Lewis and Clark Today Logo

On this day in Lewis & Clark history...

The wind and rain cause a late start. As they tow the pirogues, the men slip on the wet banks. They make only 8 miles reaching the start of the White Cliffs area of the Missouri River Breaks.

This morning we had the weather Cloudy and Rainey; & the wind blowing hard from the North west, We delayed setting off till 10 oClock A. M. the weather still being very disagreeable, & bad to Tow the Crafts; we then proceeded on our Voyage, and passed a white strait range of Clifts, lying on the South side of the River

Joseph Whitehouse

Cliffs above Sneath Bottom

White cliffs on a stormy day

this day we proceded with more labour and difficulty than we have yet experienced; in addition to the imbarrasments of the rappid courant, riffles, & rockey point which were as bad if not worse than yesterday

Meriwether Lewis

Before the White Cliffs

Painting of the men towing the pirogues up the Missouri River

Painting by Robert F. Morgan entitled White Bears, White Cliffs was photographed on an interpretive sign at the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center in Great Falls, Montana.

we then proceeded on our Voyage, and passed a white strait range of Clifts, lying on the South side of the River

Joseph Whitehouse

White Cliff

White cliffs of the Missouri River

Photo 2006 by the United States Bureau of Land Management.

the banks and sides of the bluff were more steep than usual and were now rendered so slippery by the late rain that the men could scarcely walk.

Meriwether Lewis

Above Pablo Rapids

Steep and muddy banks on the Missouri River

the chord is our only dependance for the courant is too rappid to be resisted with the oar and the river too deep in most places for the pole.

Meriwether Lewis

Elk hide rope

Rope made from braided elk skin

Elk hide rope provided by John Fisher of the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles, Missouri.

Camped at a handsom narrow bottom covered with thin c. wood timber, where 50 or 60 lodges of Indians had lately been Camped. they were gone as we expect up the river. they left Several lodge poles & considerable of fire wood gathered.

Joseph Whitehouse

Above Pablo Island

White cliffs above the Missouri River on a cloudy day