01-24-2015 Journal–Lewis & Clark (Cont’d)   Leave a comment

With the crappy weather continuing to keep me housebound I settled into my chair last night to rejoin the Lewis and Clark Expedition as they traveled through the wilds of the Louisiana Purchase (based on their journals).  As you may not be aware they began their journey on May 14, 1804 and as of July 3, 1804 they arrived in the vicinity of Cow Island (now Montana)and made camp. 

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‘Then’

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‘Now’

Cow island is located in an area called the Missouri Breaks and at that time it was a rather desolate area. In later years it became known as Cow Landing because it was one of a few places to easily ford the Missouri River. The area had been named by groups of nomadic fur traders and was the first time that Clark climbing a nearby ridge saw the Rocky Mountains in the far distance.

During the Nez Perce Indian War in 1877 the Nez Perce forded the Missouri at Cow Island, and it became the site of the Battle of Cow Island. After six days of fighting, and with Nez Perce men, women and children suffering and dying from wounds and exposure to freezing weather, Chief Joseph surrendered to the U.S. Army commanders.

From the journals of Clark:

"Our hunters had killed two of the Bighorned Animals since I had left them. we also passed another creek [Cow Creek] a few miles below Turtle Creek on the Stard. 30 yds in width which also had running water bed rocky. (we called it Windsor Cr.) late this evening we passed a very bad rapid which reached quite across the river, [NB: water deep channel narrow gravel &c. on each side] the party had considerable difficulty in ascending it although they doubled their crews and used both the rope and the pole. While they were passing this rapid a female Elk and its fawn swam down through the waves which ran very high, hence the name of Elk rapids which they instantly gave this place, these are the most considerable rapids which we have yet seen on the Missouri and in short the only place where there has appeared to be a sudden descent."

Checking current maps places them in the vicinity of The Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge near the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument east of Great Falls, Montana. It’s taken the expedition almost two months to travel from St. Louis to this point.

I’ll be back with them later tonight and I’m looking forward to their first contact with the local Indian tribes and their entry into the Rocky Mountains.

. . . To Be Continued . . .

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