Tower Creek Skyline

Tower Creek Pinnacles

Tower Creek pinnacles

© 2002 VIAs Inc.

Two miles up a "run" on a heading N. 35° E, and two more N. 10° E took the Corps past this "remarkable rock resembling Pirimids on the Left Side." The washing away of sedimentary deposits by an older and much larger Salmon River has left the harder, granite-like volcanic rock to be eroded by water and rain into fantastic shapes along the margins of this 8-mile-long drainage that suggested to Clark the name "Tower Creek," by which it is still called.

Returning from his reconnaissance of the Salmon River canyon on August 26, 1805, Clark camped in the vicinity of the fish weirs five miles south of the confluence of the two forks of Lewis's River, and waited for Lewis and his contingent to join him with the horses and baggage. On the 29th Clark left his baggage in the care of two men and hurried on up the East Fork (Lemhi River) to Lewis's camp at the upper Shoshone village. The next morning the captains bought two more horses and set off down the valley with Old Toby, his three sons, and one other Indian in the lead. At the same time most of the Shoshones "Set out over to the waters of the Missouri," to meet the Salish and head toward their buffalo hunting grounds near the Three Forks.


"High ruged hills"

Tall, rounded brown hills

© 2002 VIAs Inc.

On the blue-gray southeast horizon at the center of the photo, the Bitterroot Range defines the Continental Divide. After leaving their camp on Tower Creek on the morning of august 31, the Corps climbed over the next-closest ridge, through the upper reaches of Kriley Creek, surmounted the ridges separating the two forks of Fourth of July Creek, and dropped down through the forested northwest slopes above Wagonhammer Creek. Descending Wagonhammer Creek a short distance, they turned up Burns Gulch (seen in part in the extreme lower right corner of the photo), and reached the ridge out of the picture at lower left.

They were on the road before sunrise on the 31st. The rapport they had established with the Shoshones since Lewis's first tentative meeting two weeks before paid off when Clark "met an Indian on horse back who fled with great Speed to Some lodges below & informed them that the enemis were Coming down, armd with guns &c. the inhabitents of the Lodges undisceved him." That afternoon the Corps turned up Tower Creek to detour around the rugged terrain near the river that Clark had found so difficult. They camped about four miles up the creek, taking advantage of two vacant Shoshone lodges.


"Steep as the roof of a house"

Sagebrush in in the foreground of a tall, sparsely timber high hill

© 2002 VIAs Inc.

Looking west-by-northwest, this view was taken from the ridge between upper Burns Gulch (behind the camera) and upper Silverlead Creek. The Indian road went down the draw beyond the left edge of the photo, turned north up Little Silverlead Creek, then northwest up "a mountain nearly as steep as the roof of a house," in Whitehouse's words. It passed through the gap in the ridge at right of center, and descended to the North Fork of the Salmon by about 3:00 in the afternoon.

Awaking to sunny skies on September 1st, the Corps "Set out early and proceeded on over high ruged hills passing the heads of the Small runs which fall into the river on our left," according to Clark. In fact, Ordway recounted, "at the first pich one of the horses fell backward and roled over." Not only were the streams (see Key Map) "verry cold," but along their banks grew "pleanty of Servis berrys which are verry Sweet and good at this time." Around midday, Gass added, "Capt. Clarke's blackman's feet became so sore that had to ride on horseback."