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On this day in Lewis & Clark history...

Clark heads a large party to explore today's Spirit Mound. Instead of devils, they find swarms of flying ants and the birds that are feeding on them. They set fires in the prairies as a signal to any nearby Indians to come to council.

from the top of this Mound we beheld a most butifull landscape; Numerous herds of buffalow were Seen feeding in various directions, the Plain to North N. W & N E extends without interuption as far as Can be Seen—

William Clark

View from Spirit Mound

Plains viewed from Spirit Mound

we...walked out to the hill of the little people... when we came near the hill we Saw a great flock of Birds flying about the top of it    we ascended the hill found none of the little people ther

John Ordway

Spirit Mound

Spirit mound: a conical hill in a tall grass prairi

The reagular form of this hill would in Some measure justify a belief that it owed its Orrigin to the hand of man; but as the earth and loos pebbles and other Substances of which it was Composed, bare an exact resemblance to the Steep Ground which border on the Creek in its neighbourhood we Concluded it was most probably the production of nature—

William Clark

Spirit Mound

Small conical mound in a tall grass prairie

here we got Great quantities of the best largest grapes I ever tasted, Some Blue Currents still on the bushes, and two kind of Plumbs, one the Common wild Plumb the other a large Yellow Plumb growing on a Small bush, this blumb is about double the Size of the Common and Deliscously flavoured—

William Clark

Mexican plum, Prunus mexicana

Purple plums

Photo created by Jim Conrad who has released it to the public domain.

when I got on the top those Birds flw off. I discovered that they wer Cetechig a kind of flying ant which were in great numbers abought the top of this hill, those insects lit on our hats & necks, Several of them bit me verry Shart on the neck

William Clark

Red harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex barbatus

Magnified view of the Red harvester ant

Photo © by AntWeb.org. Permission via the Creative Commons ShareAlike License.

also saw on our return on the Creek that passes this mound about 2 M. distant S. a bird of heron kind as large as the Cormorant short tale long leggs of a colour on the back and wings deep copper brown with a shade of red. we could not kill it therefore I can not describe it more particularly.

Meriwether Lewis

American bittern, Botaurus lentiginosus

An American bittern in a marsh

Photo ©2006 Walter Sigmund. Permission via the GNU Free Documentation License.