Lewis Escapes Death

modern painting of a man in a hunting coat hanging to the side of a cliff

© 2000 by Michael Haynes. All rights reserved.

May 23, 1804

Pinnacles of rock rise three hundred feet above the river at Tavern Cave, on the south side of the Missouri near the Femme Osage River. While some of the men explored the cave, Lewis climbed the cliff above it, for a view of the surrounding terrain. At the summit he slipped and almost fell. Just short of disaster, Clark wrote in his journal, "he saved himself by the assistance of his Knife." One can only wonder what the fate of the expedition would have been, if Lewis had plunged to his death, nine days after the expedition officially got under way.