay; it appears to be navigable for canoes and perogues at this time and I have no doubt but it might be navigated with boats of a considerable size in high water. it's banks appear to be from 8 to ten feet high and seldom overflow; from the quantity of water furnished by this river, the appearance of the country, the direction it pursues, and the situation of it's entrance, I have but little doubt but it takes it's source not far from the main body of the Suskashawan river, and that it is probably navigable 150 miles; perhaps not very distant from that river. should this be the case, it would afford a very favorable communication to the Athebaskay country, from whence the British N. W. Company derive so large a portion of their valuable furs.- Capt. Clark who ascended this river several miles and passed it above where it entered the hills informed me on his return that he found the general width of the bed of the river about one hundred yards, where he passed the river the bed was 112 yards wide, the water was knee deep and 38 yard in width; the river which he could observe from the rising grounds for about 20 miles, bore a little to the East of North. there was a considerable portion of timber in the bottom lands of this river. Capt Clark also met with limestone on the surface of the earth in the course of his walk. he also saw a range of low mountains at a distance to the W of N , their direction being N. W. the country in the neighborhood of this river, and as far as the eye can reach, is level, fertile, open and beatifull beyond discription. 1/4 of a mile above the entrance of this river a large creek falls in which we called 2000 mile creek. I sent Rubin Fields to examine it, he reported it to be a bold runing stream, it's bed 30 yards wide. we proceeded about 3 miles abov this creek and encamped on the Stard. shore. I walked out a little distance and met with 2 porcupines which were feeding on the young willow which grow in great abundance on all the sandbars; this anamal is exceedingly clumsy and not very watchfull I approached so near one of them before it percieved me that I touched it with my espontoon.- found the nest of a wild goose among some driftwood in the river from which we took three eggs. this is the only nest we have met with on driftwood, the usual position is the top of a broken tree, sometimes in the forks of a large tree but almost invariably, from 15 to 20 feet or upwards high.-

May 3rd Friday 1805

we Set out reather later this morning than usial owing to weather being verry cold, a frost last night and the Thermt. Stood this morning at 26 above 0 which is 6 Degrees blow freeseing- the ice that was on the Kittle left near the fire last night was 1/4 of an inch thick. The Snow is all or nearly all off the low bottoms, the Hills are entireley Covered. three of our party found in the back of a bottom 3 pieces of Scarlet one brace in each, which had been left as a Sacrifice near one of their Swet houses, on the L. S. we passed to day a curious collection of bushes tied up in the shape of fascene about 10 feet diamuter, which must have been left also by the natives as an offering to their medison which they Convinced protected or gave them relief near the place, the wind Continued to blow hard from the West, altho not Sufficently So to detain us, I walked on Shore and killed an Elk & had him bucchured by the time the Perogus Came up which was the usial time of dineing. The high lands are low and from 8 to 9 miles apart and there is evident marks of the bead of the river having been changed frequently but little appearance of the Coal & burnt hills to day- Great numbers of Buffalow, Elk, Deer, antilope, beaver, Porcupins, & water fowls Seen to day, Such as, Geese, ducks of dift. kinds, & a fiew Swan- I continued my walk on Shore after dinner, and arrived at the mouth of a river on the St. Side, which appeared to be large, and I concluded to go up this river a few miles to examine it accordingly I Set out North 1 mile thro wood or timbered bottom, 2 miles through a butifull leavel plain, and 1 mile over a high plain about 50 feet higher than the bottom & Came to the little river, which I found to be a butifull clear Stream of about 100 yds. from bank to bank, (I waded this river at the narrowest part and made it 112 Steps from bank to bank and at this place which was a kind of fording place the water was near Knee deep, and 38 steps wide, the bottom of a hard stiff Black Clay,) I observed a Great perportion of timber in the bottoms of this river as far as I could See which was to the East of N. 18 or 20 miles, it appears to be navigable at this time for Canoes, and from appearances must be navagable a long distance for Perogus & boats in high water. This river we call Porcupine from the great number of those anamals found about it's mouth.- a Short distance above about 1/4 mile and on the Lard Side a large Creek falls in, which R. Fields went to examine & reports that it is a bold running Stream, 30 yds wide as this Creek is 2000 miles up the Missouri we Call it the 2000 mile Creek, we proceeded on 3 miles & Camped on the S. S. here I joined Capt Lewis who had in my absens walkd. on the upper Side of Porcupine River for Some distance- This river from its Size & quantity of water must head at no great distance from the Saskashawan on this river I Saw emence herds Elk & Buffalow & many deer & Porcupine. I also Saw the top of a mountain which did not appear verry high to the West of N. & bore N W. I Saw on the high land limestone & pebble- The Countrey about the mouth of this river and as far as the eye Can reach is butifull open Countrey. The greater part of the Snow is melted.