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Lewis and Clark Reach the Pacific Ocean (1805)

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One of the premier developments of the Jefferson administration was the purchase of the Louisiana Territory. Following the purchase, Jefferson sentMeriwether Lewis and William Clark on an exploration which took them to the Pacific. Presented below are some excerpts of the careful diaries they kept on the journey. This excerpt includes the day they finally readed the Pacific Ocean. [The spelling is given as in the original printed diary.]


November 7th Thursday 1805

A cloudy foggey morning Some rain. We Set out early proceeded under the Star Side under a high rugid hills with Steep assent the Shore boalt and rockey, the fog o thick we could not See across the river, two cano(e)s of Indians met and returned with us to their village which is Situated on the Star Side behind a cluster of Marshey Islands, on a narrow chan of the river through which we passed to the village of 4 Houses, they gave us to eate Some fish, and Sold us, fish . . .roots three dogs and 2 otter skins for which we gave fish hooks principally of which they were verry fond. . . .

After delaying at this village one hour and a half we Set out piloted by an Indian dressed in a Salors dress, to the Main Chanel from behind those islands, without a pilot, a large marshey Island near the middle of the river near which several Canoes came allong Side with Skins, roots, fish &c. to Sell, and had a temporey residence on this Island, here we see great numbers of water fowls about those Marshey Island; . . .

. . . . We proceeded on about 12 miles below the Village under a high mountaneous Countrey on the Star Side, Shore boald and rockey and Encamped under a high hill on the Star Side opposit to a rock Situated half a mile from the shore.... We with dificuelty found a place clear of the tide and Sufficiently large to lie on and the only place we could get was on round stones on which we lay our mats rain continu moderately all day. . . .

Great joy in camp we are in view of the Ocian, (in the morning when fog cleared off just below last village (first on leaving this village). . .) this great Pacific Octean which we been so long anxious to See.and the roreing or noise made by the waves brakeing on the rockey Shores (as I suppose) may be heard disti(n)ctly

We made 34 miles to day as computed.

November 8th Friday 1805

A cloudy morning Some rain, we did not Set out until 9 oClock, having changed our Clothing. proceeded on close under the star Side, the hills high with steep assent, Shoar boald and rockey . . .

here we found the Swells or Waves so high that we thought it imprudent to proceed; we landed unloaded and drew up our Canoes. Some rain all day at intervales, we are all wet and disagreeable, as we have been for Several past, and our present Situation a verry disagreeable one in as much, as we have not leavel land Sufficient for an emcampment and for out baggage to lie cleare of the tide, the High hills jutting so close and steep that we cannot retreat back, and the water of the river too Salt to be used, added to the waves are increaseing to Such a hight that we cannot move from this place, in this Situation we are compelled to form our campe between the hite of the Ebb and floor tides, and rase our baggage on logs. . . .

November 10th Sunday 1805

. . . .we are all wet the rain having continued all day, our beding and maney other articles, employ our Selves drying our blankets. northing to eate but dried fish pounded which we brought from the falls. We made 10 miles to day.


[From Originals Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1804-1806 (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1905), pp. 208-15.]

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