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On this day in Lewis & Clark history...

The men tow the boats through the White Cliffs often up to their armpits in the cold Missouri River. The white pirogue is nearly lost when its tow rope gives way. The men marvel at the rock formations.

Capt. Lewis walked on Shore & observed a Species of pine we had never before Seen, with a Shorter leaf than common & The burr different

John Ordway

Limber pine, Pinus flexilis above Eagle Creek

Pine tree on a hill overlooking the Missouri River

As we passed on it seemed as if those seens of visionary inchantment would never have and end; for here it is too that nature presents to the view of the traveler vast ranges of walls of tolerable workmanship, so perfect indeed are those walls that I should have thought that nature had attempted here to rival the human art of masonry had I not recollected that she had first began her work.

Meriwether Lewis

Below Hole-in-the-Wall

A dark band of rock next to a tall white cliff

A cloudy morning   we dispatched all the Canoes to Collect the meat of 2 Buffalow killed last night a head and a little off the river, and proceeded on with the perogues at an early hour.

William Clark

White Cliff below Dark Butte

Tall cliff on a cloudy day

The Hills and river Clifts of this day exhibit a most romantick appearance

William Clark


Tall, white cylindrical rocks

The water in the course of time in decending from those hills and plains on either side of the river has trickled down the soft sand clifts and woarn it into a thousand grotesque figures, which with the help of a little immagination and an oblique view at a disance, are made to represent eligant ranges of lofty freestone buildings, having their parapets well stocked with statuary; collumns of various sculpture both grooved and plain, are also seen supporting long galleries in front of those buildings;

Meriwether Lewis

Below Grand Natural Wall

White cliff resembling a long building

with the help of less immagination we see the remains or ruins of eligant buildings; some collumns standing and almost entire with their pedestals and capitals; others retaining their pedestals but deprived by time or accident of their capitals, some lying prostrate an broken othes in the form of vast pyramids of connic structure bearing a sereis of other pyramids on their tops becoming less as they ascend and finally terminating in a sharp point.

Meriwether Lewis

Below Dark Butte

Two white rocks resembling castles

nitches and alcoves of various forms and sizes are seen at different hights as we pass.

Meriwether Lewis

White cliffs below Dark Butte

Nitches and alcoves in a white sandstone cliff

a number of the small martin which build their nests with clay in a globular form attatched to the wall within those nitches, and which were seen hovering about the tops of the collumns did not the less remind us of some of those large stone buildings in the U' States.

Meriwether Lewis

Cliff Swallows at Slaughter River

Mud nests clinging to a white cliff

these walls sometimes run parallel to each other, with several ranges near each other, and at other times interscecting each other at right angles, having the appearance of the walls of ancient houses or gardens

Meriwether Lewis

Intersecting Dikes near Steamboat Rock

Small rocky ridges running at right angles

Along the Stard. point passing a high wall of black rock on Lard. rising from the water's edge above the river clifts

Meriwether Lewis

Citadel Rock

Tall, pointed rock across a muddy river

at 1 m on this course passed a high stone wall on Std. 12 feet thick and rising 200 feet.

Meriwether Lewis

Grand Natural Wall

Tall, skinny blade of rock rising up from the river

the men are compelled to be in the water even to their armpits, and the water is yet very could, and so frequent are those point that they are one fourth of their time in the water, added to this the banks and bluffs along which they are obliged to pass are so slippery and the mud so tenacious that they are unable to wear their mockersons, and in that situation draging the heavy burthen of a canoe and walking ocasionally for several hundred yards over the sharp fragments of rocks which tumble from the clifts and garish the borders of the river; in short their labour is incredibly painfull and great, yet those faithfull fellows bear it without a murmur.
at 12 OCk. we came too for refreshment and gave the men a dram which they received with much cheerfullness, and well deserved.—

William Clark

Small keg, tap, and gill on the Missouri River

A small keg on a cottonwood log

3 ½ to the upper part of a timbered bottom on the Stard. side above the entrance of stone wall creek affording water and 28 yds. wide just above the mouth of which we encamped.

Meriwether Lewis

Eagle Creek Camp

White cliff behind cottonwoods beside the Missouri River

I saw near those bluffs the most beautifull fox that I ever beheld, the colours appeared to me to be a fine orrange yellow, white and black

Meriwether Lewis

Red fox, Vulpes vulpes

Small, orange fox

Photo created by the National Park Service.