Schoolcraft's Ozark Journey

Near Houston

Monday, November 16th, 1818

Nothing worthy of remark in the physical productions of the country has this day been met with. The face of the country, soil, trees, animals observed, and weather, have presented no character different from what was noticed yesterday.

We quit our encampment at early day-light, taking a due south-west course by the compass. In travelling five miles we came to a stream, running north-west, from which we conclude it is tributary to the Missouri. In fording it, I observed the bottom to be a grey compact of sand-stone, while its banks, in common with all the adjacent region, are secondary limestone. This sand-stone appears to be, in fact, the rock upon which the great secondary limestone formation of this country rests. It has appeared as the lowest stratum in almost every high bluff, and forming the surface of almost every deep valley, from the banks of the Mississippi at the cornice rock, a little below Herculaneum, to the place of our present encampment, a distance in a south-west course of about 150 miles. How far it extends south and west it is impossible to say. Every appearance tends, however, to justify an opinion, that it reaches far to the west, and that it overlays those primitive rocks which are supposed to extend eastwardly from the rocky mountains. Four miles beyond this stream we arrived on the banks of another, and a larger stream, running also toward the north-west, and spent several hours in attempting to cross it. We succeeded at last in getting our baggage and our horse safely over, at the expense only of the time we had lost, and a handsome wetting. Three miles farther brought us to the banks of the third stream, little inferior in size to the one last passed, and winding off also in a general course toward the north-west. Upon the banks of this stream we encamped for the night, the afternoon being nearly spent, and feeling somewhat fatigued from the labour of crossing so many streams, and tearing our way through the brush and green-briar so thickly interwoven on their borders, while the intervening ridges were little else but a pile of angular stones, with here and there an oak-tree, set as if all the ingenuity of the stonemason had been exercised upon it. When the Edinburgh Reviewer estimated that Louisiana only cost three cents per acre, on the average of the whole number of square miles in the territory, he probably had no idea that there was any part of it which could be considered dear at that price. Yet, I think it would be money dearly expended in the purchase of such lands as we have this day traversed. Distance twelve miles.

-Henry Schoolcraft

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