Timeline of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

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This is the timeline of the Lewis and Clark Expedition through the American West (1803–1806).[1][2]


  • October 14 – Lewis arrives at His House with 11 other men[3] to meet with Clark and plan for the expedition.[4]


  • May 14 – The Corps of Discovery departs Camp Dubois (Camp Wood) at 4 P.M., marking the beginning of their voyage to the Pacific Coast.
  • May 14 – The Corps of Discovery arrives at St. Charles, Missouri.
  • May 14 – Departure from St. Louis
  • May 16 - Party contains 31 members, mostly US Army personnel including captains, sergeants, and privates.[5]
  • May 24 – Pass Boones Settlement. Home of woodsman L. Willenborg
  • May 25 – The expedition passes the small village of La Charrette on the Missouri River. Charles Floyd the men was Pierre Dorion, Jr.-who knew George Rogers Clark. Lewis and Clark persuade Dorion to return to Sioux camp to act as interpreter.
  • June 26 – The expedition arrives at Kaw Point where the Kansas River drains into the Missouri River basin.
  • June 28–29 – First trial in new territory. Pvt. John Collins is on guard duty and breaks into the supplies and gets drunk. Collins invites Pvt. Hugh Hall to drink also. Collins receives 100 lashes, Hall receives 50 lashes.
  • July 4 – Marking Independence Day, the expedition names Independence Creek located near Atchison, Kansas.
  • July 11–12 – Second trial in new territory. Pvt. Alexander Hamilton Willard is on guard duty. Is charged with lying down and sleeping at his post whilst a sentinel. Punishable by death. He receives "one hundred lashes, each day for four days." (p. 150, 'Undaunted Courage,' Stephen E. Ambrose)
  • July 21 – Reaches the Platte River, 640 miles from St Louis. Entering Sioux Territory.
  • August 1 – Captain William Clark's 34th birthday.
  • August 3 – The Corps of Discovery holds the first official council between representatives of the United States and the Oto and Missouri Indians at Council Bluffs, Iowa. They hand out peace medals, 15-star flags and other gifts, parade men and show off technology.
  • August 4 – Moses Reed said he was returning to a previous camp to retrieve a knife but he was actually returning to St. Louis (deserting).
  • August 18 – George Drouillard returns to camp with Reed and Otos' Chief Little Thief. Reed is sentenced to run the gauntlet (approximately 50 lashes) and is discharged from the permanent party.
  • August 18 – Captain Meriwether Lewis's 30th birthday.
  • August 20 – Sergeant Charles Floyd dies. He dies from a burst appendix. He is the only member lost during the expedition.
  • August 23 – Pvt. Joseph Field kills the first bison.
  • August 26 – Pvt. Patrick Gass is elected to Sergeant. The first election in the new territory west of Mississippi River. George Shannon is selected to get the horses back from Indians.
  • August 30 – A friendly council with the Yankton Sioux held. According to a legend, Lewis wraps a newborn baby in a United States flag and declares him "an American."
  • September 4 – Reach the mouth of the Niobrara River.
  • September 7 – The expedition drives a prairie dog out of its den (by pouring water into it) to send back to Jefferson.
  • September 14 – Hunters kill and describe prairie goat (antelope).
  • September 25–29 – A band of Lakota Sioux demanded one of the boats as a toll for moving further upriver. They meet with the Sioux. It was a close order drill. Louis and Clark showed the Sioux how to use air guns. They also gave the Sioux gifts of medals, military coats, hats, and tobacco. It was hard to communicate because of language problems. The expeditioners invited the chiefs on board a keelboat, and gave each 1/2 a glass of whiskey. They acted drunk and wanted more. There were two armed confrontations with Sioux. Some of the chiefs slept on the boat, moved upriver to another village, met in a lodge, and held a scalp dance.
  • October 8–11 – Pass Grand River home of the Arikara Indians 2,000+. Joseph Gravelins trader, lived with Arikara for 13 yrs. Pierre Antoine Tabeau lived in another village was from Quebec.
  • October 13 – Pvt. John Newman tried for insubordination (who was prompted by Reed) and received 75 lashes. Newman was discarded from the permanent party.
  • October 24 – Met their first Mandan Chief, Big White. Joseph Gravelins acted as interpreter.
  • October 24 – Expedition reaches the earth-log villages of the Mandans and the Hidatsas. The captains decide to build Fort Mandan across the river from the main village.
  • October 26 – Rene Jessaume lived with Mandan for More than 10 years, hired as Mandan interpreter. Hugh McCracken a trader with the North West Company. Francois-Antoine Larocque, Charles MacKenzie also visited L&C.
  • November– December – Constructed Fort Mandan.
  • November 2 – Baptiste La Page is hired to replace Newman.
  • November 5 - The captains meet and hire Toussaint Charbonneau, a French-Canadian fur trapper living among the Hidatsas with his Shoshone wife, Sacagawea.
  • December 24 – Fort Mandan is considered complete. Expedition moves in for the winter.


  • January 1 – The Corps of Discovery celebrates the New Year by "Two discharges of cannon and Musick-a fiddle, tambereen and a sounden horn."
  • February 9 – Thomas Howard scaled the fort wall and an Indian followed his example. "Setting a pernicious example to the savages" 50 lashes-only trial at Fort Mandan and last on expedition. Lashes remitted by Lewis.
  • February 11 – Sacagawea gives birth to Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, the youngest member of the expedition. Jean Baptiste is nicknamed "Pompy" by Clark. Lewis aided in the delivery of Sacagawea's baby, used rattle of rattlesnake to aid delivery.(Jessaume's idea).
  • April 7 to April 25 – Fort Mandan to Yellowstone River.
  • April 7 – The permanent party of the Corps of Discovery leaves Fort Mandan. The keelboat is sent down river. Left Fort Mandan in 6 canoes and 2 pirogues. Thomas Howard received a letter from his wife Natalia.
  • April 25 – Reached Yellowstone River Roche Jaune-sent Joseph Field up river to find Yellowstone. He saw Big Horn Sheep and brought back horns. Lewis searched area thought it would be a good area for fort. Future forts were built, Fort Union and Fort Buford.
  • April 25 to June 3 – Yellowstone River to Marias River.
  • April 27 – Entered present day state of Montana.
  • May 5 – Lewis and a hunter killed first grizzly bear.
  • May 8 – Milk River. Called because of its milky white appearance. Natives called it "a river which scolds all others".
  • May 14 – A sudden storm tips a pirogue (boat) and many items, such as supplies and the Corps' journals, spill over into the river. Sacagawea calmly recovers most of the items; Clark later credits her with quick thinking.
  • June 3 to June 20 – Marias River to the Great Falls.
  • June 3 – The mouth of the Marias River is reached. Camp Deposit is established. Cached blacksmith bellows and tools, bear skins, axes, auger, files, 2 kegs of parched corn, 2 kegs of pork, a keg of salt, chisels, tin cups, two rifles, beaver traps. 24 lb of powder in lead kegs in separate caches. Hid red pirogue. Indians did not tell them of this river. Unable to immediately determine which river is the Missouri, a scouting party is sent to explore each branch, North fork (Marias), South fork (Missouri). Sgt. Gass and 2 others go up south fork. Sgt. Pryor and 2 others go up north fork. Can't decide which river is Missouri. Clark, Gass, Shannon, York and Fields brothers go up south fork. Lewis, Drouillard, Shields, Windsor Pryor, Cruzatte, Lepage go up north fork. Most men in expedition believe north fork is the Missouri. Lewis and Clark believe south fork is Missouri and followed that fork.
  • June 13 – Scouting ahead of the expedition, Lewis and four companions sight the Great Falls of the Missouri River, confirming that they were heading in the right direction. Lewis writes when he discovers the Great Falls of the Missouri. "When my ears were saluted with the agreeable sound of a fall of water and advancing a little further I saw the spray arrise above the plain like a column of smoke.....began to make a roaring too tremendous to be mistaken for any cause short of the great falls of the Missouri."
  • June 14 – Lewis takes off on an exploratory walk of the north side of the river. Lewis shoots a bison. While he is watching the bison die, a grizzly bear sneaks up on him and chases him into river.
  • June 21 to July 2 – A portage of boats and equipment is made around the falls.
  • June 27 – cached- desk, books, specimens of plants and minerals, 2 kegs of pork, 1/2 keg of flour, 2 blunderbusses, 1/2 keg of fixed ammo., and other small articles.
  • June – 18.4 miles Clark surveyed route. Clark was the first white man to see falls from south side of river. As Clark was surveying route he discovered a giant fountain (Giant Springs).
  • June 22 to July 9 – Construction of iron framed boat used to replace pirogues. It was floated on July 9 but leaked after a rain storm. The boat failed and was dismantled and cached July 10.
  • July 10 to July 15 – Established canoe camp to construct 2 new dugout canoes to replace failed iron frame boat.
  • July 15 to August 8 – Great Falls to the Shoshone Indians. Left canoe camp with 8 vessels traveled through the Gates of the Mountains, to the Three Forks (the 3 rivers that make up the Missouri River, The Jefferson River, The Gallatin River and the Madison River). The expedition is 2464.4 miles from mouth of the Missouri River. They pass Beaverhead Rock.
  • August 1 – Captain Clark's 35th birthday.
  • August 11 – Captain Lewis sights first Indian, since Ft. Mandan.
  • August 12 – Scouting separately from the main party, Lewis crosses the Continental Divide at Lemhi Pass.
  • August 13 – Lewis meets Cameahwait, leader of a band of Shoshone
  • August 15 to August 17 – Lewis returns across Lemhi Pass with Cameahwait and sets up Camp Fortunate.
  • August 17 – A council meets with the Shoshone, during which Sacagawea learns the fate of her family and reveals that Cameahwait is her brother. Lewis and Clark successfully negotiate for horses for passage over the Rocky Mountains. They buy 29 horses for packing or eating with uniforms, rifles, powder, balls, and a pistol. They also hire Shoshone guide Old Toby.
  • August 18 – Captain Lewis's 31st birthday. In his journal, he scolds himself for being "indolent," or lazy, and vows to spend the rest of his life helping people.
  • August 26 – Lewis and the main party cross the Continental Divide at Lemhi Pass. They thereby leave the newly purchased United States territory into disputed Oregon Country.
  • September 1 to October 6 – Crossing the Bitterroot Mountains.
  • September 4 – Meet Flathead Indians at Ross's Hole, bought 13 more horses.
  • September 9 to September 11 - Camped at Traveler's Rest (Lolo, Montana), now a National Historic Landmark
  • September 13 – Crossed Lolo Trail starving, ate horses, candles, and portable soup.
  • October 6 to October 9 – Met Nez Perce Indians on Clearwater. Left horses, cached goods, built 5 dugout canoes for trip to ocean.
  • October 9 to December 7 – Traveled down Clearwater River, Snake River and Columbia River to ocean.
  • October 18 – Clark sees Mount Hood, which means they are now back in previously explored territory.
  • October 25 to October 28 – Camped at the Rock Fort, and first met the Chinookan-speaking people of the lower Columbia.
  • November 7 - Clark wrote in his journal, "Ocian [ocean] in view! O! the joy."
  • November 18 – Encounter of the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the Columbia River.
  • November 24 – The Corps takes the matter of where to spend the winter to a vote. York, a slave, and Sacagawea, a woman, were allowed to vote. It was decided to camp on the south side of the Columbia River.
  • December 7 to March 23, 1806 – Fort Clatsop sewed 338 pairs of moccasins.
  • December 25 – Fort Clatsop, the Corps' winter residence, is completed.


  • January 2 – Discharged a volley of small arms to usher in the new year. Several Corps members build a salt-making cairn near present-day Seaside, Oregon.
  • March 22 – Corps of Discovery leave Fort Clatsop for the return voyage east.
  • March 23 to May 14 – Traveled to Camp Chopunnish.
  • April 11 – Lewis' dog was stolen by Indians and retrieved shortly. Lewis warned the chief that any other wrongdoing or mischievous acts would result in instant death.
  • May 14 to June 10 – Camp Chopunnish collected 65 horses. Prepared for crossing mountains. Bitterroot Mountains still covered in snow; cannot cross.
  • June 10 to June 30 – Traveled to Traveler's Rest (Lolo, Montana) via Lolo Creek. 300 miles shorter than westward journey. 17 horses and 5 Nez Perce guides.
  • June 30 to July 3 - Camped at Traveler's Rest (Lolo, Montana), now a National Historic Landmark
  • July 3 – The Corps of Discovery split into 2 groups with Lewis leading one group up the Blackfoot River and Clark leading another group up the Bitterroot River.
  • July 3 to July 28 – Lewis's party heads back to The Great Falls of the Missouri. Sgt. Gass, J. Thompson, H. McNeal, R. Field, R. Frazier, J. Fields, W. Werner, G. Drouillard, S. Goodrich.
  • July 7 – Lewis' group crosses the Continental Divide at Lewis and Clark Pass.
  • July 13 – Reached White Bear Island. Opened cache and many items were ruined. The iron frame of the boat had not suffered materially.
  • July 15 – Lewis explores Marias river, separates from Gass to meet at Mouth of Marias between Aug 5 and no later than Sept 1. Marias River expedition includes M. Lewis, R. Fields, J. Fields, G. Drouillard.
  • July 15 to July 26 – Camp Disappointment. Marias River does not go far enough north. Indians are finally discovered.
  • July 20 – Sgt. Ordway's party (from Clark's party) meets Sgt. Gass's party at The Great Falls of the Missouri.
  • July 27 – The Blackfeet Indians try to steal Lewis's group's rifles. A fight broke out and two Indians were killed. This is the only hostile encounter with an Indian tribe.
  • July 28 – Lewis meets Ordway and Gass.
  • July 3 – Clark Explores Yellowstone-Leaves for Three Forks and Yellowstone. *Sgt. Pryor, *G. Gibson, *H. Hall, * R. Windsor. Sgt. Ordway, J. Colter, J. Colter, P. Cruzatte, F. LaBiche, T. Howard, J. Shields, B. LaPage, G. Shannon, J. Potts, W. Brattan, P. Wiser, P. Willard, J. Whitehouse, T. Charboneau, Sacagawea & Pomp, York.
  • July 6 – Clark's group crosses the Continental Divide at Gibbons Pass.
  • July 8 – Reached Camp Fortunate dug up cache from year before-tobacco most prized.
  • July 13 – Sgt. Ordway splits from Clark to travel up Missouri River to meet Lewis and Gass.
  • July 25 – Clark discovers and writes on Pompey's Pillar.
  • August 1 – Capt. Clark's 36th birthday.
  • August 3 – Clark arrives at confluence of Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers-moves down river because of mosquitoes.
  • August 8 – Pryor and party reached Clark. Pryor and party (*Sgt. Pryor,*G. Gibson, *H. Hall, *R. Windsor) left Clark with horses and a letter to Hugh Henry to get Sioux to go to Washington and make peace with other Indians. Horses stolen had to make bull boats to get across and down river.
  • August 11 – Lewis is accidentally shot by a member of his own party.
  • August 12 – The two groups rejoin on the Missouri River in present-day North Dakota.
  • August 14 – Reached Mandan Village. Charbonneau and Sacagawea stayed. John Colter went back up river with trappers Hancock and Dickson provided rest of company stay with expedition all the way to St. Louis.
  • August 18 – Capt. Lewis's 32nd birthday.
  • September 23 – The Corps arrives in St. Louis, ending their journey after two years, four months, and ten days.


  1. ^ Jackson, Jill. "A Timeline of the Lewis and Clark Expedition". Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 2007-03-12.
  2. ^ Lewis and Clark timeline at PBS, Retrieved on March 24, 2007
  3. ^ "Lewis & Clark Timeline" (PDF). monticello.org (An excerpt of the poster "Jefferson's America: Lewis & Clark and Western Exploration" (initially created by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation to commemorate the bicentennial of the Lewis & Clark Expedition) republished in the form of a PDF document.). Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc. p. 7. Retrieved March 22, 2018. He and 11 men head down the Ohio River on August 31... Lewis arrives at Clarksville, across the Ohio River from present-day Louisville, Kentucky
  4. ^ "Falls of the Ohio". www.in.gov. Indiana Bicentennial Commission. Retrieved March 22, 2018. On October 14, 1803, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark met at the Falls of the Ohio Valley, forming one of the most famous and successful partnerships in history. Lewis and Clark, no doubt, spent many hours in the cabin planning the journey and getting advice from George Rogers Clark, who was very knowledgeable about the West.
  5. ^ http://www.lewisandclark.org/wiki/index.php?title=Expedition_Members

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