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Lewis and Clark
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From the Expedition Journals

Journal excerpts and maps from Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites

 

"This day I overhalled our merchandize and dryed it by the fire, found it all damp; we have not been able to keep anything dry for many days together since we arrived in this neighbourhood, the humidity of the air has been so excessively great. our merchandize is reduced to a mear handfull, and our comfort during out return the next year much depends on it, it is therefore almost unnecessary to add that we much regret the reduced state of this fund."



 

"This evening we finished cureing the meat.... we have plenty of Elk beef for the present and a little salt, our houses dry and comfortable, and having made up our minds to remain until the 1st of April, every one appears content with his situation and his fare. it is true that we could even travel now on our return as far as the timbered country reaches, or to the falls of the river; but further it would be madness for us to attempt to proceede untill April, as the indians inform us that the snows lye knee deep in the plains of Columbia during the winter.... we should not therefore forward ourselves on our homeward journey by reaching the rocky mountains. Early than the 1st of June, which we can easily effect by seting out from hence on the 1st of April."



 

"today we opened and examined all our ammunition, which had been secured in leaden canesters.... three of the canesters which had been accedentally bruized and cracked, one [of] which was carelessly stoped, and a fifth that had been penetrated with a nail, were a little damaged; these we gave to the men to make dry; however exclusive of those five we have an abundant stock to last us back; and we always take care to put a proportion of it in each canoe, to the end that should one can[o]e or more be lost we should still not be entirely bereft of ammunition, which is now our only hope for subsistence and defence in a rout of 4000 Miles through a country exclusively inhabited by savages."



 

"late in the evening the four men who had been sent to assist the salt-makers... brought with them all the salt which had been made, consisting of about one busshel only. with the means we have of boiling the salt water we find it a very tedious opperation, that of making salt, notwithstanding we keep the kettles boiling day and night. we calculate on three bushels lasting us from hence to our deposits of that article on the Missouri."



 

"The Horse is principally confined to the Nations inhabiting the great Plains of Columbia[.]... in this extensive tract of Principally untimbered countrey we have lernt the following nations reside (viz) The SoSone; or Snake Indians,... the Chopunnish, Sokulks, Cutssahnims, Chymnapum, E[c]helutes, Eneshuh & Chilluckkittequaws, all of whome enjoy the benefit of that docile generous and valueable animal the Horse, and all of them except the three last have emence numbers of them. their horses appear to be of an excellent race; they are lofty eligantly formed active and durable; in short maney of them look like the fine English coursers and would make a figure in any country.... the nativs suffer them to run at large in the plains, the Grass of which furnish them with their only subsistence.... whether the horses was originally a native of this country or not, it is out of my power to determine as we cannot understand the language of the nativs sufficiently to ask the question."



 

"There seemes so many chances against our governments ever obtaining a regular report, through the medium of the savages, and the traders of this coast that we decline makeing any. Our party are too small to think of leaveing any of them to return to the United States by Sea, particularly as we shall be necessarily devided into two or three parties on our return in order to accomplish the Object we have in View."



 

"It continued to rain and blow so violently today that nothing could be done towards forwarding our departure.... we have yet several days provision on hand, which we hope will be sufficient to subsist us during the time we are compelled by the weather to remain at this place.

"Altho’ we have not fared sumptuously this winter and spring at Fort Clatsop, we have lived quite as comfortably as we had any reason to expect we should; and have accomplished every object which induced our remaining at this place except that of meeting with the traders who visit the entrance of this river.... it would have been very fortunate for us had some of those traders arrived previous to our departure from hence, as we should then have had it in our power to obtain an addition to our stock of merchandize which would have made our homeward bound journey much more comfortable. many of our men are still complaining of being unwell... principally I beleive for the want of proper food. I expect when we get under way we shall be much more healthy. it has always had that effect on us heretofore."
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