Schoolcraft's Ozark Journey

Swan Creek

Tuesday, December 29th, 1818

The country passed over yesterday, after leaving the valley of White River, presented a character of unvaried sterility, consisting of a succession of lime-stone ridges, skirted with a feeble growth of oaks, with no depth of soil, often bare rocks upon the surface, and covered with coarse wild grass; and sometimes we crossed patches of ground of considerable extent, without trees or brush of any kind, and resembling the Illinois prairies in appearance, but lacking their fertility and extent. Frequently these prairies occupied the tops of conical hills, or extended ridges, while the intervening valleys were covered with oaks, giving the face of the country a very novel aspect, and resembling, when viewed in perspective, enormous sand-hills promiscuously piled up by the winds. At the foot of one of the highest and most remarkable of these, called the Bald-hill, and known among hunters who travel in this quarter as a land-mark, we last night encamped. No alteration was observed in the aspect of the country, this morning, for the first six miles, when we descended into the valley of Swan Creek, a clear stream of thirty yards wide, which joins the main current of White River, about forty miles below. Its banks afford a strip of rich alluvial bottom, covered with a heavy growth of maple, hickory, ash, hackberry, elm, and sycamore, and its waters are frequented by the beaver. In following up this stream about five miles it commenced raining, and we were compelled to encamp, sheltering ourselves in some degree under the broad knots of fallen trees and limbs. Distance ten 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.