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The Volcanoes of
Lewis and Clark
October 7 - 9, 1805
On the Clearwater - Canoe Camp to the Potlatch River
 
Home
The Volcanoes of Lewis and Clark

Map of the Journey
Volcanoes, Basalt Plateaus, Major Rivers, etc.

The Volcanoes
Mount Adams, Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, Mount Rainier, and Mount St. Helens

CALENDAR of the Journey
October 1805 to June 1806

Along the Journey
Pacific Northwest Maps - Columbia River, Volcanoes, Flood Basalts, Missoula Floods, Geology, etc.

The Corps of Discovery
The Journey of Lewis and Clark

About the Reference Materials
The Journals, Biddle/Allen, DeVoto, Gass, Moulton, Topo Maps, and others

USGS Lewis and Clark Links
Links to USGS Websites highlighting the Lewis and Clark Journey

Resources
Publications Referenced and Websites Visited


PREVIOUS

October 5-6
The Journey Begins, Canoe Camp
October 7-9

On the Clearwater,
Canoe Camp to the Potlatch River

Canoe Camp, Clearwater River, Big Canyon Creek, Jack's Creek, and the Potlatch River
CONTINUE

October 10
Reaching the Snake River, Clearwater Confluence with the Snake River
 

On October 7, 1805, Lewis and Clark and the "Corps of Discovery" began their journey down the Clearwater River and into the volcanics of the Pacific Northwest. The Corps travelled from the Clearwater to the Snake and down the "Great Columbia", finally reaching the Pacific Ocean on November 15, 1805. Along the journey they encountered the lava flows of the Columbia Plateau, river channels carved by the great "Missoula Floods", and the awesome beauty of five Cascade Range volcanoes.

Map, Lewis and Clark in the Pacific Northwest, click for brief summary
[Click map for brief summary about the area]


 
To the Pacific - October 1805
On the Clearwater -- Canoe Camp to Jacks Creek
 

Between September 26 and October 7, 1805, Lewis and Clark camped at the confluence of the North Fork Clearwater River with the main stem Clearwater River, approximately 4 miles west of today's Orofino, Idaho. This site is called "Canoe Camp".

Monday, October 7, 1805
This morning all the canoes were put in the water and loaded, the oars fixed, and every preparation made for setting out but when we were all ready, the two chiefs who had promised to accompany us, were not to be found, and at the same time we missed a pipe tomahawk. We therefore proceeded without them. Below the forks [confluence North Fork Clearwater River with the main stem Clearwater] this river is called the Kooskooskee [Clearwater River], and is a clear rapid stream, with a number of shoals and difficult places.


Along the Journey - October 7, 1805
Clearwater River, 1956

Clearwater River:
The Clearwater River drains approximately 9,645 square miles, and extends 100 miles north to south and 120 miles east to west. Four major tributaries drain into the mainstem Clearwater River: the Lochsa, Selway, South Fork Clearwater, and North Fork Clearwater Rivers. The Clearwater River has an international reputation as one of the best steelhead fisheries anywhere. The river, along with U.S. Highway 12, are part of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Developed recreation sites in the area are primarily for boating and fishing, with camping available in a few locations. The North Fork of the Clearwater and the Lochsa Rivers provide miles of tumbling whitewater interspersed with quiet pools for migratory and resident fish. The Clearwater was used as a passageway by explorers and trappers, and later by miners and loggers because it was much more tame than its counterpart the Salmon River. -- Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority Website, 2002, Visit Idaho Website, 2002, and Idaho Museum of Natural History Website, 2002, Digital Atlas of Idaho


Map, 1814, Lewis and Clark on the Snake River, click to enlarge Map, 1853, Washington and Oregon and the Columbia River, click to enlarge Map, 1855, Clearwater and Snake from Canoe Camp to the Columbia, click to enlarge Map, 1881, Snake, Clearwater, Grande Ronde, Salmon, click to enlarge Map, 1893, Snake, Clearwater, Potlatch Rivers, click to enlarge Image, 1956, Clearwater River, Idaho, click to enlarge
  1. 1814 Map, Lewis and Clark (section of original). (Click to enlarge.) Shows the Clearwater River ("Koos-koos-kee R."). From the "Nicholas Biddle/Paul Allen" 1814 publication. Original Map: "A Map of Lewis and Clark's Track, Across the Western Portion of North America, From the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean". From: History of the expedition under the command of Captains Lewis and Clark : to the sources of the Missouri, thence across the Rocky Mountains and down the river Columbia to the Pacific Ocean : performed during the years 1804-5-6 : by order of the government of the United States / prepared for the press by Paul Allen. Philadelphia : Bradford and Insskeep, 1814. Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University #upbover maps37. -- Brigham Young University, Harold B. Lee Library Website, 2004.
  2. 1853 Map, Washington and Oregon and the Columbia River, from the Clearwater River to the Snake River and down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean (section of original). (Click to enlarge). Includes: Clearwater River (Kooskooski), Lapwai Creek (Lapwai R.), Snake River (Saptin or Lewis R.), Columbia River (Columbia R.), Yakima River (Yakima R.), Umatilla River (Umatilla R.), Willow Creek (Quesnells R.), John Day River (John day's R.), Deschutes River (Fall R.), Willamette River (Willammette R.), and Cowlitz River (Cowlitz R.). Original Map: "Map of California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, and New Mexico (1853)", by Thomas Cowperthwait & Co. Washington State University Archives #WSU22. -- Washington State University Library Collections Website, 2003
  3. 1855 Map, Clearwater and Snake Rivers, including the Clearwater River (Kooskoosky R.) (section of original). (Click to enlarge). Original Map: "Map of Oregon and Washington Territories: showing the proposed Northern Railroad route to the Pacific Ocean, by John Disturnell, 1855. University of Washington Archives #UW155. -- University of Washington Library Collections Website, 2002
  4. 1881 Map, Snake, Clearwater, Grande Ronde, and Salmon Rivers (section of original). (Click to enlarge). Original Map: "Map of the Grande Ronde Wallowa and Imnaha Country, 1881". Map section shows the Snake River (name doesn't show), "Clear Water" River (central right, tributary to the Snake), Grande Ronde River (lower left, only "de River" shows, tributary to the Snake), Salmon River (lower right, tributary to the Snake) Lewiston, Central Ferry, Alpowai, Dayton, Pataha, and the Blue Mountains. By H. Chandler, Eng., Buffalo, 1881., Washington State University Historical Maps Collection #WSU468. -- Washington State University Library Archives Website, 2002
  5. 1893 Map, Part of the Snake River showing location of principal rapids (section of original). Includes part of the Clearwater River and Potlatch River and others. (Click to enlarge). Original Map: "Part of the Snake River from its mouth to the Grande Ronde, showing location of principal rapids". U.S. Engineers Office, 1893. Washington State University Historical Maps Collection #WSU586. -- Washington State University Library Archives Website, 2002
  6. 1956, Clearwater River, Idaho. (Click to enlarge). U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District, Photo Archives #b404. Photo date: May 23, 1856. -- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Photo Archives, 2003



For some miles the hills are steep, the low grounds narrow, but then succeeds an open country with a few trees scattered along the river. At the distance of nine miles is a small creek on the left [Big Canyon Creek, near Peck, Idaho].


Along the Journey - October 7, 1805
Big Canyon Creek:
Big Canyon Creek is approximately 30 miles in length and flows in a northerly direction before discharging into the Clearwater River at River Mile 42.5. -- Bonneville Power Administration Website, 2004


We passed in the course of the day ten rapids, in descending which, one of the canoes struck a rock, and sprung a leak: we however continued for nineteen miles, and encamped on the left side [error in this Biddle publication as camp was on the right side. Jacks Creek is on the left and they camped "opposite". Quoted passage below (from Moulton, Vol.6) confirms.] of the river opposite to the mouth of a small run [Jack's Creek, on the left side of the river, near the town of Lenore, Idaho]


Along the Journey - October 7, 1805
Jacks Creek:
Jacks Creek is approximately 8 miles in length and courses in a northerly direction through a canyon area, has well developed riparian vegetation, and discharges into the Clearwater River at River Mile 36. Lewis and Clark refer to this creek as "Canister run", so named for the location the men stored canisters of gunpowder in 1805 for their return journey east in 1806. -- Bonneville Power Administration Website, 2004, and Clearwater Historical Society Website, 2002


Here the canoe was unloaded and repaired, and two lead canisters of powder deposited; several camps of Indians were on the sides of the river, but we had little intercourse with any of them.
"... The hills come close on the river on both sides; where there are a few pine trees. Back from the river the tops of the hills, to a great distance are prairie land; and the country level. ..." [Gass, October 7, 1805]


Along the Journey - October 7, 1805
The Camp - October 7, 1805:
Near the present town of Lenore, across the river from Jacks Creek.


Tuesday, October 8, 1805
We set out at nine o'clock [from Jacks Creek]. At eight and a half miles we passed an island [Fir Island]: four and a half miles lower a second island [Upper Cottonwood Island], opposite a small creek on the left side of the river [Cottonwood Creek]. Five miles lower is another island on the left [Lower Cottonwood Island]: a mile and a half below which is a fourth [Church Island]. At a short distance from this is a large creek from the right [Potlatch River], to which we gave the name of Colter's creek, from Colter one of the men.


Along the Journey - October 8, 1805
Potlatch River, Idaho

Potlatch River:
The Potlatch River is one of the largest tributaries of the lower Clearwater River. The Potlatch has a length of 52 miles, contains 745 miles of tributary streams, and drains a watershed of approximately 335 square miles. It originates in the Beal Butte area of the Clearwater National Forest. The main tributaries of the lower Potlatch are Little Potlatch, Middle Potlatch, Big Bear Creek, Pine Creek, and Cedar Creek, and the main tributaries of the upper Potlatch are the East Fork and West Fork. The geological and hydrological features of the upper and lower reaches of the Potlatch River are quite distinct. The lower Potlatch River basin contains a series of large deep canyons which traverse through the Palouse Plateau. This area is basaltic and much of the stream substrate is large, primarily boulders and large rubble. Stream flow within the lower basin is regulated more by local precipitation than springs and snow pack. High runoff occurs early in the spring and subsides rapidly by early summer, extreme low flows are typical throughout the summer and stream flow increases again with the onset of the fall and winter rainy seasons. The upper basin and headwaters of the Potlatch River flow through timbered hills and high meadow terrain. These streams provide a more stable flow than those in the lower Potlatch; the watershed in the upper basin is not farmed as intensively as the lower basin; therefore, runoff is not as rapid or extreme. -- Bonneville Power Administration Website, 2004


Map, 1814, Lewis and Clark on the Snake River, click to enlarge Map, 1855, Clearwater and Snake from Canoe Camp to the Columbia, click to enlarge Map, 1893, Snake, Clearwater, Potlatch Rivers, click to enlarge Image, Potlatch River
  1. 1814 Map, Lewis and Clark (section of original). (Click to enlarge.) Shows the Potlatch River ("Colter's R."). From the "Nicholas Biddle/Paul Allen" 1814 publication. Original Map: "A Map of Lewis and Clark's Track, Across the Western Portion of North America, From the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean". From: History of the expedition under the command of Captains Lewis and Clark : to the sources of the Missouri, thence across the Rocky Mountains and down the river Columbia to the Pacific Ocean : performed during the years 1804-5-6 : by order of the government of the United States / prepared for the press by Paul Allen. Philadelphia : Bradford and Insskeep, 1814. Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University #upbover maps37. -- Brigham Young University, Harold B. Lee Library Website, 2004.
  2. 1855 Map, Clearwater and Snake Rivers. The Potlatch is shown but not named (section of original). (Click to enlarge). Original Map: "Map of Oregon and Washington Territories: showing the proposed Northern Railroad route to the Pacific Ocean, by John Disturnell, 1855. University of Washington Archives #UW155. -- University of Washington Library Collections Website, 2002
  3. 1893 Map. Part of the Snake River showing location of principal rapids (section of original). Includes part of the Clearwater River and Potlatch River and others. (Click to enlarge). Original Map: "Part of the Snake River from its mouth to the Grande Ronde, showing location of principal rapids". U.S. Engineers Office, 1893. Washington State University Historical Maps Collection #WSU586. -- Washington State University Library Archives Website, 2002
  4. Image, Potlatch River, Idaho. (Click to enlarge). Potlatch River downstream from gage 7T. U.S. Forest Service. -- U.S. Forest Service, Clearwater National Forest Website, 2004



We had left this creek [Potlatch River] about a mile and a half, and were passing the last of fifteen rapids which we had been fortunate enough to escape, when one of the canoes struck, and a hole being made in her side, she immediately filled and sunk. The men, several of whom could not swim, clung to the boat till one of our canoes could be unloaded, and with the assistance of an Indian boat, they were all brought to shore. All the goods were so much wet, that we were obliged to halt for the night [downstream of the Potlatch River and upstream of Spaulding, Idaho], and spread them out to dry. ...... We passed during our route of twenty miles to-day ......
"... Camped on the Stard. Side at high plains ..." [Ordway, October 8, 1805]


Along the Journey - October 8, 1805
The Camp - October 8 and 9, 1805:
About a mile and one half below the confluence of the Potlatch and Clearwater Rivers, upstream of today's Spalding, Idaho.


Wednesday, October 9, 1805
The morning was as usual, cool; but as the weather both yesterday and to day was cloudy, our merchandise dried but slowly. The boat, though much injured, was repaired by ten o'clock so as to be perfectly fit for service; but we were obliged to remain during the day till the articles were sufficiently dry to be reloaded. ......
"... All the country around is high prairie, or open plains. ..." [Gass, October 9, 1805]


Along the Journey - October 9, 1805
The Camp - October 8 and 9, 1805:
About a mile and one half downstream of the mouth of the Potlatch River, upstream of today's Spalding, Idaho.



 
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