Although the expedition did not collect specimens of Englemann Spruce, there are several references to "Spruce" and "Spruce Pine" in the various journals that, for many years, have been presumed to represent this species, in particular because of the location of the expedition at the time the entry was written. Clark mentioned "aspin Spruce & fur" as well as pine on July 17, when they were in Lewis and Clark County, Montana, near the Dearborn River1a. Lewis refers to "spruce" on September 9, 18051b. Clark includes "Spruce Pine" in his navigation notes and journal of September 121c and both Gass2a and Clark1d refer to "spruce" on September 14th as they work through the mountain valleys in western Montana moving towards the Lolo Trail. Here, Engelmann Spruce is the only spruce found.
On September 16, along the Lolo Trail, Clark wrote a lengthy description of their miserable trek through snow and fallen timber on steep hillsides. Part of that description (below) includes references to the different types of trees they encountered.3
Capt. Clark, September 16, 1805 - . . . Steep hill Sides & falling timber Continue to day, and a thickly timbered Countrey of 8 different kinds of pine, which are so covered with Snow, that in passing thro' them we are continually covered with Snow . . . .3
C V Piper (the botanist who worked with Thwaites) identified eight species that frequently are found along the Lolo Trail: Pinus albicaulis (whitebark pine); Pinus contorta (lodgepole pine); Tsuga pattoniana (Tsuga mertensiana [mountain hemlock]); Picea engelmannii (Engelmann spruce}; Abies subalpina (A. lasiocarpa var. lasiocarpa [subalpine fir]); Abies grandis (grand fir); Pseudotsuga taxifolia (Pseudotsuga menziesii [Douglas-fir]); and Thuja gigantea (T. plicata [western redcedar]). He also noted that Taxus brevifolia (Pacific yew) is found in this area, but rarely3.
Moulton's list1e of eight is slightly different: lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, subalpine fir, Engelmann spruce, whitebark pine, grand fir, western larch (Larix occidentalis), and mountain hemlock. Other possibilities at lower elevations are: ponderosa pine, western white pine (Pinus monticola), and western redcedar.
Note: Ordway and Gass specifically mentioned "Spruce pine" in their journals entries on September 16, 18052b.
1. Moulton, Gary E., Editor, The Definitive Journals of Lewis and Clark , University of Nebraska Press, Nebraska Edition, 1987, 2002. Volumes 4 and 5.
1a. Vol 4, pp 386-87; 1b. Vol 5, pp 191, 195 (footnote); 1c. Vol 5, pg 201; 1d. Vol 5, pp 204-206; 1e. Vol 5, pg 210, footnote 3.
2. Lewis, M., Clark, W., and Members of the Corps of Discovery. (2002). September 4, 1806. In G. Moulton (Ed.), The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Retrieved Oct. 1, 2005, from the University of Nebraska Press / University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries-Electronic Text Center, The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition web site: http://lewisandclarkjournals.unl.edu/index.html
2a. 1805, September 14; 2b. 1805, September 16
3. Thwaites, Reuben Gold (ed.), Original journals of the Lewis and Clark expedition, 1804-1806, Antiquarian Press 1959 (reprinted from 1904-1905 edition); Volume 3, pg 69.