The Journals of Lewis & Clark: May 16, 1805

by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
May 15, 1805
May 17, 1805

May 16, 1805

Thursday May 16th The morning was fair and the day proved favorable to our operations; by 4 oClock in the evening our Instruments, Medicine, merchandize provision &c, were perfectly dryed, repacked and put on board the perogue. the loss we sustained was not so great as we had at first apprehended; our medicine sustained the greatest injury, several articles of which were intirely spoiled, and many others considerably injured; the ballance of our losses consisted of some gardin seeds, a small quantity of gunpowder, and a few culinary articles which fell overboard and sunk, the Indian woman to whom I ascribe equal fortitude and resolution, with any person onboard at the time of the accedent, caught and preserved most of the light articles which were washed overboard all matters being now arranged for our departure we lost no time in seting out; proceeced on tolerably well about seven miles and encamped on the Stard. side. in the early part of the day two of our men fired on a panther, a little below our encampment, and wounded it; they informed us that it was very large, had just killed a deer partly devoured it, and in the act of concealing the ballance as they discovered him. we caught two Antelopes at our encampment in attempting to swim the river; these anamals are but lean as yet, and of course not very pleasant food. I walked on shore this evening and killed a buffaloe cow and calf, we found the calf most excellent veal. the country on either side of the river is broken and hills much higher than usual, the bottoms now become narrow and the timber more scant; some scattering pine and cedar on the steep declivities of the hills.- this morning a white bear toar Labuiche's coat which he had left in the plains.

May 16th Thursday 1805 a fair morning our articles all out to Dry at 4 oClock we had every thing that was Saved dry and on bord, our loss is Some medison, Powder, Seeds, & Several articles which Sunk, and maney Spoiled had a medn. altitude which gave for Latd. _° _' _" N.- two of our men fired at a pant hr a little below our Camp, this animale they say was large, had Caught a Deer & eate it half & buried the ballance. a fiew antilope Swam the river near our Camp two of them were Cought by the party in the river. at half past 4 oClock we Set out and proceeded on verry well ____ miles and incamped on the Std. Side the Countrey as before hilley & broken verry Small proprotion of timber in the points, Some little pine & Ceader in the hills

Buffalow & Deer is yet plenty on the river in the small timbered bottoms Capt Lewis walked out on the Std. Side and killed a Cow & Calf the calf was verry fine their bases. it is somewhat singular that the lower part of these hills appear to be formed of a dark rich loam while the upper region about 150 feet is formed of a whiteish brown sand, so hard in many parts as to resemble stone; but little rock or stone of any kind to be seen in these hills. the river is much narrower than usual, the bed from 200 to 300 yards only and possessing a much larger proportion of gravel than usual. a few scattering cottonwood trees are the only timber near the river; the sandbars, and with them the willow points have almost entirely disappeared. greater appearance than usual of the saline incrustations of the banks and river hills. we passed two creeks the one on Stard. side, and the other just below our camp on the Lard. side; each of these creeks afford a small quantity of runing water, of a brackish tast. the great number of large beds of streams perfectly dry which we daily pass indicate a country but badly watered, which I fear is the case with the country through which we have been passing for the last fifteen or twenty days. Capt Clark walked on shore this evening and killed an Elk; buffaloe are not so abundant as they were some days past. the party with me killed a female brown bear, she was but meagre, and appeared to have suckled young very recently. Capt. Clark narrowly escaped being bitten by a rattlesnake in the course of his walk, the party killed one this evening at our encampment, which he informed me was similar to that he had seen; this snake is smaller than those common to the middle Atlantic States, being about 2 feet 6 inches long; it is of a yellowish brown colour on the back and sides, variagated with one row of oval spots of a dark brown colour lying transversely over the back from the neck to the tail, and two other rows of small circular spots of the same colour which garnis the sides along the edge of the scuta. it's bely contains 176 scuta on the belly and 17 on the tale. Capt Clark informed me that he saw some coal which had been brought down by the water of the last creek we passed; this creek also throws out considerable quantities of Driftwood, though there is no timber on it which can be perceived from the Missouri; we called this stream rattlesnake creek. Capt Clark saw an Indian fortifyed camp this evening, which appeared to have been recently occupyed, from which we concluded it was probable that it had been formed by a war party of the Menetares who left their vilage in March last with a view to attack the blackfoot Indians in consequence of their having killed some of their principal warriors the previous autumn. we were roused late at night by the Sergt. of the guard, and warned of the danger we were in from a large tree that had taken fire and which leant immediately over our lodge. we had the loge removed, and a few minutes after a large proportion of the top of the tree fell on the place the lodge had stood; had we been a few minutes later we should have been crushed to attoms. the wind blew so hard, that notwithstanding the lodge was fifty paces distant from the fire it sustained considerable injury from the burning coals which were thrown on it; the party were much harrassed also by this fire which communicated to a collection of fallen timber, and could not be extinguished.