THE year after the departure of Lewis and Clark the Government fitted out another expedition to explore the upper Mississippi and its valley. Zebulon M. Pike, a brilliant young officer, was placed in command.* On the 9th of August, 1805, the expedition consisting of twenty soldiers, embarked in a keel boat seventy feet in length from St. Louis, under command of Lieutenant Pike. They carried provisions for a journey of four months and expected to explore the Mississippi to its head waters. By the 20th of August they had ascended the river two hundred and thirty-two miles above the mouth of the “Riviere des Moines,” as Pike writes it. He describes it as coming in from the northwest at a point where the Mississippi is three-quarters of a mile wide. He says:
“We here arrived at the foot of the Rapids des Moines, which are immediately above the confluence of the river of that name with the Mississippi. Although no soul on board had ever passed them before we commenced ascending without delay. Our boat being large and moderately loaded, we found great difficulty. The rapids are eleven miles long, with successive shoals extending from shore to shore across the bed of the river. The channel, which is a bad one, is on the eastern side at the first two falls. It then passes under the edge of the third, crosses to the west side and ascends that side all the way to the Sac village. We had passed the first and most difficult shoal when we were met by William Ewing, an agent of the United States residing at the Sac village to instruct the Indians in agriculture. A French interpreter and fifteen men of the Sac nation came with Mr. Ewing in their canoes (with a United States flag) to assist me over the rapids. Taking a part of my load and putting two pilots in my barge, we soon reached Ewing's house at the village.”
* Lieutenant Pike became a distinguished American officer in the War of 1812. In leading an army against the British at York (Toronto), in Canada, April 27, 1813, he was mortally wounded and died soon after the capture of the fort and city.