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A Fork in the River
May 29-June 11, 1805
On June 3 the expedition came upon a fork in the river. Though the branches of the fork were of equal size, the captains believed that the southern branch was the Missouri; this would lead them to the Rockies, which they hoped to cross before the autumn snows. The rest of the men disagreed, convinced that the northern branch was the right choice.
Lewis and Clark could ill afford to make the wrong choice. Scouting parties dispatched up each of the branches failed to provide answers. So Lewis decided to take three men with him up the southern branch in search of the Great Falls, which the Indians at Fort Mandan had assured him he would find. Only when he reached the falls would he know for sure he was on the Missouri.