“Captain William Clark's Exploration of the River Rochejhone in the Summer of 1806”
36” x 60” oil on canvas
“The Buffalow and Elk is estonishingly noumerous on the banks of the river on each Side...I Shot a very large fat buck elk from the Canoe near which I encamped...Shields killed a Deer & a antilope to day for the Skins which the party is in want of for Clothes.”
Captain William Clark, July 27, 1806
“...we were very near being detained by the Buffalow today which were Crossing the river we got through the line between 2 gangues.”
Captain William Clark, August 2, 1806
“...for me to mention or give an estimate of the differant Spcies of wild animals on this river particularly Buffalow, Elk Antelopes & Wolves would be increditable. I shall there fore be silent on the Subject further,” so wrote Captain Clark on July 24th. He could not keep his word however and found himself overwhelmed at the astounding menagerie of species found in the valley of the Yellowstone. Floating through the plains that are today's eastern Montana they passed immense herds of buffalo and antelope, bighorn sheep in the cliffs, elk on every point and wolves and grizzly bears roaming the banks. They collected specimens and they hunted exuberantly, no doubt relishing the bounty after their lean winter on the coast. The party was also eager to reach the Missouri confluence and their rendezvous with Captain Lewis. They were traveling fast down the Yellowstone with the aid of the current, a sail, and the prevailing west wind at their backs. To understand the Yellowstone’s remoteness in 1800, consider that it would be 1856, fifty years later, before the United States sent another survey party up the River. A modern comparison can be made with the Apollo moon landing of 1969. At the time of this writing in 2009, humanity has not yet journeyed back, a time-span of forty years.