The Journals of Lewis & Clark: July 21, 1806

by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
July 20, 1806July 20, 1806
July 22, 1806July 22, 1806

July 21, 1806

Monday July 21st 1806. We set out at sunrise and proceeded a short distance up the North side of the river; we found the ravines which made in on this side were so steep and numerous that we passed the river in doing which the pack horse which carried my instruments missed the ford and wet the instruments. this accident detained us about half an hor. I took the Instruments out wiped them and dryed their cases, they sustained no naterial injury. we continued on the S. side of the river about 3 miles when we again passed over to the N. side and took our course through the plains at some distance from the river. we saw a large herd of Elk this morning. the buffaloe still become more scarce. at 2 P.M. we struck a northern branch of Marias river about 30 yds. wide at the distance of about 8 miles from it's entrance. this stream is closely confined between clifts of freestone rocks the bottom narrow below us and above the rocks confine it on each side; some little timber below but not any above; the water of this stream is nearly clear. from the appearance of this rock and the apparent hight of the bed of the streem I am induced to beleive that there are falls in these rivers somewhere about their junction. being convinced that this stream came from the mountains I determined to pursue it as it will lead me to the most nothern point to which the waters of Maria's river extend which I now fear will not be as far north as I wished and expected. after dinner we set out up the North branch keeping on it's S. side; we pursued it untill dark and not finding any timber halted and made a fire of the dung of the buffaloe. we lay on the south side in a narrow bottom under a Clift. our provision is nearly out, we wounded a buffaloe this evening but could not get him.

Monday 21st July 1806

This morning I was informed that Half of our horses were absent. Sent out Shannon Bratten, and Shabono to hunt them. Shabono went up the river Shanon down and Bratten in the bottom near Camp, Shabono and Bratten returned at 10 A M and informed me that they Saw no Signs of the horses. Shannon proceeded on down the river about 14 miles and did not return untill late in the evening, he was equally unsuckcessfull. Shannon informed me that he Saw a remarkable large Lodge about 12 miles below, covered with bushes and the top Deckorated with Skins &c and had the appearance of haveing been built about 2 years. I Sent out two men on hors back to kill a fat Cow which they did and returned in 3 hours the men work very diligiently on the Canoes one of them nearly finished ready to put in the water. Gibsons wound is beginning to heal. I am in great hope that it will get well in time for him to accompany Sgt.

Pryor with the horses to the Mandans. This evening late a very black Cloud from the S. E. accompanied with Thunder and lightning with hard winds which Shifted about and was worm and disagreeable. I am apprehensive that the indians have Stolen our horses, and probably those who had made the Smoke a fiew days passed towards the S. W. I deturmined to have the ballance of the horses guarded and for that purpose sent out 3 men, on their approach near the horses were So alarmed that they ran away and entered the woods and the men returned- a Great number of Geese which raise their young on this river passed down frequently Since my arival at this place. we appear to be in the beginning of the buffalow Country. the plains are butifull and leavel but the Soil is but thin Stoney and in maney parts of the plains & bottoms there are great quantity of prickly pears. Saw Several herds of buffalow Since I arived at this Camp also antilops, wolves, pigions, Dovs, Hawks, ravins, Crows, larks, Sparrows, Eagles & bank martins &c. &c. The wolves which are the constant attendants of the Buffalow are in great numbers on the Scerts of those large gangues which are to be Seen in every direction in those praries