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Lewis and Clark
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From the Expedition Journals

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image: Camp of October 19 to October 29

image: Camp of October 12 to that of October 19

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


"I took two men in a Small canoe and assended the Columbia river 10 miles [16 kilometers] to an Island... on which two large Mat Lodges of Indians were drying Salmon (as they informed me by Signs for the purpose of food and fuel)… The number of dead Salmon on the Shores & floating in the river is incrediable to say — and at this Season they have only to collect the fish Split them open and dry them on their Scaffolds on which they have great numbers.... The waters of this river is clear, and a Salmon may be seen at the deabth of 15 or 20 feet [4.6 to 6.1 meters].... passed three large lodges... one of those Mat Lodges I entered found it crouded with men women and children.... I was furnished with a mat to set on, and one man set about prepareing me something to eate, first he brought in a piece of a Drift log of pine and with a wedge of the elks horn, and a malet of Stone curioesly carved he Split the log into Small pieces and lay’d it open on the fire on which he put round Stones, a woman handed him a basket of water and a large Salmon about half Dried, when the Stones were hot he put them into the basket of water with the fish which was soon sufficiently boiled for use it was then taken out put on a platter of rushes neetly made, and set before me."


"I observe great numbers of Stacks of pounded Salmon neetly preserved in the following manner... after [being] suffi[c]ently Dried it is pounded between two Stones fine, and put into a speces of basket neetly made of grass and rushes better than two feet [0.6 meters] long and one foot [0.3 meters] Diamiter, which basket is lined with Skin of Salmon Stretched and dried for thie purpose, in this it is pressed down as hard as is possible, when full they Secure the open part with the fish Skins across which they fasten th[r]o. the loops of the basket... their common custom is to Set 7 as close as they can Stand and 5 on the top of them... those 12 baskets of from 90 to 100 lbs. [41 to 45 kilograms] each form a Stack. thus preserved those fish may be kept Sound and sweet Several years, as those people inform me, Great quantities as they inform us are sold to the whites people who visit the mouth of this river as well as to the nativs below."


"This Great Shute or falls is about 1/2 a mile [0.8 kilometer], with the water of this great river compressed within the space of 150 paces in which there is great numbers of both large and Small rocks, water passing with great velocity forming [foaming] & boiling in a most horriable manner, with a fall of about 20 feet [6 meters]."


"Great joy in camp we are in view of the Ocian... this great Pacific Octean which we been so long anxious to See. and the roreing or noise made by the waves brakeing on the rockey Shores (as I suppose) may be heard disti[n]ctly."

[Editor’s note: The explorers could not have actually seen the ocean from this point—they must have mistaken the bay of the river for the Pacific.]


"We landed unloaded and drew up our Canoes. Some rain all day at intervals, we are all wet and disagreeable, as we have been for Several days past, and our present Situation a verry disagreeable one in as much, as we have not leavel land Sufficient for an encampment and for our baggage to lie cleare of the tide, the High hills jutting in so close and steep that we cannot retreat back, and the water of the river too Salt to be used, added to this the waves are increasing to Such a hight that we cannot move from this place, in this Situation we are compelled to form our camp between the hite of the ebb and flood tides, and rase our baggage on logs."


"… most tremendious waves brakeing with great violence against the Shores, rain falling in torrents, we are all wet as usial - and our Situation is truly a disagreeable one; the great quantites of rain which has loosened the Stones on the hill Sides; and the Small stones fall down upon us, our canoes at one place at the mercy of the waves, our baggage in another; and our selves and party Scattered on floating logs and Such dry Spots as can be found on the hill sides and crivicies of the rocks."


"The rain continues all day. all wet. the rain [etc.] which has continued without a longer intermition than 2 hours at a time for ten days past has destroyd the robes and rotted nearly one half of the fiew clothes the party has, perticularley the leather clothes fortunately for us we have no very cold weather as yet. and if we have cold weather before we can kill & Dress Skins for clothing the bulk of the party will Suffer verry much."


"being now determined to go into Winter quarters as soon as possible, as a convenient Situation to precure the Wild animals of the forest which must be our dependance for Subsisting this Winter, we have every reason to believe that the Nativs have not provisions Suffi[ci]ent for our consumption, and if they had, their prices are So high that it would take ten times as much to purchase their roots & Dried fish as we have in our possession, encluding our Small remains of Merchandize and Clothes. This certinly enduces every individual of the party to make diligient enquiries of the nativs [for] the part of the Countrey in which the Wild animals are most plenty. They generaly agree that the Most Elk is on the Opposit Shore.... The Elk being an animal much larger than Deer, easier to Kill, & better meat (in the Winter when pore) and Skins better for the Clothes of our party: added to [this] a convenient Situation to the Sea coast where We Could make Salt, and a probibility of Vessels comeing into the Mouth of Columbia... from whome we might precure a fresh Supply of Indian trinkets to purchase provisions on our return home."

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Wishram Indians
Yakima Indians
A Prairie Fire
Arid Landscape
Beacon Rock
Cannon Beach
Columbia River
Columbia Tributary
Fishing the Columbia
Indian Post Office
Lolo Trail