From Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society, Vol. XIV. (1913) pp. 280- 314
This Quarterly printed in Vol. XIII., No. 4 the first installment of the journal of John Work, a trader of the Hudson's Bay Company, covering his trapping expedition to the Snake Country in the year 1830-31, with an editor's introduction; the second and final installment is now presented. The original of the first part of this journal was found in London but curiously enough this latter half comes from quite another source, namely from the family papers of the late William Fraser Tolmie of Victoria, B. C.; Dr. Tolmie married one of the daughters of John Work. No opportunity has been afforded for the writer of these notes to compare his copy with the original but some few apparent errors, chiefly in proper names, cannot affect its general reliability.
We left Mr. Work with his large party of trappers and their families on the 18th of March, 1831, at the Portneuf river in Southern Idaho, probably not far east of the present city of Pocatello; we now resume our acquaintance with him April 21st, a month later, on the upper waters of the Bannock river, south of the Portneuf. After very successful trapping here he follows down Snake river past American Falls to Raft river (Mr. Work designates this stream both as Raft and as Roche-Rock river, but evidently it was the former), and ascending that river to one of its sources he crosses the divide to the plain at the north end of Great Salt Lake. He was then not far from Kelton, Utah, a place which held prominence for a time after the completion of the Central Pacific Railway as the eastern terminus of the stage lines from Walla Walla, which was one of the regular lines of travel for people going East from Oregon and Washington. This stage line crosses the Snake river below Salmon Falls.
Mr. Work then proceeds westward across the divide to the waters of the Humboldt river (called by him Ogden's river) and for more than a month is upon the waters of the Humboldt flowing west and south and of the Bruneau and Owyhee flowing north, in northern Nevada. Late in June he turns north across Eastern Oregon by way of Malheur lake, Silvies river and the John Day river to his starting point at Fort Nez Perce at the mouth of the Walla Walla river. But little attempt will be made at long range to trace the itinerary closely. On this his first expedition into this region Mr. Work followed closely the track of his worthy predecessor, Peter Skene Ogden, in 1828-29, whose journals published in volumes X and XI of this Quarterly are now the more intelligible.
Thursday, April 21st, 1831. Stormy, raw, cold weather. Moved camp, and marched 10 miles S. E. up the river. [Bannock River] The river here is a narrow deep stream with steep clayey banks which have some willows growing upon them, and appear well adapted for beaver, a good many marks of which are to be seen. This little stream is not known ever to have been hunted by whites. Just above our last encampment it spreads into a kind of swamp which was probably taken by the hunters to be its source. The valley through which the river runs here is pretty wide, and seems to have been but a very short time free of snow, the mountains on each side of it have still a considerable depth upon them, and banks of it remain in sundry places along the shores of the river. The valley seems to produce little else but wormwood. There is a little coarse, dry grass in some points along the river. Owing to the unusual lateness of the spring the young grass is barely beginning to shoot up so that our horses, lean as they are, can gather very little to eat, which is much against them and also retards our progress as it is out of power to make such day's journeys as we would wish. Some of the people went in pursuit of buffalo but with little success. Nearly all the people set their traps, only two beaver were taken. Two of the men, A. Findlay and A. Hoole, who went after buffalo towards the mountains discovered a party of 14 Blackfoot with 8 or 10 horses. The Indians immediately fled, and the men foolishly pursued them some distance before they returned to the camp. On their arrival a party immediately went in pursuit of them but could not overtake them. They had got across the mountain notwithstanding the depth of the snow. F. Payette and 4 or 5 of the half breeds ascended the mountains after them but it was too late to continue the pursuit and they returned. A mare and colt which they left in their hurry was brought to the camp. There were the tracks of some women and children with the party. It is conjectured that the horses were stolen from the Snakes and that the women and children were also of that nation and made slaves of by the Blackfeet. They threw away several cords in their haste. A. Letender, who was up the river setting his traps, saw three Blackfeet with a horse, they immediately went off. P. Brinn and L. Kanottan saw and pursued another party of 5 men, two of them in their haste to escape them threw away their robes and cords. It is to be regretted that the two men who saw the party with the horses did not come to apprise us at the camp immediately and the whole party with their horses would probably have been taken.
Friday, April 22nd. Cloudy, cold weather, some heavy rain and sleet in the night and fore part of the day. Did not move camp. The people visited their traps and set some more. Twenty-five beaver and one otter were taken. There is the appearance of a good many beaver.
Saturday, April 23rd. Stormy, cold weather. Moved camp 5 miles farther up the river in order to find some feeding for the horses, and even here the grass is very indifferent and scarcely any of it. Though there are few buffalo to be seen now they have been very numerous here a short time ago and eat up the most of what little grass was. The men visited their traps and took 33 beaver. The river here divides into two forks and falls in from the other rivers and the Costen from the south. The former is that which the Indians represented to be richest in beaver. We are mortified to find that as far as the men proceeded up it it is choked up with snow except in small spots here and there, and the valleys through which it runs, though of considerable extent, still covered with snow to a considerable depth in places 3 to 4 feet deep and farther up probably much deeper. The men who went farther up the south branch 15 and 20 miles suppose they have reached its head, a kind of swamp; here though the valley is larger than in the other branch yet the snow lies equally deep, and farther on through a fine valley appears still deep. The wormwood is covered with the snow. In this state of the snow we can neither trap these little rivers in the mountains nor attempt to cross the mountains without the risk of losing some of our horses from the depth of snow and want of food. The only step we can take now is to abandon this road and seek another pass more practicable. It would take too much time to wait till the snow melts. Thus are the prospects of the little hunt which we expected to make of 600 or 700 beaver in this quarter blasted. The unprecedented lateness of the spring is greatly against our operations. The oldest hands even in the severest winters never witnessed the season so late. The men saw some buffalo on the verge of the snow, probably they had been driven there by the Blackfeet Indians whom we found here. The people killed some of the buffalo but they were so lean that they were scarcely eatable. Three of the men drew a herd of bulls into a bank of snow yesterday and killed 16 of them.
Sunday, April 24th. Frost in the morning, clear, cold weather for the season during the day. The men visited their traps, 14 beaver were taken. The water is rising, which is against the trappers. Two of the men saw 6 Blackfeet Indians high up the river yesterday, they made to the mountains. Some were prowling about our camp last night the tracks of two who passed close to in the night were observed this morning.
Monday, April 25th. Cloudy, cold weather. Returned down the river to near our encampment of the 20th. The people visited the traps but only one beaver was taken. The water in this little river rose several feet in the night. Though only a day's journey from our encampment of this morning there is a material difference in the appearance of the country. Vegetation has here made considerable progress, and we found pretty good feeding for our horses.
Tuesday, April 26th. Rained the greater part of the day, bright in the morning but heavy towards evening. Moved camp and marched 10 miles S. W. across a point to Snake river. Here we had the satisfaction to find excellent feeding for our horses. One beaver was taken in the morning. The men were out in different directions setting their traps. Some buffalo were seen and two or three of them were killed in the plains, they are still very lean. The hunters observed the fresh tracks of some parties of Blackfeet, and thought they saw one on horseback. One of the party had a few horses with them which they had probably stolen from the Snakes.
Wednesday, April 27th. Heavy rain in the night, and stormy with rain all day. The unfavorable weather deterred us from raising camp. The people revisited their traps, and set some more. Twenty beaver were taken, 16 of them in a small rivulet towards the foot of the mountains, which appear never to have been trapped nor even known notwithstanding parties of trappers having so frequently passed this road. C. Plant, M. Plant, Bt. Dubrille and J. Desland found it yesterday.
Thursday, April 28th. Cloudy, fair weather. Moved camp and proceeded 6 miles down Snake river to near the American falls, here we had good feeding for the horses. All hands out visiting and setting their traps. Twenty-two beaver and two otter were taken, 11 of the beaver from the little creek in the plains. Below the rapids there is some little appearance of beaver notwithstanding the Americans passed this way last fall. Some of our hunters had trapped big river down to near the falls early in the spring.
Friday, April 29th. Stormy weather, very heavy rain mixed with hail and sleet. The unfavorable weather deterred us from moving camp but it did not prevent the people from visiting their traps and setting several more. 19 beaver were taken.
Saturday, April 30th. Heavy overcast weather with some rain in the morning. Cloudy, fine weather afternoon. The unfavorable appearance of the weather in the morning prevented us from raising camp. The men visited their traps and took 50 beaver in a small creek called the big storm river. This little stream appears to have been hunted by the Americans last fall, yet there are marks of beaver being still pretty numerous. Several of the people's horses became jaded and gave up by the way, some had to be left behind, and it was dark by the time others reached the encampment. The poor horses are still so lean and weak that they are unable to bear any kind of a hard day's work. They are in much want of a week's repose and good feeding, but the lateness of the season will not admit of our allowing them so much.
Sunday, May 1st, 1831. Heavy, cloudy weather, some showers in the afternoon. Moved camp and proceeded 12 miles S. by W. across a point to the little creek [Rock Creek] where the people have their traps set near the mountains, the road, though a little hilly, was good, considerable patches of snow occupying the north side of the little hills and the bottoms of the deep gullies. This little river is a narrow deep stream resembling the river Bannock, running between steep clayey banks. Where we are encamped is at the entrance of the mountains, the valley is not wide and no wood but some willows on the banks of the river. There is pretty good feeding here for the horses, but farther up the valley, where the snow has but lately disappeared, the men represent the grass as very indifferent, in many places scarcely any. All hands visited their traps, 65 beaver and 1 otter were brought to the camp, but the greater part of them were taken yesterday and left in cache. The traps this morning did not yield according to expectation.
Monday, May 2nd. Cloudy, fine weather, some showers in the afternoon. Did not move camp in order to allow the horses to feed, pretty good grass being at this place, and to allow the men time to take up their traps before we descend again to the Snake river. Some of the people have been up this river as far as there is any wood or beaver. 11 beaver were taken. Some of the men set their traps in the big river.
Tuesday, May 3rd. Cloudy, fine, warm weather forenoon; stormy with thunder and some rain towards evening. Moved camps, and proceeded 10 miles S. W. to the Snake river, where we encamped among hills on the small crawfish river. The road very hilly and fatiguing on the horses, many of whom were much fatigued on making the encampment. They were recompensed by excellent grazing. The men were on ahead setting their traps. 12 beaver and 1 otter were taken.
Wednesday, May 4th. Cloudy, stormy weather. Marched 10 miles W. S. W. to Raft river which we fell upon 10 or 15 miles from its junction with Snake river. The road good but very hilly the forepart of the journey. Raft river is now very high and muddy owing to the melting of the snow. There are some appearance of beaver in it though this part of it was hunted by the Americans last fall. The men visited and changed their traps. 11 beaver were taken. Some tracks of buffalo were seen on the opposite side of Snake river, and the tracks of some herds ascending the river. We have, if possible, to procure a stock of provisions as we have a long way to march through a country nearly destitute of animals of any kind, and this is the last place where we are likely to find any buffalo.
Thursday, May 5th. Cloudy, stormy weather, thunder and some very heavy rain towards morning. Marched 5 miles south up the river, when we encamped, and sent the most of the people after a large herd of buffalo which was discovered feeding in the mountain. Our horses have improved a little and are now able to catch them. The buffalo are beginning to get a little older, and though scarcely the appearance of fat is to be found on the meat, is tolerably palatable. The people visited their traps in the morning, 14 beaver were taken. Gave orders for the people not to go ahead lest they would disturb the buffalo and drive them farther off.
Friday, May 6th. Cloudy, fine weather. Did not move camp in order to allow the people to dry the meat which was killed yesterday. The buffalo are so lean now that they scarcely yield as much dry meat, and of an inferior quality, as one would do in the fall or early part of the winter. 5 beaver were taken.
Saturday, May 7th. Cloudy, fine weather. Marched 12 miles south up the river. The road good, but very indifferent feeding for the horses. A number of the people went after a herd of buffalo which was grazing on the opposite side of the river, and killed several, the meat of which the women are now busy drying. It is fortunate we find buffalo here as it saves us the trouble of going a long day's march to the Eastward, to a place out into the plains called the Fountain where buffalo are always said to be found. It would lose at least three days going to this plain. I had some trouble in preventing some of the men from running ahead of the camp with their traps and raising the animals. Some of them want no provisions themselves and are indifferent whether others have it in their power to get any or not. By missing the opportunity of collecting a little provisions now the people would be obliged to eat several of their horses before reaching the Fort, [Fort Nez Perce] as animals of any kind are uncertain. (?) beaver were taken.
Sunday, May 8th. Cloudy, fine weather. Marched 12 miles south up the river. The road still good, but grass for the horses very indifferent. A number of the people went in pursuit of a large herd of buffalo which was feeding on the opposite shore of the river, and killed a number of them, the meat of which is now being dried. Blackfeet are still following our camp. Two of the young men, who went out into the plain yesterday to discover buffalo, saw them, but were not sure, on account of the haze, whether it was men or antelopes. Two of the men who went back this morning for some traps which they had (left) behind saw the Indians coming to our camp after all the people had left it some time. (?) beaver were taken.
Monday, May 9th. Fine weather. Did not move camp in order to give the people time to kill some more buffalo. Some large herds were found at the foot of the mountains on this side of the river, a number of whom were killed. The most of the people have now nearly enough provisions, what little a few of the people still want we expect to find as we advance up the river. Some marks of Blackfeet were seen near the camp this morning. In the morning the buffalo were observed flying from the mountains to the eastward, and it is conjectured they were disturbed by a band of those marauders.
Tuesday, May 10th. Unpleasant, stormy weather. Raised camp, and proceeded 10 miles south up the river, the Roche, [Must refer to branch of Raft, not Rock river] where it becomes confined in a narrow valley. Here we found good feeding for the horses. No buffalo to be seen today until towards evening when a small band were observed in the mountain. Some of the people went after them, but only one was killed. One of the men, M. Plante, who went after the buffaloes was behind the others when returning and discovered a Blackfoot Indian on horseback and fired upon him but missed. The Indian made off towards the mountain, when five other Blackfeet were observed afoot. These scamps are still following us seeking an opportunity to steal.
Wednesday, May 11th. Cloudy, rather cold weather. Marched 10 miles S. S. W. up the river, the road good. We deviated a little from our straight road today in order to send off a party of our men to hunt in another direction tomorrow. The people visited some traps which were set yesterday and took 6 beaver. No buffalo nor the marks of any to be seen today.
Thursday, May 12th. Fine weather in the morning, but heavy rain and snow and very cold afterwards. Raised camp and marched 10 miles across the mountains, and encamped on a small rivulet of snow water. The head of Raft river appears in a deep valley to the west of us. The road on the mountains hilly and rugged and some places stony, and in places very boggy. The snow still lies in banks of considerable depth, and appears but very recently to have disappeared off most of the ground. The grass is barely beginning to spring up except on small spots exposed to the south, which has been some time clear of snow, where vegetation has made some progress. From the very ruggedness of the road and the badness of tile weather this was a harassing day both on horses and people. For want of water we could not encamp sooner. In order that we may make a better I separated a party this morning and sent 8 men, viz. C. Plante (who is in charge of the party), J. Deslard, F. Champagne, L. Rondeau, L. Quenstall, A. Dumarais, Bt. DubrielIe and A. Longtin to hunt to the Westward on the heads of small rivers which run into Snake river and on the Eastern fork of Sandwich Island River, [Owyhee river] while I with the remainder of the party proceed to the southward to Ogden's river, and then to the head of Sandwich Island river. Plante was directed to push on and make a good encampment today so that he might get out of the reach of the Blackfeet who are still following our track, but instead of doing so some of the people who went in pursuit of a horse that followed the party found the encampment only a few miles from our last night's station. If they push on they will in a short time be out of the reach of the Blackfeet.
Friday, May 13th. Raw, cold weather, froze keen in the night. Marched 15 miles S. E. to the entrance to the plain [Near to Kelton, Utah] of Great Salt Lake. The road very hilly and rugged, numerous gullies to pass, several of which are still full of snow, through which the horses sometimes with difficulty dragged themselves. Nearly all this day's journey through the mountains the snow has but recently disappeared even in patches, and the grass is still so imbedded with water that the horses nearly bog in it. Except a few spots here and there the grass is barely beginning to shoot up, and in many places vegetation is not yet commenced. Where we are encamped there is a little grass for the horses. This was a fatiguing day on both men and horses, many of the latter with difficulty reached the encampment.
Saturday, May 14th. Cloudy, cold weather. Marched 12 miles S. along the foot of the mountains, and encamped on a small river on Mr. Ogden's usual road to Odgen's river. The road today was good and pretty level though intersected by several gullies, some of which are still full of snow. The mountains to the West are still partially covered with snow, and appear very rugged. To the eastward lies the great plain thickly studded with clumps of hills. About this neighborhood we expected to find some buffalo, and that such of the people as are short of provisions would furnish themselves with some more, but not the mark of a buffalo is to be seen. There are a good many antelopes in the plains and some black-tail chevereau.
Sunday, May 15th. Cloudy, fine weather. The air rather cool in the neighborhood of the snow-clad mountains. Proceeded on our journey 8 miles south, when we encamped on a small rivulet which barely yields sufficient water for the horses. No water being found near was the cause of our putting up so early at this place. The road lay along the foot of the mountains, and though hilly was good. It was intersected by several gullies, some of which are still full of snow. Large hills and points of mountains lay below us and the plains than yesterday. Found an old Snake Indian woman who said her people were encamped near some of the people: also found three men of the same nation with horses. These people seldom venture from the mountains, they are now employed collecting roots, none of them have yet ventured to our camp.
Monday, May 16th. Cloudy, cool weather in the morning, fine weather afterwards. Continued our route 13 miles south to what is called the Fountain, which is a small spring of indifferent brackish water in the plain where the soil is mixed with saline matter. Not only water is scarce here but there is very little grass for our horses. The road though hilly is pretty good, it lay down a deep gully and over several hills before we reached the plain. Ranges of mountains covered with snow ran to the westward, besides the plain is studded with detached hills, several of which are still covered with snow. On reaching the plain it appears to be eastward like an immense lake with black, rocky hills, here and there like islands large tracts of the plain appear perfectly white and destitute of any kind of vegetation it is said to be composed of white clay. A small lake appears in it at some distance. To the South E. is the Utah lake and river, to the southward the ( ? ) is said to be destitute of water for a long way, yet snow-capped mountains appear in that direction. We found a few Snake Indians encamped here, and a party of 20 men visited us from farther out in the plain. Some leather and other trifles were traded from them by the people.
Tuesday, May 17th. Fine weather. Continued our march 10 miles W. S. W. to small rivulet of indifferent brackish water which winds through a salt, marshy valley. There is pretty good feeding for the horses. The road pretty good and level though there are detached hills on each side of us. The rivulet is lost in the plain a little below our encampment.
Wednesday, May 18th. Fine, warm weather. Proceeded 7 miles W. S. W. up the little rivulet, which continues of the same appearance and about the same size. We encamped early on account of no water being to be found farther on. Tomorrow we have a very long encampment to make.
Thursday, May 19th. Cloudy, fine, warm weather. Continued our journey at an early hour and marched 25 miles S. S. W. to a range of mountains which we crossed, and then across a plain to a small rivulet which we found unexpectedly in the middle of it. The road good but hilly crossing the mountains. Not a drop of water to be had all the way. We found water near two hours march sooner than we expected, yet several of the horses were much jaded, some of them nearly giving up. That and the dirt were more oppressive upon them than the distance they came. The mountains round this valley [Grouse Creek Valley] and plain are not very high, yet in places still covered with snow. The track of elk, black-tail deer are seen in the mountains but could not be approached. Cabins (?) are seen in the plains, but all very shy. The hunters saw some Indians; the naked wretches fled to the mountains. None of them visited our camp.
Friday, May 20th. Fine, warm weather. Continued our course 12 miles S. S. W. across the plain where we encamped on a small stream of brackish water which runs through salt marsh, and in a short distance is lost in the plain.
Saturday, May 21st. Fine weather, a thunder storm and a little rain. Proceeded on our journey 16 miles W. S. W. over a rough, stony though not high mountain, and then across a plain to a lake, where we had the satisfaction to find good water. The road over the mountains stony and rugged, but across the plain very good. A range of high mountains covered with snow appear ahead of us. Some antelopes are seen in the plains, but no appearance of any other animals.
Sunday, May 22nd. Sultry, warm weather. Marched 20 miles W. N. W. to the W. end of a steep snowy mountain, there we encamped in a small creek which rises from the mountain, the waters of which are lost in the plains below. This morning we left Mr. Ogden's track to Ogden's river in hopes to reach the river sooner and fall upon it a few day's march higher up than the usual route. Our road good, lay through an extensive plain. From the heat of the day and the distance marched the horses were much jaded and the people fatigued on nearing the encampment. However, we have good water and excellent feeding for the horses. Several naked starved looking Indians visited the camp. We have been seeing the tracks of these people every day, but seldom any of them venture to approach us.
Monday, May 23rd. Warm weather. Continued our journey at an early hour and marched 16 miles W. N. W. through a small defile across the end of the mountain and down a plain to the E. fork of Ogden's [Humboldt] river. This branch river runs through a low part of the plain which is now a swamp owing to the height of the water, the river having overflowed its banks. Several of the people were ahead both up and down the river with their traps. No vestiges of beaver are to be seen on the fork where we are encamped, though some of the people ascended it to near the mountains. In the middle or principal fork the water is so high that the river can only be approached in places the banks being overflowed and the low ground in its neighborhood inundated it is difficult to discern any marks of beaver, nevertheless, several traps were set at a venture.
Tuesday, May 24th. Warm, sultry weather. Marched 15 miles W. N. W. across the plain to the middle fork of the river. We had some difficulty crossing the E. fork, several of the horses bogged in its swampy banks. The road across the plain pretty good; the low ground through which the river runs is nearly all flooded. The river here has a good deal of willows on its banks. Only three beaver were taken. The people begin to apprehend there are but few beaver in the river, and from the height of the water these few cannot be taken. This part of the river was hunted two years ago by a party of hunters which Mr. Ogden sent this way, they found a good many beaver and supposed the river was not clean trapped.
Wednesday, May 25th. Overcast, thunder and heavy rain afternoon. Proceeded
10 miles up the river which here runs from N. to S., the road good, the banks of
the river everywhere overflowed. Four beaver and 1 otter were taken. The part of
the river we passed today is well-wooded with willows, and appears well-adapted
for beaver, yet few appear to be in it. A party of Indians visited our camp this
morning and exchanged two horses with the people. Some of the people were out
hunting. F. Payette and L. Kanotti killed each an antelope. These are the only
animals to be seen here, and they are so shy that it is difficult to kill any of
them. Several of the people are getting short of provisions, and not finding
beaver here as was expected is discouraging the people.
Thursday, May 26th. Overcast weather, blowing fresh. Did not raise camp in order to allow our horse to feed and repose a little, of which they are in much want, they having been nearly 16 days without one day's rest, they are all very lean and many of them much jaded. I was still expecting to find some beaver that we might allow the horses to recruit a little and hunt at the same time, and was induced to push on even to the injury to some of the horses. The people visited their traps but only four beaver were taken. Those who went farther up the river bring no better accounts of the appearance of beaver. The water is falling a little above. A party of Snake Indians visited us. They informed us that there are a few small streams in the mountains where there are a few beaver.
Friday, May 27th. Cloudy, fine weather. Continued our journey 12 miles up the river to a small branch which falls in from the north, the main stream running here from the west. The head of this small fork is close to the head of the Big Stone [probably Salmon river] river which falls into Snake river. The road pretty good till we reached the fork, where, on account of the water, it is a perfect bog and we had much difficulty in crossing it, several of the horses bogged and some of the things were wet. 4 beaver were taken. No better signs of beaver. Some of the people were hunting antelopes, which are the only animals to be seen here, but only one was killed.
Saturday, May 28th. Stormy, cold weather. Proceeded on our journey 16 miles up the river west to above where it is enclosed between steep, rocky hills. The road part of the way very hilly and rugged and so stony that the horses ran much risk of breaking their legs. Here we found a place where the river is fordable. The water has subsided a little within these few days. During this day's march the river is well wooded with poplar and willows, yet there is very little appearance of beaver, only three were taken today. Four of the young men who left the camp on the 25th arrived in the evening. They struck across the country to the W. fork of the river which they ascend to the mountains, and did not find a mark of a beaver to induce them to put a trap in the wet. That branch, like the one we are on, has overflowed its banks. The young men on the way here passed two small streams which run towards Snake river.
Sunday, May 20th. Stormy, raw, cold weather. Crossed the river in the morning and proceeded across the mountains 10 miles S. S. W. to a small stream which falls into Bruneau river. The road hilly and rugged and very swampy on the banks of the little river which we crossed. There is still a good deal of snow in large banks in the mountains, it appears not to have been long since it disappeared in the valleys as the grass is still very short and vegetation but little advanced. A few of the people who imagined the river was not fordable above remained at a narrow part in the rocks yesterday evening and made a bridge by felling trees so that they fell across the river over which they carried their baggage but in crossing their horses, one belonging to G. R. Rocque was drowned.
Monday, May 30th. Mild weather in the morning, which was succeeded by a violent thunder storm which continued a considerable time. Stormy, cold weather during the remainder of the day. The unfavorable weather deterred us from raising camp.
Thursday, May 31st. Stormy, cold weather, some showers in the morning, and a heavy snow storm in the evening, keen frost last night. Continued our journey 13 miles across the mountains to a small stream which we suppose falls into Sandwich Island river. The road very hilly and rugged, being over a number of deep gullies. There is also a good deal of snow on the mountains, some bars of which we had to cross. The country has a bare appearance. Not an animal except a chance antelope to be seen.
Friday, June 1st. Keen frost in the night, stormy, cold weather during the day. Continued our route 12 miles W. across the mountains and down into the valley where a number of small branches fell in from the mountains and formed the head of the E. fork of Sandwich Island river. This little valley is about 20 miles long and 15 wide. A small fork falls in from the S., 2 from the eastward, one from the W., all of which form one stream which runs to the N. W. through a narrow channel bordered by steep, impassable rocks. The different forks in the valley have some willows on the banks and seem well adapted for beaver, yet the men who have been out in every direction setting the traps complain that the marks of beaver are scarce. The water has been lately very high and all the plain overflowed, though this valley has not been known ever to have been hunted, but is now subsiding. To the southward there is a small height of land which separates the waters of this river from a fork of Ogden's river, to the westward there is a high rugged mountain covered with snow. Our road today was very rugged and hilly, and in many places boggy, the snow having but very recently gone off the ground, indeed, we passed over several banks of it.
Saturday, June 1st. Fine weather. We are like to be devoured by mosquitoes. Did not raise camp that we might see what beaver might be taken. The people visited and changed their traps. Only 12 beaver were taken, which is nothing for the number of traps, 150, which were in the water, and what is worse the men complain there is little signs of any more worth while being got. Several of the people were out hunting, but with little success, which I regret as provisions are getting pretty scarce in the camp. Not an animal to be seen but antelopes and but few of them, and even these are so shy that it is difficult to approach them. There are some cranes in the valley but almost as difficult to be got at as the antelopes. The hunters observe the tracks of some sheep in the mountains, but they appear to have been driven off by some straggling Indians whose tracks are seen. Altogether this is a very poor country. Owing to the lateness of the Spring the Indians who frequent these parts to collect roots have not yet assembled so that even a few roots, bad as they are, are not to be got to assist those who are scarce of food.
Sunday, June 3rd. Cloudy, fine weather. Continued our journey 12 miles S. S. W. to a branch of Ogden's river where it issues from a steep, snow covered mountain. This stream is well wooded with poplar and willows, and appears well adapted for beaver, yet the people found only one solitary lodge in it and scarcely a mark of beaver either old or new, though they examined it for a considerable distance. One man set a few traps. Seven of the men: A. Findlay, P. Findlay, M. Findlay, M. Plante. A. Plante, Bt. Gardipie and Soteatix St. Germain, separated from the party this morning in order to proceed down the river, if practicable and thence by the usual road to the fort by Snake river, and endeavor to pick up a few beaver by the way, but principally to procure some animals to subsist on. These men are all half Indians, some of them with large families, and placing too much reliance on their capacity as hunters did not take so much precaution as the other men to provide a stock of food previous to leaving the buffalo, they are, therefore, now entirely out of provisions, and it is expected they will have a little chance of killing antelopes and cheveau when only a few than when the camp is all together. 7 beaver were taken this morning, making 19 in all in this valley where we expected to make a good hunt.
Monday, June 4th. Very stormy, cold weather. Crossed the mountains a distance of 18 miles S. S. W. to a small stream which falls into the W. branch of Sandwich Island river. The road very hilly and rugged and in places stony: we had several banks of snow to pass. The road was in places nearly barred with burnt fallen wood. The little fork, where we are encamped, is well wooded with poplar and willows, yet only in two places are the marks of beaver to be seen. Some of them men have proceeded on to the main branch and set 22 traps where they saw the appearance of some beaver.
Tuesday, June 5th. Stormy, cold weather. Continued our route 9 miles S. S. W. to the main branch of the river, road hilly and rugged. Crossed a small stream with a number of hot springs on its banks, some of them near a boiling temperature. The river here has been lately very high, and overflowed its banks, but the waters are subsiding, and river about 10 yards wide. Have fallen a good deal. The traps which were set yesterday produced only 6 beaver. This seems to be a miserably poor country, not even an antelope to be seen on the plains. The tracks of some sheep are to be seen on the mountains, but they are so shy there is no approaching them. Some Indians visited our camp this morning and traded a few roots, but the quantity was very small.
Wednesday, June 6th. Stormy, cold weather. Did not raise camp. The men went out in different directions with their traps. Those which were in the water yesterday, provided 14 beaver. The men begin to have a little more expectations. The Indians stole two traps in the night, one from Kanota and one from A. Hoole. There is no means of pursuing or finding out the thief as they ran to the mountains. There is no doubt they came to attempt stealing the horses, but not finding an opportunity they fell in with and carried off the traps.
Thursday, June 7th. Still raw, cold weather, blowing fresh. Some of the people went with the traps to some small streams which fell in from the eastward which was not hunted by Mr. Ogden's people when they hunted here two years ago. They saw the appearance of a few beaver.
Friday, June 8th. Weather mild these three days past. Moved a few miles down the river to a better situation for the horses and where we will be a little nearer the people with their traps. 17 beaver were taken. Some of the people moved their traps a little farther down the river. The road is very hilly, rugged and stony. Some Indians visited our camp this morning with a few roots.
Saturday, June 9th. Did not raise camp. The people visited and changed their traps. 7 beaver were taken. Some of the men have not returned from the traps.
Sunday, June 10th. Cloudy, cold weather. Did not move camp. 18 beaver were taken. 2 traps stolen from Pichetto. The men who went farthest down the river returned and report that there are but small signs of beaver. Those from the forks to the eastward say there are a few there. Some Indians visited us with a few roots to trade. Miserably poor as these wretches are and the small quantity of roots they bring yet it provides several people with a meal occasionally which is very acceptable to them as provisions previous to the late supply of beaver was becoming very scarce among us.
Monday, June 11th. Warm, fine weather. Did not move camp. Several beaver were taken. There is still a chance beaver in the little forks to the eastward and down the river towards the rocks where the river bears so rapidly that no beaver are to be found, but not enough to employ all the people or worth while to delay for the season being so far advanced. We, therefore, intend to move up the river tomorrow and hunt the head of it.
Tuesday, June 12th. Cloudy, sultry weather in the morning, which was succeeded by thunder and heavy rain and hail, raw, cold weather afternoon. Raised camp and moved 7 miles up the river, where we had to encamp with the bad weather. 6 beaver were taken, two traps stolen from Pichette and 1 from Royer.
Wednesday, June 13th. Overcast, blowing fresh towards evening. Proceeded up the river [Head of Owyhee river] 11 miles S. S. W. to opposite a a branch which falls in from the eastward. Here the trappers with Mr. Ogden crossed the mountains from Ogden's river to this plain two years ago. I meant to have taken the same road but have altered the plan by its being represented to me that several days will be saved and some bad stony road avoided by crossing the mountains farther to the southward, and falling upon Ogden river farther down. In this part of the river we will miss the few beaver to be expected. Some of the men visited the head of the river to the mountain, and two forks that fall in from the eastward to near the same, and though they are well-wooded and apparently well adapted for beaver, yet scarely a mark of them is to be seen.
Thursday, June 14th. Fair weather. Continued our journey 18 miles across the mountains, viz.: S. W. 9 miles to the top of the mountains and S. 9 miles down the S. side of the mountains, the road hilly and uneven and in places stony. The mountains, though not high, have still patches of snow here and there upon them. Some of the people are out hunting but without success. A chance antelope is the only animal to be seen, and these are so shy that it is very difficult to approach them. The hunters saw three Indians, and the men who were on discovery yesterday saw some more, and their tracks are to be seen in every direction, yet none of them visit our camp.
Friday, June 15th. Fine, warm weather. Did not raise camp on account of one of the women being brought to bed. Some of the people were out hunting but without success.
Saturday, June 16th. Fine weather. Continued our route 12 miles, S. over a number of hills and valleys to a small river where we encamped for the night. The road good, but here and there stony and generally gravelly and hard, which much wears down the horses' hoofs and renders their feet sore. These nights past we have had sharp frost, but here the weather is sultry, and we are annoyed with mosquitoes, which will neither give ourselves peace nor allow the poor horses to feed.
Sunday, June 17th. Fine, warm weather. Marched 21 miles S. S. W. along the side of an extensive plain to near Ogden's river. The plain here is partially overflowed and become a swamp, we can scarcely find a spot to encamp. Among the lodges the horses are nearly bogging, and to mend the matter we are like to be devoured by innumerable swarms of mosquitoes which do not allow us a moment's tranquillity, and so torment the horses that notwithstanding their long day's march they cannot feed. All hands are ahead of the camp with their traps, but found the river so high, having overflowed its banks, that they could not approach it except in chance places. Three of the men set 9 traps, which were all that could be put in the water. I much regret finding the river so high that it cannot be hunted as the people's last reliance was upon the few beaver which they expected to take in it in order to make up the hunt, but, more particularly, for food. The most of them are becoming very scarce of provisions, and they have now no other recourse but to kill horses. Some of the people nearly devoured their horses crossing the swamp on their way to the camp. They saw a small herd of antelopes in the plain, but they could not be approached. A few wild fowl were killed, of which there a good many in the swamp.
Monday, June 16th. Cloudy, warm, sultry weather. Pursued our journey 14 miles S. S. W. and 7 miles W. down the river. Marched longer today than intended not being able to find a place to encamp in consequence of the swamping of the banks of the river, which are almost everywhere overflowed. The men were sent along the river with their traps, but not one could be set. Only one beaver was taken in the 9 which were set yesterday. It is the opinion of the more experienced hunters that there are a few beaver still in this part of the river, but owing to the height of the water they cannot be taken. People passed twice this way about this season of the year before but never saw the water so high as at present. We expected to have found some lndians here and obtained some eatables from them, either roots or anything or another, but none are to be seen in consequence of the height of the water; they cannot remain on the river but are off to the mountains.
Tuesday, June 19th. Clear, very warm weather. Continued our journey 16 miles down the river which here runs to the N. W. The river is still full to the banks and all the low plains overflowed. The men again visited the river but could not put a trap in the water. Both people and horses are like to be devoured by innumerable swarms of mosquitoes and sand flies. The horses cannot feed they are so much annoyed by them, the banks of the river are so swampy that they bog when they approach to drink.
Wednesday, June 20. Overcast, thunder and very heavy rain afternoon. Continued our journey 19 miles to the N. W. along the river and then to the foot of the mountains, where we found a little water and some grass for the horses. These three days the river runs through an extensive plain, the mountains approach close to it. The farther we descend the river it becomes more difficult to approach on account of its banks being overflowed. Two of the men, J. Troupe and G. Rocque, killed a horse having nothing to eat, the provisions being all gone. On leaving the buffalo the people calculated on getting a few beaver and did not lay in such a stock of provisions as they otherwise would have done. This is really a miserable, poor country, not even an antelope to be seen.
Thursday, June 21. Cloudy, fine weather, blowing fresh in the morning. Proceeded across the mountain, and then across an extensive plain 20 miles W. to a small fork which falls into Ogden's river. By this route we saved two days' journey besides going round by the river. To our great disappointment and contrary to our expectations we found the little river had overflowed its banks and the plain in its neighborhood in a swamp so that we could not approach it; it is to be apprehended we will have much trouble crossing it. The different parties which formerly passed this way found this little creek with very little water in it. Several of the people were out hunting but did not see an animal. They expected to find some antelopes in the hills.
Friday, June 22nd. Warm, sultry weather. Proceeded up the river three miles N. N. W. and succeeded in crossing it by means of a bridge of willows. The river here is narrower but very deep with clayey banks so steep and soft that the horses could not get out of it were they thrown in to swim across. Too, near this plain its banks were so overflowed that it could not be approached. This was a hard day's work both on people and horses. The horses, as well as people, are like to be devoured by swarms of mosquitoes and gadflies. The river here is well flooded, and seems remarkably well adapted for beaver, yet there is not the least mark of any to be seen in it.
Saturday, June 23rd. Fine, warm weather. Continued our journey 15 miles W. N. W. across the plain to the foot of the mountains. We crossed two other forks of the same river we left in the morning, one of them much larger than it, but we found a good ford. Some Indians were seen along the mountains, but they fled on our approach.
Sunday, June 24th. Clear, fine weather. Crossed the mountain 19 miles W. N. W. Road very hilly and stony. From the steepness and highness of the mountain and the badness of the road this was a most harassing and fatiguing day on both men and horses. We find tracks of Indians but none of them approach us. The best hunters of the party were out in the mountains, which have still a good deal of snow on them, in in quest of sheep, but without success. They saw the tracks of some, but could not find them.
Monday, June 25th. Clear, warm weather. Marched seven miles N. N. E. along the foot of the mountain, and 15 miles across the plain to a little river which runs to the southward, and which we found impassable, its banks having been lately overflowed, and remain still like a quagmire. The best hunters are out, but as usual did not see a single animal of any sort. One of the men, P. O'Brien ( ?), was under the necessity of killing one of his horses to eat. Thus are the people in this miserable country obliged to kill and feed upon these useful animals, the companions of their labors. We passed a small Indian camp, but the poor, frightened wretches fled on our appearance and concealed themselves among the wormwood. Only two men who were on ahead saw any of them.
Tuesday, June 26th. Very warm, sultry weather. Marched five miles N. up the river to a place where we crossed one of its forks with little trouble, but the other which was close, too, was very difficult, the men had to wade across it with the baggage, its banks are like a morass, and several of the horses bogged so that they had to be dragged out. Crossed a plain five miles N. N. W. to another fork, which we crossed without further difficulty than bogging a few of the horses. This was a most harassing and fatiguing day both on men and horses.
Wednesday, June 27th. Blowing fresh, yet very warm weather. Continued our march 15 miles N. W. along the foot of the mountains to a small rivulet which falls into the river we passed yesterday. The road good but in places stony and embarrassed with wormwood. The hunters were out today but without success. Two antelopes were seen yesterday, which was a novelty.
Thursday, June 28th. Very warm weather, though blowing fresh the after part of the day. Proceeded on our journey 23 miles N. W. along the foot of the mountains, crossed the head of the river we left two days ago, and over the hill to a small rivulet, which is said to be a fork of the Owhyhee river. The road good, but in places stony. The hunters were out. F. Payette had the good fortune to kill a male antelope. One of the men saw four sheep on the plain, but did not kill any of them.
Friday, June 29th. Blowing fresh, which rendered the weather a little cool and pleasant. Marched 28 miles N. N. W. first across a plain and salt swamp and over a range of hills and across another valley, part of which has the appearance of the bed of a lake, but is quite dry and hard, and encamped near the foot of a mountain covered with snow. The road in some places stony, and from the length of the encampments very fatiguing both on horses and people, neither of which have a moment's quietness either to feed or repose, they are so annoyed with immense swarms of mosquitoes. The hunters were out, but without success. They saw the tracks of some antelopes and sheep. Some Indian tracks were seen, but none of them approach us, some of them had horses.
Saturday, June 30th. Warm and very sultry in the morning, a breeze of wind afterwards. Continued our journey along the foot of the mountains [Stein's Mountains] 18 miles N. by W., the road good. Passed two small lakes, in one of which the people found a good many eggs. S. Kanota killed an antelope, and F. Payette a young one. A. Letendre had to kill one of his horses to eat.
Sunday, July 1st. Fine weather. Our road lay along the foot of the mountains 12 miles N. W. Part of the road very hilly and very stony. The stony road and continual mounting wearing out the horses' hoofs and rendering them lame. Though the mountains in our neighborhood have still patches of snow on them, the little creek where we are encamped barely affords sufficient water for the horses to drink. The hunters killed nothing today. J. Despard killed one of his horses.
Monday, July 2nd. Fine weather. Continued our journey N. W. 19 miles to Sylvalle's Lake. [Malheur Lake] The road part of the day stony. and the water brackish and so very bad that it is like a vomit to drink it. The hunters were out but without success. There are a number of wild fowl in the lake, but they are so shy that they cannot be approached.
Tuesday, July 3d. Warm, sultry weather, a thunder storm in the evening. Our road lay along the lake and across a point to Sylvalle's River [Silvies' River] in rather a circuitous road, nearly W. N. W. 20 miles. The road good. Some of the men set a few traps, they saw the appearance of a chance beaver.
Wednesday, July 4th. Very warm, but blowing fresh afternoon. Continued our journey up the river is miles N. N. W. to the first rocks. The horses like to be devoured by gadflies. F. Payette went to hunt yesterday and returned today with two antelopes. L. Kanota also killed two. The traps which were set yesterday produced four beaver.
Thursday, July 5th. Very warm weather. Did not raise camp in order to allow the horses to repose, of which they are in much need, they having marched 19 days successively without stopping a day to rest. They have been becoming lean for some time back and their hoofs are so much worn that some of them are becoming lame. The most of the people set their traps yesterday, 13 beaver were taken. The hunters were out. A. Houle killed a chevereau and the boy, Prevost, an antelope. Four Indians paid us a visit; they had nothing with them to trade; they received a few trifles, and promised to return with some roots to trade.
Friday, July 6th. Fine weather. Marched about 18 miles N. N. W. across a point, and fell again upon the river, by this road it is shorter than by following all the turns of the river. The people out with the traps, five beaver and one otter taken. In the morning one of the men arrived with a load of young herons, he found a place where they were very numerous. Some more of the people who are short of food immediately went to get a supply. These birds are very fat. Some of the people say they are very good, others say that they are scarcely eatable. Some of the people went off to hunt and have not yet returned. Fine weather.
Saturday, July 7th. Continued our journey 20 miles up the river N. N. W. Road stony, hilly and uneven. Five beaver were taken. The hunters arrived. A. Houle killed one elk and three black-tailed chevereau, and the boy, Prevost, one young elk. The men with the camp caught a wounded deer out of the river.
Sunday, July 8th. Fine weather. Proceeded up the river 15 miles N. N. W. to the head of the second valley. Three beaver were taken. Some antelopes seen crossing the valley, but none taken.
Monday, July 9th. Fine, warm weather, blowing fresh afternoon. Left the river which is enclosed by steep hills, and struck across the hills and fell upon the river at the head of the upper valley at the foot of the mountains, a distance of 13 miles N. W. The road good. The hills we passed in the morning well timbered with lofty pines, the valley is clear of wood except some willows along the different forks of the river. Two hunters were out. A. Hoole killed an antelope, and T. Senatoen a chiveau.
Tuesday, July 10th. Very warm weather, still a breeze of wind in the afterpart of the day. Crossed the mountains to Day's River [John Day river] a distance of 22 miles N.W. The road very hilly and steep, particularly the N. side of the mountain. The mountain is thickly wooded with tall pine timber. Both people and horses much fatigued on nearing the camp, part of the road stony. Day's River is well wooded with poplar and willows. Two Indians visited our camp this morning and traded five beaver.
Wednesday, July 11th. Very warm sultry weather. Proceeded down the river 16 miles W. Parts of the road hilly and stony and very fatiguing on the horses, several of whom gave up on the way and with difficulty reached the camp. Some of the men set a few traps yesterday and took two beaver this morning.
Thursday, July 12th. Very warm weather. Continued our route down the river, which still runs to the westward 11 miles, when we stopped near a camp of Snake Indians who have the river barred across for the purpose of catching salmon. We, with difficulty, obtained a few salmon from them perhaps enough to give all hands a meal. They are taking very few salmon, and are complaining of being hungry themselves. No roots can be obtained from them, but some of the men traded two or three dogs, but even the few of these animals they have are very lean, a sure sign of a scarcity of food among Indians. We found two horses with these people who were stolen from the men which I left on Snake River in September last. They gave up the horses without hesitation, and said they had received them from another band that are in the mountains with some more horses which were stolen at the same time. It appears from the account that early in the spring some Snakes stole 13 horses from these men at the same time, and immediately made their way to this quarter with them. The uncertainty of finding the Indians with the rest of the horses in the mountains, the fatigued state of our horses, the advanced state of the Season, and above all the scarcity of food among the people deters me from sending some men in search of those horses. I have offered the Indians a reward if they will go and bring them. I also offered them a little remuneration for the two they had here. Part of the way today the road lay over rugged rocks on the banks of the river, and was very hard on the already wounded feet of the horses. Five beaver were taken in the morning.
Friday, July 13th. Fine weather. Did not raise camp in order to repose the horses for a little. Only three or four salmon could be obtained from the Indians. They complain of being starving themselves. One beaver was taken.
Saturday, July 14th. Cool, pleasant weather. Continued our journey down the river 25 miles W. The road very hilly and stony. The horses jaded and the people exhausted on reaching the encampment. Only three or four salmon could be obtained from the Indians in the morning before we started.
Sunday, July 15th. Fine, cool, pleasant weather. Continued our course W. eight miles down the river to another fork [North fork of John Day river] equally as large, which falls in from the N., up which we proceeded seven miles. The road continued hilly and stony. These two days the people found great quantities of currants along the banks of the river.
Monday, July 16th. Fine weather. Proceeded eight miles N. E. up the river, then we took a northern direction for eleven miles across the mountains, which was here thickly wooded, the road in places very stony and very hilly and uneven, and very fatiguing both on men and horses. The hunters were out, but without success except one deer which F. Payette killed. Unfortunately we have but very indifferent feeding for the horses after the hard day's work.
Tuesday, July 17th. Fine weather. Continued our journey across the mountains 25 miles N. W. The country the same in appearance as yesterday until we got out of the woods in the after part of the day, when the road lay over a number of naked stony hills. [Southwest of Pendleton] The length of the day's journey and the badness of the road rendered this a harrassing day both on men and horses. Some fresh tracks of red deer were seen in the course of the day, but they could not be come up with.
Wednesday, July 18th. Cool in the morning but very sultry, warm weather afterwards. Proceeded ahead of the camp early in the morning accompanied by seven men and arrived at Fort Nezperces in the afternoon. Mainly through there being soft sand during the beat of the day was excessively oppressive on the horses as well as the riders.
Thursday, July 19th. Stormy but warm weather. The different parties who separated from the camp have arrived, Plante and party yesterday, the others some time ago. The party whom I left in September had the misfortune to lose the whole of the horses, nearly 30 in number, early in the spring. They imprudently allowed them to stray a short distance from the camp where there were a few Indians in the evening about sunset. The loss was the result of a great degree of negligence on the part of the men. They also put what few skins they had with, other articles in cache which the Indians found and carried off, from a pack to a pack and a half of the few beaver they had. The half breeds lost two of the horses by theft, and made but very few skins. Plant and party also found very few beaver, but they lost no horses.
Friday, July 20th. Fine weather. The people whom I left two days ago arrived safe. Since our spring journey commenced we have traveled upward of 1000 miles, and from the height of the water and scarcity of beaver we have very little for the labor and trouble which we experienced. Previous to taking up our winter quarters last fall we traveled upwards of 980 miles, which, with the different moves made during the winter makes better than 2000 miles traveled during our voyage.
Total loss of horses during the voyage, 82, viz.: Stolen by the Blackfeet
when P. L. Clay was killed, 3; stolen by the Snake Indians from A. Case and
party, 22; stolen by the Snake Indians from my party during winter, 3; stolen by
the Snake Indians from the half-breeds in summer after leaving me, 2; died or
gave up on the way previous to reaching the three hill plains in the fall, 1 by
Toupin, 1 by Dumas, and 3 by the half breeds when they left the party on Salmon
River, 5; died or left crossing the plain in the fall, 26; died during the
winter, 11; killed for food by A. Carson and party, 3; killed for food by my
party during summer, 5; killed for food by C. Plante's party during summer, 1;
drowned crossing a river by Royer, 1 ; total, 82.