31 August 2017

Army March Through the Eastern Sandhills in 1856

August 24, 2017. Army march through the eastern Sandhills in 1856. Grant County News 133(4): 1, 5.

In response to orders from his commanding officer, First Lieutenant William D. Smith of the 2nd Dragoons of the U.S. Military - the leader of the squadron - wrote a letter the day after receiving the request for details of an overland journey just completed. His response was posted November 22, 1856 from Fort Kearny, Nebraska Territory.

Smith had just officiated over an Army force that during the few weeks of October just pasty, had traversed a route to determine if there was an acceptable trail suitable for wagon-road travel between Fort Kearny on the big bend of the Platte River, Nebraska Territory, and Fort Randall, along the mighty Missouri River in southern Dakota territory.

On October 2nd the expedition left the Missouri River fort. Among the military there a couple of other commanding officers, as well as three laundresses particularly noted, burdened wagons, necessary live stock and others necessities not mentioned. The 105 government horses for the eight wagons, were "all in bad condition," according to the account conveyed by Smith's hand-written journal. Two guides along to identify the route through the country included a "half-breed" and a Ponca Indian, though neither of them, Smith noted, had "ever crossed anywhere near our proposed line of march." Nonetheless, the two hired guides had the responsibility of establishing the route that others would dutifully follow.

The essential distances traveled were measured with a "viameter," the only recording instrument along available to measure anything. Only the mileage figures made it into the narrative, as there was not even a thermometer to denote daily temperatures during the passage over the sands, and across sinuous rivers of fresh, flowing water.

Among the Hills and Across Creeks and Rivers

Moving along a vague route, the military force crossed numerous creeks and rivers, each carefully noted. A map issued in several military expeditions shows the route of travel but does not include any dates of occurrence in association with a particular locality.

During this particular portion U.S. Army exploration of unsettled lands the first waterway - noted on October 3rd - was Ponca R., readily recognized then and now. Water and grass was good. At the time, it was the on the north side of the "Ponkas Reservation" lands.

The L Eau qui Court - i.e., the Niobrara River in its lower reach miles east of the Keya Paha river - was described as a "wide and bold stream with low sandy banks and quick sand bottom a rapid current two feet in depth and a well timbered valley. ... Had much difficulty in crossing wagons on account of quick sands." The day's camp was on the south side of the Running Water.

Boggy banks of Willow Creek were the next crossing, as it was a southerly tributary stream of the prominent Niobrara. This may have been the Eagle Creek, as identified by the place name historians of the modern era.

Onward to the south, the Elk Horn was next along the way. "A beautiful creek of clear water with low well timbered banks and a fine sandy bottom." They passed the flat place where a settlement would be established in a couple of decades, named after an Irish man named O'Neill. The wagon train route went eastward for a few short miles along the river named for the natural, annual discard of an animal grazer of the grass, and camped.

"Road good and water good and plenty. Wood plenty - grass good."

With the morning's bustle, the force direction of travel then continued southward.

There were more creeks to get across. The first was the Graham Branch, a tributary among the flat meadow lands. "Water was good and plenty," but wood was scarce, Smith wrote on the October 6, 1856.

Was this Dry Creek, as this locality is currently identified? The map for the expedition differs somewhat from the modern map, but in the interest of simplicity, this would be the general vicinity, continuing in the modern Holt county.

"October 7th ... Road very bad passing over a succession of high sandy ridges (perpendicular to its course) and corresponding sandy depressions."

Next along the way was the designated Beaver Creek which then trended to the southwest. The attribution and cartography matches well the current channel of the Cedar River.

The Calamus river was then crossed. Its name origin is associated with the calamus or "sweet flag" plant as obviously well recognized by people of the Dakota tribe. These are the particulars according to historians: "Calamus, Sinkpetawote (Williamson dictionary); muskrat Sinkpe (Williamson dict.); food woyute (Williamson dict.); of, ta (Williamson dict.). Sinkpe, muskrat; ‘ta’, sign of the genitive (muskrat - his (or its) food. ‘Wate,’ food. Sinkpe ta wote, is the Dakota name of a certain plant which we call calamus or sweet flag. The scientific name is Acorus calamus. Dr. M.R. Gilmore 11-28-29 general letters," based up Link's place name history for Nebraska. Obviously this was an important landmark for the Indian residents as the name had been established so early in the lore of the region.

Next was relatively smaller-sized Storm Creek with its "deep, boggy ravine with precipitous banks" that were noted in the Lieutenant's words. On 10 October, it was a rainy and stormy day, so they all remained at Storm Creek all day resting while endeavoring to stay dry. Perhaps some of the men kept sheltered within a tent and enjoyed some camaraderie while playing cards to fill the idle hours?

During the next day's march, the "North Fork of Pawnee Loup" was crossed. The river was "a wide and handsome stream of clear water, with low banks quick sand bottom and about two feet in depth - water good - wood plenty - good grass." This would be the Middle Loup River, probably in the vicinity of Ord, a settlement which was not to occur until a significant number of years later in the area's history.

There are few observational details, with the condition of the grass, water and wood regularly noted, but little else. Beyond Buffalo Creek, on October 11th, buffalo were seen for the first time, during the march over what was described as a very rugged country.

Southward, were more waterways. Comparing the historic map to current maps may not have the precise places mentioned due to sparse notes and significant differences in map detail, it still allows details for a rough comparison but enough to place correlate the expeditions travel to a modern-era landmark.

Mean Creek, was noted on the 12th, and crossed the following day.

Then a crossing at the "South Fork of Pawnee Loup." Alternative names of "Potato or Hand River" were given for this waterway, now identified as the South Loup River.

The next water channel crossed was at Bog Creek, "with very high precipitous and miry banks a rapid current and a very boggy bottom." It took seven hours to build a suitable bridge using locally available timber.

Spuyter Devil creek was the next challenge, and where it was within the local landscape is a mystery. The derivation of the name is even more vague. It was like the mire at Bog Creek. There were a few more notable words in the account: "Country extremely rough." And another bridge had to be built which took sweat and toil by many men for an unknown extent of hours.

In the terse rendition of the voyage, the next landmark was a named derived from French language as indicated many years earlier, as the French presence was long gone in 1856. Smith wrote: "L'eau qui Bonne" - a very beautiful stream of clear water with such a distinctive French moniker - about sixty feet wide and two feet deep with sandy banks and hard sandy bottom." Here another bridge was built to permit an easier crossing for covered wagons loaded with life and its attachments, and the associated herd used to pull the people along to a military fort down on the flat waters.

In the account quickly written more than 150 years ago, two names were given for a waterway still prominent on modern maps. It was designated as "Black Water creek (Wood River)" at the time. The route just to its north was through a "very rough and sandy section of country." Everyone remained encamped the next day as military men built a timber bridge so the waterway could be safely crossed.

After crossing "Winding Creek [Ash creek?]," the valley lands of the Platte River were next along the route. The entire government party reached to north bank of the Platte River and followed the river road eastward a few miles to arrive at Fort Kearny on October 21st.

The entire route was traveled in fewer than three weeks, specifically with twenty days noted for being on the road with their stock and wagons. Apparently there were seventeen days of travel through a foreign land. Smith did not note in his journal any native residents along the way, and in fact, not even anything about the entirety of the Army force moving along the route. Descriptions of the camps or activities of the people during the march were not noted in Smith's rudimentary narrative.

Smith did note that some of the creeks were named "by the officers of the squadron as neither of the guides has names for them." Some names provided were based on the place names known by the Ponca guide.

Smith was "fully satisfied that the route we came was about the best that could have been chosen without making detour to the East," the report said.

To summarize the region so many decades ago, these words written by Lieut. Smith will have to suffice:

“Our route at the time of year when we came was almost impassible and I am compelled to believe that it could not be traveled in spring or at any time when the ground is soft or when the waters are up. There are too many points to tempt the squatter along the route were it not for the difficulty of reaching them. The forks of the Loup and the Elk Horn are peculiarly attractive without being particularly difficult of access.

"The entire section of country traversed by my command is wonderfully rugged and uneven but much of it yields fine grass - It is my opinion that it would make one of the finest wool growing regions that could possibly be found.

"Game was quite abundant along the route, Elk, Antelope, Deer, & Buffalo," according to the chronicles.

There were no notations of migratory birds, despite it being a time of passage for various migratory fowl.

These too brief chronicles convey a relativistic, brief perspective of a sand hills region at a distinctive time in the regions first history when parties of government-sponsored expeditions were traveling among the dunes and around the western plains. The particular notes by Lieut. Smith indicate how the small, wind-blown grains of sand and rugged landforms, together, wrought a journey overcome with difficulty, among great and subtle dunes of an unsettled territory in 1856.

Smith's brief jaunt was finished, but the military explorations amongst the sandhills continued. In 1857, the party of the Warren Expedition traveled along the Loup Fork and into the desolate hills beyond the river, through the dunes and onward to the Niobrara River, before they went onward to Fort Laramie, and then subsequently eastward along the Niobrara valley.

Also not to be forgotten is the north to south military expedition in 1855 through the central sandhills. Subsequently there was one of the most significant battles between bands of Indian families and the U.S. Military occurred at Blue Water Creek in the southern extent of the sand hills. This is history that shall never be forgotten because of the enormity of what occurred.

During the middle years of the 1850s – in particular 1855-1857 – three well-known expeditionary forces of the U.S. Military traveled through the Sand Hill region, trying to find a means to establish travel routes from one particular place to another and in the best means possible.

It seems the military forces did not succeed as no obvious trail routes were established across or among the great dunes of sand. Only after many years would commerce establish one route or another to connect the Platte Valley, via the iconic Buffalo Lake place and along a trail to the Black Hills. Soon there would be cattle men pioneers that discover and realized the value of grass for beeves. In a short time, some settlement commenced and railroad routes were built.

The western sandhills were an unorganized territory though the state of Nebraska had been established in 1867. It would take even more years for settlers to recognize the western counties of the region and for which there are many memories of the first years of their struggle to be established as people of a special land of grass.

17 August 2017

Chronicles of the Central Niobrara River Valley in 1857

An ever-running river of water flowing easterly across central great plains country has been known and denoted by multiple generations familiar with its features and seasons. The rapidly running waters were personally known in many unknown ways as it has been everlasting amidst the land.

There is a minimal extent of history known about tribal legacy of decades long ago as there is a dearth of written chronicles during this era. There were prevalent populated villages representing natural cycles of moving around as associated with the seasons of every year. Indians walked or rode on hearty ponies across this land. They knew realities based upon shared or individual experiences within their tribe or band. There were years unknown of oral history among the resident tribes so many decades ago. The people present then lived amidst a country they knew so well and was a place of their life and where essentials of survival depended upon locally realized resources and knowledge of a multitude of seasons and neighbors of some interest or another. These people did not write about their lives and times in something like a book typical of latter years. Words vividly spoken or via actions individually expressed within a lodge or tepee on the evening during one or another gathering. This was the manner through which experiences were shared and perhaps remembered by another generation.

It was about 1830 when some French men associated with the American Fur Trade Company had gone westward and established a post along the river they identified as the L’Eau qui court. They had a primitive outpost near the confluence of a tributary river, the Wamdushka W. which had especially prominent falls nourished by waters flowing from a vast southerly land of sand dunes. The fur company men traded with local tribes that gathered beaver furs.

As the area became further known and designated as a territory of the U.S.A., government officials became especially active with legislation enacting legal treaties that would bring great changes upon the vast expanses of the central plains of the western frontier of an expanding nation. Military expeditions became a regular occurrence and undertaken for various purposes.

Following a government edict by legislation, in 1855 Lieutenant Gouverneur Kemble Warren - a topographic engineer of the U.S. Army and primary officer of the march - was leading the “Sioux Expedition” traversing “Dacota Country” as they went from the imposing Fort Randall on the Missouri river to Fort Kearny on the Platte river. This military officer travelled elsewhere on the northern plains during 1856.

A map of Nebraska and Dakota prepared in 1867 by Brevet Major General G.K. Warren of the U.S. Military later indicated prominent features of the region, including areas where tribes were resident, waterways and prominent landmarks as compiled from several surveys and reconnoissances done during many previous years. There was the “Niobrarah or L’Eau qui Court or Rapid River,” with the name Niobrara used by the Ponca. “Mini Tanka” or Big Water was a denoted attribution of the Dacotas. Also there was the “Wamdushka W.” or Snake river where the French traders had a fur trading post. This river was also known by the Omaha tribe as “Cici ka wabahi i te. Where they gathered turkeys. Many turkeys were found here starved to death, and the men gathered them to pluck the feathers to feather their arrows,” (27th annual report of the American Bureau of Ethnology, page 94), There was also the “Little Rapid R.” as primarily indicated.

Along the western extent of the L'Eau qui court a military map indicated the prominent tribe was the "Sichangu or Brule Dakotas" whose country extended into Dakota during this era.

A particular reconnaissance of the L Eau qui court was the 1857 Warren expedition that had started in July, originating at Omaha City on the Missouri river. The necessaries were gathered together from other places using steamboats bringing supplies along this river-based route of commerce. There were associative details taken care of at St. Louis as well as Fort Leavenworth in northeast Kansas. The assignment of the military force was to evaluate the best route for a commercial business or transport travel road from Sioux City to the eastern front of the Rocky Mountains. Details also needed to be known regarding a suitable route to the Black Hills. The character of the Loup Fork and Niobrara were to also be determined. There was $25,000 allocated by the U.S. government to pay expeditionary expenses.

Essential to the details of the expedition's route are hand-drawn maps giving details of its route to Columbus City, then westward along the Loup Fork through the interior of the Sandhills, amidst the sand dunes with various sorts of lakes to eventually reach the Niobrara river. There was more travel that occurred in the autumn as the expedition made their way eastward in close distance to the river valley. The original renditions were drawn by topographic engineers that were government employees. For nearly every portion of the Niobrara traversed, there is a cartographic sketch indicating prominent land features and places where the expedition camped.

According to detailed words written on the range, a western extent of L'Eau qui court was a point of occurrence in latter August. The expedition then went westward to Laramie, also visiting Laramie Peak during the time spent in the Wyoming territory. Upon departure to return eastward in September, one party went eastward towards the Niobrara valley country while Lieut. Warren and others went into southern Dakota territory to undertake investigations.

Details in hand-written journals kept by two notable military men depict regular activities and occurrences amidst a western frontier, as made by the nearly daily entries kept by J. Hudson Snowden, as well as additional notes by Edgar Warren.

On September 22, 1857 a portion of the expedition was prominently along the L'Eau qui Court river in northern Nebraska territory.

Snowden wrote in his hand-written journal: “Tuesday Sept 22d 6 am ther[mometer] 42o – wind NW 2 clear. Started at 7 1/2 o’clock. Kept clear to the bluffs following the road there very good over high prairie mesa. Came into the river camped in good grass & a few cottonwood trees furnished fuel, opposite the point where we first struck L Eau qui court R on our way to Laramie. Saw today two buffalo bulls some distance down the river, and four Brules who came into our camp from below & who are on their way up the river say that there are a great many buffalo travelling north toward L’eau qui court R. I might mention here that from this point to as high up as the place where the Fort Pierre road crosses the river, the bluffs on either side are of soft rock more broken and denuded as you ascent, those on the south side as a general thing are close to the stream, while on the north the hills lie farther back a high mesa or table land extending to near the stream leaving narrow bottom which is the only place you find good grass, and here it is very fine and is interrupted with many rushes of which the animals are exceedingly fond. There is no river along this portion of L Eau qui court with the exception of what is in the hills about 35 miles back from the point the drift from which in the vicinity of and below the hills furnishes scanty fuel hardly sufficient for cooking purposes.”

Snowden: “Wednesday Sept 23d 5 1/2 am ther 40o. Wind SE & clear. We started at 7 1/4 o’clock. After proceeding about three miles we came to the Indian lodge trail here the Indians who are travelling and as, wanted us to cross the river. We determined to remain on this side however the bluffs on each side of the stream being very steep & broken and the bed quicksandy. In two miles further having crossed two bad ravines we got into the sand hills, the same formation as those on Loup Fork. We wound our way through these hills for nearly thirteen miles where we camp out upon a high hard mesa. We descended into the bottom of the river and camped in good grass and sufficient wood. The lodge trail recrosses the river to the side a little above our camp. Above the mouth of a small creek putting in from the South side, which has very steep & broken bluff banks. The river along our route to day varies in width from 50 to 60 yds and runs between high steep and broken hill with very little bottom, in which cottonwood ash cherry trees grow to some extent and with many grape vines hanging in rich festoons over the branches. The cherry & grape are now ripe, but the latter are very acid. Sand hill on the north side run in close to the river while on the south is one high level plain only broken by the small creek which enters above our camp.

“The Indians who are with us say they will return tomorrow morning as there is now no danger of our horses being stolen. They say we will find the road god for four or five day and there to the Missouri it is very bad. We camped at 1 1/2 o’clock. 8 pm ther 52o – no clouds – wind SW 1. Wind west all the time we were travelling and hard. Warm during the middle of the day.”

The tributary waterway coming in from the south was Deer Creek, as it is currently designated.

Snowden: “Thursday Sept 24th. Ther 44o. Wind SW 1 clear. 6 1/2 am ther 50o – wind SW 2. Having given our Indian friends provisions enough to last them home & taking leave of them, we started at 8 o’clock. Standing Elk accompanied us a few miles before he started back. He told us he knew the country through which we were travelling, belonged to the Great Father but that the game, grass, wood etc. all was the property to the Brule Indians and if we had any powder & balls to spare he would be very thankful for it.

“In about a mile after leaving camp we came into the Indian trail. One quarter or mile more we came to a small creek to the left, up the valley of which I could see for a long distance no wood infill but grass however appears very good in the valley. The divide between the L Eau qui court and the stream here is only a few hundred yards, the tributary makes a bend & runs parallel to the river for about three miles before it enters. We crossed near the mouth where there was water running through the rushes & high grass. After ascending a steep and high hill road passed over rolling hills for about 8 1/2 miles, the rest of the way over level plain. We camped on bottom of river in good grass. Sand hills were visible all day to the north of the road. The river yesterday was inclosed between high steep banks, the ravines filled some with pine not however in sufficient quantity to be of any importance. Considerable growth of ash cottonwood ash & grape vines plum & cherry bushes flourish on the bottom, these for the last few days have been betraying the presence of the approach of autumn, the foliage partaking of all the varied tints which blended together give the bottom of the river as you look down upon it from the high bluff banks a most beautiful & rich appearance. Two lodges of Brules are camped below us on the opposite side of the River. They came into our camp in the afternoon, to sell fresh meat. They killed a buffalo. They confirm the report of the others are met; that the Buffalo were travelling north. River yesterday & to day filled with sand bars shallow & here is 50 yds wide. 2 pm ther 81o NW 2. A few cum clouds in SE.

“9 pm ther 46o clear – no wind.

“Made 9 3/4 miles."

The waterway flowing in from the northwest, and which a route map indicated was designated as Omaha creek. This waterway is now known as Rush Creek on a modern era map at its place northward north of Deer Creek in Sheridan county.

Snowden: “Friday Sept 25th

"5 am ther 42o. No clouds. Wind SE 1.
"7 am ther 50 no clouds. Wind SE 1.

“Started at 7:45 am. We made a circuit of three miles to head two ravines, thence for five miles we passed over rolling hills where we crossed another ravine with ease, and followed along the river over level mesa, crossing another raving in about three miles after which we came to a small creek with clear running water, four feet wide. Very little bottom in which the grass was pretty good. The bluffs along the L’eau qui court are similar to those mentioned yesterday & wood in the valley increased in quantity as we descend. Some pine in ravines. The grass however is not so good or in as great quantity. I saw indications of Beaver on the bottom. Back from the river the bluffs are sandy. We saw today a great many antelope. Two were killed. Before reaching camp one of the soldiers having killed an antelope one of the herders went to assist him in bringing it into camp. This mule getting restless at the train leaving our presence broke away from him and went back on the road which we came, the man followed him until dark, but being unable to catch him he returned.

“2 pm, ther 87o, wind SW 5
“9 pm, ther 72o, wind SW 4 blew hard from the south west all day.

"Made 13 8/10 miles."

Snowden: “Saturday Sept 26th.

5 am ther 39o. Wind NW 4. Cum stratus & cirrus close 3.
2 pm ther 71o cum st & cir 3 wind NE 1.
9 pm ther 43o cum str in NW & N 2. No wind.

“We remained in camp to let the man go back and hunt his mule. He found it at the Indian camp about 12 miles above where he was tied. He got everything except a Colts pistol which the Indians said was not in the holster when they found the mule. I took advantage of our delay here to examine the little creek on which we are camped. Dr. Moffett & myself rode up it about eight miles. The running water gives out in four miles. After which we found it in holes. The wood extends about three miles only a few large trees. The lower part the stream runs between high cut banks, but above a wide valley spreads out. The slopes of the hills are gradual, and the grass in the valley is very good. On the east side of the creek several cone shaped hills rise out of the high plains. Some also in the shape of pyramids, capped with white rock. The valley of the creek was filled with bands of antelope and the water holes covered with flocks of small teal ducks. From the hills the country on the south side of L’eau qui court appears level & free from sand.”

In recognition to the herds comprised of many of these animals, this place was designated as Antelope creek, a name which it continues to retain. The government map also included the name "Stinking Hand C." along with another notation that could not be deciphered.

Snowden: “Sunday 27th 1857.

"5 am ther 43 1/2o. Wind SW 1 cum stratus from N by E SE 4.
"7 am ther 45 1/2 wind and clouds same.
"9 pm ther 48o no wind. Cum str & cirrus all over the heavens. Wind all first part day from the west changed to NE in the evening.

"Started at 8 o’clock for four miles the road was very good when we came to a small creek four feet wide, 18” deep clear running water the approach to which was very steep. After crossing this the trail passed under the bluffs along the river for two miles. Crossing on this space very steep and deep ravines, and there passes up very steep hill to regain the ‘mesa.’ I could see no way to avoid this place by going around. The last seven miles the road was good somewhat sandy, hills on our left being of that formation all the latter part of the days journey. We camped at 2 1/2 pm on the bank of the river some 200 feet above the water in poor grass & little wood on the banks of the stream. River to day runs between high walls of soft rock in all most. Canons narrows very much, is very crooked, and the current is very swift. One of the men tells me he travelled from the mouth of the Snake River to point near where we camped last night on south side of river. He was with some of the American Fur Co’s. traders, and they travelled with carts. He says the road on that side of the river is very good and it appears so from this, and yet the main lodge trail is on this. It would be impossible to cross the river however with wagons.

“Large flocks of cranes passed over our camp this evening travelling south. Made 12 1/2 miles."

Another stream entering flowing from the north discovered soon after leaving camp in the morning, seems to be Hay Creek of modern denotion.

Snowden: Sept 28th Monday. 5 am. ther 42o, wind NE, cum str clds 9 light around the horizon. Started at 7 1/2 o’clock. After travelling about one & half mile the river which make a bend to the north cuts into the sand hills on this and forced us into this hills through which we had a very tortuous and fatiguing march and was bad if not worse than any of our sand hill experience.

“Camped at 2 1/4 o’clock on slope of a sand hill near the river in poor long course grass peculiar to sandy regions affording very little nutriment to animals. Wood plenty in bottom but hard to procure being unable to get down into the bottom with the wagons.

“River in vicinity of camp not quite so tortuous and the channel is wider and is about 2 1/2 to 3 ft deep and filled with sand bars. All day the bluffs run in close and from the bed of the stream for 100 feet are composed of soft white chalk rock, and on this side sand overlying this to the depth of 75 to 100 feet near the river. The pine in & the ravines increases in quantity. Wood on bottom as usual. No game was seen on our route to day. 9 pm ther 46, wind NW 1, cum str clds SE 1. Cum str cir scattered over heaven all day wind SW 1. Wind changed a good deal during the evening.

Snowden: “Tuesday Sept 29th.

"5 am ther 33o, wind NE 2. Cir stratus clouds in the south & SW 1.
"2 pm ther 68o, wind SE 3. Cir str, cumulus & cir cum scattered over the heavens. Cum in South. Wind was east about 12 o’clock.
"9 pm ther 55. No clouds. Wind SE 1.

“Remained in camp all day and sent two men ahead to roam the river to look for a camping place. They returned in the evening and reported having found a very good place about 3 & half miles below where a creek comes in from this side. They killed a buffalo bull some of meat of which they tonight.”

Snowden: “Wednesday Sept 30th Ther 5 am 41o, wind SW 4, no clouds. Started at 8 o’clock and travelled through sand hills for 3 miles when we came to a small creek which I think is Maca sca Wakpa, or White Earth Cr. it answering to the description the Indians gave of a creek of that name following road thus far for two miles. We camped on the L Eau qui court about half a mile above the mouth of the creek in a little bottom shut in by hills with good grass and plenty of wood for fuel. Road to day was sandy and heavy.

“9 pm ther 60o. Wind N 1. Cum str 10 passing to south. Wind N & NW all day at times quite hard. Made to day 5 1/3 miles."

The military map of the era labels the waterway as “Clay Creek.” Two weeks – from September 30th to October 13th - were spent at this camp at this tributary where it met with the running water river. In modern parlance it is designated as Leander creek, apparently named after a homesteader of later years, according to place name history.

Snowden: “Thursday Oct 1st

"7 am ther 58o. Wind NW 1. Cirrus clds 1
“2 pm ther 73o. Wind NW 1. No clouds.
“9 pm ther 41o no wind, few cir str clds in S.

“This being about the point where Lieut. Warren said he would join us we determined to remain here as least as long as the grass hold out. I went down to the small creek (Maca seu W) which is about 6 or 7 feet wide with clear running water 18 in to 2 feet deep. Hills close up to the stream on both sides. Ravines filled with small pine, in the bottom along the banks are trees similar to those that fringe the L’eau qui court, also an immense quantities of plum bushes with fruit now ripe and grapes in profusion. Many signs of elk in the vicinity and several were seen.”

Snowden: “Friday Oct 2d 1857.

"6 am ther 39o. Wind NW 1. Cum str & cir str 9
“8 am ther 59o. Wind SSW 3. Cum str & cir str 9
"2 pm ther 66o. Wind SW 4. Cum str 10
"9 pm ther 56o. Wind N1. Nimbus clds & raining commenced at dark.

"Found this morning two mules gone. Several men were sent in search of them but had not succeeded in finding them. They were most probably taken by the Indians as they were picketed near the mouth of a ravine and further out than the rest.”

Snowden: “Saturday Oct 3d

“8 am ther 67o. No wind. Raining slightly. Numbus clouds W. Rained all night, at times quite hard.
“2 pm ther 53o. Nimbus clouds W raining. Wind NE 1
“9 pm ther 49o. Wind NE 7. Nimbus clds 10. Misting rain.

“Rained slightly all the evening with wind in same direction.

“Rain prevented any search being made after the missing mules. There is some red cedar on the hill near our camp, but only a few trees. Some huge cottonwoods grow along the banks of the river and a few pine in the ravines. The river here is about fifty yards wide with swift current and hills run in close as above leaving here & there a small valley similar to the one in which we are camped.”

Snowden” Sunday Oct 4th

"9 am ther 53o. Nimbus clds 10. Misty rain falling. Wind NE 1. Rained at times slightly during the night.
“2 pm ther 57o. Wind NE 2. Cum str clds 10. No rain. Wind N at times during the morning.
"9 pm ther 56o. Nimbus clds 10. Drizzling rain. Wind NE 1.

"The sergeant of the escort with one man went in search of the missing mules. They went back on the trail some distance but their search was fruitless.”

Snowden: “Monday Oct 5th

"7 am ther 52o. Nimbus clouds 10; misty rain falling. Wind NE 1.
"3 pm ther 57o. Cum str clds 10 no wind.
"9 pm ther 54. Cum str clds 10. Wind S 1 changes about 7 1/2 pm.

“Since we arrived at this camp the men have been luxuriating in plums & grapes the camp being full of the fruit all the time and it has had a very beneficial effect on checking the scurvy which began to show itself amongst the soldiers. I might mention here that the situation of our camp is such, being hemmed in by hills on all sides, that the wind is not felt unless it blows very hard and it might blow a hurricane over the hill & still be comparatively calm here consequently the direction & force of the wind, given at the head of each day does not give the actual force and probably true direction of many of the camp.”

Snowden: “Tuesday Oct 6th

7 am. ther 53o. Wind S 3. Cum Str 10.
9 pm ther 58o. Cum str clds & Cum 9 passing very rapidly to the north. The moon & stars shining brightly during the intervals of the clouds. Wind S 5. Same direction all day.

“I started this morning in company with Dr. Moffett and crossed the river and travelled south thinking I might find Snake river. Shortly after leaving the river we entered into sand hills of the most dismal character increasing in size and barrenness as we advanced & after travelling eight miles I could see from a high ridge 6 or 7 miles beyond, nothing however but sand presented itself to view. I saw several bands of antelope & one buffalo bull who was making the best of his way to the south frightened at our approach.

“On returning we struck the river some six or seven miles below our camp. It is here spread out about 200 miles wide quicksandy sinking if you stop a moment in one place. Along the river is a thick growth of underbrush peculiar to wet bottoms, and a few large scattering cottonwood trees. We crossed and followed up the bottom valley which is narrow & low filled with springs and in many places boggy, a species of came some fifteen feet high and very thick grow in places. White & red willow grow in great profusion in the wet places while the rose & plum & cherry bushes chose higher ground. While riding up the valley horses sank in one of these bogs and it was with difficulty we extricated them.

“Grass along the river is nearly all dead as are the rushes. There is considerable quantity of long coarse grass but the animals do not touch it. Saw a small band of buffalo north of the river on the plain.”

Modern era topography shows that the river valley eastward of the camp widens to the extent that lowland bottoms are present adjacent to the river channel, and which is a different aspect to the more constricted valley to the west and also eastward. This section of the river would be southwest of the modern geographic place, the Connely Flat.

Snowden: “Wednesday Oct 7th

"8 am ther 60o. Cum stratus and cum clouds 10. Wind South 6 blew hard all night.
“2 pm ther 69o. Cum & Cir clds 7 passing to N. Wind S 5.
“9 pm ther 54o. Wind NW 1. No clouds. Wind from S ceased about sunset.”

Snowden: “Thursday Oct 8th

"8 am ther 58o. Cum str clds 10. Dropping rain. Wind S 3.
"2 pm ther 62o. Cum str clds 10 wind S 1.
"9 pm ther 59o. Wind N 1. Cum st clouds 10. Storm from S & SE came up with thunder & lightning about 5 pm and another from NW; rained for a few minutes. Wind changed at same time to north.”

Snowden: “Friday Oct 9th

"8 am 56o, wind NW 1. Cum str clds 8. A few cir stratus in NE & E.
"2 pm ther 55o. Nimbus clouds 1. Raining quite hard. Wind NE 2.
“9 pm ther 48o. Nimbus clouds 10. Raining hard. Wind North 5. Commenced raining with thunder & lightning about 5 1/2 pm and continued without interval. Forked lightning principally in NW.”

Snowden: “Saturday Oct 10th

"7 am. ther 48o. Nimbus clouds 10. Raining hard with wind NW; as it did all night with exception of small intervals.
“2 pm. ther 45o. Nimbus clouds 10. Raining at intervals wind NW 5. 9 pm there 44. Cum str clds 10. Wind north 2. Rain ceased at sunset.
“12 pm ther 64o, cum str & cum 7. Wind sw 1. 2 pm. Ther 62o cum & cum str 9. Wind Sw 5.
"9 pm ther 46o nimbus clouds 10. Few drops of rain now & then. Wind north 4. It changed about 3 or 4 o clock.

“About 2 pm twenty-two Brule Indians crossed the river and charged into the camp and their bows strung & arrows in their hands. They said they left Snake River this morning, where they left their village & chief “White Black Bird” who was on his death bed, and who sent his paper, given by Gen. Harney by one of these present, who was leading the party. They said one of their young men who was out hunting had seen us on our road and supposing we were French traders they were going to take all our property away from us. They were very indignant at our going through their country and wanted us to pay for the privilege of passing. They said we were eating all their plums & wild fruit and burning there wood. That our horses were eating & destroying all the grass along the river. That we were killing & scaring away all the game. That they met the buffalo & antelope flying from our approach 100 miles before they reached us. That Gen. Harney had assured them that no white men would come into their country without a license from him, and had told them to stop & rob any one who came into their domain with such a passport. We had some difficulty to make them leave camp at dark, and we had to threaten to fire on them before they would leave; they camped near us.”

Snowden: “Monday Oct 12th

7 am ther 42o. Wind NW 2. Cir stratus clouds 3 in E & SE. Cirrus elsewhere. Rained hard about 11 or 12 o'clock and after at intervals.
“2 pm ther 54o. Wind SW 1. Cum & cir cum clouds in S & SW 1.
"9 pm ther 35 no clouds or wind.

“The Indians left early this morning all of them separating going in different directions saying that they were going to join Little Thunder when their village moves over from Snake river. Having exhausted nearly all the grass in the vicinity of our camp we determined to move further down the river and in the evening Lt. McMillan took some of the men with picks & spades to make a crossing to White Earth Cr. and improve the hill on opposite side to this latter however very little could be done.”

Snowden: “Thursday Oct 13th

6 1/4 am ther 34o. Wind S 2. No clouds. Heavy frost in the ground.
7 am ther 40o wind & clouds same as last.

“We struck our tents and were on the road by 7 1/2 am. We crossed White Earth Creek without any difficulty at the hill on the opposite side we had considerable trouble having to double the teams and partially unload some of the wagons & considered ourselves fortunate that we did not have to unload all and carry up the contents. Having reached the top of this hill, we passed through sand hills for half a mile, when we came upon one of those level plains, which always indicated the approach to a tributary to L’eau qui court. These plains lying between the forks appear to have had all the drift sand removed by some cause leaving the surface perfectly flat over which the travelling is very good. While on other side of the branch and opposite side of L’eau qui court the sand hills come in close to the streams. On arriving within 1 1/2 miles of confluence of the stream, and finding no place to camp (the hills closing in here having no valley whatever) we retraced our steps some distance and camped on L’eau qui court on a bottom about two miles long and varying from 1/4 to 1/3 of a mile wide. The grass here is only tolerable, but wood in abundance for fuel. The river is comparatively straight for some distance, about 100 yds wide filled with sand bars & shallow below our camp it narrows very much to not more than 15 to twenty yds wide is very crooked & rushes along between high walls of soft rock. After receiving the waters of the creek which I think is Little Rapid R. It turns to south east & pursues a course as far as I could see. All the ravines in the vicinity contain cedar & little pine and nearly all of them fine springs of clear cold water sending out in places good size brooks to swell the waters of L’eau qui court. 9 pm ther 45. No clouds or wind. Clear all day and quite warm during the middle part. Light wind from SW. (22 miles from last camp.)”

Edgar Warren: “To day we travelled about 26 miles our road for the first part was much the same as yesterday but after travelling a short distance it became quite level I saw quite a good many antelopes to day. After travelling over this level prairie we finally came to some small hills these we passed over and then our road became somewhat level again we then came down into the valley of the L Eau qui court our road was very level. We soon came upon the trail which our wagon’s had made. We followed this and finally came to camp upon the L Eau qui court. The grass here is very good and there is some wood here.”

Snowden: “Wednesday Oct 14th.

8 am ther 54. No clouds or wind.
2 pm ther 45o nimbus clds 10. Raining. Wind north 3. Commenced clouding up about 9 o’clock, at same time wind arose from N. Commenced raining about 7 o’clock.
“9 pm ther 38o. Cum str clds 10. No wind. Commenced hailing about 6 o’clock pm which changed into rain and stopped in about an hour.”

E. Warren: “October 14th. To day we travelled about 25 miles our road was not very good. We travelled most of the time on the wagon trail. There was but a little timber on the L Eau qui court. We are camped upon the L Eau qui court. The grass here is quite good but somewhat dry and there is a little timber here.”

Snowden: “Thursday Oct 15 6 1/2 am ther 32o. Wind NW 3. No clouds. Hailed & rained about 12 or 1 o clock in the night & wind blew very hard from NE.

“About 10 o’clock this morning we were surprised by hearing a shot & whoop on the hills, shortly after which men of the Black Hill party accompanied by an Indian rode into the camp. He said Mr. Warren & party were close behind and in a few minutes they came defiling down the hill, their long string of pack mules and the motley groups of men presenting quite a fantastical appearance. After the shaking of hands & congratulations were over, the rest of the day was spent in relating the different incidents & adventures which had happened to each since our separation at Laramie.”

E. Warren: October 15th. To day we travelled about 12 miles our road for the first few miles was quite bad but after this is was over a high level prairie. We travelled mostly upon the trail made by the wagon’s once we went into a ravine and then crossed a river supposed to be little rapid river. To day we came up to were [=where] the rest of our party was upon the L Eau qui court and camped there.
“The grass here is quite good and there is some timber around here.”

E. Warren: “October the 16th. To day we remain here still.”

Snowden: Oct 16th 17th 18th. We remained in camp making preparations to start, reorganizing the party, etc. dividing provisions, also discharging some of the men who wished to return to Laramie only having been hired for the Black Hill trip. 16th we remained in camp all day.

“It clouded up & commenced raining in the evening and in the morning of the 17th we found it snowing hard & kept it up all day, although it melted as fast as it fell ... on morning of the 18th found about four inches of snow which had fallen during the night, and weather was cold. I did not take any more observations on the weather after the Black Hill party joined us, because Mr. Carrington is taking full meteorological notes.”

E. Warren: “October 17. To day we remain here still it snowed all day to day.”

E. Warren: “Sunday October 18th. To day we remain here still.”

Snowden: “Monday Oct 19th 1857 Started this morning at 9 1/4 am after taking leave of [word n.l.] etc who returned to Laramie and ground was had frozen. Ther being 22o at 7 am. We reached Little Rapid River in one & half miles. The descent to the stream was very steep but we reached the bottom & crossed without much difficulty. The creek is 3 yards wide two feet deep crooked & contained within high steep hills. Pine & cedar in the bluffs while a few elm cottonwood & cherry bushes fringe the banks. The water has a reddish tinge similar to rain water or as if impregnated rust oxide of iron. After leaving this road was tolerably good following valleys between sand hills which were [word n.l.] more thickly with grass and not cut much by winds.

“We were not in sight of the river all day until we camped on bluff bank between two ravines filled with pine. River here flows between high steep banks and is about 40 yds wide. The snow all disappears to day except on shady side of the hills. Made 16 1/2 miles.”

E. Warren: “October 19th. To day we travelled 16 1/2 miles when we first started we left the valley of the L Eau qui court and came upon a high level prairie after travelling over this for a little while we came to a ravine after working the road here some we crossed over this ravine. There was a river a running through the bottom of it. Our road after crossing this ravine was not very good except in a few places. When our road was in a small valley our on ridges when it would be quite level for a short distance we are camped upon the brow of the L Eau qui court’s bluffs. The grass in the bottom land is quite good. There is some timber along on the bluffs and some cotton wood along the river.”

The map issued by the government labeled the tributary coming in from the northwest was labelled as "Reunion C." in obvious reference to the two groups of the expedition becoming a singular force a bit of a distance westward of a waterway confluence and what is now known as Connely Flat of the modern era. This locality was obviously in the vicinity - based upon geography and topography - of what became known as Bear creek, the name recognizing a place where Sioux hunters had killed bears, and along a stream within a canyon northward of the running water river. These was probably a plains grizzly bear that found the valley to be haven of some sort. Bear in the Lakota language is “mato” as a noun, or matohota in reference to the grizzly bear, with particular inflections according to the Lakota dictionary done by general editor “Joseph S. Karol.” The name first appeared in association with a survey done by the General Land Office.

In subsequent days the party would traverse the north side of the L'Eau qui court river, northward of a land feature that would eventually be named Medicine creek. The name of this waterway is derived from Indian language that refers to the medicinal plants present along the creek banks, and which were apparently collected for tribal use. The tribal name was Maca seu w. The w refers to wakpa, or river in tribal language. The expedition route upon departure would go northward to a route that provided level ground which the mules and wagons could more easily traverse.

Snowden: “Tuesday Oct 20th. We started at 9 am and had to make a considerable detour to head some ravines which ran out a long distance into the prairie. Passing over low rolling ground we came into the river in the afternoon down a divide between two ravines, & filled with pine for two miles. Some grass in beds of the ravines & also fine springs. Soil along our route today seems better having thicker darker mould, and sustaining a better growth of grass. Sand hills far to north show their white summits. Our camp is about 100 ft above the level of the river. Timber in the distance on south side gives the appearance of a tributary, probably Snake R. We were not in sight of the stream during the day. Pine is increasing in quantity & size as we descend but wood in the bottom diminishes here in quantity. Made today 18 miles.”

E. Warren: “October 20th. To day we travelled 17 8/10 miles Our road was quite good except in some places where it was over some small hills our road was made some longer by our having to go around large gulleys all along on the brow of the L Eau qui court. Bluffs there was some pine timber. We are camped upon the brow of the L Eau qui court's bluffs. The grass in the bottom land is quite good and there is a little timber along the river.”

This was in the vicinity of the current McCann canyon with its distinctive creek flowing southerly on the north side of the L Eau qui court. Note that the expedition had to revert northerly several miles to the upland in order to avoid the ravines that would have nearly impossible to traverse with loaded wagons.

Snowden: “Wednesday Oct 21st Rained during the entire day. At same time turns quite warm and SE wind blowing. On account of the rain we remained in camp. One of the soldiers who went hunting yesterday and got lost came into camp 2 o’clock pm.”

E. Warren: “October 21st. To day we remain here still one of the soldier’s did not get quite into camp last night but came in to day. It rained some last night and some to day.”

Snowden: “Thursday Oct 22d Cloudy this morning with appearance of rain & quite chilly. Starting at 9 1/2 am we travelled over good hard ground for about eight miles in NNE direction to avoid crossing ravines, when we came into small heavy sand hills, we passed through these in SE direction and did not emerge from them until we found ourselves close upon the river. Here we camped on small bottom hemmed in by hills in pretty good grass and a few large ash trees growing near the bluffs furnished fuel. The river here spreads out and contains many little low grassy islands. The pine is not very abundant in this vicinity and not as large as that left behind. Mr Engel made the survey of the river today. He found it very crooked, in many places filled with numerous grassy island with very rapid current. Hills on each side steep & broken and he found it difficult to follow the bottom with his horse. Snake river adds its water to L’eau qui court 8 miles back. This stream is 30 yds wide at its mouth with high steep bluffs on either side & is well timbered with pines. Our days travel was 18 1/3 miles.”

E. Warren: October 22nd. To day we travelled 18 3 /4 miles. Our road was quite good in some places where it was quite level and in some other places it was quite rough being over sand hills along on the brow of the banks of L Eau qui court there was some pine timber. We are camped in the valley of the L Eau qui court the grass here is very good and there is some timber close to camp and there was some timber along the river.”

The night's camp would was on the north side of the Niobrarah river across from the confluence of the waterway that would, later in history, become known as Gordon creek.

Snowden: “Friday Oct 23d. Dr. Hayden came into camp this morning. He & one of the men got lost yesterday. They got separated in the night and the man is still missing. We started at 9 am and travelled through sand-hills in northerly direction for six miles when we came to a creek in a valley about 1/3 to 1/2 mile wide inclosed between soft rocky bluffs. The creek is about twenty feet wide & half feet deep. Rapid current & very crooked. A tree here & there along the banks. Crossing and ascending the bluffs on north side we came upon a high level plain. The monotony of which was only broken by a small rocky hill occasionally rising out of it and by ravines running to SE. Pursuing this in northerly direction for 7 miles further we turned to SE and in 6 miles came to L Eau qui court, which here cuts its way through perpendicular walls of soft rock about 200 feet high. The river to day for the first few miles is filled with large islands their running in a very narrow channel inclosed between steep & broken hills. Pine in considerable quantities on south side, but none on north before reaching the mouth of the small river which is 1 1/2 miles back from our camp.

“The man who was lost with Dr. Hayden arrived in camp shortly after we camped. We made to day 19 1/2 miles.”

E. Warren: “October 23d. To day we travelled 19 65/100 miles. Our road was quite bad until we cross a creek it being mostly over sand hills after we crossed this creek. Our road was very good being over a high level prairie. I saw some few buffalo bulls to day. Two of our party did not get in to camp last night. One of them came in quite early this morning and the other one came in shortly after we had camped. There was some pine timber upon the brow of the bluff of the L Eau qui court. We are camped upon the brow of the bluffs of this river. The grass down by the river was quite good and there is considerable timber here and there is some timber along the river.”

They had reached and crossed the waterway known as the “Mini-Chadusa W or Rapid Creek” on October 23rd, according to the military map of the area. Mini-chadusa has an indicated English rendition of rapid creek or little rapid river. The current, modern name of Minnechaduza Creek is an alteration with a different spelling and as no longer hyphenated. The night's camp would have been eastward of the confluence in the vicinity of the what is now known as Big Beaver creek, with its lower extent within the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge. A second spring just to its east was also indicated.

Snowden: Saturday Oct 24th. Started at 7:45 a.m. Travelled back on our trail two & half miles and in 1/2 mile more we crossed a ravine where we found water hole and pretty good grass. If we had discovered this level last evening and camped here we would have saved 2 1/2 yesterday and as much today. After this our course was a little south of east all day, over fine country for travelling. Dark soil, and grass more abundant than usual. Ravines along to the south of us running into the winter filled with pine and are very steep & broken. [word n.l.] through the ravine in every direction. Our route was very straight, and we camped on head of ravine finding there good grass in the bottom. Wood & water in springs. We passed 7 lodges of Yankton Sioux 7 miles back. Made today 24 1/2 miles.”

E. Warren: “October 24th. To day we travelled 24 4/10 miles our road was quite rough in some places it being over rolling hills and in small valleys. We crossed one creek to day. There was some timber along on the bluffs of the L Eau qui court. We are camped upon a bluff and there is a ravine by the side of it which has water in it. The grass here is quite good and there is some timber here.”

The camp for a couple of days was along the valley in a place southerly which is now southerly of Norden, Keya Paha county, Nebraska.

Snowden: Sunday Oct 25th Lay in camp to rest the animals and await the arrival of Mr. Engel & Dr. Hayden who followed the river yesterday and did not get in last night. They came in about 9 o’clock. These ravines near our camp are filled with scrub oak, ash, a few elm, plum & cherry bushes in the beds, while their sides are covered with pine. Near the mouth you find some black walnut. Our camp is about three miles distant from the river.”

E. Warren: “Sunday October 25th. To day we remain here still.”

Snowden: “Monday Oct 26th Started at 9 o’clock and travelled over rolling prairie and occasionally crossing depressions at heads of ravines and a small brook with running water 2 1/2 to 3 ft wide and 18 in deep (this was 11 1/2 miles from camp). In 15 miles we came upon a high table land perfectly level upon which we travelled for 6 1/2 miles when we turned to south toward the river, following a ridge with ravine on either side and camped on hill above one of these ravines about two miles from the river. The ravines along to the south of our route are similar to those mentioned in last days travel being broken & filled with pine. Grass was poor and the hill were covered gravel & course sand.”

E. Warren: “October 26th. To day we travelled 22 1 /2 miles. Our road was not very good. Part of the time it being over small rolling hills and in small valleys and part of the time it was very good it being over a high level prairie. There was some timber along on the bluffs of the L Eau qui court. We are camped upon the brow of the bluffs of the L Eau qui court. The grass here is quite good and there is some timber here and there is some timber along the river.”

The location indicated by the military map – later issued – was on the east side of the ravine which is now known currently as Jewett Creek, which is southwest of Springview, Keya Paha county.

Snowden: “Tuesday Oct 27 Started at 8 am. After travelling back on our tracks for one & half miles to head a ravine, we travelled east, gradually turning to NE across a high level plain, with short grass. In 8 or 9 miles we found depressions in heads of ravines leading north, probably into Turtle Hill R. and the divide between these and the ones leading into L Eau qui court is very narrow. Only a few hundred yards in places. Going east for a few miles the divide widens and we struck across a broad plain, relieved by little mounds (about 10 to 15 ft. high & rough in diameter at the base) rising out of it here & there. For 7 or 8 miles when we camped on the head of a ravine, which empties into L Eau qui court, in poor grass. The country being sandy in the vicinity, but plenty of wood (pine oak etc.) in ravine, also good water. Camped at 3 1/2 o’clock.

“Made today 20 6/10 miles.”

E. Warren: “October 27th. To day we travelled 20 6/10 miles. Our road was very good most of the time it being over a high level prairie except in some places where we crossed over small rolling hills and were [=where] we travelled in little valleys. We are camped by one of the ravines of the L Eau qui court. The grass here is quite good and there is some timber a short distance from camp and there is some timber along on the bluffs of the L Eau qui court to day.”

Snowden: “Wednesday Oct 28th Starting this morning at 8 o’c we travelled through sand-hills for seventeen miles in NE direction. After this over high level plain for 6 or 7 miles when” ... and his journal continued though not being conveyed here.

E. Warren: “October 28th. To day travelled 23 1/2 miles. Our road some of the time was over small rolling hills and in small valleys and part of the time over a high level prairie. We are camped at the mouth of Turtle Hill River. The grass here is very good and there is some timber here.”

Two other prominent waterways shown on along the eastward route were Long Pine Creek on October 25th, and which had been visited two years previously by Lieut. Warren. The military map may have indicated the waterway as “Long Pine Creek” but however the depiction of the waterway features conforms more appropriately to Plum Creek with its southwesterly channel. A number of miles easterly, another waterway is shown on the military map as another primary waterway. The land features as shown historically match closely the alignment of Long Pine Creek and Bone Creek, especially in regards to distance and placement and was an attribution – due to the presence of the wild plum – as designated in 1874 by a survey team associated with the governmental General Land Office.

The Long Pine Creek of the 1850s became Plum creek on the current era. Another creek in a relatively close proximity would get the attribution of Long Pine Creek by men of doing land office surveys. By 1879 this name was indicated on an official map issued by the state of Nebraska.

There was the Keya Paha river which was crossed on the 28th of the month by the Warren Expedition. Keya Paha was indicated on the map as Turtle Hill river. A Lakota language dictionary also refers to Keya as turtle, with Paha meaning butte.

This name remains to be the modern attribution, though translated.

The expedition then continued easterly across Ponca lands – including a traverse of Ponca creek – northward of the lower L Eau qui court. The expedition eventually reached their destination, prominent Fort Randall on the Missouri river.

14 August 2017

Chronicles From the Loup Fork and Through the Sandhills in 1857

Portions previously published May 20, 2010. Along the Loup Fork and through the Sandhills in 1857. Grant County News 125(41): Beef Issue 44-46. With two sketches and a map. This presentation includes editorial decisions associated with trivial changes to get the textual details together.

A military party led by Lieutenant Governeur Kemble Warren, topographic engineer, U.S. Army, was ordered to explore the Nebraska and Dacota territories to devise the best route for a military road from Sioux City to the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains. The explorations started with the Sioux Expedition in 1855 with its summer season expedition along the Missouri River and then southward through the eastern sandhills and west to Fort Laramie, and in 1856 to the Yellowstone River region.

The primary object of the military force reconnaissance in 1857 was to examine the valley of the Loup Fork and the Niobrara River to determine their character. The party initially deployed at St. Louis and took the steamboat Florence to Fort Leavenworth where 36 mules and 22 horses were been procured and they then continued to Omaha City via river transport.

There was a subsequent ordeal endured by men of the expedition, very notably by notations in the original journals hand-written by topographer J. Hudson Snowden, Edgar W. Warren, and Lt. Warren. Their comments are quite brief in their entirety as typically only a single page or a few sentences were the essential words of a days' entry.

Snowden had the best penmanship, as his journal is the most expansive and descriptive, Mr. Warrens words were brief and provided interesting details by the leader of the exploratory military force. Lt. Warren wrote in a small notebook, with some of the words difficult to read, and there were problems due to fading, which tends to make it less possible to determine specifics of his comments.

Each of these journals are preserved, and available on microfilm - including those from the sandhills and other places visited - as part of the collection of Lt. Warren's papers at the New York State Library in Albany.

Also of importance, Dr. Ferdinand V. Hayden was the expedition's geologist and naturalist, responsible for findings relative to these topics. He prepared summary reports after the expedition was over, with a major portion issued as a "Catalogue of the Collections in Geology and Natural History." This includes details on plants and birds, with specimens of the latter still present in the collection of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Further details on the birds were noted by Spencer Fullerton Baird, John Cassin and George N. Lawrence in their 1860 tome, "The Birds of North America; the Descriptions of Species Based Chiefly on the Collections in the Museum of the Smithsonian Institution." Two particular highlights along the lower Loup Fork during July, were collected specimens of the Piping Plover and Vesper Sparrow, both distinctive firsts for the occurrence of these species.

Other principals of the party included a second topographer, P.M. Engel, meteorologist W.P.C. Currington and surgeon Dr. Samuel Moffett. The Second Infantry escort party was under the command of Lieutenant James McMillan.

An Arduous Journey

Very specific particulars are given in the following transcription of text associated with personally written accounts which are dramatically distinct history from 160 years ago this month. Nebraska is celebrating its sesquicentennial this year while the history for places within the sandhills occurred years previous while this great land was just a territory for the U.S. government. Multiple bands of the resident Indian tribes were well acquainted with the space while their experiences of such a great importance are little known.

Snowden: “Saturday June 27th 1857. Our party consisted of twenty men including every one. Six wagons (six mules on each) carried the provision, camp equipage, bedding, etc. We had also one spring wagon (4 mules) for the instruments. Five extra mules and twenty three horses made up the complement of our animals. We had not proceeded far upon the road when a violent thunder storm broke upon use, which came up from the N.W. and it rained hard for the space of an hour. About one o’clock we arrived at the Little Pappillion [=Papillion] R where we found no bridge, and the steepness of the banks rendering it impossible to cross our wagons. We found also we had missed the regular road, having left it two and a half miles back and that we had come too much to the south. We camped about one quarter of a mile down the creek in good grass, but no wood and none in sight except a fringe of trees about three miles to the south on the creek. Our road led us over rolling prairie; passing by a few cabins of settlers whose claims are fenced in by mud walls with ditches on the out-side, very common in a country where wood is scarce. Days travel 7 miles.

Sunday, June 28th Remained in camp all day, which was occupied in distributing arms and equipment among the men. In the evening Dr. Hayden joined us he had been making geologic examination of portion of Blackbird hills. Lt. Warren started for Omaha City on his way to Sioux City, Iowa to procure the escort, leaving orders for me to proceed with the train to the mouth of Loup Fork of the Platte River and await there his arrival from Sioux City.

Monday June 29th All the horses and mules stampeded in the night – about half past twelve o’clock, pulling up their picket pins. They ran in a circuit around the camp about a mile distant, two or three times when they all came in at full speed up to the tents and halted. They were soon secured and the mules tied up to the wagon wheels and the horses picketed close to the tents. The man on guard could not explain the cause of the panic among the animals.

“We started at 8 1/2 o’clock, travelled back on the road until we struck the military road surveyed by Capt. M. McPherson which runs between Omaha City and Fort Kearny. In 5 1/2 miles after reaching this we crossed Little Pappillion R. which is five or six yards wide, with steep banks and miry bed. 2 1/2 miles further on we came to the Big Papillion R. about 10 yds wide, like the first with banks steep and miry bed. Neither of these streams have any wood worth mentioning upon their banks in sight of the road. We crossed there on new bridge built by the government. After leaving the Big Papillion we passed over high rolling prairie. We overtook and passed a Mormon train outward bound on their way to Great Salt Lake City consisting of about 250 persons, 36 ox wagons, many old and feeble men and women accompanied this train, travelling 15 sometimes 20 miles a day on foot (induced to undertake this journey of more than 1000 miles across the plains and buoyed up by the expectation of reaching soon the ‘Land of Promise.’ We arrived at Elkhorn River and camped in the valley about a quarter of a mile from the ferry. Here we found a train of Mormons who had renounced their faith and who were returning to the states, they had the US flag flying. Their train consisted about 100 to 150 souls and 20 wagons drawn by splendid oxen; the men from this train went over and preached to the outward bound train (which had come up and are now camped near us) advising them in the strongest terms if they valued their liberty to turn back and not proceed to Salt Lake but it had no effect. We made today 24 3/10 miles.

Tuesday June 30th I engaged the ferry but as soon as we arrived last night so as to be ahead of our Mormon friends, and at 8 o’c we commenced to cross the river. The boat could only carry one wagon and one pair of mules at a time and it was nearly one o’clock before we were all over. The Elk horn is here 150 feet wide, water is clear, swift. It is full on account of late rains & very crooked. Above the ferry on eastern side is about one & a half miles wide while below the river cuts the bluffs on that side which ran covered to some extent with scrub oak, cottonwood, ash, etc. grow along the bottom in considerable quantity. There are no bluffs on west side in sight but one broad prairie bottom extending to the Platte River (some 12 miles distant). After leaving the ferry the road passes through old sloughs (now filled with water, in which our teams mired and we were delayed some time by the breaking of a wagon poles. Have found road over the bottoms muddy and heavy. Arriving at Raw Hide Creek about 7 o’c. We crossed over on an unfinished bridge and camped on the bank in fine grass. A few scattered trees fringe the bank and indicate its course through the bottom. It is about 5 yds wide with clear water and rolling grass covered banks. Made today 3 2/10 miles.

July 1st 1857 Wednesday. Started this morning at 9 o’clock. The road passes through the bottom. The Platte River in sight to the south as indicated by the timber and the bluff on the south side. On our right the course of the Elk Horn was marked by the bluffs on the northern side and the timber, while a tree here & there and now and then a clump of trees pointed out the direction of Raw Hide Cr. In the fork of the Elk Horn and Platte is one large bottom low and miry in wet weather sustaining a most luxuriant growth of grass. We camped about one o’clock on the bank of the Platte river which is here cut-up into sloughs, bottom of quick sand. It is about one mile wide and not over three feet in the deepest part. We passed the city of Fremont is about one & a half miles back from our camp consisting of nine house scattered over considerable ground. From our camp a faint outline of low bluffs are visible far to the north.

“We made to day 12 2/10 miles.”

July 2d – Thursday. Left camp at 8 1/2 o’clock.

“The road was over higher ground, through prairie covered with high course grass which is not liked by the animals. We passed several settlements and camped on the Platte River in good grass and wood. The wood along the river is cottonwood in groves some of which are quite large, however not extending far back from the stream. We made today 14 1/2 miles.”

"Friday 3d. Started at 8 1/2 o’c. In 8 1/2 miles we came to Shell Creek a small crooked stream, with a few scattered, stunted trees on its banks. It is about 10 yds wide miry banks and miry bed. We crossed a log bridge about one mile from the mouth, the road after crossing this creek passes up the valley of the Platte leaving the river some distance to the south. We found no camping place until we arrived at a small lake called ‘White Lake’ which is not more than a few hundred yards from the bank of the Platte. The grass here is very fine, but wood is scarce on the main shore of the river and is principally confined to the islands, which are covered with fine cottonwood timber. The river seems to be full and the current is very strong.

“Our Mormon friends of which I have spoken before came up and camped about a mile above us on the river. They had prayer meetings every night which were attended by some of our party.”

Saturday July 4th. Started at 9 o’c. Road was very good and at 11 o’c we arrived at Columbus City which is built up of log houses some in number. It being a national festival we found all the inhabitants of the city numbering some twenty-five men actuated by the ‘glorious spirit’ of the ancestors, preparing to do honor to this occasion ... makes speeches and they invited us to join them, informing us that liquor was free and that a big dinner was being prepared somewhere in town. Not being able to accept the hospitality of the city we passed on up Loup Fork and finding no place to camp I returned down the stream and camped about a mile and a half from Columbus City, in good grass & wood. Made to day 11 miles.”

Sunday July 5. This being the point designated by Lieut. Warren for me to await his arrival, and expecting to remain several days, we fixed up a barometer and psycrometer[?], or neither two thermometers to assure there purpose, not being able to [word n.l.] regular bycrememoties[?], and by 12 mi we had the observations going. I found one of the thermometers broken in taking it out of the case. Weather is quite pleasant, but warm during the middle of the day. Our hunter started out yesterday afternoon to procure some fresh meat for our camp. He returned this evening however without success. He said he travelled some twenty miles without seeing any game.

Monday July 6th The mosquitoes were very bad all last night – interfering with our taking the meteorological observations. I discharged Eugene Girard on account of drunkenness and refusing to perform his duties and made him leave the camp.

“The Loup Fork here is 600 yards wide between the banks, the water is clear. Bottom of rolling sand which washes out from under your feet, letting you down over your head if you remain in one place long. Current very strong, it being impossible to walk up against it, where it is three or four feet deep. In the channel it is about five feet deep. Just above our camp a ferry has been established, but it is out-of-order.

Tuesday July 7 Dr. Hayden went over to examine Shell Creek. He says it is about 7 or 8 miles distant to the north. It contains considerable water has steep mud banks and is very difficult to cross, considerable timber grows along the banks.”

"Wednesday July 8th The wind from south & SE has been blowing for the last few days. I tried to procure some fresh meat for the camp but did not succeed.”

Thursday July 9th Nothing occurred to relieve the monotony of camp life. Rained during the forenoon, wind from SE. I notice in the bottom near our camp ridges of sand about twenty-feet high covered with a scattered growth of grass and weeds. They run nearly at right angles with the course of the stream. I saw many of these ridges along the Platte river which ran parallel with the stream.

Friday July 10th Heavy clouds came up with all the appearance of a violent storm about noon. It rained for a short time quite hard. Wind changed very much during the day from SE around by W & N to NE then to SE again. Although the rain ceased the heavy cumulo stratus clouds remained, threatening a storm.

Saturday July 11 Remained cloudy all night but no rain fell. Wind all day from S & SE with occasional showers.

Sunday July 12th Warm during the morning clouded up in the evening, and we were again threatened with a storm.

Monday July 13th. Rained violently in the night the storm crossing from the NE with a great deal of thunder & lightning. In a Mormon camp on the river about a mile distant a woman was killed by lightning and another injured. Four Pawnees came into camp in the evening to beg we gave them something to eat and sent them away.

Tuesday July 14th Several Pawnees came into our camp to day. They are on their way up the Platte as also are the Omahas for their summer hunt expecting to find buffalo near Fort Kearny. Shortly after their departure we found our rain gauge missing from the place where it had been put to catch the rain. We concluded some of the Pawnees must have taken a fancy for it and borrowed it.

Wednesday July 15th Lieut. Warren came into camp in the afternoon. He left the escort and its train eight miles back on Shell Creek where they have to build a bridge before they can cross.”

Edgar Warren: “July 12, 13, 14, 15. At Loup Fork still we had a hard thunder storm here on the night of July 12. It commenced at first by blowing very hard it then commenced raining very hard. Mosquitoes are very troublesome here.”

At the Loup Fork on July 15th, Lieutenant Warren's group recently arrived from Sioux City, met up with the other contingent of men and equipment that had left Omaha City – the supply depot on the Missouri River – on June 28th. The route crossed the Elk Horn River, on to the Platte River, past Fremont City and Columbus, and northwest along the Loup Fork, as the Loup River was called at the time. They paid to use the ferry crossing of the Loup, with one wagon and its team taken across on each float trip.

Snowden: “Thursday July 16th Lt. Warren took some men with axes, and returned to Shell C. to aid the party there in building the bridge. They arrived at our camp about 5 o’clock in the evening in a violent storm of rain, every one getting a drenching before the tents could be pitched.

“The escort is commanded by Lieut. Jas. McMillan of the 2d Reg of Infantry. He started from Ft. Randall with 30 men but having to wait some ten days at Sioux City for Lt. Warren to join him twelve of his men deserted. Five wagons accompanied the escort the teamsters of which with the soldiers swelled the number of our party to 51 men. July 17 and 18 were spent in rearranging the loads in the wagons and in organizing the party. We sent back to Washington a sketch of our two routes thus far.”

Specimen collected: American Woodcock on July 18th.

The military party "Moved up the Loup Fork with the whole command consisting of the escort from the 2nd Inf. under Lt. James McMillan consisting of 16 men and two noncommissioned officers," Lt. Warren described in his July 19th journal entry. "Myself and six assistants before mentioned and 24 employees employed in teamster herd, etc. Five of the latter being employed for the Quarter Master dept to drive the teams of the escort." ... "Mr. Johnson is wagon master, Curtis & Lamouraux are hunters. The train consists of 11 wagons and an ambulance. There are 77 mules 33 of which are Quarter Master and 23 horses. The loads in the wagons do not exceed 1500 lbs. Our whole number of persons is 51 and we have provisions for about one month."

G.K. Warren: “The following is the order of the March

“1st the assistants when not specially engaged will ride at the head of the train. Mr. Snowden and Mr. Engel will note the topography. Mr. Currington will have the meteorological dept. the instruments being carried in the ambulance. He and Dr. Moffett will be habitually near this vehicle. The wagon master will be always with the train. The loose animals will follow immediately the rear of the train in charge of 6 to 8 men.

“Dr. Hayden geologist and naturalist will go any where his duties call him in making researches.

“Lt. McMullen – to whom belongs everything relating to the discipline if the escort and it efficiency – will be entrusted with the defense of the train and he will be habitually with it. The soldiers will be allowed to ride in the wagons and distributed thru the trains.

“On arriving at camp the animals will be hobbled and turned loose with two herders or picketed at the discretion of the wagon master unless special directions are otherwise given. They will all be picketed before dark. The guard will go on as soon as sunset and be continued until sun rise or till all the camp is aroused.

“The night will be divided into four reliefs or watches, and beside the sentinels whose numbers will respond upon circumstances will consist of two persons an officer of the guard, one of whom shall remain up till 1 a.m. when he shall be relieved by the other who will continue till breakfast time. It shall be the duty of the officer of the guard in the morning to see that the wagon master and teamster and herders are awakened at day break, and the animals turned loose under charge of herders or changed to fresh grass or kept picketed, at the discretion of the wagon master.

“At from 1 to 1 1/2 or 2 hours after this the animals will be caught up and harnessed and tents struck preparatory to marching.

“No person will be excused from duty by reason of sickness except on the recommendation of Dr. Moffett. And all sick persons must call and see him in the morning before breakfast or immediately on coming to camp in the evening.

“The cooks are excused from guard duty.

“The following persons will be detailed in turn as officers of the Guard. Sg. McMillen, Mr. Snowden, Mr. Engel, Mr. Carrington, Dr. Moffett, Dr. Hayden, Sergt. Murray, Louis Gerber, Mr. Johnson.

“All other persons will be detailed as sentinels of which there shall not be less than two and one of them to be a civil employee.

"The officer of the guard will see to the proper deposition of the sentinels whose duty it shall be to preserve quiet among the animals & prevent their straying, keep all wild beasts from entering camp, guard against attack from Indians and prevent their stealing the horses or mules. Sentinels will always challenge any one approaching them and all prowlers about camp whether animals or Indians will be fired upon.

“Men will always sleep with their arms by their sides, ready for immediate use upon any alarm being given by the sentinels, and in such an event will be particular not to run about unnecessarily but keep as quiet as possible till the cause of the alarm is ascertained. It is especially enjoined that no one in such a case fire upon an object at a distance as they may thus shoot men of our own party, but reserve their fire for their own defense in the event of being individually attacked.

“In all cases of attack night or day no man must fire of his piece at one enemy till his own immediate personal safety renders it necessary, and never at a greater distance than 30 paces unless specially directed.

“The train in marching must keep well closed up, nothing of necessary to effect this or halting the head of the train. This is a measure for defense. In case an attack is threatened during the march, the train will be immediately formed in the column this must come as rapidly as possible. In country were danger is to be apprehended, the horses will always in camp be kept picketed close to the tents.

“All persons are enjoined to keep constantly on the lookout for Indians and must keep ever before them that on being always ready to defend ourselves all our lives defended.”

Snowden: July 19th Sunday Rained during the night, with considerable thunder and lightning. Having every thing prepared we broke up our camp and by 10 o’c were pursuing our route up the Loup Fork. The road follows the edge of a low mesa at the foot of which is a stagnant slough in some places filled with rushes and marsh weed. A thin fringe of cottonwood trees indicated the position of the river about 1 1/2 to 2 miles to our left. Grass along the road good. The bluffs on the right were very smooth and rolling 2 to 2 1/4 miles distant. We crossed the dry bed of what I afterwards learned to be Lost Creek (deserving its name from that fact that it has running water where it comes through the hills & which sinks, after it reaches the bottom) about 2 miles before we arrived at the mouth of Looking Glass creek where we camped in good grass. All the wood here is confined to islands none upon the main shore.”

Warren: “Monday July 20

“Day fine for travelling, cloudy with light east wind, made 21 m. Crossed Beaver C. in about 9 m. this stream is about 25 ft. wide 2 1/2 feet deep bottom hard banks 6 ft. high and soft. Considerable wood along it and much scrubby oak on the ravines and this [word n.l.] was quite abundant on our right along the journey of Loup Fork.

“We passed an old dirt village one of them on the bluff very old, found here some pieces of Indian pottery. The other on the bottom two miles back from camp was lately deserted. The charred upright beams still standing. Road today excellent probably bad in spring.”

Snowden: "July 20th Monday We started this morning at 7 o'clock, passed in one quarter of a mile over the ground destined to sustain the City of Monroe, which is laid off and has two houses already built and a well dug. In three quarters of a mile further on we crossed Looking Glass creek at a good ford, hard bottom of sand. After leaving this the road follows the valley lying between this stream and Loup Fork sometime crossing ridges of sand, same as those called fortifications in Lewis & Clark report. At 10 1/2 o'c we arrived at Genoa (about 9 mile) a Mormon settlement. The houses are all built upon a table land running from the bluff a few feet above the level of the bottom by which they have a large farm fenced in dirt wall with a ditch on the outside. The town contains probably some 250 to 300 inhabitants. This is the last settlement up the river. Half mile beyond this we came to Beaver Creek which was bad to cross having mud bottom & steep banks. It is about 20 yards wide, 2 1/2 to 3 feet deep. Cotton wood & scrub oak along the valley, the latter filling all the ravines running into the stream. Bluffs come in on both sides close leaving no valley. After leaving this creek the valley of the Loup Fork is not so wide and the road upon which we were travelling becomes more indistinct showing less use. I went up on the bluffs about 3 1/2 to 4 miles after passing the Beaver Cr, and came upon the ruins of an old Pawnee village, mounds of earth covered by a rank growth of weeds marked the spots where once the lodges stood; pieces of glass and broken pottery lay scattered around; gophers & other burrowing animals now the only inhabitants of this once large & populous village. Every mound where a lodge stood being filled with their holes. All the ravines near this village are filled with oak and also upon the slope of the bluff.

"The country through which we passed to day is very fertile. Fine grass in the bottom and upon the hills. We camped at 4 o'clock PM on the bank of the river. We passed another old village about two miles back, situated on the bank of the river; and the abandonment of it appears to have been much more recent than that of the one mentioned above. The charred beams of wood which supported the house are still standing amidst the ruins and in a very good state of preservation. Road to day was very good and we made 21 miles."

Edgar Warren: “July 20. To day we travelled up the loup fork river 21 miles there was a few settlements along the road we crossed looking glass creek after this our road was over a low prairie with a few hills scattered around and some low bushes along the loup fork river in some places the woods was very thick we crossed Beaver creek then our road was over bottom land surrounded on the right by hills and there was also groves of trees scattered around through the hills.”

Warren: “Tuesday

“July 21. Marched today 21 1/4 miles. Crossed Calamus C. about 35 yards wide 2 1/2 feet deep, bottom sandy ford good. Mr. Engel examined it about 5 or 6 miles up.

“Observed for time and latitude at camp, but found that Wurdeman’s sextant had a bad index glass.

“The old wagon road we had been following today gave out at camp probably crossing the river, passed one creek just before getting to camp but forced us to go into the Loup Fork to get around its mouth. Passed some old Pawnee villages saw one or two during today.”

Snowden: "Tuesday July 21st Started at 7 o'clock, ascended the mesa and in three quarters of a mile we came to another old Pawnee Village on the bank of the river. One and a half miles further on we came to Calamus River, a beautiful stream which is 35 yards wide wide, has a hard sand bottom about 2 1/2 to 3 feet deep, clear water running between rounded grass covered banks. Mr. Engel went up to examine it. He found the hills to close in upon it leaving no valley. Scrub oak fills all the ravines. After crossing this stream the road led us over a low mesa here & there crossing a ravine. The valley of the river widens to about 6 miles between the bluffs and the road gradually became more indistinct until one we lost sight of it, but found it again and followed it to our present camp in a narrow valley, the hills closing in here on the river.

"The wood along the stream diminishes as we ascend but the grass along our river route was very fine."

Edgar Warren: “July 21st

“To day we travelled 21 miles up the Loup fork river. Our road was mostly over low bottom land we crossed one creek soon after starting the road was surrounded on the right by hills we crossed several gulleys on the road we also passed through some low bottom land which was very thick with bushes.”

Warren: “Wednesday

“July 22. Travelled 7 1/3 miles. Passed to creeks to day that forced us down to Loup Fork and crossed Warren’s fork about 175 yds at its mouth, camping in the point of land at the north fork. Somewhat difficult from quick sands, mired the first wagon, and doubled teams on all the others.

“Observed for time and latitude with the Gamby sextant which appears to be much superior to Wurdeman’s.”

Snowden: “Wednesday July 22d Left camp at 7 a.m. The wagon had considerable trouble in passing point of the bluff (which was close to the river pinnacle above our camp) and sank into the quick sands of a slough across which they were compelled to cross to get around the hill, then again experience some difficulty to ascent the mesa. After travelling one mile we passed an old Pawnee village grown up with weeds similar to those before mentioned and altogether was the place where they had a large cornfield. In six miles we came to creek water in holes having a good deal of wood along it as far up as I could see, we crossed at its mouth and in a mile further we came to the north fork of Loup River, which has the same general direction as the stream we have been following the Loup R. here turning off to the south, we crossed the north fork which is about [n.l.]/5 yds wide, with quick sandy bottom, our first wagon sank up to the bed and the load had to be carried by the men ashore, fortunately the stream was not more than 2 1/2 feet deep – by doubling the teams the other wagons were crossed without any further accident. We camped on the point of the fork in pretty good grass and wood sufficient for fuel – after leaving our camp of last night there is no appearance of a road any further up the valley. The one we followed that far was made by an emigrant for which, and they must cross the river there and go over to the Platte valley. Grass along the route today not as good as usual – the wood thus far decreases as we ascent the valley being confined to islands and isolated points where the fires which yearly consume the grass, can not reach it – the land also decreases in caliber although thus far it is very good – we made to day 7 1/2 miles.”

Edgar Warren: “July 22nd.

“To day we travelled up the Loup Fork River and 7 and 2/10 miles our road was over low prairie land and in some places the brush was very thick along the road there was some bluffs we crossed on creek to day.

“We also crossed a branch of the Loup Fork River.”

Warren: “Thursday

“July 23. Train travelled 15 1/2 miles bridging two creeks. Much of the bottom sandy.

“Passed a fire that had burned up to within 6 miles of camp, nearby from the Forks.

“I and Lamouraux went up the north branch of Warren’s fork about 25 miles to some high hills which be close with in the left bank. Here we could see some 15 to 20 miles further up these hills were the Tertiary formation of the bad lands and gathered some fragments of turtles and other bones. Time did not suffice for much examination. Cedar and oak filled the ravines. We did not join the main camp till 10 P.M. travelling this day from 50 to 55 miles. Saw only two deer. Game very scarce. Valley of stream about 2 m. wide, side stream miry.”

Snowden: “Thursday July 23d We started at 7 o’clock. Lt. Warren accompanied by one man went up the N Fork to examine it while the train followed the main river, we travelled for 9 miles, over the prairie bottom most of which had just been burned and the fire was travelling to the north and NW, when we came to a small creek which required bridging, the bottom being miry, after this we passed over low rolling hills of course drift sand & gravel, with poor grass upon them growing in tufts, in .5 miles from our first bridge we came to a small creek with steep banks running water 3 feet deep, but not more than 12 feet wide. Here we had to build another bridge which occupied all the men for more than two hours, the hills above this creek run in close to the river on a slope of one of which we camped, wood along the river to-day confined entirely to islands and isolated points. Lt. Warren went 25 miles up the North Fork found the general direction to be N 57o W as far as he went, there was not much wood along the valley, he found the bottom to be full of quick sands wherever he attempted to cross, & where he turned back the country partook of the character of the ‘mauvaise terres’ being rocky and has cedar growing in the ravines of the bluffs – we made today 15 1/2 miles-“

Edgar Warren: “July 23rd. To day we travelled 15 miles and between 4/10 and 5/10 of a mile our road for the first part of the way was over low prairie land we also saw the prairie on fire to day and also passed over some places where the grass had burned down we also crossed two creeks to day the first one had to be filled in with dry brush and weeds and the other one had to have a bridge built over it after we crossed. The last creek our road was over hills until we reached the low land where we camped.”

On July 24th the expedition passed the South Loup river which they designated at Currey’s fork but which was designated as the South Branch on a military map showing the expedition route.

Warren: “Friday

“July 24. Travelled 17 1/2 miles passing the south branch or Carry’s [=Currey] Fork. During the day the grass on the hills looked red and dry, from the effects of the sun’s rays. We had to keep on high bluffs to avoid the ravines which came in on the north side opposite the forks. Had to bridge one creek at a beaver dam.

“A single bull buffalo was seen near our evening camp and killed furnishing us with good beef.

“There was plenty of cotton wood along Currey’s Fork as far as we could see it, but very little on the main stream.

“There are some very remarkable white bluffs on Currey’s Fork a few miles above its mouth on the right bank probably soft sandstone, the ridge between Loup Fork and the Platte has frequently presents a white sandy appearance.”

Snowden: “Friday July 24th Started at 7 o’c. We had to leave the valley and ascent the hills in order to head ravines. After travelling ten miles we came to a small creek, with no wood except one or two dead trees here and there, with very steep banks and which required bridging. This was done at the foot of a beaver dam, with a few dead cottonwood trees and willow bushes & grass. The river near this place forks. One coming in from south. Loup Fork here turns more to the west. After leaving the bridge we crossed the hills for one mile when we came into the valley of the river up which we travelled about six and a half miles where we camped on the river. One buffalo bull was killed about two miles back from camp – this was the first game that has been killed since leaving Omaha. Days travel was 7 6/10 miles.”

Edgar Warren: “July 24th. To day we travelled up the Loup Fork River 17 and 6/10 miles our road was over hills with some rolling prairie until we arrived within a short distance from our camp we crossed one creek one creek to day which we had to build a bridge over our hunter killed one buffalo to day. A short distance from camp there is some prairie dog houses several of these dogs were killed to day. One of our men found a pair of deer horns here to day. A short distance from camp the road comes off of hills on to low bottom land.”

Warren: “Saturday

“July 25. Had a fine cool day with some light showers of rain and travelled 23 1/2 miles. Route good, some streams easily crossed. River valley and bluffs quite sandy, first 12 miles of river no timber, rest of it occasionally timbered on the points with cotton wood.

“Saw buffalo grass in the bottoms saw a herd of antelope for the first time.

“One man of our party named May very sick from fever and delirious. Commenced raining hard before sunset and continued through the night. One of the sentinels must have fired off his gun in the night as a shot was heard in camp though both sentinels denied it. The soldier probably lied.”

Snowden: “Saturday July 25th Started at 7 1/4 o’clock. After travelling two miles and a quarter we came to small spring for which required some filling in the bed, thence our route [n.l.] through sand hills for 3/4 of a mile where we came out upon a prairie bottom, over this we pursued our way until 5 o’c. p.m. where we camped on the bank of river in good grass. The wood along the river to day is confined to islands and in not very large quantities. The valley varied from 3 to 5 miles in width supporting a fine growth of grass; we crossed several ravines with standing water which in very wet conditions might cause some delay in crossing.

“The difficulty in these places consists in the steep banks & miry beds. Road to day was very straight – made 23 1/2 miles.”

E. Warren: “July 25th

“This day we travelled up Loup Fork Creek 21 miles and 1/2 our road for a little while after we left camp was over low bottom land we crossed some hills to day after this our road was over low bottom land again. We passed two prairie dog villages. We also crossed several gulleys some of these had water in them also saw a herd of antelopes we had a little shower of rain but it did not last long.”

Warren: “Sunday July 26. Laid by all day rained till in the afternoon when it cleared off. We were all occupied fixing things and I calculated our time and latitude.”

Snowden: “Sunday July 26th We remained in camp all day on account of rain and one of the men who was quite sick.”

E. Warren: “Sunday, July 26th.

“Remain here still it rained here to day.”

Warren: “Monday

“July 27 travelled 24 1/4 miles much of the way thru sand hills in the valley bluffs sandy but more level that portions of the bottom. Valley of the river 4 to 5 miles wide in places but very sandy. Road to day good sand flies very annoying – grass is not good throughout the valley. Wood very sparse. Some few pine trees in the bluffs.

“Observed for latitude and time.

“Loup Fork at camp 250 yds wide.”

Snowden: “Monday July 27th Started at 6 1/2 o’clock. The first six miles we travelled over a low mesa when we came into low sand hills through which we travelled for four miles emerging there our course led us up the valley over good ground. The sand hills extending along on our right hand.

“We crossed the beds of two small creeks (now dry) while crossing through the sand hills, on one of which where it leaves the high bluff I saw there a few large pine trees. The creeks show evidence of having lately been very full of water. After leaving these hills the grass improves in quantity and quality along the route. We passed in seven miles further, a place where there has been a large Indian encampment. Wood on the river very scant and small.

"We camped on the river in pretty good grass. The valley of the river here is 4-5 miles wide, close on opposite side. Grass, wood water etc. Days march 24 1/4 miles.”

E. Warren: “July 27th

“This day we travelled up the Loup Fork River 24 1/4 miles our road was mostly over low bottom land we passed over some sand hills the hunters killed one antelope and one buffalo to day.”

Warren: “Tuesday

“July 28. Made 17 3/4 miles. River diminishing in size & width and totally perceptible. Timber very scarce.

“Passed some 6 or 7 miles from morning camp the place where I crossed in 1855. Commenced running about [word n.l.] day and forced us to camp near some high sand hills by the river which were torn on the N.W. side by the wind and cherry trees on the N. side nearly covered up. Occasionally to day sand hills filled the whole valley.”

Snowden: “Tuesday July 28th Started at 6 1/2 o'clock. Our route along the valley was rather sandy occasionally passing through spurs of sand hills, which run out from the main bluff. The wood along the stream is very small and scarce and the grass along the valley poor. In the afternoon it commenced raining hard from N.W. which caused us to camp in a bend of the river where the sand hills through which we had been travelling for the last few miles, run in close to the stream, they were very much cut by the winds and were about entirely destitute of vegetation. On the south side of these hills, a few sand cherry bushes and currants exist. Made to day 17 8/10 miles.”

E. Warren: “July 28th

“To day we traveled 17 8/10 miles our road was mostly over low bottom land except in a few places where there was some small hills we had a hard shower of rain to day but it stopped a few hours after we had camped saw some antelopes to day there is some bluffs a short distance from where we are camped.”

Warren: “Wednesday

“July 29. Travelled 19 3/4 miles over very high with sand and some of the small [word n.l.] miles become timed out. River near camp about 100 yds wide – very little wood. Buffalo sign but only an occasional bull. Grass much eaten off. Antelopes not numerous.

“Tho overcast all night I observe for latitude.”

Snowden: “Wednesday July 29th. Started at seven o'clock. We travelled to day along the valley of the river. The sand hills close in on both sides of the river which is quite sandy, occasionally through sand hills, which today were very close to the river as were those on opposite side having a very narrow valley. From the tops of the hills looking back the hill appear to increase in height and present into the country you see nothing but sand the same monotonous unvarying appearance.

“The grass in the valley is scant and inferior in many places, eaten down by buffalo large herds numerous of which must have recently been here, judging from the numerous & fresh signs, their tracks all lead to the south, to the Platte valley where these animals migrate in the summer to graze. Our hunter saw a horse in the hills on the south side of the river, probably left behind by some war party of Indians. River became narrow very rapidly and is quite tortuous, and filled with low grassy islands. Sand hills on both sides leaving very little valley and we were sometimes compelled to cross points of these hills where they come in close to the bank of the stream. There is no wood except a few bushes along the river and on some of the islands. We camped in a small valley, where we found good grass. All along the river since we struck the Sand Hills is a narrow bottom filled with springs, which must be supplied from the infiltration of the rains which fall upon the Sand Hills sinking into the basins of which it reaches the river through these bottoms which are wet & boggy and this probably will account for the rapid failure of the water in the Loup Fork as we ascend – Made 19 3/4 miles -”

E. Warren: “July 29th

“To day we travelled up the Loup Fork River 19 3/4 miles our road was mostly over low bottom land except in some places where there was some sandy hills. Off on our right there was hills all along the road to day where we are camped grass is not very good, and there is no wood close by camp.”

Collected two type specimens of the Vesper Sparrow at Loup confluence with the Platte river, as well as the type specimen of the Belted Piping Plover subspecies. Specimens in the Smithsonian collection.

On the 30th the expedition passed the mouth of the Dismal river.

Warren: “Thursday

“July 30. Travelled 18 miles camped early in fine grass, buffalo sign abundant but only saw bulls. About 5 or 6 miles from morning camp the river divides into two nearly equal branches. We took the one which we came upon [words n.l.] north – more wood above on these forks [word n.l.] below.

“This other fork (same N. Fork) seemed from the appearance off our bluffs to turn much to the south. Day very warm wind south.”

Snowden: “Thursday July 29th Started at 6 1/2 o’clock and travelled along at the foot of the sand-hills. The valley occasionally very narrow. In about six miles we came to a point where the river forks, both streams being nearly of the same size. We followed the largest which turned toward the NW before arriving at the fork we passed several places where Indians had recently been encamped. After passing the fork the valley of the river is about half a mile wide. Grass in it poor, and the wood along the river confined to islands (however in somewhat larger quantity on our route yesterday). Buffalo signs were numerous and we saw four or five bulls one of which was killed. The sand hill occupy both sides of the river some of them are much broken & cut by winds, supporting a very scant vegetation and presenting a very scarce and monotonous appearance. The river varies in width 100 to 150 yds and is about 2 to 2 1/2 feet deep. Made to day 17 3/4 miles.”

E. Warren: “July 30th

"Today we travelled up Loup Fork River 17 8/10 miles our road was over low bottom land. The country around us was mostly sand hills there was one buffalo killed to day. Where we are camped grass is not very good and no wood close to camp. There was some few scattered timber spots along the river.”

It was during the following days that the expedition travelled along the Middle Loup river within what is now Thomas county.

Warren: “Friday

“July 31 travelled miles stream has more dwindled down to a width of 30 yds, little or no wood upon it. Found a dead cow with arrows sticking in her which were thought to be Pawnee. Sign of Buffalo abundant, animals all gone except for a few bulls.

“The hills begin to day to show less of naked sand than before. Valley of stream 1/2 mile wide.

“Afternoon very warm.”

Snowden: “Friday July 31st. Started at 6 1/2 o'clock. We made very good time although the road was sandy and heavy. The river became very crooked and narrows very rapidly not being more than twenty-five to thirty yards wide. Shortly after starting we saw a buffalo cow lying upon the river bank dead with two arrows sticking in her. The last few miles of our day march was over hard ground and free from sand. [Word not legible] to day [n.l.] & no wood upon the river. Two buffaloes & one antelope were killed, which supplied our camp with fresh meat. Made 19 1/4 miles.”

E. Warren: “July 31st

“This day we travelled up the Loup Fork River 19 1/2 our road was over low bottom land except in a few places where the river came close up to the sand hills we then had to go over the hills. The country around us was all sand hills, there was two buffalos killed to day and one deer, along the road we saw one dead buffalo cow which had an arrow in to her the day also was very hot, where we are camped grass generally is not very good and there is no wood around here we also passed one lake. Plenty of water a short distance from camp.”

Warren: “Saturday Aug 1. Laid by all day for the sick man May and he seemed much benefitted by it. Took occasion to put every thing in order. Cut the [word n.l.] out of the animals mouth. Weather very warm.”

Snowden: “Saturday Aug 1st Remained in camp on account of one of the teamsters who has been sick several days with a kind of billious typhoid fever which has been gradually getting worse and Dr. Moffett expressed his opposition that the man would die if he was not kept quiet until the crisis of his [word n.l.] had passed. Dr. Hayden who had been out to N of camp came in an reported having seen fresh Indian & horse tracks about one mile distant – which must have been made by a war party. Found here the variation of the compass to be N of E.”

E. Warren: “August 1st Sunday August 2nd

“Remain here still on the 2nd of August it rained and blowed very hard in the afternoon one of the tents was blown down.”

Birds collected and preserved as specimens by Dr. F.V. Hayden: Brown-headed Cowbird, Lark Bunting and Red-winged Blackbird.

Warren: “Sunday Aug 2. Still laid by for the sick man, and sent Mr. Snowden north about 15 miles to the head of the north branch. I went south to the Sandhill Fork about 17 miles found a stream about 15 yds wide with high sandy bluffs and in valley oak ash and some cherry growing on the bank. The water was whitish like White river and Dr. Hayden who was along soon described the tertiary formation cropping out near the water’s edge containing many shells & some bones and presenting a very chalky appearance. Sand hills between the two streams very different except along some of the old buffalo trails. Had a heavy rain come in from the north at 3 p.m. This same storm struck Mr. Snowden at 2 p.m. and reached the main camp at 2:30 p.m. showing that it travelled 30 miles in an hour.”

Snowden: “Sunday Aug 2 Party remained in camp while Mr. Warren & Dr. Hayden went off in a southerly direction to examine the country. Mr. Engel went up the river and I proceeded north from the camp. I travelled about 15 miles over sand ridges without seeing any water, when I came to a valley evidently the head of a creek. Here I found water in holes. I rode down the valley for about two miles the water holes increasing in number and size and I think I would have soon come to running water where at 2 o’c p.m. a violent thunder storm which had been threatening us for some time broke upon us putting an end to the survey and I returned. I think the valley which I found is the head of the north fork of the Loup River.

“Mr. Warren & Dr. Hayden found the fork of Loup River which we passed July 30, about 16 miles south of the camp, running between rocky hills of the mauvaisses terres formation, in which Dr. Hayden found some fossils, bones turtles, etc. Sandhills extend all the way between our camp and this stream. Mr. Engel found wood on Loup F. some 16 miles above. In the valley of the creek which I discovered. I found good grass but no wood. I also saw the carcasses of eight or ten buffalo cows, killed within the last few days some of them were butchered and others seemed not to have been touched. I saw a great many antelope in the sand hills.”

Warren: “Monday Aug 3.

“Rainy in the morning and clear about noon. Laid by more especially to give May all the charm I could.”

Snowden: “Monday Aug 3 Rained at intervals during the day quite hard. Nothing of importance occurred worth mentioning.”

E. Warren: “August 3d

“We remain here still.”

Birds collected: Brown-headed Cowbird, Common Yellowthroat, Dickcissel, Grasshopper Sparrow, Western Meadowlark as indicated in Baird report.

Warren: “Tuesday Aug 4.

“Travelled 19 3/4 miles. The river at camp in the morning was so close in the [word n.l.] bluffs trail we had to cross the hills, and [word n.l.] about 3 miles after this we kept along the narrow valley till about the last five miles where high abrupt banks forced us off on the [word n.l.] south of the stream. We camped down in the valley on the north side surrounded by high hills, considerable wood on the bank. Bluffs occasionally show high white precipices of soft but curious work. Wood oak ash cedar. Cedars abundant not quite ripe. Coffee & sugar gone.

“Observed for time and latitude.”

Snowden: “Tuesday Aug 4th Started from camp at 6 1/2 o.c. A jack ass rabbit stampeded the herd and the ambulance which contained the sick man, they ran down the steep hill and the carriage was in danger of being upset – several times, this fortunately did not happen, as it might have killed the sick man in his feeble condition. After travelling up the valley of the river about 14 miles we had to cross to the right bank the bluffs coming in so close as to prevent our following the opposite side. We travelled over hills for the rest of the day. Sand disappearing somewhat as we ascent we recrossed the river and camped in a small bottom sheltered by high hills, where we first crossed the stream wood begins ash oak etc. which now grows in considerable quantities along the valley and in the ravines. Grass in the valleys pretty good. River to day was tortuous in its course cutting first the bluffs on the right and then those on the left. It is about 35 to 40 yds wide, is about 2 1/2 to 3 feet deep in channel, with sand bottom & easy to ford. The valley here is about 600 to 700 yds wide.

“A great many plum & cherry bushes flourish around our camp. The latter being loaded with fruit. Made to day 19 6/10 miles.”

E. Warren: “August 4th

“We travelled 19 8/10 miles our road was mostly over low bottom land except in some places where our road was over sand hills we crossed the Loup Fork River and travelled a few miles and then crossed back again for to get a good place to camp here the grass and timber was good and water was close by.”

Birds collected: Blue Grosbeak, Burrowing Owl and Lark Sparrow.

Warren: “Wednesday Aug 5.

“Travelled among the sand hills north of the river 17 miles and camped on the high bluffs above the valley of the stream at a point where the river receives a small tributary from the south and another about 1 1/2 m. above. The river all along today’s route were hemmed in by high bluffs of the bad lands or tertiary. Dr. Hayden and the rest of us found many fossil teeth and bones. Stream at camp 12 ft wide 2 to 3 feet deep.

“The sandhills are generally covered with grass and quite firm but they are composed of immense hilly masses the surface of which are formed into small hills. Road [word n.l.] and [word n.l.]. Cedar and other wood at camp.”

Snowden: “Wednesday, Aug 5th Started at 6 1/2 o’clock a.m. Ascending the bluffs we wound around amongst the hills until within 7 miles of our camp where we struck a buffalo trail which led us very straight through a valley between the hills until we came upon the river where a branch comes in from the south. We camped upon the bluffs not being able to descent into the valley. The hills being very steep and broken of soft clay rock. Some cedar and oak grow in the ravines.

“The valley of the stream is very narrow, and the stream itself is not more than eight to 10 feet wide. Grass along the bank is good. The branch is a clear rapid stream of water six or seven feet wide inclosed between these high chalky hills through which it cuts its way to the main river another branch from the south enters it about one mile & half above our camp. We travelled most of the day through sandy hills and were not in sight of the river. Made 17 miles.”

E. Warren: “August 5th

“This day we travelled 17 miles our road was over sand hills the hunter killed two antelopes to day our camp to day was on a high bluff grass here was not very good and a little wood down in the valley there is water also down in the valley.”

Birds specimens: Black-billed Cuckoo, Blue Grosbeak, Common Yellowthroat (Smithsonian specimen from Hooker not Howard county), Lark Sparrow and Orchard Oriole.

Warren: “Thursday Aug 6. Road in every respect similar to yesterday and travelled 22 3/4 but some 5 miles were lost distance. The high white precipitous bluffs gave out in the morning about 5 miles from camp but the valley was still unfit for wagon travelling.

“River at camp about 8 ft. wide 1 to 3 deep. No wood at camp.”

Snowden: “

Thursday Aug 6th

We started at 6 a.m. and being unable to follow along the river we made a detour to the right around the hills, following a buffalo or Indian trail (I do not know which). This led us through valleys of ranges of sand and gravelly hills covered with course grass & weeds and all presenting the same appearance. We came into the river 15 miles from mornings camp. From this place we made an unnecessary circuit of 1 1/2 mile around a ridge of hills; when we again came upon the river, here confined between high ridge of hills. We camped on the slope of a bluff in good grass, but no wood. Bous de vache being the only substitute in such cases.

“The water in the river rapidly failing, not being more than four feet wide and one foot deep in this place. Made 22 2/3 miles.”

E. Warren: “To day we travelled 22 7/10 miles our road was over sand hills in some places where [consistently spelled as were] the road was between the hills was quite good our camp to day is in the valley here the grass is very good but no wood the Loup Fork is a short distance from camp.”

Birds specimens extant: Western Meadowlark, Common Yellowthroat, Brown Thrasher (two specimens at Smithsonian), Lark Bunting, Lark Sparrow and Western Kingbird.

The expedition route left the north branch of the Middle Loup and headed northward into the sandhills in an area which is currently within Cherry county westward of the Carrico lakes.

Warren: “Friday Aug 7. Travelled 7 1/4 miles and came to the head of the Loup Fork where we camped. The [word n.l.] is in an open valley about 1/2 mile wide. Sent ahead to examine the country, and found water in lakes among the sand hills about 10 miles off.

“We have now traversed the river from end to end and found its impracticability for almost any purpose so marked that it seems like a great waste of time to have made the exertions we have. Our greatest wish is to get away from it as soon as possible and never return.”

Snowden: “Friday Aug 7th Starting at 6 a.m. we travelled one mile up the valley of the river when we were forced to leave it and take to the sand hills on the right hand, through which we travelled for about seven miles when after crossing a ridge we came into the valley of the river where it turns to the north. Here we found the water had given out and we turned down the valley after proceeding a half mile in this direction we found water in holes. We camped in good grass but no wood. Mr. Engel and one of the men went ahead in a NW direction for nine miles to see what prospect there was of obtaining water. They found several lakes in the hills. Made 7 1/2 miles.”

E. Warren: “August 7th

“Today we travelled 7 1/2 our road was over sand hills were [=where] we camped grass was very good but there was no wood and the water was very bad our camp was in a valley.”

Warren: “Saturday Aug 8 travelled 29 miles. Left the head of Loup Fork and travelled N.W. passing several lakes of fresh water in the morning and watering the animals at a hole about noon. Saw a lodge trail fresh going south. In the afternoon we were forced by the hills to travel in the valleys running west and could find no water, finally crossing two ridges we found one with a lake of water and it being late were obliged to camp there but to our surprise and disgust found the water so salt and bitter that a mule would not drink it. Got enough potable water for the men by digging a hole. But the animals had none except what the dew furnished them along with poor grass. Dr. M. unwell to day. Sand Hills just north of us too bad for the wagons. Road to day not very bad. No wood.”

Snowden: “Saturday Aug 8 At 6 o’c we started and followed the valley for one & a half mile when it turns to the west and we struck through the sandhills. We travelled in a NW course following a valley between [word n.l.] of sandhills for 6 miles until we arrived at a small lake containing fresh water. Ascending a ridge we saw in front of us a valley with three lakes in sight. “We followed this valley running east & west for a mile & a half where we crossed several chains of hills, from the top of which we saw several small lakes scattered about in the valleys, these hills ran in a slightly NE & SW direction. About two o’clock having travelled 18 2/10 miles we came upon a very small pond of fresh water in the hills which make the divide between two valleys. Passing this we came into a broad opening between the hills following which for six or seven miles without finding water we crossed two ridges and our animals having given out we had to camp without water or wood. Grass here is pretty good. Some of the men reported seeing wood in the distance from the ridge N of our camp. They also discovered water in the valley above but is was salty and unfit for use.

“Made to day 29 miles.”

The expedition moved westward on August 8th through what is now the well known Survey Valley in western Cherry county.

E. Warren: “August 8th

“To day we travelled 29 miles our ride was over sand hills sometimes through the valley our camp was in a valley here the grass was very good but no wood and there had to be a hole dug in the ground to get water we passed several lakes.”

Birds collected: Black Tern and Solitary Sandpiper.

Warren: “Sunday Aug 9 travelled 7 miles where we came upon some lakes one being very salt, and the other very brackish probably sulphates of soda. Animals drank it but as they were very dry though is not safe. Camped there, the lake being 1/2 m in distance, and shallow. Sent all the animals and strong force and one empty wagon with 10 mules attached to a fresh water lake 3 m off whence they returned about sunset. We travelled all day in good open valley leading west, country to north of us impassable from sand hills. Hills south of us sandy but lakes all around our camp mostly salt.

“We seem to be just on the southern limit of the impenetrable sand hills. Fresh Indian sign around us. One buffalo seen to day being the first since the 20 inst.

“Antelope yesterday and today numerous for a 1st time.”

Snowden: “Sunday Aug 9th We started at 7 o c, travelling up the valley in hope of finding water. After proceeding some distance we discovered ahead of us quite a large lake of water. We hastened forward but on arriving at the lake found the water so impregnated with salts as to be unfit for use. One of the men came in here and reported having discovered a lake of fresh water two & half miles to the north. We camped and sent all the animals over to the fresh water lake and one wagon to bring water back for the camp. These salt water lakes are entirely destitute of vegetation on their banks except a salt rush. The water presents a slimy appearance and the shore for several yards from the waters edge are encrusted with a white deposit of salt. The hills in the vicinity of our camp are sandy sustaining a growth of scattered course grass and many sand cherry bushes, which grow to the height of about one foot and laden with fruit now ripe. The grass in the valley is good, but there is no wood. The party that took the herd over to the fresh lake returned in the evening, bringing over 60 gallons of water and some ash wood which they found on the borders of the lake. Many flies & mosquitoes infest these lakes, and they annoy both men & animals a great deal. Made today 7 miles.”

E. Warren: “Sunday August 9th.

“To day we travelled 7 miles our road was mostly in the valley except in some places were [=where] we crossed over sand hills were [=where] we camped grass was not very good and no wood here our camp was by a lake the water in it was not very good all the animals except a few were taken to a lake about 2 miles off far to get water and one wagon went along for to fetch some water back and some wood.”

Bird specimen collected: Sandhill Crane.

On August 10th, the expedition was travelling through the eastern extent of modern-day Sheridan county. The route went along the valley near Big Hill – with the Osborne lakes in a valley to the north – and then into western Survey Valley. Eventually the party reached the flats in the vicinity of the currently designated Twin Lakes. Their route then went northward near the eastern extent of Cravath Lake and then continuing along Pine Creek to the Niobrara River.

Warren: “Monday Aug 10. Travelled 22 miles over a pretty good sand hill road for the first 5 or 6 miles there were some lakes one of which was fresh.

“A good idea of the saltiness of these can be had at a distance from the amount of vegetation in them. Those quite salty being well defined, and no grass or rushes and the fresh ones being nearly covered with grass rushes flags and their margins badly defined. The general trend of the valleys was S.W. and as they were flanked on the north side by [word n.l.] sand hills. We were forced to continue travelling SW for about 19 miles we found no water but after some search and much fatigue to animals, we camped on a small fresh water lake. Dr. Moffett quite sick from bilious fever.”

Snowden: “Monday Aug 10th Started at 7 o'clock. We travelled up the valley for a short distance crossed a ridge of hills. Came into a valley where there was a salt lake, with many rushes growing around the edges and fine grass upon the banks. Crossing another ridge we came into a valley where there were two fresh lakes, a luxuriant growth of grass rushes & weed around them and a few stunted ash trees. Gooseberry & cherry bushes on the sides of the hills. A little above these we passed a salt lake and crossing a bad ridge of sand hills we came into a valley which led to the south west. Following this direction, occasionally crossing ridges and passing dry beds of lakes. We reached about 3 o’clock PM a small valley where there was a brackish lake near which we found amidst some rushes, by digging, a little fresh water, not enough however for camping. I went ahead in a South W direction 2 miles and from top of a ridge saw two lakes about one mile ahead. We camped on the first one of these finding pretty good water and grass. The road to day was very sandy, and hard on the animals, especially when crossing the ridges between the valleys where the winds cut the sand out of the sides of the hills, and blows away all the vegetation. In the valleys the road is better more even and here the grass is much better. Made 21 1/3 miles.”

E. Warren: “To day we travelled 21 9/10 miles for the first part of the day our road was in the valley but the latter part was over sand hills were [=where, with multiple additional occurrences] our camp is grass not very good grass and no wood but there is a lake of water a short distance from camp.”

Birds collected: Red-winged Blackbird and Solitary Sandpiper.

Warren: Tuesday Aug 11. Train dead and no travel on account of Dr. Moffett’s health. Mr. Snowden went back 18 1/2 miles looking for his watch which he lost the day before. I went with a hunter N.W. in search of Rapid river, which we found distant about 17 miles. About 7 miles from camp we found a small stream running N.W. from a large fresh water lake and here we struck a lodge trail which too us to the object sought. We started back about 4 PM and had almost reached camp when a storm brought darkness on us unexpectedly. Soon we could not make our way through the sand hills so we had to stay out all night. A small shower of rain relieved us from thirst but did not [word n.l.] away the mosquitoes who tormented us all night so we could not rest at all. In going on to camp in the morning we found a fresh large trail had just passed and found that they had been to our camp, in among there.”

Snowden: “Tuesday Aug 11th We remained in camp all day on account Dr. Moffett, who has been sick for several days with a kind of bilious fever. Mr. Warren accompanied by the hunter went off to the NW in order to find out what kind of country there was ahead of us.

“Brule Indian discovered by one of the men who was out hunting one of whom was induced by him to come into our camp as well as well as the men in camp could understand he reported that there were 60 lodges of his tribe encamped within ten miles of us. He said that the U.S. troops have had a fight with the Shyennes [Cheyenne] and killed a good many also taken many prisoners. That the Shyennes were now in the black hills & that buffalo were plenty on L’eau qui court. He seemed frightened when he saw soldiers in our camp, and would not have come into our camp but he was assured by the men who brought him in there were none with us. He evidently still retained now recollections of the Blue Water.”

E. Warren: “August 11

“We remain here still an Indian came in to camp to day.”

Bird specimen: American Bittern.

Warren: “Wednesday

“Aug 12. Still laid by for Dr. Moffett. Weather very warm. 3 Indians visited camp and I made them some presents, on coming in the day before with one of our herders not knowing our intentions. Heard it was probably his lodge that had gone by us last night. They told us there were a good many of them but this was a mistake of the interpreter or a lie on their part for the next day where we passed the lake on our way to Rapid R. we found they were only two lodges and they had moved thru since the evening of the 11th.

“Rained nearly all night on the 11th.”

Snowden: “Wednesday Aug 12 We remained in camp all day. Early in the morning Mr. Warren and the hunter returned they found yesterday L eau qui court R about twenty miles to the NW. They slept near our camp in the hills and in the night a travois & several Indians passed in a very few yards of them evidently frightened by our presence in their country and were making their escape. The Indians who was in our camp yesterday came in again bringing two others. We had no good interpreter and could not elicit much information from them. Besides they seemed uneasy at our appearance in the country and were reserved. Mr. Warren gave them each a shirt and a knife, when they went upon their way rejoicing.”

E. Warren: “August 12th

“We remain here still four Indians came in to camp to day.”

Birds collected: Lark Sparrow and Marsh Wren (specimen in collection of the University of Michigan).

The Wasi W. experienced on the 13th is now called Pine creek.

Warren: “Thursday Aug 13. Travelled 21 1/4. Started early. Had to go considerable SW to get out of the sand hills. Our course was [word n.l.] north to where we crossed the small lake another which the inclines called Wasi W. running to Rapid R. Distance from camp 13 miles.

“Rapid R. is here about 110 yds wide nearly 3/4 of the bed dry water about 6 in in deepest places. Bluffs of which bad lands 50 ft. high come frequently to the river destroying the continuous bottom. Back from this the high bluffs distant 1 to 2 miles on that side and 7 or 8 in the N. are about 300 ft. high could not observe for clouds.

Snowden: “Thursday Aug 13th Started a little before 6 am. After travelling around a ridge of sand hills about four & half miles we came into a valley of a large lake 2 [word n.l.] 3 miles long. Wet sandy bottom surrounds this lake with fine grass, after travelling eight miles we passed three lodges belonging to the Indians who were in our camp. The 60 lodges they spoke of having dwindled down to these three, passing along the [word n.l.] of the hills. Bordering the bottom we followed down a small creek flowing from this lake called Pine Cr., called probably from the fact there is no pine upon it. Leaving this we followed a Indian lodge trail which brought us to L eau qui court River. The country here assumes quite a different appearance from that through which we have been travelling along the river – being composed of soft white rock cut perpendicular many places by the river which her winds its way between [two words n.l.] valley except occasionally at the mouth of ravines there is sometimes a small level bottom of a few rods in extent sufficient for a few wagons to encamp upon. A few cottonwood trees fringe the river. The last two miles of our road to this point was over high level plain along which parallel to the river is a well worn Indian trail, thence down terraces to our camp. No sand for these last two miles. Grass here is pretty good. Made to day 12 1/3 miles.”

E. Warren” “August 13th

“To day we travelled 21 1/3 miles our road was over sand hills but in some places the road was quite level. Last night it rained quite hard, we passed an Indian camp today we also passed on lake to day our camp is by the L Eau qui court river grass here is quite good and there is some wood a short distance from were [=where] we are encamped.”

A meadowlark specimen was collected during the day.

Warren: “Friday

“Aug 14 travelled 18 1/2 miles over quite good level country along a lodge trail constantly increasing in size till at camp it made quite a good road. Camped at mouth of stream. River bed about 80 yards wide. No trees. Drift wood mostly pine. High bluffs distant some 6 or 8 miles. Low bluffs 50 to 60 ft narrow the valley down to 1 to 2 miles.

“Overcast all night so could not observe."

Snowden: “Friday Aug 14th Started at 6 1/2 o’clock. Crossing the river which was accomplished without difficulty we ascended the high mesa on the opposite side covered with short buffalo grass. Following an Indian ‘travois’ trail we came to the mouth of a small ravine creek where we camped in good grass but no wood. The bluffs on this side of the river (north) lie far back. The high mesa on which we travelled most of the day extending from them to near. The stream leaving a small bottom in which the grass is very fine mixed with many rushes. Bluffs on the south side are close to the stream. In the [word n.l.] along the bank of the L eau qui court I notice pine & ash & burs.”

“Made to day 18 1/2 miles.”

E. Warren: “August 14th

“To day we travelled 18 1/2 miles our road was sometimes in low bottom land and part of the time our road was over a level plateau we crossed several gulleys to day we crossed the L Eau qui court River to day when we first started our camp is by the L Eau qui court River grass here is quite good but there is no wood a growing here except a few bushes which are a short distance from camp but there was some drift wood got off out of sand bars for to cook with along this River there is what is called 1st, 2nd & 3rd terraces we travelled mostly on the third terrace.”

Warren: Saturday Aug 15. Travelled 23 1/4 miles along a lodge trail which made a fine road. The high bluffs of rock covered with scattering pines come during the day to within 2 to 3 miles of the river and it [two words not legible] down to 20 yds. Though the amount of water was probably not diminished crossing the dry bed of several creeks from the north one of which [word n.l.] swamp was wide and contained considerable drift wood. We found the fresh lodge trail of a small party going down the river soon after leaving camp. Rained in the evening and all night so we could not observe.”

Snowden: “Saturday Aug 15th Started at 6:20 a.m. following the lodge trail we soon saw tracks of Indian horses & travois going in the opposite direction. They must have turned off towards White R as we saw nothing of them yesterday. They were evidently made since the rain two days ago. We camped at 3 1/2 o’clock pm on edge of the mash [sic] near the river where there is good grass in the bottom, however no wood. [Two words not legible] to day not so good as yesterday crossing several ravines with steep banks. The lodge trail becomes more distinct as we ascent the valley. The well worn tracks of the ‘travois’ the poles marking old [word n.l.], pieces of glass, beads, fragments of weaving, apparel, scattered along all show this to be a road of considerable importance with the Indians. From the middle of the day until we camped we were passing bluffs about three miles to the north, covered with pines. No wood along the river. Cloudy yesterday making the travel easy on the animals. It rained shortly after we arrived in camp. A thunder shower coming up from the NW whilst we had quite a stiff breeze from the south and it rained at intervals during the evening, with wind NE & N and quite cold.

“Made to day 23 miles.”

Snowden: “Sunday Aug 16th Rained during the night with wind N & NE and cold. Starting at 7:20 am, we crossed a small creek in one mile where we saw fresh moccasin & horse tracks in the mud. In ten miles we came upon wagon track which turned off up a small ravine creek towards White R. Hills along our route to day present quite a singular appearance; the earth all being washed away from the tops leaving the naked rock standing up particularly of all kinds of fantastic forms. Some with sides cut perpendicular” ...

The expedition then went westward into eastern Wyoming including Laramie Peak where some distinctive species were collected.

The Snowden journal writings continue and some on his chronicles starting latter summer and into October convey travels along the Niobrara River in the days of the autumn season.