The Journals of Lewis & Clark: May 4, 1805

by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
May 3, 1805
May 5, 1805

May 4, 1805

Saturday May 4th 1805.

We were detained this morning untill about 9 OCk. in order to repare the rudder irons of the red perogue which were broken last evening in landing; we then set out, the wind hard against us. I walked on shore this morning, the weather was more plesant, the snow has disappeared; the frost seems to have effected the vegetation much less than could have been expected the leaves of the cottonwood the grass the box alder willow and the yellow flowering pea seem to be scarcely touched; the rosebushes and honeysuckle seem to have sustaned the most considerable injury. The country on both sides of the Missouri continues to be open level fertile and beautifull as far as the eye can reach which from some of the eminences is not short of 30 miles. the river bottoms are very extensive and contain a much greater proportion of timber than usual; the fore part of this day the river was bordered with timber on both sides, a circumstance which is extreemly rare and the first which has occurred of any thing like the same extent since we left the Mandans, in the after part of the day we passed an extensive beautifull plain on the Stard. side which gradually ascended from the river. I saw immence quantities of buffaloe in every direction, also some Elk deer and goats; having an abundance of meat on hand I passed them without firing on them; they are extreemly gentle the bull buffaloe particularly will scarcely give way to you. I passed several in the open plain within fifty paces, they viewed me for a moment as something novel and then very unconcernedly continued to feed. Capt. Clark walked on shore this evening and did not rejoin us untill after dark, he struck the river several miles above our camp and came down to us. we saw many beaver some which the party shot, we also killed two deer today. much sign of the brown bear. passed several old Indian hunting camps in the course of the day one of them contained two large lodges which were fortifyed with old driftwood and fallen timber; this fortification consisted of a circular fence of timber lade horizontally laping on and over laying each other to the hight of 5 feet. these pounds are sometimes built from 20 to 30 feet in diameter and covered over with the trunks and limbs of old timber. the usual construction of the lodges we have lately passed is as follows. three or more strong sticks the thickness of a man's leg or arm and about 12 feet long are attatched together at one end by a with of small willows, these are then set on end and spread at the base, forming a circle of ten twelve or 14 feet in diameter; sticks of driftwood and fallen timber of convenient size are now placed with one end on the ground and the other resting against those which are secured together at top by the with and which support and give the form to the whole, thus the sticks are laid on untill they make it as thick as they design, usually about three ranges, each piece breaking or filling up the interstice of the two beneath it, the whole forming a connic figure about 10 feet high with a small apperture in one side which answers as a door. leaves bark and straw are sometimes thrown over the work to make it more complete, but at best it affords a very imperfect shelter particularly without straw which is the state in which we have most usually found them.

At noon the sun was so much obscured that I could not obtain his maridian Altitude which I much wished in order to fix the latitude of the entrance of Porcupine river. Joseph Fields was very sick today with the disentary had a high fever I gave him a doze of Glauber salts, which operated very well, in the evening his fever abated and I gave him 30 drops of laudnum.-

May 4th Satturday 1805

The rudder Irons of our large Perogue broke off last night, the replaceing of which detained us this morning untill 9 oClock at which time we Set out the wind a head from the west, The Countrey on each Side of the Missouri is a rich high and butifull the bottoms are extencive with a great deal of timber on them all the fore part of this day the wood land bordered the river on both Sides, in the after part a butifull assending plain on the Std Side we Camped on the Std. Side a little above we passed a Small Creek on the L. Side near which I Saw where an Indian lodge had been fortified many year past. Saw great numbers of anamals of different kinds on the banks, I Saw the black martin to day-in the evening I walkd. on Shore on the Std Side & Struck the river Several miles above our Camp & did not get to Camp untill Some time after night- we have one man Sick, The river has been falling for Several days passed; it now begins to rise a little; the rate of rise & fall is from one to 3 inches in 24 hours.