May 9, 1833

9 May: Early in the morning, gloomy sky, rain, strong wind. The thunderstorm had raged terribly last evening, and such a violent windstorm accompanied it that, at midnight, we would have had to worry about the ship, had it not lain protected by the forest and the bank. The wind often tore open the doors of the upper cabin and inundated us with rain. Toward daybreak the thunderstorm returned to us with renewed force: at dawn one burst of thunder followed the other, thunder and lightning were one, and everyone expected that the ship could not escape being struck. Until then the air temperature [had been] very warm; after the heaviest blows, it fell suddenly, and at 7:30 the thermometer stood at 56°F [13.3°C].

As the thunderstorm moved away, the ship left its position. On the left bank, forest, which we followed; to the right, a low alluvium with willow and cottonwood. A wild goose with her four young ones at the bank. About 8 o’ clock we run aground without significant delay. To the left we have reached the hill chain, which looks terribly rugged here. Much wood has been burned. The mountain has toppled down, torn and divided into rugged terraces. It soon recedes, and along the river there remains a steep 40-foot-high bank overgrown with bushes and short, ravaged trees. Here red willow (Cornus sericea) in bloom, and other bushes [too]; then alluvium and on top of it right away taller forest. higher hills or bluffs again arise, some of them bare with rock, mostly covered with forest, with individual conifers.[Page 2:62] Magnificent, rugged little ravines and gorges with shady areas in them where dark thickets hardly permit a view into them. The magnificent springtime verdure [has been] refreshed by rain. On the hill appear several thickets [of species] not [previously] seen, especially buffalo berry [— —], with [its] bluish green foliage, and cedar trees among the conifers. On the lower section of the hill, argillite seems to show on the surface: divided into narrow horizontal layers, partially blackish blue underneath, yellow-reddish above. To the right we have alluvial soil with tall forest; here we run aground. On the left bank, the conifers are becoming more and more plentiful in the forest; this mixture with the light springgreen color of the broadleaf trees affords a beautiful view. Immediately behind the bluffs, the Ioway (Ayauä) River empties, a brook that is filled with broken trees. The sandpipers and other birds fled before the roaring steamboat into this creek.Figure 8.23. Mouth of Aowa (“Ioway”) Creek on the Missouri.

At the promontory ‘a’ between the brook and river, we halted; the woodcutters and hunters got out; the fishermen set out their lines. They saw very fine fish (pikes) but did not catch anything. It began raining again. In the dense forest ‘b’ there were tall cottonwoods among the deciduous trees; buffalo berry also grew here. Our dog, Spring, had immediately jumped ashore and was lost. We stopped only twenty minutes. Five hundred to 600 paces farther along this bank, we saw an Indian wigwam in the dense willows and cottonwoods. The red willow (Cornus [— —]) often grew and blossomed between the narrow-leafed willows. In the river, which we passed on our right, extensive sandbars appeared [with] wild geese, ducks, and sandpipers on them. After ten o’ clock the sun emerged; it became pleasantly warm. After we had sailed along the left wooded bank for several hours, we saw two wild geese with their five young ones. The mother remained [with them] a long time; then she anxiously flew away and uttered her call. The goslings fled from the bank into the river, where we saw them swimming. Soon beautiful, rugged bluffs followed [and] blue limestone banks. Swallows swarmed about. Above the bluffs, grass hills begin, and in the dividing gully before them was wild, magnificently illuminated, light-green forest. Bluffs with wildly devastated and collapsed banks followed; conifers (cedars) mixed with deciduous trees. To our right, alluvial soil with willows, behind which forest rose. Another wild goose with four young ones.

At [— —]M38At noon, stop to cut wood.o’ clock we put in at the right bank and cut wood. The forest here was very wild and extraordinarily entangled. Elms, ash, oak (particularly those with rough, corklike bark), box elder, Rhus, Vitis, Smilax, currants with yellow flowers (the berries are said to be black), gooseberries, the red willow (Cornus sericea L.), and several other plants make up these thickets, mixed with cottonwoods and several varieties of willow. Beautiful birds uttered their cries: a yellow songbird, the Baltimore (as it seemed), and several others. Big swallows hovered in the air. We looked for snakes, particularly rattlesnakes, but the latter are said to occurmainly occur mainly in the prairie. [Page 2:63]

After lunch the steam engine was started and we departed. After some time we cut across the river and followed the left bank. Here, too, there was tall, beautiful forest before which sandbars soon appeared that drove us over to the right again. At twelve o’ clock noon [— —] °. Now comes alluvial land again, and we are approaching green hills, which have several picturesque domes. Before we arrived there, we put in to the right at the bank near a wide, extensive prairie. Perhaps Mr. Mc Kenzie wished to establish a farm here. The whole plain was overgrown with tall, dry grass; at the river, a beautiful border of tall timber in which turtledoves (Columba carolinensis) called and in which blackbirds swarmed about. In the prairie before the forest, which consisted of tall, outspread trees, we found ash and red mulberry interlaced with Rhus, Vitis, Smilax, and other vines, and especially currant bushes with yellow blossoms.

We did not remain [there] long but came somewhat closer to the hills. Very soon we had no water; the boat took soundings for a long time, and for several hours we did not move far from this spot. Opposite the prairie that we visited we first noticed willow thickets and then a border of tall forest along [the] shore, above which the green prairie hills peered forth. They have unique shapes with peculiar edges and several beautiful, gently sloping domes. Mr. Bodmer sketched them from two sides. The entire hill chains are covered with the most beautiful green carpet. We had too little water here. [We] marked a sandbar with a pole, drifted downriver under engine power, and after a long time finally got away.

As the sun was setting, we passed the beautiful hills. We sailed to the right along the bank; here we looked into the shadows of a dark forest, through which we saw the prairie light shimmering. The evening was quiet and beautiful; along the banks, numerous ducks and sandpipers. Somewhat farther on, we halted off the right bank. On the bank there was tall, sparse timber near the river; behind it extended an endless prairie, completely overgrown with yellow, dry grass. The sound of the axe rang out in all directions, and the big trees quickly fell. When it was dark, we set the prairie grass afire for our pleasure and created a beautiful, magnificent scene. There was no wind, however, and the fires did not burn long. Mr. Mc Kenzie had several objects put ashore; he probably wants to establish a settlement and cultivated fields here.

Thursday, May 9, 1833
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