The Journals of Lewis & Clark: July 15, 1805

by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
July 14, 1805
July 16, 1805

July 15, 1805

Monday July 15th 1805.

We arrose very early this morning, assigned the canoes their loads and had it put on board. we now found our vessels eight in number all heavily laden, notwithstanding our several deposits; tho it is true we have now a considerable stock of dryed meat and grease. we find it extreemly difficult to keep the baggage of many of our men within reasonable bounds; they will be adding bulky articles of but little use or value to them. At 10 A.M. we once more saw ourselves fairly under way much to my joy and I beleive that of every individual who compose the party. I walked on shore and killed 2 Elk near one of which the party halted and dined. we took the skins marrow bones and a part of the flesh of these Elk. in order to lighten the burthen of the canoes I continued my walk all the evening and took our only invalledes Potts an LaPage with me. we passed the river near where we dined and just above the entrance of a beautifull river 80 yards wide which falls in on the Lard. side which in honour of Mr. Robert Smith the Secretary of the Navy we called Smith's River. this stream meanders through a most lovely valley to the S. E. for about 25 miles when it enters the Rocky mountains and is concealed from our view. many herds of buffaloe were feeding in this valley. we again crossed the river to the Stard. side and passed through a plain and struck the river at a Northwardly bend where there was timber here we waited untill the canoes arrived by which time it was so late that we concluded to encamp for the night. here Drewyer wouded a deer which ran into the river my dog pursued caught it drowned it and brought it to shore at our camp. we have now passed Fort Mountain on our right it appears to be about ten miles distant. this mountain has a singular appearance it is situated in a level plain, it's sides stand nearly at right angles with each other and are each about a mile in extent. these are formed of a yellow clay only without the mixture of rock or stone of any size and rise perpendicularly to the hight of 300 feet. the top appears to be a level plain and from the eminence on which I was yesterday I could see that it was covered with a similar cost of grass with the plain on which it stands. the surface appears also to possess a tolerable fertile mole of 2 feet thick. and is to all appearance inaccessible. from it's figure we gave it the name of fort mountain. those mounds before mentioned near the falls have much the same appearance but are none of them as large as this one. the prickly pear is now in full blume and forms one of the beauties as well as the greatest pests of the plains. the sunflower is also in blume and is abundant. this plant is common to every part of the Missouri from it's entrance to this place. the lambsquarter, wild coucumber, sand rush and narrow dock are also common here. Drewyer killed another deer and an Otter today. we find it inconvenient to take all the short meanders of the river which has now become cooked and much narrower than below, we therefore take it's general course and lay down the small bends by the eye on our daily traverse or chart. the river is from too to 150 yds. wide. more timber on the river than below the falls for a great distance. on the banks of the river there are many large banks of sand much elivated above the plains on which they ly and appear as if they had been collected in the course of time from the river by the almost incessant S. W. winds; they always appear on the sides of the river opposite to those winds.

The couses and distances from the White bear islands to the camp at which we made the canoes as taken by Sergt. Ordway.-

July 15th Monday 1805

rained all the last night I was wet all night this morning wind hard from the S. W. we Set out at 10 oClock and proceeded on verry well passed a river on the Lard Side about 80 yards wide which we Call after the Secy of the Navey Smiths River the river verry Crooked bottoms extensive rich and Passes thro a butifull vally between 2 mts. Conts. high grass, our Canoes being So Small Several of the men Capt. Lewis & my Self Compelled to walked on Shore & Cross the bends to keep up with the Canoes- a round mountain on our right abt. 10 miles appears inaxcessable we Call fort mountain. The Prickley pear in bloom but fiew other flowers. Sun flowr are common, also lambs quarter & Nettles. Capt Lew Killed 2 Elk & the hunters killed 2 Deer & a Ortter, we Camped on the Stard Side at which place I Saw many beaver, the timber on the edge of the river more Common than below the falls- as I am compelled to walk on Shore find it verry dificuelt to take the Courses of the river, as it is verry Crooked more So than below