The Journals of Lewis & Clark: July 16, 1806

by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
July 15, 1806
July 17, 1806

July 16, 1806

Wednesday July 16th 1806. I dispatched a man early this morning to drive up the horses as usual, he returned at 8 A.M. with one of them only. allarmed at this occurrence I dispatched one of my best hands on horseback in surch of them he returned at 10 A.M. with them and I immediately set out. sent Drewyer and R. Fields with the horses to the lower side of Medecine river, and proceeded myself with all our baggage and J. Fields down the missouri to the mouth of Medecine river in our canoe of buffaloe skins. we were compelled to swim the horses above the whitebear island and again across medicine river as the Missouri is of great width below the mouth of that river. having arrived safely below Medicine river we immediatly sadled our horses and proceeded down the river to the handsom fall of 47 feet where I halted about 2 hours and took a haisty sketch of these falls; in the mean time we had some meat cooked and took dinner after which we proceeded to the grand falls where we arrived at sunset. on our way we saw two very large bear on the opposite side of the river. as we arrived in sight of the little wood below the falls we saw two other bear enter it; this being the only wood in the neighbourhood we were compelled of course to contend with the bear for possession, and therefore left our horses in a place of security and entered the wood which we surched in vain for the bear, they had fled. here we encamped and the evening having the appearance of rain made our beds and slept under a shelving rock. these falls have abated much of their grandure since I first arrived at them in June 1805, the water being much lower at preset than it was at that moment, however they are still a sublimely grand object. I determined to take a second drawing of it in the morning. we saw a few buffaloe as we passed today, the immence hirds which were about this place on our arrival have principally passed the river and directed their course downwards. we see a number of goats or antilopes always in passing through the plains of the Missouri above the Mandans. at this season they are thinly scattered over the plains but seem universally distributed in every part; they appear very inquisitive usually to learn what we are as we pass, and frequently accompany us at no great distance for miles, frequently halting and giving a loud whistle through their nostrils, they are a very pretty animal and astonishingly fleet and active. we spent this evening free from the torture of the Musquetoes. there are a great number of geese which usually raise their young above these falls about the entrance of Medicine river we saw them in large flocks of several hundred as we passed today. I saw both yesterday and today the Cookkoo or as it is sometimes called the rain craw. this bird is not met with west of the Rocky Mountains nor within them.

Wednesday 16th July 1806

I gave Labeech promission to proceed on early this morning a head and kill a fat Elk or Buffalow. our horses haveing rambled to a long distance down the river detained us much later than Common. we did not Set out untill 9 A M. we had not proceeded on far before I saw a buffalow & Sent Shannon to kill it this buffalow provd. to be a very fat Bull I had most of the flesh brought on an a part of the Skin to make mockersons for Some of our lame horses. proceeded on down the river without finding any trees Sufficently large for a Canoe about 10 miles and halted having passed over to an Island on which there was good food for our horses to let them graze & Dine. I have not Seen Labeech as yet. Saw a large gangue of about 200 Elk and nearly as many Antilope also two white or Grey Bear in the plains, one of them I Chased on horse back about 2 miles to the rugid part of the plain where I was compelled to give up the Chase two of the horses was So lame owing to their feet being worn quit Smooth and to the quick, the hind feet was much the worst I had Mockersons made of green Buffalow Skin and put on their feet which Seams to releve them very much in passing over the Stoney plains. after dinner I proceeded on Soon after I had set Out Labeech joined us with part of a fat Elk which he had killed. I passed over a Stoney point at which place the river runs Close to the high land on the N W. side crossed a small Creek and Encamped on the river a little below its Enterance. Saw emence heards of Elk feeding on the opposit side of the river. I saw a great number of young gees in the river. one of the men brought me a fish of a species I am unacquainted; it was 8 inches long formed like a trout. it's mouth was placed like that of the Sturgeon a red streak passed down each Side from the gills to the tail. The rocks which the high lands are faced with and which may also be seen in perpendicular Straters in the high plains, is a dark freestone. the greater part of this rock is of an excellent grit for Grindstones hard and sharp. observe the Silkgrass Sunflower & Wild indigo all in blume. but fiew other flowers are to be Seen in those plains. The river and Creek bottoms abound in Cotton wood trees, tho none of them Sufficiently large for Canoes. and the current of the Rochejhone is too rapid to depend on Skinn canoes. no other alternetive for me but to proceed on down untill I can find a tree Sufficently large &c. to make a Canoe.-