Site of Fortunate Camp
View southeast, upstream
On 10 August 1805 Captain Lewis, George Drouillard, Hugh McNeal, and John Shields were more than fifty river miles ahead of Clark and the canoes. Following a well-traveled Indian road in search of the Shoshones, Lewis and his men arrived at this "hadsome open and leavel vally where the river divided itself nearly into two equal branches." Today the confluence of the Beaverhead River and Horse Prairie Creek is submerged at left of the large island (photo center) in Clark Canyon reservoir, beneath eighty feet of water when the reservoir is full.
The Indian road that turned up Horse Prairie Creek (toward right in photo) was more heavily traveled, which confirmed Sacagawea's assertion that it would lead them to her people. "I therefore did not hesitate about changing my rout," said Lewis, "but determined to take the western road." Three days later he would make the long-hoped-for contact with the Shoshones.
The main party arrived at the confluence at noon on the seventeenth. "We had the satisfaction once more to find ourselves all together," Lewis wrote, "with a flattering prospect of being able to obtain as many horses shortly as would enable us to prosicute our voyage by land." Everyone was "transported with joy," and in that spirit they set up here the bivouac they named "Camp Fortunate."
From Discovering Lewis & Clark from the Air
Photography by Jim Wark
Text by Joseph Mussulman
Reproduced by permission of Mountain Press