RSS News


    Return to...
Natural HistoryMammals - LargeAmerican Bison - Bos bisonBison in the Journals
First Sign
500 Buffalow

First Kill

n August 23, 1804, near present Vermillion, South Dakota, Clark recorded,

J: Fields Sent out to hunt Came to the Boat and informed me that he had Killed a Buffalow in the plain a head.

Sergeant Ordway explained:

Capt. Lewis & myself & 10 more of the party went out Buchered & Brought it to the Boat....I Saw the beds & Signs of a great many more Buffelow But this was the first I ever Saw & as great a curiosity to me.

Sergeant Gass noted:

We stopped at a prairie on the north side, the largest and handsomest, which I had seen. Capotain Clarke called it Buffaloe prairie.

Strong headwinds forced the party to heave to for a few hours, and while waiting for conditions to improve they salted two barrels of bison meat.


The wind blew "flying Sands which rasies like a Cloud of Smoke from the Bars when the wind Blows, the Sand being fine and containing a [great] perpotion of earth and when it lights it Sticks to every thing it touches."

On the following day they passed, on the Nebraska side of the Missouri, the bluffs later called the Ionia "volcano," and on the South Dakota side, the "Spirit Mound" believed by Indians to harbor devils "in human form with remarkable large heads and about 18 Inches high."

--Joseph Mussulman

First Sign
500 Buffalow

From Discovering Lewis & Clark ®, http://www.lewis-clark.org © 1998-2014
by The Lewis and Clark Fort Mandan Foundation, Washburn, North Dakota.
Journal excerpts are from The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, edited by Gary E. Moulton
13 vols. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983-2001)