Idaho Chapter

Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation

On-the-ground amongst the greatest number and
least disturbed Lewis and Clark sites in the nation!

Idaho Canoe Camp to Fort Clatsop, 1805

by Norman Steadman
Idaho Chapter – Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation

Clearwater River

Rapid in a small river

Photo © 2013 Oct 13 by Kristopher Townsend.

Ordway's journal indicates that on October 4, 1805, the expedition purchased the first dog to eat at Canoe Camp near Orofino, Idaho.

They purchased many more dogs for food on their route to the ocean. According to Clark's journal, they purchased at least 100 dogs between October 9 and October 25, 1805. Once they were below Celilo Falls, they were able to kill deer for food.

On October 12, Clark wrote, "the Indians went through a very bad rapid and our small canoe followed." Apparently, there were three Indians in a canoe leading the expedition down the river.

On October 15, Clark again wrote that three Indians piloted them through the rapids from the forks. The "forks" is the Lewiston-Clarkston area. Clark also wrote that they "met two men who passed us several days ago." This could have been We-Ark-Koomt or Flint Necklace and another chief who went overland ahead of the expedition in 1805. On the return trip, on May 3, 1806, Lewis wrote that they met We-Ark-Koomt again. He credits this Indian with procuring a hospitable and friendly reception among the natives when they went down the Snake River and the Columbia River as far as the falls in 1805.

On October 17, they finally arrived at the Columbia River. Clark measured the Columbia River; it was 960 yards across. The Snake River was 575 yards across. The Indians told Clark they were drying the salmon for food and also for fuel during the winter.

On October 18, they first met the great chief of the Walla Walla tribe. His name was Yelleppit. This means "friend, blood brother" in Nez Perce. On October 19, they gave Yelleppit "a medal, string of wampon and a handkerchef [sic]." Sometime in the 1890s, a Jefferson Peace Medal was found on an island near the mouth of the Walla Walla River. It may be the one given to Yelleppit. Today, it is part of the Lewis and Clark collection of the Oregon Historical Society, Portland.

On October 21, Clark wrote that Collins made some very good beer. Some of the camas bread they had purchased where they first met the Choppunish (Weippe) had become wet and molded. Collins, being a very good cook, made beer with it. However, any alcohol would have been very good since they had not had any since July 4 near the Great Falls.

On October 24, the two old Nez Perce chiefs (Twisted Hair and Tetohansky) expressed a desire to return to their band from this place (Celilo Falls), saying "that they could be of no further service to us, as their nation extended no further down the river than those falls. (They could no longer understand the language of those below the falls), and as the nation below had expressed hostile intentions against us, would certainly kill them, particularly as they had been at war with each other." They talked the two chiefs into staying with the expedition for two more nights.

On October 25, Clark wrote that they had a "parting smoke with our two faithful friends, the chiefs who had accompanied us from the head of the river, (who had purchased a horse each with 2 robes and intended to return on horseback)." Clark supped very well on venison and goose. This was the first deer they killed since leaving Canoe Camp.

There is no indication when the three Indians in the canoes or the chiefs that traveled overland left the expedition.

On October 30, they saw the first California condor.

On November 7, they saw what they thought was the ocian [sic]. Clark recorded there was much joy in camp. He recorded in his field notes "Ocean In View, Oh The Joy[.]"

On November 19, Clark marked his name on a low pine.

On November 20, Lewis and Clark took Sacajawea's blue bead belt and traded it for a robe of 2 sea otter skins.

Reuben Fields crossed a river and took over a small canoe which lay at an Indian cabin. Apparently, this was the first canoe they took. They took another Indian canoe on March 18. Lewis said they took the canoe in lieu of 6 elk the Clatsops had stolen from them during the winter. "The canoe was of the greatest value to the Clatsops (except a wife, of which it is nearly equal)."

On November 21, Clark wrote, "we gave the squar a coate of blue cloth for the belt of blue beads we gave for the sea otter skins purchased of an Indian."

On November 22, Clark wrote, "Of how horrible is the day."

On November 23, Lewis branded a tree and the men marked their names on trees near camp. Clark marked his name and date on an alder.

On November 24, a vote was taken as to where to make their winter camp. It was decided to cross the river and examine. "Janey [Sacagawea] was in favour of a place where there is plenty of potas." Sacagawea was referring to wapato roots.

On November 28, Clark wrote, "Of how disagreeable is our situation during this dreadful weather."

On November 30, Sacajawea gave Clark a piece of bread. She had probably carried it from where they met the Choppunish, or the Weippe-Orofino area.

On December 1, Clark wrote, "24 days since seeing the ocean. I can't say Pacific, as since I have seen it, it has been the reverse."

On December 3, Clark wrote, "Of how disagreeable my situation, a plenty of meat and incaple [sic] of eateing any." Clark was sick and they had killed several elk.

On December 7, they arrived at the site of Fort Clatsop.

On December 10, Lewis and men cut down trees for the fort.

On December 23, Clark wrote "we are all employed about our huts have ours covered and dobed & we moved into it."

On December 25, Clark wrote, "At day light this morning we were awoke by the discharge of the fire arm of all our party & a selute, shoute and a song which the whole party joined in under our windows. After brackfast we divided our tobacco which amounted to 12 carrots one half of which we gave to the men of the party who used tobacco and to those who doe not use it we make a present of a hankerchief I recved a present of Capt L. of a fleece hosrie shirt draws and socks, a pr. Mockersons of Whitehouse a small Indian basket of Gutherich, two dozen white weazils tails of the Indian woman and some black roots of the Indians before their departure."

"Our diner today consisted of pore elk boiled, spilt [spoiled] fish & some roots, a bad Christmass diner."

On December 28, Clark "derected Jos. Fields, Bratton and Gibson to proceed to the ocean at some convenient place form a camp and commence making salt with 5 of the largest kitties."

On January 1, 1806, Lewis started keeping a journal and wrote, "This morning I was awoke at an early hour by the discharge of a volley of small arms which were fired by our party in front of our quarters to usher in the new year; this was the only mark of respect which we had it in our power to pay this celebrated day. We are content with eating our boiled elk and wappetoe and solacing our thirst with our only beverage, pure water."

On January 3, 1806, the Clatsop "brought for sale some roots buries and 3 dogs and a small quantity of fresh blubber." Lewis wrote, "For our part I have become so perfectly reconciled to the dog that I think it an agreeable food and would prefer it vastly to lean venison or elk."

On January 6, Clark, Charbonneau and his Indian woman with several men went to the ocean to see a whale that was beached. When they arrived on January 8, all that was left was the skeleton, which measured 105 feet. Clark procured about 300 weight of blubber and a "fiew" gallons of oil.

They lived all winter on poor elk, a few dogs, water fowl, small animals and some roots and berries purchased from the Indians. They decided to leave and start up the Columbia River on April 1. They changed that date to March 20; however, due to bad weather, they were delayed until March 23.

Based on the Journals of Lewis & Clark Expedition, Gary E. Moulton, Editor, University of Nebraska Press.