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The ExpeditionMarias River
Overlooked Opportunities
Drouillard's Route
 

Camp Disappointment

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"Camp Disappointment"

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This interactive QTVR scene is a panorama shot from the brink of the ancient Indian buffalo jump, near the possible location of the site Lewis called "Camp Disappointment." It opens with a view southward across the prairie, looking down a fallow strip in a wheat field. Turning to your right, you will look westward up Cut Bank Creek towards the Rocky Mountain Front. The hot spot will show you an aerial view of the same scene.

With another turn to the right you will be looking over the cliff toward Cut Bank Creek and a supposed site of Lewis's camp of July 22-25, 1806. A hot spot there will take you to a discovery the photographers made in the bank of the creek.

A Second Look

n 1806, with George Drouillard, Joe Field, and Reubin Field, Meriwether Lewis made a second excursion up the Marias, this time on horseback. The four men reached the northernmost point of the Expedition's exploration on July 22, camping on the south side of today's Cut Bank Creek about twelve miles northeast of present Browning, and six miles north of U.S. Highway2. They had "arrived at a clump of large cottonwood trees in a beautifull and extensive bottom of the river about 10 miles below the foot of the rocky mountains where this river enters them."

as I could see from hence very distinctly where the river entered the mountains and the bearing of this point being S of West I thought it unnecessary to proceed further.

In this view, taken from atop the adjacent buffalo-jump, the general vicinity of their supposed campsite is marked by the fenced-in sign near the cottonwood trees below. This is the highest bluff on Cut Bank Creek. By the way, those cannot be the same cottonwoods Lewis mentioned, since the species has a life expectancy of only 40 to 80 years.

Their camp was 232 river miles, or 152 parallel land miles, from the mouth of the Marias River. On the morning of the 23rd, Lewis

dispatched Drewyer and Joseph fields this morning to hunt. I directed Drewyer who went up the river to observe it's bearings and the point at which it entered the mountains. This he did and on his return I observed the point at which the river entered to bear S 50 degrees W. distant about ten miles the river making a considrable bend to the West just above us.

Actually, they were about 20 land miles from the point where Cut Bank Creek enters the mountains, and 44 river-miles from the ultimate source of the creek at Pitimaken Lake, 1,500 feet below the Continental Divide, in Glacier National Park.

--Joseph Mussulman

Overlooked Opportunities
Drouillard's Route


 
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)