stamp, I said . . .” But who Kate is, and to what crisis

 people involved | time:2023-12-06 06:10:12

"Finding it impossible to reach the upper end of the portage with the present load, in consequence of the state of the road after the rain, he sent back nearly all his party to bring on the articles which had been left yesterday. Having lost some notes and remarks which he had made on first ascending the river, he determined to go up to the Whitebear Islands along its banks, in order to supply the deficiency. He there left one man to guard the baggage, and went on to the falls, accompanied by his servant York, Chaboneau, and his wife with her young child.

stamp, I said . . .” But who Kate is, and to what crisis

"On his arrival there he observed a very dark cloud rising in the west, which threatened rain, and looked around for some shelter; but could find no place where the party would be secure from being blown into the river, if the wind should prove as violent as it sometimes does in the plains. At length, about a quarter of a mile above the falls, he found a deep ravine, where there were some shelving rocks, under which he took refuge. They were on the upper side of the ravine near the river, perfectly safe from the rain, and therefore laid down their guns, compass, and other articles which they carried with them. The shower was at first moderate; it then increased to a heavy rain, the effects of which they did not feel; but soon after, a torrent of rain and hail descended. The rain seemed to fall in a solid mass, and instantly, collecting in the ravine, came rolling down in a dreadful current, carrying the mud, rocks, and everything that opposed it. Captain Clark fortunately saw it a moment before it reached them, and springing up with his gun and shot-pouch in his left hand, with his right clambered up the steep bluff, pushing on the Indian woman with her child in her arms; her husband too had seized her hand and was pulling her tip the hill, but he was so terrified at the danger that he remained frequently motionless; and but for Captain Clark, himself and his wife and child would have been lost. So instantaneous was the rise of the water that, before Captain Clark had reached his gun and begun to ascend the bank, the water was up to his waist, and he could scarcely get up faster than it rose, till it reached the height of fifteen feet, with a furious current which, had they waited a moment longer, would have swept them into the river just above the Great Falls, down which they must inevitably have been precipitated. They reached the plain in safety and found York, who had separated from them just before the storm to hunt some buffalo, and was now returning to find his master. They had been obliged to escape so rapidly that Captain Clark lost his compass [that is, circumferentor] and umbrella, Chaboneau left his gun, with Captain Lewis' wiping-rod, shot-pouch, and tomahawk, and the Indian woman had just time to grasp her child, before the net in which it lay at her feet was carried down the current."

stamp, I said . . .” But who Kate is, and to what crisis

Such a storm is known in the West as a cloud-burst. Overland emigrants in the early rush to California often suffered loss from these sudden deluges. A party of men, with wagons and animals, have been known to be swept away and lost in a flood bursting in a narrow canyon in the mountains.

stamp, I said . . .” But who Kate is, and to what crisis

"Captain Clark now relinquished his intention of going up the river, and returned to the camp at Willow Run. Here he found that the party sent this morning for the baggage had all returned to camp in great confusion, leaving their loads in the plain. On account of the heat, they generally go nearly naked, and with no covering on their heads. The hail was so large, and driven so furiously against them by the high wind, that it knocked several of them down: one of them, particularly, was thrown on the ground three times, and most of them were bleeding freely, and complained of being much bruised. Willow Run had risen six feet since the rain; and, as the plains were so wet that they could not proceed, they passed the night at their camp.

"At the White Bear camp, also," (says Lewis), "we had not been insensible to the hailstorm, though less exposed. In the morning there had been a heavy shower of rain, after which it became fair. After assigning to the men their respective employments, Captain Lewis took one of them, and went to see the large fountain near the falls. . . . It is, perhaps, the largest in America, and is situated in a pleasant level plain, about twenty-five yards from the river, into which it falls over some steep, irregular rocks, with a sudden ascent of about six feet in one part of its course. The water boils up from among the rocks, and with such force near the centre that the surface seems higher there than the earth on the sides of the fountain, which is a handsome turf of fine green grass. The water is extremely pure, cold, and pleasant to the taste, not being impregnated with lime or any foreign substance. It is perfectly transparent, and continues its bluish cast for half a mile down the Missouri, notwithstanding the rapidity of the river. After examining it for some time, Captain Lewis returned to the camp.

. . . "Two men were sent [June 30] to the falls to look for the articles lost yesterday; but they found nothing but the compass, covered with mud and sand, at the mouth of the ravine. The place at which Captain Clark had been caught by the storm was filled with large rocks. The men complain much of the bruises received yesterday from the hail. A more than usual number of buffalo appeared about the camp to-day, and furnished plenty of meat. Captain Clark thought that at one view he must have seen at least ten thousand."

Of the party at the upper camp, opposite White Bear Islands, the journal makes this observation:--

"The party continues to be occupied with the boat, the cross-bars for which are now finished, and there remain only the strips to complete the woodwork. The skins necessary to cover it have already been prepared; they amount to twenty-eight elk-skins and four buffalo-skins. Among our game were two beaver, which we have had occasion to observe are found wherever there is timber. We also killed a large bull-bat or goatsucker, of which there are many in this neighborhood, resembling in every respect those of the same species in the United States. We have not seen the leather-winged bat for some time, nor are there any of the small goatsucker in this part of the Missouri. We have not seen that species of goatsucker called the whippoorwill, which is commonly confounded in the United States with the large goatsucker which we observe here. This last prepares no nest, but lays its eggs on the open plains; they generally begin to sit on two eggs, and we believe raise only one brood in a season; at the present moment they are just hatching their young."

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