Jay and Gina's Blog
We had a cloudy start to our late 11 AM start. We off to inspect the Portage points around the Great Falls of the Missouri River. Lewis and Clark anticipated having to port their canoes in the Rocky Mountains based on what they had been told by the Indians. However, they had been told it would only take a day and half, because that was the Indian experience when traveling by horse with little cargo. The 18 mile portage took a month because L&C built 2 wagons on which to load the 6 canoes; first problem was finding a cottonwood tree large enough for the wheels of the wagons - 22 inches wide. The canoes had masts with sails on them, which actually caught the wind blowing the correct direction a few times, making it seem that the wagons were sailing across the prairie.
They had brought an iron frame boat, weighing 200 lbs, in pieces from Harper’s Ferry. They couldn’t find elk, so had to settle for buffalo hides, and couldn’t find pine pitch to seal the hides to make the covering. Long story short - it sank! It was impossible for me to imagine toting the canoes over the terrain we saw today. And then we saw the falls - 200 foot cliffs and all. Even with the dams, they’re still quite impressive.
We also went to the Charlie Russell Museum to see his works - so lovely. I admired the groupings of small paintings of the spectacular views on on canvas.
Mysteries that have gone unsolved:
Did Seaman make it back to St. Louis? The last mention of him is when the pain from bites from the mosquitos are making him howl in 1806.
What happened to the iron boat? Was it traded to the Indians for horses?
We had buffalo short ribs for dinner - quite good.
63 miles by bus
2.75 miles walking