Wild and Scenic Missouri

Wild and Scenic Missouri

"...it seemed as if those scenes of visionary inchantment would never end."


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The Missouri River revealed wonder after wonder to the expedition, but the trip was fraught with troubles. An attacking grizzly nearly caught up with one man before a shot to the head brought the animal down. Lewis recorded that the bear had been shot eight times before it finally fell.

The Judith River was named for Clark's future wife on May 29, 1805. The Corps camped there, at what is now called Judith Landing.

On May 31, 1805, Lewis noted that "The hills and river Clifts which we passed today exhibit a most romantic appearance. The bluffs of the river rise to the hight of from 2 to 300 feet and in most places nearly perpendicular; they are formed of remarkable white sandstone...it seemed as if those seens of visionary inchantment would never end."

Sudden gusts of wind, funneled through the high cliffs and twisting banks caused the sails to billow and tipped the boats. The white perogue, a sort of large canoe, contained the most valuable observations, equipment and specimens carried by the expedition. One particularly upsetting incident revealed Lewis' thinly veiled annoyance with Sacagawea's interpreter husband, Toussaint Charbonneau:

"I cannot recollect but with the utmost trepidation and horror; this is the upsetting and narrow escape of the white perogue - It happened unfortunately for us this evening that Charbono was at the helm of the white Perogue - Charbono cannot swim and is perhaps the most timid waterman in the world - the wind instantly upset the perogue - they suffered the perogue to lye on her side for half a minute before they took the sail in. The perogue then wrighted but had filled within an inch of the gunwals; Charbono still crying to his god for mercy, had not yet recollected the rudder, nor could the repeated orders of the Bowsman Cruzat, bring him to his recollection untill he threatened to shoot him instantly if he did not take hold of the rudder and do his duty."

The white perogue was the bane of Lewis' existence throughout the Missouri River leg of the journey:

"The toe rope of the white perogue, the only one indeed of hemp, and that on which we most depended, gave way today at a bad point, the perogue swung and but slightly touched a rock; yet was very near overseting; I fear her evil gennii will play so many pranks with her that she will go to the bottomm some of those days."






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Montana Historical Society
P.O. Box 201201
225 North Roberts
Helena, MT 59620-1201
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