is perfectly still and without a cloud), and consists of one stroke only,
or of five or six discharges in quick succession. It is loud, and resembles
precisely the sound of a six-pound piece of ordnance at the distance of
three miles. The Minnetarees frequently mentioned this noise, like thunder,
which they said the mountains made; but we had paid no attention to it,
believing it to have been some superstition, or perhaps a falsehood.
The watermen also of the party say that the Pawnees and Ricaras give the same
account of a noise heard in the Black Mountains to the westward of them.
The solution of the mystery given by the philosophy of the watermen is,
that it is occasioned by the bursting of the rich mines of silver confined
within the bosom of the mountains."
Of these strange noises there are many explanations, the most plausible
being that they are caused by the explosion of the species of stone known
as the geode, fragments of which are frequently found among the mountains.
The geode has a hollow cell within, lined with beautiful crystals
of many colors.
Independence Day, 1805, was celebrated with becoming patriotism
and cheerfulness by these far-wandering adventurers.
Their record says: -
"An elk and a beaver are all that were killed to-day;
the buffalo seem to have withdrawn from our neighborhood,
though several of the men, who went to-day to visit the falls for
the first time, mention that they are still abundant at that place.
We contrived, however, to spread not a very sumptuous but a
comfortable table in honor of the day, and in the evening gave
the men a drink of spirits, which was the last of our stock.
Some of them appeared sensible to the effects of even so small
a quantity; and as is usual among them on all festivals,
the fiddle was produced and a dance begun, which lasted till nine
o'clock, when it was interrupted by a heavy shower of rain.
They continued their merriment, however, till a late hour."
Their bill-of-fare, according to Captain Lewis, was bacon, beans,
suet dumplings, and buffalo meat, which, he says, "gave them no just
cause to covet the sumptuous feasts of our countrymen on this day."
More than a year passed before they again saw and tasted spirits.