The Young Alaskans on the Missouri
by Emerson Hough
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"What do you say, boys? Shall we travel by rail or pack train now?"

With one shout they all voted for the pack train. "We couldn't get along without Billy now, anyhow," said Jesse, "because he knows the Journal as well as we do, and he knows the country better."

"Thank you, son. Well, I guess old Sleepy won't die before we get there, though he pretends he can hardly go. Say we get back into the side creeks a little and pick up a mess of fish now and then, and make the Beaverhead a couple of camps later? How'd that be?"

"That's all right, I think," said Rob. "I'd like to get a look at the main river, to see why the names change on it so. First it's the main Missouri; then they conclude to call it the Jefferson—only because the other two forks spread so wide there. Then it runs along all right, and all at once they call it the Beaverhead. And before it gets used to that name they change it to Red River for no reason at all, or because it heads south and runs near a painted butte. Yet it is one continuous river all the way."

"The real way to name a river," said Billy, sagely, "is after you know all about it. You got to remember that Lewis and Clark saw this for the first time. By the time we make the Beaverhead Rock, we'll be willing to say they had a hard job. People could get lost in these hills even now, if they stepped off the road."

"All set for the Beaverhead Rock!" said Uncle Dick, decisively.

Soon they had settled to their steady jog, Nigger sometimes getting lost in the willows, and Sleepy straying off in his hunt for thistles when the country opened out more. They did not hurry, but moved along among the meadows and fields, talking, laughing, studying the wide and varying landscape about them. That night, as Billy had promised them, they had their first trout for supper, which Billy brought in after a short sneak among the willows with a stick for a rod and a grasshopper for bait.

"That's nothing," said he. "I'll take you to where's some real fishing, if you like."

"Where's that?" demanded John, who also was getting very keen set for sport of some sort.

"Oh, off toward the utmost source of the true Missouri!" said he. "You just wait. I'll show you something."



"It's quite a bit of country, after all, between the Forks and the head, isn't it?" remarked Rob, on their fourth day out from the junction of the river. "I don't blame them for taking a month to it."

"We're beating them on their schedule, at that," said the studious John. "At the Forks we were exactly even up, July 27th; we'd beat them just exactly one year at that point, which they called the head of the river. But they went slow in here, in these big beaver meadows; ten miles daily was big travel, wading, and not half of that gained in actual straight distance. It took them ten days to the Beaverhead. How far's that from here, Billy?"

"Well, what do you think?" said Billy, pulling up and sitting crosswise in his saddle as he turned. "See anything particular from this side the hills?"

"I know!" exclaimed Rob. "That's the Rock over yonder—across the river."

"Check it up on the Journal, Rob," said Uncle Dick.

Rob dismounted and opened his saddle pocket, producing his copy of the cherished work.

"Sure it is!" said he. "Here it says:

"'The Indian woman recognized the point of a high plain to our right which she informed us was not very distant from the summer retreat of her nation on a river beyond the mountains which runs to the west. this hill she says her nation calls the beaver's head from a conceived re(se)mblance of it's figure to the head of that animal. she assures us that we shall either find her people on this river or on the river immediately west of it's source; which from it's present size cannot be very distant. as it is now all important with us to meet with those people as soon as possible I determined to proceed tomorrow with a small party to the source of the principal stream of this river and pass the mountains to the Columbia; and down that river untill I found the Indians; in short it is my resolution to find them or some others who have horses if it should cause me a trip of one month.'

"So that must be the Rock over yonder. We're below the canyon, and below the Wisdom, and below the Philanthropy, and below the end of the railroad, and in the third valley. Besides, look at it. Just as sure as Sacagawea was about it!"

"You're right," said Billy. "That's the Point of Rocks, as it's called now."

They made down to the edge of the valley and went into camp across from the great promontory which so long had served as landmark in all that country. That night all of them forded the river horseback and rode close to the historic point. Jesse, who was prowling around on foot, as was his habit, closely examining all he saw, suddenly stooped, then rose with an exclamation.

"See what I've found!" said he.

"What is it—a gold nugget?" asked his uncle.

"No. An arrowhead. Funny one—looks like it was made of glass, and black glass at that."

Uncle Dick examined it closely.

"Jesse," said he, "that's one of the most interesting things we've run across on this whole trip. Did you know that?"

"No. Why?"

"You wouldn't think that arrowhead was going to take you to the true head of the Missouri, and to good fishing for trout and grayling, would you?"

"Why, no! How's that?"

"I'll tell you. That's an obsidian arrowhead. The Bannacks and Shoshonis got that black, glassy stuff at one place—the Obsidian Cliff, in Yellowstone Park! Those old trails that Lewis saw to the south were trails that crossed the Divide south of here. They put the Indians on Snake River waters. These tribes hunted down there. They knew the head of the Red Rock. They knew the head of the Madison. They knew the Gibbon River, and they knew the Norris Geyser Basin, up in Yellowstone Park. It's all right to say the Indians were afraid to go into Yellowstone Park among the geysers, but they did. They knew the Obsidian Cliff—close by the road, it is, and one of the features of the Park, as it now is.

"It's a far shot that arrow will carry you, son. It will show you more of these Indian trails than even Lewis and Clark ever knew. Of course, they didn't want to go south; they wanted north and west, because they knew the latitude and longitude of the mouth of the Columbia River. They knew that was northwest. They knew any water they got on, once over the Divide, would run into the Columbia, and they could see the Rockies, just on ahead to the west. As Billy has said, the Indian girl always was telling them that her people lived along in here. An obsidian arrow meant nothing to them. But it meant much to later explorers to the south of here."

"It's a good specimen he's got," said Billy, looking it over. "The Indians liked to work obsidian; it would cleave so sharp and clean. I thought they had them all picked up, long ago. Up in the Shoshoni Cove they found a good many, first and last. All this was their hunting ground. A little over the Divide it gets awfully rough, and not much game."

They spent some time around the Rock, examining it, finding the cliff to be about one hundred and fifty feet in height and giving a good view out over the valley plains, over which one could see many miles, and from which the great rock itself could be seen for great distances.

"Here was the old ford of the road agents' trail," said Billy. "They crossed here and headed out, east and south, for the hills between here and Virginia City. They were hunting for easier money than beaver then, though—gold! This was the murderers' highway, right by here. Over a hundred men were murdered on this hundred miles."

They went back to their encampment and, after their simple preparations were over for the evening, spread out their books and maps once more, John endeavoring laboriously to fill in the gaps of his own map; rather hard to do, since they had not followed the actual stream course on their way up with the pack train.

"This Wisdom River, now," said he, "must have been a puzzler, sure enough. That's called the Big Hole to-day. I'll bet she was a beaver water, too, as well as full of trout. Wonder if she had any grayling in her. Here's a town down below here, near the mouth of the Red Rock, called Grayling."

"Must have been grayling in all these upper Missouri waters," nodded Billy. "I don't think the Journal mentions them, but they saw whitefish, and the two often go together, though by no means always. The Madison is a grayling stream, or was—the South Fork's good now, and so is Grayling Creek, or was. The headwaters of the Red Rock were full of grayling once. The trouble is, so many motor cars now, that everybody gets in, and they soon fish a stream out."

"Shall we get to see a grayling?" asked Rob. "You know, we got the Arctic grayling on the Bell River, in the Arctic regions. They call them 'bluefish' up there. They're fine."

"So are these fine. I'd rather catch one grayling than a dozen trout. But they're getting mighty scarce, and I think before long there won't be any left.

"But look what a beaver country this must have been!" he added, waving a hand each way. "Fifty by two hundred miles, and then some. No wonder the trappers came. It wasn't long before they and the Blackfeet mixed it, all along in here."

"Listen," said Uncle Dick, "and I'll tell you a little beaver story, right out of the Journal."

"Aw—the Journal!" said Jesse. "I'd rather catch one!"

"Wait for my story, and you'll see how important a small thing may be that might make all the difference in the world. Now the hero of my story is a beaver. I don't know his name.

"Look on your map, just above here—that's the mouth of the Wisdom, or Big Hole, River, that Lewis and Drewyer explored first, while poor Clark, with his sore leg, was toiling up with his boat party, after he was better of his sickness.

"Now the Wisdom was a good-sized river, too, almost as big as the Jefferson, though broken into channels. Lewis worked it out and came back to the Jefferson at its mouth, and started on again, up the Jefferson. As was their custom, he wrote a note and put it in a cleft stick and stuck it up where Clark could see it when he got up that far. He put it on a green stick, poplar or willow, and stuck it in the bar. It told Clark to take the left-hand stream, not the one on the right—the Wisdom.

"Well, along comes Mr. Beaver that night, and gnaws off the pole and swims away with it, note and all! I don't know what his family made out of the note, but if he'd been as wise as some of the magazine-story beavers, he could have read it, all right.

"Now when Clark came along, tired and worn out, all of them, the note was gone. They also, therefore, went up the Wisdom and not the Jefferson. Clark sent Shannon ahead up the Wisdom to hunt. But he turned back when the river got too shallow. Result, Shannon lost for three days, and not his fault. He went away up till he found the boats could not have passed; then he hustled back to the mouth and guessed the party were above him up the other fork—where he guessed right. They then were all on the Jefferson. Lost time, hunting for Shannon, and they couldn't find him. All due to the beaver eating off the message pole. If Shannon had died, it would have been due to that beaver.

"That's only part. In the shallow water a canoe swept down out of control. It ran over Whitehouse, another man, on a bar, and nearly broke his leg; it would have killed him sure if the water had been three inches shallower. That would have been another man lost.

"Not all yet. A canoe got upset in the shallow water up there on the Wisdom, and wet everything in it. Result, they lost so much cargo—foodstuffs, etc.—that they just abandoned that canoe right there and lost her cargo, after carrying it three thousand miles, for over a year! All to be charged to the same beaver. Well, you and I have spoken before about the extreme danger of a land party and a boat party trying to travel together.

"The next time Lewis left a note, he used a dry stick, and he felt mortified at not having thought to do that in the first place. Well, that's my beaver story. It shows how a little thing may have big consequences—just as this arrowhead that Jesse found points out a long trail."

"And by that time," said John, bending again over his map, "they were needing every pound of food and every minute of their time and every bit of every man's strength. The poor fellows were almost worn out. Now they began to complain for the first time. We don't hear any more now about dances at night around the camp fire."

"Yes," said Uncle Dick. "Now they all were having their proving. It would have been easy for them to turn back; most men would have done so. But they never thought of that. All the men wanted was to get away from the boats and get on horseback."

"But they didn't yet know where to go!"

"No, not yet. And now comes the most agonizing and most dramatic time in the whole trip, when it needed the last ounce and the last inch of nerve. Read us what Lewis said in his Journal, Rob. He was on ahead, and every man now was hustling, because there were the mountains 'right at them,' as they say down South."

Rob complied, turning the pages of their precious book until he reached the last march of Lewis beyond the last forks of the river:

"'Near this place we fell in with a large and plain Indian road which came into the cove from the N.E. and led along the foot of the mountains to the S.W. o(b)liquely approaching the main stream which we had left yesterday. this road we now pursued to the S.W. at 5 miles it passed a stout stream which is a principal fork of the ma(i)n stream and falls into it just above the narrow pass between the two clifts before mentioned and which we now saw before us. here we halted and breakfasted on the last of our venison, having yet a small piece of pork in reserve. after eating we continued our rout through the low bottom of the main stream along the foot of the mountains on our right the valley for 5 M{ls.} further in a S.W. direction was from 2 to 3 miles wide the main stream now after discarding two stream(s) on the left in this valley turns abruptly to the West through a narrow bottom betwe(e)n the mountains. the road was still plain, I therefore did not not dispair of shortly finding a passage over the mountains and of taisting the waters of the great Columbia this evening.'"

"Well, what do you think? Clean nerve, eh? I think so, and so do you. If he had not had, he never would have gotten across. And Simon Fraser then would have beaten us to the mouth of the Columbia, and altered the whole history of the West and Northwest. Well, at least our beaver, that carried off Lewis's note, did not work that ruin, but it might have been responsible, even for that; for now a missed meeting with the Shoshonis would have meant the failure of the whole expedition.

"A great deal more Lewis did than he ever was to know he had done. He died too soon even to know much about the swift rush of the fur traders into this bonanza. And few of the fur traders ever lived to guess the rush of the placer miners of 1862 and 1863 into this same bonanza—right where we are camping now, on the old Robbers' Trail. And not many of the placer miners and other early adventurers of that day dreamed of anything but gold. The copper mines of this country have built up towns and cities, not merely camps.

"Even had Lewis and his man Fields, whose name he gave to Boulder Creek, and who killed the panther which gave Panther Creek its name—pushed on up Panther Creek, which now is known as Pipestone Creek, and stepped over the crest to where the city of Butte is to-day, they hardly would have suspected copper. Lewis set down the most minute details in botany, even now. He studied and described his last new bird, the sage hen, with much detail. Yet for more than a month and a half he and his men had been wearing out their moccasins on gold pebbles, and they never panned a color or dreamed a dream of it. It was lucky for America they did not.

"They found copper at Butte in 1876, the year of the Custer massacre. I wouldn't like to say how much Butte, just over yonder hills, has earned to date, but in her first twenty years she turned out over five hundred million dollars. And twenty years ago she paid in one year fourteen million dollars in dividends, and carried a pay roll of two million dollars a month, for over eight thousand miners, and gave the world over fifty million dollars in metals in that one year! In ten years she paid in dividends alone over forty-three million dollars. In one year she sold more copper, gold, and silver from her deep mines than would have paid three times the whole price we paid for all the Louisiana that Lewis and Clark and you and I have been exploring! And that doesn't touch the fur and the placer gold and the other mines and the cattle and wool and the farm products and the lumber. No man can measure what wealth has gone out from this country right under our noses here. And all because Lewis and his friend and their men wouldn't quit. And their expense allowance was twenty-five hundred dollars!

"This was on our road to Mandalay, young gentlemen, right here through these gray foothills and green willow flats! Beyond the hills was still all the wealth of the Columbia, of the Pacific Northwest also. This trail brought us to the end of all our roads—face to face with Asia. Was it enough, all this, as the result of one young man's wish to do something for the world? Did he do it? Did he have his wish?"

His answer was in the silence with which his words were received. Our young adventurers, though they had been used to stirring scenes all their lives, had never yet been in any country which gave them the thrill they got here, under the Beaverhead Rock.

"She's one wonderful river!" said Billy Williams, after a time. "And those two scouts were two wonderful men!"



Two days later, on August 4th, the travelers had pushed on up the valley of the Missouri, to what was known as the Two Forks, between the towns of Grayling and Red Rock. They pitched their last camp, as nearly as they could determine, precisely where the Lewis and Clark party made their last encampment east of the Rockies, at what they called the Shoshoni Cove. This the boys called the Jump-off Camp, because this was where the expedition left its boats, and, ill fed and worn out, started on across the Divide for the beginning of their great journey into the Pacific Northwest.

Now they were under the very shoulders of the Rockies, and, so closely had they followed the narrative of the first exploration of the great river, and so closely had their own journey been identified with it, that now they were almost as eager and excited over the last stages of the journey to the summit as though it lay before them personally, new, unknown and untried. They hardly could wait to resume their following out of the last entangled skein of the great narrative.

"We've caught them at last, Uncle Dick!" exclaimed Jesse, spreading out his map on top of one of the kyacks in which Nigger had carried his load of kitchen stuff. "We've got almost a week the start of them here. This is August 4th, and it was August 10th when Lewis got here."

"And by that time he'd been everywhere else!" said Rob. "Let's figure him out—tying him up with that note the beaver carried off. That beaver certainly made a lot of trouble.

"Lewis left the note at the mouth of the Wisdom on August 4th. On August 5th Clark got there and went up the Wisdom. On August 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th, Shannon was lost up the Wisdom. On August 6th, Drewyer met Clark coming up the Wisdom River and turned him back; and Clark sent Field up the Wisdom after Shannon. Meantime Lewis had gone down to the junction at the Wisdom, not meeting the boats above the junction. He met Clark, coming back down the Wisdom with the boats. They then all went down to the mouth of the Wisdom and camped—that's about a day's march below where we camped, at the Beaverhead Rock.

"Then Lewis saw something had to be done. He told Clark to bring on the boats as fast as he could. He then made up a fast-marching party—himself, Drewyer, Shields, and McNeal—with packs of food and Indian trading stuff; he didn't forget that part—and they four hit the trail in the high places only, still hunting for those Indians they'd been trying to find ever since they left the Great Falls. They were walkers, that bunch, for they left the Wisdom early August 9th, and they got here late on August 10th. That was going some!"

"Yes, but poor Clark didn't get up here to where we are now until August 17th, a whole week later than Lewis. And by that time Lewis had come back down to this place where we are right now, and he was mighty glad to meet Clark. If he hadn't, he'd have lost his Indians. You tell it now, Billy!" concluded Jesse, breathless.

"You mean, after Captain Lewis started west from here to cross the summit?"


"All right. You can see why he went up this upper creek—it was the one that led straight to the top. The Red Rock River, as they now call the stream below what they call the Beaverhead River—it's all one stream—bends off sharp south. The Horse Prairie Creek takes you straight up to Lemhi Pass, which ought to be called the Lewis Pass, but isn't, though he was the first across it. Lewis was glad when he got to what they called the source, the next day after that.

"Now, he didn't find any Indians right away. I allow he'd followed an Indian road toward that pass, but the tracks faded out. He knew he was due to hit Columbia waters now, beyond yon range, but what he wanted was Indians, so he kept on.

"Now all at once—I think it was August 11th, the same day he left camp here—about five miles up this creek, he saw an Indian, on horseback, two miles off! That was the first Indian they had seen since they left the Mandans the spring before. But Mr. Indian pulled his freight. That was when Lewis was 'soarly chagrined' with Shields, who had not stayed back till Lewis got his Indian gentled down some; he had him inside of one hundred yards at one time. He 'abraided' Shields for that; he says.

"But now, anyhow, they knew there was such a thing as an Indian, so they trailed this one, but they couldn't catch him, and Lewis was scared he'd run all the other Indians back West. But on the next morning he ran into a big Indian road, that ran up toward the pass. There was a lowish mountain, running back about a half mile. The creek came out of the foot of that mountain——"

"I know," interrupted John, who had his Journal spread before him. "Here's what he said:

"'At the distance of 4 miles further the road took us to the most distant fountain of the waters of the Mighty Missouri in surch of which we have spent so many toilsome days and wristless nights. thus far I had accomplished one of those great objects on which my mind has been unalterably fixed for many years, judge then of the pleasure I felt in all(a)ying my thirst with this pure and ice-cold water which issues from the base of a low mountain or hill of a gentle ascent for 1/2 a mile. the mountains are high on either hand leave this gap at the head of this rivulet through which the road passes.'"

"Go on, Billy," said Uncle Dick. "That's all he says about actually crossing the Divide at Lemhi Pass! Tell us where they found the village."

"Well, sir, that was beyond the Lemhi Pass, up in there, thirty miles from here, about. They'd been traveling, all right. Now that was August 12th, and on August 13th they were over, and had their first drink of 'chaste and icy water out a Columbia river head spring.' And all the while, back of us, poor old Clark and his men were dragging the boats up the chaste and icy waters of the Jefferson.

"Now that day they got into rough country, other side; but they didn't care, because that day they saw two women and a man. They run off, too, and Lewis was 'soar' again; but all at once they ran plumb into three more—one an old woman, one a young woman, and one a kid. The young woman runs off. Now you ought to seen Cap. Lewis make friends with them people.

"He gives them some beads and awls and some paint. Drewyer don't know their language, but he talks sign talk. He gets the old girl to call the young woman back. She comes back. Lewis gives her some things, too. He paints up their cheeks with the vermilion paint. From that time he had those womenfolks, young and old, feeding from the hand.

"So now they all start out for the village, which Lewis knew was not far away. Sure enough, they meet about sixty braves riding down the trail; and I reckon if Meriwether Lewis ever felt like stealing horses, it was then.

"Now the women showed their paint and awls and things. Lewis pulls up his shirt sleeve and shows his white skin. The chief gets down and hugs him, though that was the first white man they'd ever met in their lives. Then they had a smoke, like long-lost brothers. Then they went back to the Indian camp, four miles. Then Lewis allows something to eat would go fine, but old Cameahwait, the head man, hands him a few berries and choke cherries, which was all they had to eat. You see, this band was working east now, in the fall, to better hunting range—they had only bows and arrows.

"Lewis sends Drewyer and Shields out to kill some meat. The old chief makes a sand map for Lewis, but says he can't get through, that way—meaning down the Salmon River, west of the Divide. Anyhow, they'd have no boats, for the timber was no good. So horses begin to look still better to Lewis.

"They had a good party, but nothing to eat, and the Indians were scared when he got them to know there were more white men back of him, on the east side the hill. He couldn't talk, so he told it in beads, and jockeyed along till he got a half dozen to start back with him. So on August 16th he got back to this place here again, east of the summit, right where we're camped now, and he had plenty Indians now—and nothing to feed them.

"But he waited to find Clark, and he didn't know how far downstream Clark was, and he was afraid he'd lose his Indians any minute. So he writes a note to Clark, and gives it to his best man, Drewyer, to carry downstream fast as he can go. Lewis had promised to trade goods for horses, but the Shoshonis didn't see any boats, and so they got suspicious.

"Well, it was night. Lewis had the head man and about a couple of dozen others in camp. He was plumb anxious. But next day, the 17th, he tells Drewyer to hot-foot down the river, with an Indian or two along with him. About two hours, an Indian came back and said that Lewis had told the truth, for he had seen boats on the river.

"Now between seven and eight o'clock that morning, Clark and Chaboneau and the Indian girl, Sacagawea, all were walking on ahead of the boats, the girl a little ahead. All at once she begins to holler. They look up, and here comes several Indians and Drewyer with the note from Lewis. There's nothing to it, after that."

"Go on, Uncle Dick; you tell it now!" demanded Jesse, all excited.

"You mean about Sacagawea?"

"Yes, sir."

"It sounds like a border romance—and it was a border romance, literally.

"Here, on the river where she used to live, a young Indian woman ran out of the crowd and threw her arms around Sacagawea. It was the girl who had been captured with her at the Three Forks, six years or more ago, by the Minnetarees! They had been slaves together. This other girl had escaped and got back home, by what miracle none of us ever will know.

"But now, when Sacagawea had told her people how good the white men were, there was no longer any question of the friendship all around. As Billy expresses it, there was nothing to it, after that.

"You'd think that was asking us to believe enough? But no. The girl rushes up to Cameahwait, the chief, and puts her arms around him, too. He's her brother, that's all!

"Well, this seemed to give them the entree into the best Shoshoni circles. Beyond this it was a question of details. Lewis stayed here till August 24th, trading for horses for all he was worth. He got five, for five or six dollars each in goods. They cached what goods they could spare or could not take, hid their canoes, and on August 24th bade the old Missouri good-by—for that year at least.

"They now went over west of the Divide, to the main village, to trade for more horses. They cut up their oars and broke up their remaining boxes and made pack saddles to carry their goods.

"Meantime, Clark and eleven men, all the good carpenters, had started on August 18th to cross the Divide and explore down for a route on the stream which we now know took them to the Salmon River. They traveled two days, to the Indian camp. Now the Journal takes page after page, describing these Indians.

"Now it was Clark's turn to go ahead and find a way by horse or boat down to the Columbia. His notes tell of his troubles:

"'August 20th Tuesday 1805 'So-So-ne' the Snake Indians Set out at half past 6 oClock and proceeded on (met many parties of Indians) thro' a hilley Countrey to the Camp of the Indians on a branch of the Columbia River, before we entered this Camp a Serimonious hault was requested by the Chief and I smoked with all that Came around, for Several pipes, we then proceeded on to the Camp & I was introduced into the only Lodge they had which was pitched in the Center for my party all the other Lodges made of bushes, after a fiew Indian Seremonies I informed the Indians (of) the object of our journey our good intentions toward them my Consirn for their distressed Situation, what we had done for them in makeing a piece with the Minitarras Mandans Rickara &c. for them. and requested them all to take over their horses & assist Capt Lewis across &c. also informing them the o(b)ject of my journey down the river, and requested a guide to accompany me, all of which was repeited by the Chief to the whole village.

"'Those pore people Could only raise a Sammon & a little dried Choke Cherries for us half the men of the tribe with the Chief turned out to hunt the antilopes, at 3 oClock after giveing a fiew Small articles as presents I set out accompanied by an old man as a Guide I endevered to procure as much information from thos people as possible without much Suckcess they being but little acquainted or effecting to be So. I left one man to purchase a horse and overtake me and proceeded on thro a wide rich bottom on a beaten Roade 8 miles Crossed the river and encamped on a Small run, this evening passed a number of old lodges, and met a number of men women children & horses, met a man who appeared of Some Consideration who turned back with us, we halted a woman & gave us 3 Small Sammon, this man continued with me all night and partook of what I had which was a little Pork verry Salt. Those Indians are verry attentive to Strangers &c. I left our interpreter & his woman to accompany the Indians to Capt Lewis to-morrow the Day they informed me they would Set out I killed a Pheasent at the Indian Camp larger than a dungal (dunghill) fowl with f(l)eshey protubrances about the head like a turkey. Frost last night.'

"Clark got more and more discouraging news about getting down the Lemhi River, on which they were camped, and the big river below—the Salmon River. But with the old man for guide, he went about seventy miles, into the gorge of the Salmon River, before he would quit. But he found that no man could get down that torrent, with either boat or pack train. He gave it up. They were nearly starved when they got back at the Indian camp, where Lewis and the other men were trading. Sacagawea had kept all her people from going on east to the buffalo country, though now they none of them had anything to eat but a few berries and choke cherries. If the Indians had left, or if they had been missed by the party, the expedition would have ended there. The Indian girl once more had saved the Northwest for America, very likely.

"Now the old Indian guide said he knew a way across, away to the north. They hired him as guide. They traded for twenty-nine horses, and at last packed them and set out for the hardest part of their journey and the riskiest, though they did not know that then. On August 30th they set out. At the same time Cameahwait and his band set off east, after their fall hunt.

"That was the last that Sacagawea ever saw of her brother or her girl friend. She went on with her white husband, into strange tribes—nothing further for her to look forward to now, for she was leaving home for another thousand miles, in the opposite direction.

"And that ended the long, hard, risky time the company of Volunteers for Discovery of the Northwest had in crossing the Continental Divide. We lie at the foot of their pass. Yonder they headed out for the setting sun!"

"Let's go on after them, Uncle Dick!" exclaimed Jesse. "We've got a good outfit, and we're not afraid!"

"I've been expecting that," rejoined their leader. "I was afraid you'd want to go through! But we can't do it, fellows, not this year at least. There's the school term we've got to think of. We're nearly three thousand miles from St. Louis. That means we'll have to choose between two or three weeks of the hardest kind of mountain work and back out when we've got nowhere, and taking a fast and simple trip to the true head of the Missouri. Which would you rather do?"

"We don't like to turn back," said Rob.

"Well, it wouldn't be turning back, really. It would be going to the real head of the Missouri—and neither Lewis nor Clark ever did that, or very many other men." Billy spoke quietly.

"But don't think," he added, "that I'm not game to go on into the Bitter Roots, if you say so. I'm promising you she's rough, up in there. The trail they took was a fright, and I don't see how they made it. It ran to where this range angles into the corner of the Bitter Roots, and crossed there. They crossed another pass, too, and that makes three passes, from here. They got here July 10th, and three days later at last they hit the Lolo Creek trail, over the Lolo Pass—the way old Chief Joseph came east when he went on the war trail; he fought Gibbon in the battle of the Big Hole, above here."

Rob sighed. "Well, it only took Lewis and Clark a couple of months to get through. But still, we've only got a couple of weeks."

"What do you say, John? Shall we go south to the head with Billy?" Uncle Dick did not decide it alone.

"Vote yes, in the circumstances," said John. "Hate to quit her, though!"

"You, Jess?"

"Oh, all right, I'll haul off if the rest do. We'll get to fish some, won't we?"

"All you want. The best trout and grayling fishing there is left anywhere."

"It's a vote, Uncle Dick!" said Rob. "This is our head camp on this leg of the trip."

"I think that's wise," said Uncle Dick.

"But before we leave here I want you to have a last look at the map."

They spread it open in the firelight.

"This point is where Clark came and got the canoes the next year, 1806. They came back over the Lolo, but took a short cut, east of this mountain range, forty miles east of the other trail. They came over the Gibbon Pass—which ought to be called Clark's Pass and isn't—and headed southeast, the Indian girl being of use again now. They came down Grasshopper Creek, walking over millions of dollars of gold gravel, and found their canoes, not over a few hundred yards from where we sit, like enough.

"Then Clark and his men got in the boats and headed home. Sacagawea showed them the trail up the Gallatin, over the Bozeman Pass, to the Yellowstone. And they went down that to its mouth.

"And now, one last touch to show what nerve those captains really had. Either could cut loose.

"Near what is now Missoula, on the Bitter Root—which Lewis called Clark's Fork, after Clark, just as Clark named his Salmon River tributary after Lewis—Lewis took ten men and headed across lots for the Great Falls and then for the head of the Marias River!

"Surely, they began to scatter. Clark had left twenty men, the Indian girl and her baby, and they had fifty horses. At this place here, where we are in camp, Clark split his party again, some going down in the boats, some on horseback, but all traveling free and happy. They got here July 10th, and three days later were at the Three Forks, both parties, only one hour apart! They certainly had good luck in getting together.

"On that same day, Sergeant Ordway took six boats and nine men and started down the Missouri to meet Lewis at the Great Falls, or the mouth of the Marias. They made it down all right, and that is all we can say, for no record exists of that run downstream.

"Now, get all this straight in your heads and see how they had scattered, in that wild, unknown country, part in boats, part on shore—the riskiest way to travel. All the sergeants are captains now. We have four different companies.

"Gass is at the Great Falls, where Lewis split his party. Ordway is on his way down the river from the Three Forks to the Falls. Clark is with the horses now, headed east for the Yellowstone—which not a soul in that party knew a thing about, except the Indian girl, who insisted they would come out on the Yellowstone. And on that river the Clark party divided once more, part going in boats and part on horseback!

"Now figure five parties out of thirty-one men. Look at your map, remembering that the two land parties were in country they had never seen before. Yet they plan to meet at the mouth of the Yellowstone, over twelve hundred miles from where we are sitting here! That's traveling! That's exploring! And their story of it all is as plain and simple and modest as though children had done it. There's nothing like it in all the world."

He ceased to speak. The little circle fell silent.

"Go on, go on, Uncle Dick!" urged Jess. "You've not allowed us to read ahead that far. You said you'd rather we wouldn't. Tell us, now."

"No. Fold up your maps and close your journals for a while, here at our last camp on the greatest trail a river ever laid.

"We're going fishing now, fellows—to-morrow we start east, gaining two years on Lewis and Clark. When we get down near the Yellowstone and Great Falls country again, going east ourselves, we'll just finish up the story of the map till we reach the Mandans—which is where we left our own good ship Adventurer.

"To-morrow we head south, the other way. 'This story is to be continued in our next,' as the story papers say.

"Good night. Keep all this in your heads. It is a great story of great men in a great valley, doing the first exploring of the greatest country in the world—the land that is drained by the Missouri and its streams!

"Good luck, old tops!" he added, as he rose and stepped to the edge of the circle of light, waving his hand to the Divide above them. He stood looking toward the west.

"Whom are you speaking to, Uncle Dick?" asked John, as he heard no answer.

"I was just speaking to my friends, Captain Meriwether Lewis and Captain William Clark. Didn't you see them pass our camp just now?"



The young Alaskans, who had followed faithfully the travels of Lewis and Clark from the mouth of the Missouri to the Continental Divide, now felt exultation that they had finished their book work so soon. But they felt also a greater interest in the thought that they now might follow out a part of the great waterway which not even Lewis and Clark ever had seen. They were all eagerness to be off. The question was, what would be the best route and what would be the transportation?

"We still can spare a month in the West," said Uncle Dick, "and get back to St. Louis in time to catch the fall school term. That will give us time for a little sport. How shall we get down south, two hundred miles, and back to the Three Forks? What do you say, Billy?"

"Well, sir," answered the young ranchman, "we've got more help than Lewis and Clark had. We can use the telegraph, the telephone, the railway cars, and the motor car—besides old Sleepy and Nigger and the riding horses. We can get about anywhere you like, in as much or little time as you like. If you leave it to me, I'd say, get a man at Dillon or Grayling—I've friends in both towns—to take the pack train back to my ranch on the Gallatin——"

"But we don't want to say good-by to Sleepy!" broke in Jesse. "He's a lot of fun."

"Well, don't say good-by to him—we'll see him when we come north again, and maybe we'll all go in the mountains together again, some other year.

"But now, to save time and skip over a lot of irrigated farm country, how would it do to take the O.S.L. Railway train, down at the Red Rock, and fly south, say to Monida on the line between Montana and Idaho? That's right down the valley of the Red Rock River, which is our real Missouri source.

"Now, at Monida we can get a motor car to take us east across the Centennial Valley and the Alaska Basin——"

"That's good—Alaska!" said Rob.

"Yes? Well, all that country is flat and hard and the motor roads are perfect, so we could get over the country fast—do that two hundred miles by rail and car a lot faster than old Sleepy would.

"Now, we can go by motor car from Monida right to the mouth of Hell Roaring Canyon, at the foot of Mount Jefferson, and up in there, at the head of that canyon, there is a wide hole in the top of the mountains, where the creek heads that everybody now calls Hell Roaring Creek. J. V. Brower went up in there with a rancher named Culver, who lived at the head of Picnic Creek, at the corner of the Alaska Basin, and Brower wrote a book about it.[4] He called that canyon Culver Canyon, but the name does not seem to have stuck. Now, Culver's widow, the same Lilian Hackett Culver whose picture Brower prints as the first woman to see the utmost source of the Missouri, still lives on her old homestead, where a full-sized river bursts out from a great spring, right at the foot of a rocky ridge. She's owner of the river a couple of miles, I guess, down to the second dam.

[Footnote 4: The Missouri and Its Utmost Source, J. V. Brower, 1896.]

"She stocked that water, years ago, every kind of trout she could get—native cutthroat, rainbow, Dolly Varden, Eastern brook, steelheads, and I don't know what all, including grayling—and she has made a living by selling the fishing rights there to anglers who stop at her house. I've been there many times.

"I've fished a lot everywhere, but that is the most wonderful trout water in all the world, in my belief. I've seen grayling there up to three pounds, and have taken many a rainbow over eight pounds; one was killed there that went twelve and one-half pounds. I've caught lots of steelheads there of six and seven pounds, and 'Dollies' as big, and natives up to ten pounds—there is no place in the West where all these species get such weights.

"They call the place now 'Lil Culver's ranch.' She is held in a good deal of affection by the sportsmen who have come there from all over the country. She is now a little bit of an old lady, sprightly as a cricket, and very bright and well educated. She was from New England, once, and came away out here. She's a fine botanist and she used to have books and a lot of things. Lives there all alone in a little three-room log house right by the big spring. And she's the first woman to see the head of the Missouri. Her husband was the first man. That looks sort of like headquarters, doesn't it?"

"It certainly does!" said Rob. "Let's head in there. What do you say, Uncle Dick?"

"It looks all right to me," said Uncle Dick. "That's right on our way, and it's close, historically and topographically, to the utmost source. You surely have a good head, Billy, and you surely do know all this country of the Big Bend."

"I ought to," said Billy. "Well, then suppose we call that a go? We can fish on the spring creek, and live at Lil Culver's place; you can drive right there with a car. Then the mail road runs right on east, past the foot of Jefferson Mountain and over the Red Rock Pass—Centennial Pass, some call it—to Henry's Lake. All the fishing you want over there—the easiest in the world—but only one kind of trout—natives—and they taste muddy now, at low water. Too easy for fun, you'll say.

"But at the head of Henry's Lake is a ranch house, what they call a 'dude place.' I know the owner well; he's right on the motor road from Salt Lake to Helena and Butte, and just above the road that crosses the Targhee Pass, east of Henry's Lake, to the Yellowstone Park.

"Now, Henry's Lake was named after Andrew Henry, who was chased south from the Three Forks by the Blackfeet. Just north of there is the low divide called Raynold's Pass, after Captain Raynolds, a government explorer, about 1872. Suppose we kept our Monida car that far, and then sent it back home? Then I could telegraph my folks to send my own car down there from my ranch, to meet us there at the head of Henry's Lake, say one week from now; that'll give us time to run the river up, easy.

"Then we'd have my car to run across Targhee, to the South Fork of the Madison—another source of the Missouri—and try out the grayling. We are now on the only grayling waters left in the West. All the heads of the Missouri used to have them. I thought you all might like to have a go at that. I can promise you good sport. We can have a tent and cook outfit brought down on my car from the ranch."

"Well, that looks like a time saver, sure," said John. "We finish things faster than Lewis and Clark, don't we?"

"Sure. Well, when you feel you have to start back east we can jump in the car and run back up north to my ranch, up the Gallatin. You can follow Sleepy over to Bozeman and Livingston, then; or you can go east by rail down the Yellowstone; or you can divide your party and part go by rail down the river to Great Falls, and meet at the Mandan villages, or somewhere. We can plan that out later if you like.

"But in this way you cover all that big sweep of country where the arm of the Continental Divide bends south and holds all these hundreds of streams around the Three Forks and below. We'd be skirting the rim of that great bend in the mountains, a sort of circle of something like two hundred miles across; and we'd be coming back to the old river again at the Forks. Looks to me that's about the quickest way we can cover our trip and the way to get the fullest idea of the real river."

"What do you vote, fellows?" asked their leader. "This looks like a very well-laid-out campaign, to me."

"So say we all of us!" answered Rob.

"That's right," added John and Jesse.

"All right, then," nodded Billy. "On our way! Roll them beds. Keep out your fishing tackle. I'll stop in town and telephone to Andy Sawyer to come on down to the livery at Red Rock and pick up our stock there, so we won't lose any time getting the train."

This well-thought-out plan worked so well that nothing of special interest happened in their steady ride down to the railroad, out of the historic cove, in among the fields and houses of the later land.

And to make quite as brief the story of their uneventful journey across the wide and treeless region below, it may be said that on the evening of the next day they pulled in at the little log-cabin hotel of Mrs. Culver, the first woman who ever saw the head of the true Missouri.

That lady, quaint and small, came out and made them welcome. "I've three beds, in two rooms," said she, "and you'll have to double up, but I can feed you all, I guess."

"Is there any fishing?" asked Jesse. But an instant later he answered himself. "Great Scott!" said he. "Look at that trout jump. He's big as a whale. Look it—look it, fellows!"

They turned as he pointed down the hill to the wide, clear water of the spring creek. A dozen splashes and rings showed feeding fish, and large ones.

"Oh, yes," said their hostess, indifferently. "There's a good many of them in there. They seem to run around more along toward evening."

The young sportsmen could not wait for supper. Hurriedly getting together their rods and reels, they soon had leaders and flies ready and were running down the slope after what bid fair to be rare sport with the great fish which they saw leaping.



The three young Alaskans were all very fair masters of the art of fishing with the fly, and now surely had excellent opportunity to practice it. The trout and grayling were rising in scores, and for half a mile the surface of the bright water was broken into countless rings and ripples. Now and then some fish sprang entirely above the water. John and Jesse took the nearer shore, while Rob hurried around over the pole bridge at the head of the stream, just below the head spring.

"What have you got on, John?" asked Jesse.

"Jock Scott, No. 4," replied John. "Try a good big Silver Doctor; these big fellows ought to take it."

They began to cast, trying to reach the mid-channel, where, over the white sand of the channel, the fish were rising most vigorously. All at once Jesse gave an exclamation.

"Wow! Look at that, hey?"

His fly had been taken by a great fish which had made for it a dozen feet away. The rod went up into an arch. Again and again the fish sprang high above the water, four, five, six times, one leap after another; and then came a long, steady savage run which carried Jesse down along the bank, following the fish. He had all he could do to master the powerful fish, but, keeping on a steady pressure, he at last got him close inshore, where John netted him.

"That's a steelhead—that's why he's such a jumper!" exclaimed John. "Well done, Jess!" exclaimed John, holding up the splendid fish to view. "Six pounds, if he's an ounce!"

A sudden shout from Rob, across the water, called their attention. He also was playing a heavy fish, which broke water again and again.

"What you got, Rob?" called John.

"Rainbow!" answered Rob, across the stream. "He's a buster, too!" And truly it was a fine one, for that night it weighed five and three-quarter pounds.

"Hurry, John—your turn now!" shouted Jess. "They're the fightingest fish you ever saw."

John began casting, while Jesse watched, working his fly to where he saw a heavy fish moving. An instant and he struck, the reel screeching as the fish made its run. This time the fish did not jump, but played deep, boring and surging, but at last John conquered it and Jesse slipped the net under it.

"My! It's just like a big brook trout," said he. "I'll bet he'll go over five pounds."

"No," said John, sagely. "That's a Dolly Varden—looks a lot like a brook trout, but look at the blue ring around the red spots. They fight deep—don't jump like a rainbow. But the steelhead out jumps them all! Did you ever see such fishing! This beats the Arctic trout on Rat Portage."

They followed down the pond made by the dam, and literally one or other of the three was all the time playing a fish, and they all ran very large. When at last they answered the supper horn, Rob had five fish, John four, and Jesse two—the last a fine, fat grayling, the first he had ever taken below the Arctic Circle.

Uncle Dick's eyes opened very wide. "Well, Billy," said he, "you've made good! I never saw so many big trout taken that soon in any water I ever knew!"

"They get a lot of feed in that stream," said Billy. "The watercress holds a lot of stuff they eat, and there must be minnows in there, too. I've heard lots of men say that, for big fish, this beats any water they ever knew."

"Oh, maybe they don't run as big as they did," said Mrs. Culver; "I've known several rainbows over ten pounds taken here. One gentleman came for specimens to mount, and he caught a five-pound rainbow, but his friend made him throw it back because it was too little. Then they fished two days and didn't get any more rainbow at all; they're so savage, I think they get caught first. But you've got some good ones, haven't you? Well, I like to see a person have some sport when he comes here."

"How long have you lived here, Mrs. Culver?" asked Billy, that night at the dinner table.

"Oh, all my life, it seems," she laughed. "I was here early, in the 'nineties, when Mr. Brower came to get to the head of Hell Roaring. That was in 1895. He and my husband, Mr. William N. Culver, and Mr. Isaac Jacques went up there horseback. They called that Hell Roaring Canyon then, and I think most folks do yet, though Mr. Brower as a scientific explorer said he would call it Culver Canyon after that. He did, but his story of the exploration never got to be very widely known. I guess they were the first to get to the head, except Indians. The government surveyors never followed out the river above Upper Red Rock Lake.

"They made two tries at it. The first time was August 5, 1895. They left their horses and waded up the creek, till they came to a perpendicular rock across the canyon. It was hard going, so they turned back that day.

"On August 29th they tried it again. They went up Horse Camp Creek and left their horses at the foot of Hanson Mountain, and took one pack horse and cut across over Hanson Mountain and then went down into the Hell Roaring Creek; but they had to leave their pack horse then. Beyond that they took to the stream bed on foot, and this time they got up on top and followed the creek to its source.

"They came back all excited, saying they were the first ever to follow the Missouri to its head. They named a little lake, up near the summit, in a marshy flat, Lilian Lake, after me. Just a little way beyond that they found a big saucer-like spot in the round little hole up there—peaks all around it, like it had sunk down. Well, out of that circular marsh the creek comes. That's the head—the utmost source. The snow from the peaks feeds into that cup, or rather saucer, up on top, back of Mount Jefferson.

"I don't think they went as far toward the actual head as I did myself, for it was late and they had their horses to find. Now on September 26, 1895, I rode horseback up in there with Mr. Allen, and we rode right on up over Hanson, and down into Hell Roaring, and beyond where they left their pack horse. We rode almost all the way, and got into that Hole in the Mountains, as Mr. Brower calls the depressed valley up on top. But we rode on clear past it, three miles, and found the creek plain that far.

"Almost up to the top of the divide, the creek turns northeast. It comes out from under a big black rock, near a clump of balsam—like my spring here, only not so big. Mr. Brower and Mr. Culver had marked a rock and put down a copper plate for their discovery. I had a tin plate, and I scratched my name and the date on that. There wasn't any mark of anyone else there, and we were quite beyond the place where Mr. Brower stopped. So maybe I am the first person, certainly the first woman, to see the real upper spring of the Missouri River.

"Now here I am, all alone in the world, as you see. Would you like to see my pressed flowers and my other things?"

The young explorers looked at the tiny, thin little old lady with reverence, and did not say anything for a long time, before they began to look at the treasured belongings of the faraway cabin home.

"Do you boys want to go up?" she asked, after a time.

"We came for that," said Rob.

"You couldn't climb up the canyon all the way, maybe. Do you think you could get up over the mountain, the way we did?"

"You don't know these boys," remarked Uncle Dick to her. "They're old mountain climbers and can go anywhere."

"They'd want a guide, and I couldn't go, now. And they'd want horses."

"Well, we'll leave out the guide, and we could leave out the horses, like enough, for we can go to the foot of the mountain in the car. But on the whole I can think we'll ride up, for a change."

"You can get horses down at the ranch a little way. I have none here now."

"All right. To-morrow we'll outfit for the climb."

"Well, I rode all the way. Now you go on the shoulder of this mountain back of us, above the spring, and work up the best you can, but keep your eye on Jefferson. Get up right high, before you head across to the canyon of the Missouri, so you can be above the high cliff that you can't get over in the bed of the stream. Then you go down in the canyon and cross, best you can, and then ride up on the far side, and then work off for the top of Jefferson.

"You'll know the little bowl on top the mountain. That's the top sponge. But the real head stream is even beyond that. You'll find my tin plate there, I guess, with my name and date.

"I'm glad you had some good fishing here. We'll have some of your trout for breakfast. The feather beds are made from wild-goose and duck feathers. It's been a great country for them."



Bright and early they were in the saddle and off for the crowning experience of their long quest for the head of the great Missouri. Billy brought up the horses from the ranch below. The chauffeur from Monida said he "had not lost any mountains" and preferred not to make the ascent, so only five were in the party, Billy, of course, insisting on seeing the head of the river, in which he had had such interest all his life.

They took one pack horse, a few cooking implements, and such blankets as their hostess could spare, their own bed rolls and most of their equipment having gone back to Billy's ranch by his pack train. Their supply of food was only enough for two meals—supper and breakfast—but this gave them two days for the ascent, whereas Mrs. Culver had made it in one; so they felt sure of success.

Well used to mountain work, and guided by a good engineer, their Uncle Dick, who had spent his life in work among wild countries, they wound easily in and among the shoulders of the hills, taking distance rather than sharp elevation, and so gradually and without strain to the horses working up the mountain that lay at one side of Mount Jefferson. When they were well up, they followed a long hogback that swung a little to the left, and at length turned for their deliberate plunge down into the steep valley of the stream. Here, among heavy tracts of fallen timber and countless tumbled rocks, they came at last to the white water of their river, now grown very small and easily fordable by the horses.

"As near as I can tell," said Uncle Dick, "we've got her whipped right now. This must be a good way above the place Brower and Culver left their horse. We're up seventy-six hundred and forty feet now by the aneroid. The valley is around seven thousand feet, and Brower makes the summit at eight thousand feet; so we've not so far to go now. We crossed above the upper Red Rock Lake, and Brower makes the whole distance, along the longest branch, only twenty miles from the head spring to the lake. A mile or two should put us at the edge of the Hole in the Mountains, as he calls his upper valley. What do you say—shall we leave our horses and walk it, or try on up in the same way?"

"I vote against leaving the horses," said Rob. "It's nearly always bad to split an outfit, and bad to get away from your base of supplies. I'd say keep to the horses as high as they can get. A good mountain horse can go almost any place a man can, if you leave him alone. If it gets hard to ride, we can walk and lead, or drive them ahead of us over the down timber."

"And then, if we get them up to the Hole, we could camp up in there all night," suggested John. "Like enough, we'd be the first to do that, anyhow."

"And maybe the last," laughed Billy. "It'll sure be cold up in there, with no tent and not much bedding and none too much to eat. We're above the trout line, up here, and not far to go to timber line, if you ask me."

"Not so bad as that, Billy," commented Jesse. "Nine thousand, ninety-five hundred—isn't that about average timber line? We're only eight thousand at our upper valley, and we're not going to climb to the top of the peaks."

"Well, I'm game if you all are," said Billy. "We can make it through for one night, all right, for when the firewood runs out we can make camp and finish on foot."

"Go on ahead, Jesse," said Uncle Dick. "You're the youngest. Let's see how good a mountain man you are."

"All right!" said Jesse, stoutly. "You see." Accordingly, they rode on up, slowly, for a little distance, allowing the horses plenty of time to make their way among rocks and over fallen poles. At last Jesse came to a halt and dismounted, leading his horse for a way, until he brought up at the foot of such a tangle of down timber and piled boulders that he could not get on. He turned, his face red with chagrin. "Well," he said, "I've never been here before. I guess a fellow has to figure it out."

"You go ahead now, John," laughed Uncle Dick. "Jess, fall to the rear; you're in disgrace."

"All right!" said John. "You watch me."

This time John rode back downstream a little, until clear of the patch of heavy down timber. Then he turned and swung up above the bed of the stream, angling up on the side of the mountain, and finally heading close to the foot of a tall escarpment which barred the horses for a way. Here he hugged the cut face for a few yards and by good fortune found the way passable beyond for quite a distance.

"Not bad," said his leader. "Go on. I see you've got the idea of distance for elevation."

"Yes, sir," said John. "But I'm like Jesse—I've never been here before, and I don't know just where I'm going."

"Humph! Isn't that about the way Lewis and Clark were fixed, only all the way across?" scoffed Uncle Dick. "Go ahead, and if we have to get down and lead, I'll put Rob ahead, or Billy."

John gritted his teeth and spurred up his horse. "You give me time," said he, "and I'll take you up there."

He did pursue his edging away from the stream until he could no longer see the exact course. At last he pulled up. "We must have climbed three hundred feet," said he. "Where is it?"

"What do you say, Rob?" asked Uncle Dick.

"I'll stay behind and see that Mr. Pack Horse comes," replied Rob. "But I should think we might angle down a little now, because we're going up the wrong split. It's two-thirty o'clock, now, and we ought to raise the Hole pretty soon. I'd say off to the right a little now, wouldn't you, Billy, till we raised the Hole for sure?"

Billy nodded, and presently set out ahead. His practiced eye found a way through the hard going until at last they stood, at the left and above the stream's entrance into a roughly circular little depression, surrounded by a broken rim of high peaks.

"Here she is, fellows!" exclaimed Uncle Dick. "This is what we've been looking for! Yonder's the thread of the water, headed for New Orleans and the last jetty of the Mississippi. What's your pleasure now?"

"Well, sir," said Rob, who had for some time been afoot, leading his own horse and driving the pack horse ahead, "why not throw off here and finish her on foot, to the clean head, where Mrs. Culver left her tin plate? Here's a trickle of water and enough wood for fire, and the horses can get enough feed to last them for one night."

"All right," said Uncle Dick. "It's all in plain sight and we can't lose our horses, especially if we halter them all tight till we get back."

They now all dismounted and made their animals fast to the trees and stout bushes, first unlashing the pack.

"Good work, Billy!" said Rob, as he helped cast off the lash rope. "She hasn't slipped an inch."

"More'n I can say," rejoined Billy. "I slipped a good many times, coming up, and barked my shins more'n an inch, I'm thinking."

"Lead off, Jess," said Uncle Dick, as they stood ready for the last march. "No, don't leave your coat; it will soon be cold, and it is always cold in the mountains when you stop walking. And you all have your match boxes?"

"Why, Uncle Dick," expostulated Jesse, "it's just over there, and we won't need any fire there, for we're coming right back."

"But, Jesse, haven't I told you always in new country to travel with matches and a hatchet, or at least a knife? No man can tell when he may get hurt or lost in mountain work, and then a fire is his first need. It's all right to know how to make a fire by friction, Indian way, but you can't always do that, and matches are surer and quicker. Never leave them."

They set out, their leader now in advance, Billy bringing up the rear. Skirting the edge of the marshlike depression which acted as a holding cup for the upper snows, they at last headed it and caught the ultimate trickle that came in beyond it. This, following the example of their late hostess, they rapidly ascended, until at last, by a clump of dark balsam trees, high up toward the white top of Jefferson, where a light snow had fallen not long before, even in the summertime, they picked out the dark rock from under which a tiny thread of water, icy cold and sufficiently continuous to be called perennial, issued and began its way to a definite and permanent channel.

Without any comment, each one of the party, almost unconsciously, removed his hat. A feeling almost of awe fell upon them as they stood in that wild, remote, silent and sheltered spot, unknown and unnoted of the busy world, which now they knew was the very head spring of the greatest waterway of all the world.

"'Shun!" barked Uncle Dick. The three boys fell into line, heels together, in the position of the soldier, Billy following suit. Uncle Dick drew from his pocket a tiny, folded flag, no more than four or five inches in its longest dimension, and pinned it on a twig which he placed upright at the side of the spring.

"Colors!" Sharply Uncle Dick's hand swept to his eyes, in the army salute. And the hand of every one of the others followed. Then, with swung hat, Rob led them with the Scouts' cheer.

"Let's look for the Culver plate now!" exclaimed Jesse, and scrambled on hands and knees. Indeed, he did unearth the rusted fragments of what might have been the original record plate, but small trace now remained of any inscription. With some pride he next drew out from his shirt front a plate which he himself had concealed thus long, brought for a purpose of like sort to that of the rusted remnant they now had found. But his Uncle Dick gently restrained him.

"No, better not, son," said he. "You and I have done very little. We have discovered nothing at all, except one Indian arrowhead a hundred miles north of here. To leave our names here now would only be egotism, and that's not what we want to show. Reverence is what we want to show, for this place that was here before Thomas Jefferson was born, and will be here unchanged after the last President of the United States shall have passed on.

"Let old Mount Jefferson have his own secret still for his own—see how he wipes out all traces of human beings, steadily and surely!

"In all their great journey across, Meriwether Lewis did not once write his name on rock or tree. Will Clark wrote his twice—once on Pompey's Pillar, on the Yellowstone, and once on the rock far down in Nebraska, as we noted when we passed near that place. But the simplicity, the modesty of those two, sinking everything in their great duty to their country—it's those things, my boys, which make their Journal the model of its kind and class, and their journey the greatest of its kind in all the history of the world.

"Now hats off to Captain Meriwether Lewis and Captain William Clark of the army! Had they come where we are now, they would not have reached the Columbia. In courage, good sense, and modesty, the first and best."

They did salute, once more and in silence. But Uncle Dick put a hand on Jesse's shoulder as he saw tears in his eyes.

"It's all right, son," said he. "Don't mind, but don't forget. Good men come and go; it's good deeds that live. Now, we're by no means first at this spot, and it's of no vast consequence now. We'll even let our little flag flutter here alone, till the snows come, and the slides give it its evening gun."

They turned back down the edge of the depression in the mountain top, and by deep dusk once more were at the horse camp, where Billy quickly went to work to find grass and wood. All bore a hand. They got up all the dry wood they could find, cut stakes for a back log pile of green logs, spread the half of a quilt back of their slim bed, and so prepared to pass a night which they found very long and cold. Their supper now was cooked, and before the small but efficient fire they now could complete the labors of their own day—each boy with his notes, and John with the map which he always brought up each day at least in sketch outline.

"I don't know just how many people ever have been in here," said Billy, after a time. "Not so very many, sure, for nearly all try to get up the canyon. I heard that a man and his wife once climbed up the canyon, but I doubt that. There's Bill Bowers, from the head of Henry's Lake, he's been up to the top, but I don't know just how far—he said you couldn't follow the canyon all the way. I don't doubt that prospectors and hunters have been across here, and the Bannacks hunted these mountains for sheep, many a year. Used to be great bighorn country, and of course, if this country never was known by anybody, the bighorns would still be here. There's stories that there's a few in back, but I don't believe it. You can ride up the south slope of Sawtelle Mountain, in the timber, almost to the top, and almost this high. I guess she's been traveled over, all right, by now. Only, they couldn't carry off the old river. If they could, I guess they'd have done that, too."

That night the stars came out astonishingly brilliant and large. The silence of the great hills was unbroken even by a coyote's howl. To them all, half dozing by their little fire, it did indeed seem they had found their ultimate wilderness, after all.

The chill of morning still was over all the high country when they got astir and began to care for the horses on their picket ropes and to finish the cooking of their remaining food. Then, each now leading his horse, they began to thread their way downhill. Over country where now they had established the general courses, it was easier for such good mountain travelers to pick out a feasible way down. They crossed the canyon at about the same place, but swung off more to the right, and early in the morning were descending a timbered slope which brought them to the edge of the Alaska Basin and the Red Rock road. They now were on perfect footing and not far from the Culver camp, so they took plenty of time.

"The name 'Culver Canyon' did not seem to stick," said Billy, as they marked the gorge where the river debouched, far to their right, now. "I don't know what the surveyors call it—they never have done much over in here but guess at things mostly—but the name 'Hell Roaring Canyon' is the one that I've always heard used for it. It's not much known even now. A few people call it the 'real head of the Missouri,' but nobody in here seems to know much about its history, or to care much about it. They all just say it's a mighty rough canyon, up in. Somehow, too, the place has a bad name for storms. I've heard a rancher say, over east of the pass, on Henry's Lake, that in the winter it got black over in here on Jefferson, and he couldn't sleep at night, sometimes, because of the noise of the storms over in these canyons. Oh, I reckon she's wild, all right.

"Now, below the mouth, you'll see all the names are off. Hell Roaring breaks into four channels just at the mouth, over the wash. Fact is, there's seven channels across the valley, in all, but four creeks are permanent, and they wander all out yonder, clean across the valley, but come together below, above the upper lake; and that's the head of the Red Rock, which ought to be called the Missouri by rights.

"And you ought to have seen the grayling once, in all these branches!" he added. "No finer fishing ever was in the world. The water's as bright as glass, fast and clean, and not too deep to wade, with bends and willow coves on below—loveliest creeks you ever saw. Then, over across, is a creek where Jim Blair, a rancher, planted regular brook trout, years ago. They get to a half pound, three quarters, and take the fly like gentlemen. But all this country's shot to pieces now—automobiles everywhere, and all sorts of men who kill the last fish they can."

"But have they got them all?" asked Rob. "It would be easy planting and keeping up such waters as these."

"Sure it would. Well, maybe some day folks'll learn that the old times in their country are gone. We act like they wasn't, but that's because we've got no sense—don't know our history.

"Now," he added, as they forded one bright, merry stream that crossed their way, "you all ride down the road to where the bridge is—that's the main stream again, and she's pretty big—regular river, all right. Wait for me there at the bridge. I'll see if I can pick out a fish or so. I see a dry quaking asp lying here that some fellow has left, and I'll just try it myself. You know, get a quaking-asp pole that's dry and hasn't been dead too long, it's the lightest and springiest natural fishing rod that grows. The tip is strong enough, if it hasn't rotted, and she handles almost as good as a boughten rod. Now Rob, you lead my horse on down, and I'll try it along the willows with a 'hopper.'"

"Oh, let me go along, too!" exclaimed Jesse. "Lead my horse, John?"

"All right," said John. "Good luck."

At the bridge, a half mile below, the three remaining members of the party picketed the horses on a pleasant grass plat near the road. Rob went exploring for a little way, then, without saying anything, began to get together some dry wood for a fire, and also began cutting some short willow twigs which he sharpened at each end.

"The 'old way,' Rob?" said John, smiling.

"Yes," nodded Uncle Dick. "Rob has seen what I have seen—there's trout in this water, and grayling, too. Do you see that grayling between the bridge there, over the white bar? I've been watching him rise. So, by the time we get a broiling fire, maybe Rob'll have need for his skewers—to hold a fish flat for broiling before a fire, in the 'old way' we learned in the far North. Eh, Rob?"

"That's the way I figured it, sir," replied Rob, smiling. "Billy'll get something on hoppers, at this season, for that's what the trout and grayling are feeding on, right now."

Sure enough, in not much over a half hour, Billy and Jesse met them at the bridge, with five fine fish—two grayling and three trout—Jesse very much excited.

"All you have to do is just to sneak up and drop a hopper right in the deep water at the bends, and they nail it!" said he. "Billy showed me. He always carries a few hooks and a line in his vest pocket, he told me. Fish all through this country!"

It took the boys but a few minutes to split the fish down the back and skewer them flat, without scaling them at all. Then they hung them before the fire, flesh side to the flame, and soon they were sizzling in their own fat.

"Now, you can't put them on a plate, Billy!" said Jesse, as Billy began searching in the pack. "Just some salt—that's all. You have to eat it right off the skin, you know."

"Well, that ain't no way to eat," grumbled Billy. "It's awful mussy-looking, to my way of thinking."

"Try it," said Uncle Dick, whittling himself a little fork out of a willow branch. And very soon Billy also was a believer that the 'old way' of the Arctic Indians is about the best way to cook a fish.

Now, having appeased their hunger, they saddled again and made their way slowly to the ranch of Mrs. Culver at the Picnic Spring, as the place was called—in time for Jesse and John each to catch a brace of great trout before dusk had come.

They now were all willing to vote their experience of the past two days to be about the pleasantest and most satisfying of any of the trip, which now they felt had drawn to a natural close. That evening they all, including their sprightly hostess, bent late over the table, covered with maps and books.

"I surely will be sorry to see you leave," said the quaint little woman of the high country. "It's not often I see many who know any history of the big river, or who care for it. But now I can see that you all surely do. You know it, and you love it, too."

"If you know it well, you can't well help loving it, I reckon," said Billy Williams.



"Let's see, Rob—what day of the month is this?" began John, the following morning, when, their bills for the horses and themselves all discharged and their motor car purring at the gate, they bade farewell to their interesting friend and prepared to head eastward once more.

"Well," said Rob, "we were at the Three Forks on July 27th, and we spent a week getting to the Shoshoni Cove—that's August 4th; and we left on August 5th, and got to Monida August 6th, and came here that day; and day before yesterday was the 7th, and we came down the mountain yesterday, the 8th; this must be about August 9th, I suppose."

"That's right," said Uncle Dick; "giving us a full week or even more if we want it, to explore the Madison Fork, which is another head of the big river. Then we'll wind up on the Gallatin head, at Billy's place, and figure there what we want to do next. We might well stop at the head of Henry's Lake, and in a day or so we'll pick up Billy's car there and be on our way, with a camp outfit of our own again."

Their journey over the clean, hard road around the rim of the wide Alaska Basin was one of delight. They sped down the farther slope of the Red Rock Pass, along the bright waters of Duck Creek, until early in the afternoon they raised the wide and pleasing view of Henry's Lake, one of the most beautiful valleys of the Rockies. Around this the road led them comfortably enough to the cluster of log cabins and tents which was now to make their next stopping place. Here they sent back the Monida car, whose driver said he could make the Picnic Creek camp by nightfall if he drove hard. Soon they all were made comfortable in the cabins of this "dude ranch," as the Western people call any place where tourists are taken in for pay.

The proprietor of this place was an old-time settler who could remember the days of buffalo and beaver in this country, and who told them marvelous tales of the enormous number of trout in the lake.

"Go down to the landing, below the tamarack swamp," said he, "and get a boat and just push out over the moss a little way. Off to the right you'll see a stake sticking up in the water. Drop your anchor a little way from it and cast that way; it marks a spring, or cold hole, and they lie in there."

The three boys did as advised, and to their great surprise began to catch trout after trout as they cast their flies toward the indicated spot. They all were about the same size, just under two pounds, all native or cutthroat trout. They soon tired of it, and returned nearly all of their catch to the water as soon as taken. Sometimes a fish, tired with the struggle, would lie at the bottom, on its side, as though dead, but if touched with the end of the landing-net handle would recover and swiftly dart away.

"From all I learn," said Rob, "this fishing is too easy to be called sport—they lie in all the spring holes and creek mouths. This is the head of the Henry's Fork of the Snake River, and a great spawning ground. Now, you want to remember you're not on Missouri waters, but Pacific waters. If Lewis and Clark had come over that shallow gap yonder—the Raynolds Pass, which cuts off the Madison Valley—they'd have been on one of the true heads of the Columbia. But they probably never would have got through, that year, at least."

The young anglers found that their catch of trout created no enthusiasm at the camp. The cook told them that he didn't care for these trout very much, because you had to soak them overnight in salt and water to make them fit to eat, they tasted so muddy in the summertime. So they said they would not fish any more at that place.

That evening as they sat about their table engaged with their maps and notebooks, they were joined by Jim, the son of the rancher, a young man still in the half uniform of the returned soldier, with whom they all rapidly made friends, the more so since he proved very well posted in the geography of that part of the country. He readily agreed to take the young explorers on a trip over the Raynolds Pass on the following morning, so that they might get a better idea of the exact situation of the Madison River.

They made an early start, leaving their Uncle Dick and Billy Williams at the ranch to employ themselves as they liked. It was a drive of only a few miles from the northern end of Henry's Lake, along a very good road, to the crest of the gentle elevation which lay to the northward. The young ranchman pulled up the car at last and pointed to an iron plug driven down into the ground.

"Here's the Divide," said he. "You now are on top of the Rocky Mountains, although it doesn't look like it."

"Why," said Jesse, "this looks like almost any sort of prairie country. We have been in lots of places higher than this."

"Yes," said his new friend, "you can see lots of places higher than this any way you look. She's only six thousand nine hundred and eleven feet here. There are snow-topped mountains on every side of you. Where we are right now is the upper line of the state of Idaho. Idaho sticks up in here in a sort of pocket—swings up to the north and then back again. The crest of the Divide is what makes the state line between Montana and Idaho. Four feet that way we are on Idaho ground, but there's Montana east of us, north of us, and west of us.

"Over southwest, where you came over the Red Rock Pass, is the head of the Missouri. On north of here is the Madison River; it comes in, running northwest out of the upper corner of Yellowstone Park. We could drive down there in a little while to the mouth of the West Fork, but I think we can get better fishing somewhere else.

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