Lewis and Clark Timeline 1806

January 1, 1806 - Fort Clatsop, Oregon - This New Years day was a miserable one for the Corps; they could look forward only to New Years 1807 and hope it was better. Soaked with rain and plagued with fleas, with little fresh meat and less palatable food, they were indeed miserable. Even the feast of New Years was composed of the usual elk meat with wapato root washed down with water. With little to do except try to obtain the necessities of life, Lewis' journal entries turned more and more to long descriptions of the Indians and plant and animal life. A recurring entry stated that "Nothing of consequence happened today." General Orders establishing military discipline in the fort were issued today.
Tillamook Head near Seaside, OR

January 8, 1806 - At modern Ecola State Park, Oregon, (Lewis and Clark Trail Site #82) - Clark and a small party saw a whale that had washed up on shore, which was nothing but a skeleton by this time, the Indians having used every part of the animal.

[The following is based on information in Gary E. Moulton, ed. The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, Volume One, Atlas, and Volume 7, March 22-June 9, 1806].

rain forest
Coastal Rain Forest

March 23, 1806 - Fort Clatsop, Oregon - Clark recorded that ". . . we loaded our canoes and at 1 P.M. left Fort Clatsop on our homeward bound journey. at this place we had wintered and remained from the 7th of December 1805 to this day and have lived as well as we had any right to expect, and we can say that we were never one day without 3 meals of some kind either pore Elk meat or roots . . . " Drouillard and a party of hunters were sent out ahead, and the two pirogues and three canoes began the return voyage up the Columbia River.

April 3, 1806 - Clark's party explored the Willamette River. Finding himself in an Indian village with people who refused to trade with him and give him food, Clark resorted to showing off his technology as "magic," including putting a piece of slowmatch in the fire - which sizzled and burned like gunpowder - and using a magnet to move the needle of his compass. The Indians brought him all the food he wanted for free, thinking he was a wizard, or at the very best an evil presence in their midst.

Snow on Hungry Creek
Snow on Hungry Creek

April 11, 1806 - At the modern Cascades-Bonneville Dam, (Lewis and Clark Trail Site #75) - The portage here was over a slippery, narrow trail, 2800 yards long, in the rain. Indians crowded the camp, watching. Clark took four canoes up the rapids with a great deal of labor; some of the canoes were unavoidably damaged in the process. The men were very tired after this laborious task. Drouillard and the Field brothers were sent out to hunt. The Indians began to steal items from the Corps. Shields was forced to draw a knife on two Indians who tried to take a dog he had purchased for food. A couple of other Indians stole Seaman, and Lewis sent three men after them to retrieve his dog, even if they had to kill the Indians. When the men approached the Indians, they ran off, and Seaman was brought back to camp.

April 27, 1806 - The camp was in Benton County, Oregon, below the mouth of the Walla Walla River. Chief Yelleppit of the Walla Wallas invited the Corps to stay at his village, and offered them food and horses. He drew a map of the confluence of the Snake and Columbia Rivers, and persuaded his villagers to give the Corps items they needed. Lewis gave him a peace medal.

May 9, 1806 - Near modern Orofino, Idaho, on the Nez Perce Reservation. The Nez Perce brought 21 of the Corps' horses to them, cared for all winter by the Nez Perce.

May 14, 1806 - The camp at "Camp Chopunnish," near Kamiah, Idaho, on the Nez Perce Reservation - This was the longest camp of any, other than the three winter encampments of the Corps. The Corps had to wait until the snow melted in the mountains so that they could pass over the Continental Divide and return to the east.

May 17, 1806 - "Camp Chopunnish," Kamiah, Idaho - Lewis wrote: "I am pleased at finding the river rise so rapidly, it now doubt is attributeable to the melting snows of the mountains; that icy barier which seperates me from my friends and country, from all which makes life esteemable. - patience, patience."

June 9, 1806 - "Camp Chopunnish," Kamiah, Idaho. The men ate the last of the meat yesterday; they lived on roots today. They played games with the Indians, including footraces, prisoner's base, and pitching quoits [flattened rings] at a post. Excitement rose over their impending departure as the river fell. Contrary to the advice of the Nez Perce, the impatient Lewis intended upon leaving the following day.

[The following is based on information in Gary E. Moulton, ed. The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, Volume One, Atlas, and Volume 8, June 9-September 26, 1806].

June 15, 1806 - The camp was on Eldorado Creek in Idaho County, Idaho, near the mouth of Lunch Creek. The Corps set out for the mountains, making their way around fallen timber and over slippery roads. The march was slow and hard on the horses. Lewis described the country and the fauna he observed.

June 17, 1806 - The camp was on the south side of Hungery Creek between the camps of September 18 and 19, 1805. During their march, the Corps encountered snow 12 to 15 feet deep; they decided to cache their supplies and return to Weippe Prairie with their horses; a Nez Perce guide would be needed to get over the mountains.

June 24, 1806 - Eldorado Creek - The Corps set out once again for the mountains accompanied by three Nez Perce guides; at night, the Nez Perce set some fir trees on fire, a spectacular show which reminded Lewis of "a display of fireworks." The Indians did this as a good omen for favorable weather during their journey.

July 3, 1806 - After successfully making their way over the mountains thanks to the Nez Perce, Lewis and Clark decided to split their force in order to scout more of the mountainous country and look for an easier pass over the Rockies. Lewis would follow the Missouri eastward, while Clark would proceed to the Yellowstone and follow it to its junction with the Missouri, where the Corps would be reunited. Lewis camped near the site of modern Missoula, Montana. Lewis with 9 men and 5 Indians set out down the Bitterroot River on a raft; the Indians, however, soon abandoned the trip, as they were afraid of Hidatsa war parties. Lewis' party was composed of Gass, Drouillard, Joseph and Reubin Field, Werner, Frazer, Thompson, McNeal and Goodrich; "All arrangements being now compleated for carrying into effect the several schemes we had planed for execution on our return, we saddled our horses and set out." Clark, with the remainder of the Corps and 50 horses, traveled to a point 3 miles north of present-day Hamilton, Montana along Route 93. He described the area fauna.

July 11, 1806 - Lewis' party arrived at the White Bear Islands near Great Falls, Montana. The men killed 11 buffalo, and begin building canoes of buffalo skins - bullboats. "the morning was fair and the plains looked beatifull . . . the air was pleasant and a vast assemblage of little birds which croud to the groves on the river sung most enchantingly." Clark stayed near modern Twin Bridges, Montana. At the camp of August 8, 1805, he found a canoe the Corps had cached.

Black Eagle Falls
Black Eagle Falls
July 13, 1806 - Great Falls, Montana - Lewis opened a cache from the year before; his bearskins and plant specimens had been ruined by moisture. Meanwhile, Clark's camp was one mile east of Logan, Montana, at Three Forks, Gallatin County, on the east bank of the Jefferson River. He was being guided by Sacagawea, who remembered the country through which they were passing. Clark divided his party here, sending Ordway, Collins, Colter, Cruzatte, Howard, Lepage, Potts, Weiser, Whitehouse and Willard down the Missouri in canoes to Great Falls. Meanwhile, Clark would strike out overland to meet the Yellowstone River, down which he would travel until it met the Missouri. Clark retained Pryor, Shields, Shannon, Bratton, Labiche, Windsor, Hall, Gibson, Sacagawea, Charbonneau, baby Pomp, and York with his immediate party. He had 49 horses and one colt.
High Plains near Great Falls, MT
High plains near Great Falls, MT

July 15, 1806 - Great Falls, Montana - Lewis decided to leave six men, Gass, Fraser, McNeal, Thompson, Goodrich and Werner at the Great Falls. He planned to explore the upper reaches of the Marias River with Drouillard and Joseph and Reubin Field. McNeal was attacked by a grizzly bear at the lower portage; he broke his musket over the bear's head and climbed a tree to get away. Meanwhile, Clark traveled through Bozeman Pass to the Yellowstone River; he camped on the north side of the Yellowstone in Park County, south of Sheep Mountain and three miles below Shields River.

July 19, 1806 - The party commanded by Sgt. Ordway arrived at Great Falls, Montana, and united with the six men Lewis left there under Sgt. Gass.

July 20, 1806 - Lewis camped 5 miles southwest of Shelby, Montana on the Marias River. Lewis described the country and the area fauna. He continued to hope that the Marias would prove to be the key to U.S. access to the fur trade along the Saskatchewan River. This was not to be. "The day has proved excessively warm and we lay by four hours during the heat of it." Meanwhile Clark, at the "Canoe Camp" on the north side of the Yellowstone south of modern Park City, Montana, continued to search for timber to make canoes.

July 25, 1806 - At "Camp Disappointment" on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, (Lewis and Clark Trail Site #41), Lewis tried to take solar readings, but it was too cloudy and rainy. Lewis became concerned that he would not be able to return to the United States this season unless he rushed. Meanwhile, Clark camped 2 miles northeast of Pompey's Pillar, (Lewis and Clark Trail Site #37), he found a dinosaur skeleton, possibly a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and carved his name on Pompey's Pillar.

July 26, 1806 - Lewis camped in Pondera County, on the Blackfeet Reservation; (Lewis and Clark Trail Site #42). Lewis encountered a hunting party of eight Blackfeet warriors, and the two groups decided to camp together for the night. Lewis gave the Blackfeet one medal, one flag, and a handkerchief. In the early morning hours of July 27, the Blackfeet warriors took the rifles from the sleeping Field brothers, Drouillard and Lewis. Joseph Field woke up, struggled with Sidehill Calf, and stabbed the Blackfeet man to death. Lewis shot and wounded, and perhaps killed, a second warrior, who shot back and barely missed Lewis' head. The Corps members recovered their rifles, and the Blackfeet fled. After the firefight, Lewis "pushed the horses as hard as they would bear." The men rode 63 miles, ate, then 17 more, ate once again, then 20 more miles by moonlight. Lewis was anxious to warn the unsuspecting members of his party at the Marias of the potential danger of a Blackfeet attack. They finally camped west of modern Fort Benton, Montana.

July 28, 1806 - Sore from riding, Lewis urged his men on to the rendezvous point at the Marias River, fearing that the other portion of their party, unaware of the danger, might be taken by surprise by the Blackfeet. Lewis rendezvoused with the Ordway and Gass parties at modern Loma, Montana.

August 3, 1806 - Lewis camped on the north side of the Missouri in Valley County, Montana, below the mouth of Cattle Creek, two miles above the camp of May 12, 1805. Lewis noted the abundant wildlife; "we did not halt today to cook and dine as usual having directed that in future the party should cook as much meat in the evening after encamping as would be sufficient to serve them the next day; by this means we forward our journey at least 12 or 15 miles Pr. day." Clark's party was plagued with mosquitoes as they arrived at the confluence of the Yellowstone and the Missouri, and stayed at the camp of April 26, 1805.

August 8, 1806 - Lewis camped in Williams County, several miles southwest of Williston, North Dakota. Lewis did not catch up with Clark today. He pulled over to the shore to repair the boats and give the men time to make leather clothing. The mosquitoes were bad. Clark moved down to the New Town, North Dakota area, on the Three Affiliated Tribes Reservation. Pryor, Shannon, Hall and Windsor, in bullboats, were reunited with Clark. These four had been sent from high up on the Yellowstone with the remaining horse herd of 26, but the horses "disappeared" in the night. They made bullboats and floated down the river.

August 11, 1806 - Lewis camped in Montrail County, North Dakota, above the mouth of the White Earth River. Lewis proceeded rapidly to meet up with Clark. Lewis and Cruzatte went hunting on shore after sighting an elk herd. They shot one and wounded another. Lewis reported that "I was in the act of firing on the elk a second time when a ball struck my left thye about an inch below my hip joint, missing the bone it passed through the left thye and cut the thickness of the bullet across the hinder part of the right thye; the stroke was very severe. . . " Lewis called out to Cruzatte, suspecting the nearsighted man had shot him by mistake; but when no one answered, Lewis began to fear the worst, an Indian attack. Lewis made his way back to the pirogue to warn the men, where Gass dressed his wounds. Cruzatte finally came in; there was no doubt that it was his rifle that did the deed, for the spent ball was in Lewis' breeches.

August 12, 1806 - The reunion of the Lewis and Clark parties took place 6 miles south of Sanish, North Dakota, at "Reunion Point," on the Fort Berthold Reservation. Lewis came upon the camp of two white hunters from Illinois, Joseph Dickson and Forest Hancock. They told Lewis that Clark had passed them about noon the day before. Lewis gave them information on the upper Missouri and the location of beaver. At "1 p.m. I overtook Capt. Clark and party and had the pleasure of finding them all well." Clark was concerned about Lewis' wounds. Lewis stated that he would now leave off writing as he was in great pain, but first noted the pin or bird cherry with a long description. This was the last entry Lewis made in the journals.

Earth Lodge
Earth Lodge at Knife River

August 15, 1806 - Knife River Indian Villages. A council was held with the Hidatsa, who did not want to go down the river because of hostile Lakota and Arikara war parties. Colter asked permission to return upriver with Dickson and Hancock to trap beaver; permission was granted, as long as others in the party did not ask the same.

August 17, 1806 - Camp near modern Hensler, North Dakota. Clark paid Charbonneau $500.33 1/3, his salary as interpreter to the West Coast and back. The Corps was visited by all the principal Hidatsa chiefs to take their leave. The Corps took its leave of Colter, who set off upriver with the trappers, and of Charbonneau, Sacagawea, and little Pomp, now over a year and a half old. Clark offered to school Pomp. The Mandans cried as Sheheke (Big White) left his village with the Corps. The boats went down the river past the old Fort Mandan site, which Clark examined.

August 30, 1806 - The camp was two miles above the camp of September 9, 1804, in Gregory County, South Dakota. The Corps had an unsettling confrontation with a band of 80-90 Lakota warriors led by Black Buffalo. Clark walked out to parley with them, and told them that the Corps would have nothing to do with them; that the Corps would kill any Lakota who attempted to approach the camp.


Sept. 14, 1806 - The camp was opposite Leavenworth, Kansas on Route 45 at Beverly, Missouri. Three keelboats sailing up from St. Louis to trade with the Yanktons gave the men liquor, biscuits, cheese and onions. The Corps had a dram of spirits and sang songs until 11 p.m.

Sept. 17, 1806 - Camped at the mouth of the Grand River on the south side across from Brunswick, Missouri. Met a Capt. John McClallen who told the Corps that they had been given up for dead by the people of the United States. He informed them of Spanish attempts to locate and stop their expedition.

Fort Bellefontaine
Fort Bellefontaine north of St. Louis

Sept. 21, 1806 - St. Charles, Missouri - The Corps passed the canoes of Kickapoo traders, as well as two large boats going upriver. The Corps arrived in St. Charles; Ordway noticed many new settlements that had sprung up since 1804. Clark stated that "the inhabitants of this village appear much delighted at our return and seem to vie with each other in their politeness to us all."

Sept. 23, 1806 - St. Louis, Missouri. The men rowed the rest of the way down to St. Louis, where Ordway reported that they "fired three rounds as we approached the town and Landed oppocit the center of the Town, the people gathered on the Shore and Huzzared three cheers." Lewis and Clark stayed in the home of Pierre Chouteau.


Last updated: April 10, 2015

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