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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Journals Lewis and Clark as Naturalists

Big Bend Area description

Distance from Camp Dubois: 1,211 miles

This was the site of a narrow escape from disaster in the middle of the night

Capt. Clark, September 21, 1804 – at half past one o’clock this morning the Sand bar on which we Camped began to under mind and give away which allarmed the Serjeant on Guard, the motion of the boat awakened me; I got up & by the light of the moon observed that teh Sand had given away both above and below our Camp & was falling in fast. I ordered all hands on as quick as possible & pushed off, we had pushed off but a few minits before the bank under which both the Boats & perogus lay give way, which would Certainly have Sunk both Perogues, by the time we made the opsd Shore our Camp fell in, we made a 2d Camp for the remainder of the night.

Sergeant Gass had noted the fragility of the river banks and also the short and long distances between two points at this big river bend.

Sgt. Gass, September 20, 1804 --Two of the men with a horse went across the neck of the Long, or Grand bend [Big Bend], which we were obliged to go round with the boat, a distance of 30 miles ... we passed a long chain of bluffs on the north side, of a darker colour.  From these and others of the same kind the Missouri gets its muddy colour.  The earth of which they are composed dissolves like sugar; every rain washes down great quantities of it, and the rapidity of the stream keeps it mixing and afloat in the water, until it reaches the mouth of the Mississippi.

Sgt. Gass, September 21, 1804--We set out early, the day was clear, and we proceeded four miles along bluffs on the south side, when we came to the termination of the Grand bend, about a mile from the place of our encampment on the 19th.

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