Schoolcraft's Ozark Journey

Bates Creek

Friday, November 6th, 1818

Having completed the necessary preparations, I left Potosi at three o'clock, P.M., accompanied by Mr. Levi Pettibone, being both armed with guns, and clothed and equipped in the manner of the hunter, and leading a pack-horse, who carried our baggage, consisting of skins to cover us at night, some provisions, an axe, a few cooking utensils, etc. On walking out of the village of Potosi, on the south-west, we immediately commenced ascending a series of hills, which are the seat of the principal mines, winding along among pits, heaps of gravel, and spars, and other rubbish constantly accumulating at the mines, where scarcely ground enough has been left undisturbed for the safe passage of the traveller, who is constantly kept in peril by unseen excavations, and falling-in pits. The surface of the mine-hills is, in fact, completely perforated in all directions, although most of the pits have not been continued more than twenty or thirty feet below the surface, where the rock has opposed a barrier to the further progress of the miner. On reaching the summit of these hills, we turned to survey the beautiful prospect behind us, the valley of Potosi, with its village and stream, the cultivated fields on its borders, the calcareous hills crowned with oaks beyond, with the distant furnaces smoking through the trees, and the wide-spread ruins at our feet. A deep blue sky hung above us; the atmosphere was clear and pure, with a gentle breeze from the south-west, which, passing through the dried leaves of the trees, scattered them over the valley we had left, and murmured a pensive farewell. We turned to pursue our way with such feelings as many travellers have experienced on turning their backs upon the comforts and endearments of life, to encounter fatigue, hard fare, and danger. On travelling three miles from this spot, we arrived at a deserted Indian cabin on the banks of a small stream called Bates' Creek, where we determined to encamp for the night.

-Henry Schoolcraft

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Funding for the Schoolcraft Journey project on Unlock the Ozarks has been provided by the Missouri Humanities Council.