On the evening of 21 July 1804, the expedition made camp not far from the Platte River's mouth, then set out early the next day in search of a place "Calculated to make our party Comfortabl in a situation where they Could recive the benifit of a Shade." Ten miles upriver about eight miles south (right) of this photo they settled down for five days to rest and take celestial observations. More importantly, they expected to make contact with some Indian tribes at last and try out their diplomatic strategies.
On the twenty-third the captains sent George Drouillard and Pierre Cruzatte eighteen miles west to an Oto Indian village to invite the chiefs to come hear of the change of national allegiance from Spain to the United States and to learn "the wishes of our Government to Cultivate friendship with them." The emissaries returned on the twenty-fifth and reported that the Oto village was empty. It was hunting season, and the residents were following the buffalo herds.
On the twenty-seventh the boatmen worked their way upstream to a campsite in present-day Omaha (in the photo, left of the bridge). Clark and Drouillard walked on shore all day, "with a view of examoning Som mounds on the L. S. of the river," which were the remains of a long-abandoned earthlodge Oto village.
Eastbound on 8 September 1806, the men "ply'd their orers very well" as they passed here, covering seventy-eight miles that day by Clark's estimate. "The Missouri at this place does not appear to Contain more water than it did 1000 miles above," Clark observed, surmising that "the evaperation must be emence."
Omaha is in the lower two-thirds of Jim Wark's photo, above; Council Bluffs, Iowa is opposite, on the east side of the Missouri River.
From Discovering Lewis & Clark from the Air
Photography by Jim Wark
Text by Joseph Mussulman
Reproduced by permission of Mountain Press.