THE DOANE EXPEDITION OF 1876-77
FORT ELLIS, MONTANA TERRITORY TO FORT HALL, IDAHO
By MERLIN K. POTTS, Chief Park Naturalist
St. Paul, Minnesota
October 4, 1876
Fort Ellis, Montana Territory
Under authority received from the Lieut-General, 1st.
Lieut. G. C. Doane, 2d Cavalry is ordered to make exploration of Snake
River from Yellowstone Lake to Columbia River. He will be furnished a
mounted detail of one noncommissioned officer and five men of the 2d
Cavalry. The pack animals, 60 days rations for party, and the necessary
camp equipage. You will cause also a small boat to be built by the
quartermaster for Lieut. Doane's use, under his directions. Lieut. Doane
will send back his Detachment from mouth of Snake River to Fort Ellis,
and will himself return to his post via San Francisco, California,
remaining at the latter place long enough to make his report.
By command of Gen. Terry
(Signed) Edw. Smith
Capt. of A. D. C.
Headquarters, Fort Ellis, Montana Territory
October 7, 1876
II. 1st. Lieut. G. C. Doane, 2d Cavalry is hereby
relieved from duty at his post and will comply with telegraphic
instructions from Headquarters, Department of Dakota, Saint Paul, Minn.
date Oct. 4th, 1876.
III. The following named enlisted men are hereby
detailed for detached service mounted, and will report to 1st. Lieut. G.
C. Doane, 2d Cavalry for duty.
Sergeant, Fred Server, Company "G" 2d Cavalry
Private, F. R. Applegate, Company "G" 2d Cavalry
Private, Daniel Starr, Company "F" 2d Cavalry
Private, William White, Company "F" 2d Cavalry
Private, John B. Warren, Company "H" 2d Cavalry
Private C. R. Davis, Company "L" 2d Cavalry
They will be furnished with sixty (60) days rations.
IV. The Post Quartermaster is hereby directed to
furnish 1st. Lieut. G. C. Doane, 2d Cavalry with pack animals, camp
equipage and boat, necessary, to enable him to carry out the telegraphic
instructions from Headquarters, Department of Dakota, Saint Paul, Minn.,
dated October 4, 1876.
By order of Captain Ball
(Signed) Chas. B. Schofield
2nd Lieut. 2nd Cavalry
The foregoing orders initiated one of the most
unusual and bizarre expeditions in the history of the west. Unusual
because of the lack of judgment shown in selecting late fall and winter
for the journey; bizarre in the impracticability, in fact the
impossibility, of execution of the orders.
Lieutenant Gustavus C. Doane, selected to lead the
party, was without question as capable a leader as could have been
chosen. Lieutenant Doane had been detailed, with 5 cavalrymen, to
accompany General Henry D. Washburn, Nathaniel Pitt Langford, and their
party of 1870 on the memorable exploration of the area destined to
become Yellowstone National Park 2 years later. His record of service
with that expedition was exemplary; he had a firsthand knowledge of much
of the country to be traversed, at least over the early stages of the
route; he lacked neither courage nor aptitude; and he possessed the
ability to observe, describe, and record in detail the experiences and
observations of the expedition.
Hiram Martin Chittenden, in the biographical notes
appended to his book, The Yellowstone National Park, has given
us, very briefly, an impression of the man and his background.
Lieutenant Doane was born in Illinois, May 29, 1840,
and died in Bozeman, Montana, May 5, 1892. At the age of five he went
with his parents, in wake of an ox team, to Oregon. In 1849 his family
went to California at the outbreak of the gold excitement. He remained
there ten years, in the meanwhile working his way through school. In
1862 he entered the Union service, went East with the California
Hundred, and then joined a Massachusetts cavalry regiment. He was
mustered out in 1865 as a First Lieutenant. He joined the Carpetbaggers
and is said to have become the Mayor of Yazoo City, Mississippi. He was
appointed Second Lieutenant in the Regular Army in 1868, and continued
in the service until his death, attaining the rank of Captain.
Doane's whole career was actuated by a love of
adventure. He had at various times planned a voyage to the Polar
regions, or an expedition of discovery into Africa. But fate assigned
him a middle ground, and he became prominently connected with the
discovery of the upper Yellowstone country. His part in the Expedition
of 1870 is second to none. He made the first official report (to the War
Department) upon the wonders of the Yellowstone, and his fine
descriptions have never been surpassed by any subsequent writer.
Although suffering intense physical torture (from a felon on his thumb,
finally lanced by Mr. Langford) during the greater portion of the trip,
it did not extinguish in him the truly poetic ardor with which those
strange phenomena seem to have inspired him. Dr. Hayden (Ferdinand V.
Hayden, United States Geologist, Department of the Interior, 1871) says
of this report: "I venture to state, as my opinion, that for graphic
description and thrilling interest it has not been surpassed by any
official report made to our government since the times of Lewis and
Doane's record, unpublished, of his heroic attempt to
lead his party through the wilderness of the Yellowstone, southward
through Jackson Hole, and down the "Mad River" to the Columbia is no
less graphic in its vividness, no less thrilling in its expression of
the hazards and the wild beauty of the land. It is marked by his
absolute determination, no matter what the odds, to carry out his
The Lieutenant, as his journal records, had previous
notice that the expedition was to be ordered, and partial preparation
had been made before the orders were received at Fort Ellis, near the
present city of Bozeman, Montana. Ration boxes were prepared and a boat
was built, possibly the first such "prefabricated" craft ever
constructed. It was a double-ender, 22 feet long, 46 inches in the beam,
26 inches deep, and curved strongly fore and aft.
It was built entirely of inch plank, and put together
with screws, then taken apart again and the lumber lashed in two equal
bundles, like the side bars of a litter. The whole forming an easy load
for two pack mules.
For shelter the party carried an "Indian Lodge,"
constructed of army wagon covers cut to the proper pattern and with a
diameter of 14 feet. The shelter weighed "but thirty pounds and
sheltered the entire party."
On the evening of October 10th, all preparations were
complete for an expedition never attempted before in the winter time,
and never accomplished since. The enlisted force was of picked men
selected for special qualifications. In addition to those enumerated in
the previous order, Private Morgan Osborn "G" Troop, the carpenter who
built the little boat, and John L. Ward of "L" Troop, a teamster and
packer, were taken along to bring back extra mules and the wagon from
whatever point might be selected enroute.
On October 11, the expedition moved out from Fort
Ellis and south-eastward toward the valley of the Yellowstone, reached
that stream the following day and thence up that "wild and winding"
river toward the "Mammoth Springs." The wagon bearing supplies was drawn
by 8 mules, 2 others carried the boat material, each man was mounted
except the teamster, an extra horse was led for him. All went smoothly
until the third day, when, not far from the northern boundary of the
. . . wagon came to grief, an unruly wheeler failed
to pull at the right time, and the heavy vehicle cramped and went over
crushing a hind wheel and reducing the body to something resembling
As a result of this not unexpected mishap, the wagon
was abandoned, the load, comparatively undamaged, was made into packs,
and after a 2-day delay to rest the animals and arrange the loads, the
party proceeded. In his entry of October 16, Doane enumerates the
equipment carried by his party.
Our outfit was an arctic one, omitting the
stereotyped religious literature. We had buffalo coats and moccasins,
rubber boots and overshoes, heavy underclothing, and plenty of robes and
blankets. The detachment carried carbines only. Pistols are worthless in
the mountains. In fact they are worthless anywhere in the field. I
carried a 12-pound Sharpes Buffalo Rifle, with globe sight on the stock
and chambered for long range cartridges. Our provisions did not include
pemmican, Biltongue, limejuice or any other of the orthodox food
preparations, but consisted of plain American rations, with some added
commissaries, and an abundance of tea and tobacco. Matches were packed
on every animal, and each individual carried several boxes constantly.
Each man had a good hunting knife, not the crossed hilted and murderous
looking kind but a short one intended for cutting up game. Our cooking
apparatus included two fry pans, two Dutch ovens, four camp kettles, and
some mess pans. We had plenty of axes and each man carried a hatchet on
his saddle. To put together the boat required only a saw, a screw driver
and a Gimlet, and we had a sack of oakum, with which to calk the seams.
Before starting, there had been no solemnites, but each man's personal
outfit was complete, arranged with a view to meet all possible
contingencies without delay. I had duplicate notebooks, one of which
Sergeant Server carried and from his, the only one left, I take my notes
for this report. Of instruments, I carried a prismatic compass, Aneroid
Barometer, max and min thermometers, and a long tape measure. None of
these were provided by a generous government, but all were purchased by
myselfas usual in such cases.
On October 17, the party lost the first of the park
The morning air broke chilly and the air filled with
frosty mist. One mule, a queer slabsided one was down, paralyzed across
the kidneys. Here was an emergency. It was unable to stand alone when
lifted to its feet, and would starve to death in a few days if we left
it. But one remedy was available and that was a severe one. We heated
kettles of water and scalded the animal along the spine. The first
kettleful brought him to his feet, without further assistance, and a few
cups full from a second restored his nerves enough so that he kicked
vigorously at his kind physicians, and refused further treatment. He was
fearfully scalded but restored, and returned to Fort Ellis next spring
of his own volition, got entirely well and survived all of his comrades
of the pack train several years.
A heavy snow storm began on the night of October 19,
the party laid over on October 20, and on October 21 made an early start
for Mount Washburn, camping on its upper slopes that night, to the great
relief of the Lieutenant.
This was the highest point to be crossed (9,200 feet)
and I was terribly uneasy lest we should find it (the gap) blocked with
snow as a depth of 30 feet is not unusual in February. Beyond and at our
feet now lay the Great Basin of the Yellowstone, with its dark forests,
its open spaces all wintry white, and its steam columns shooting upward
in every direction. It was like coming suddenly upon the confines of the
unknown, so differently did the snow landscape appear in the summertime.
To us it was an enchanted land, the portals of which had just been
safely passed, and we struck the downward trail full of enthusiasm,
reached the open basin of Chrystal Spring Creek, the lowest point in the
Great Basin, and camped in snow two feet in depth. Distance 18 m.
Elevation 7250 feet.
On October 23, the party reached Yellowstone Lake,
camping at its outlet. En route that day Doane encountered a tremendous
Taking light loads and leaving a man with balance of
the plunder to keep off the bears as these animals are affected with a
childish curiosity in relation to government rations, I started in
advance of the party on the Lake trail, and was riding along slowly with
my eyes shaded when my horse shied violently, with a snort, and stood
trembling. I jerked away the shade and saw that I had ridden close up to
a herd of at least two thousand elk. They had been lying in the snow,
and had all sprung up together, frightening my horse. In a minute the
great herd was out of sight, crashing through the forest, the old bulls
screaming their strange fog-horn cry. It was a magnificent sight as the
bulls were in full growth of horns, and the calves all large enough to
run freely with the herd. No game animal has the majestic presence of a
bull elk when he is not frightened, and in herds they manuevre with a
wonderful precision breaking by file at a long swinging trot and coming
into line right-left or front to gaze at some object of apprehension
with a celerity and absence of confusion truly remarkable. In chasing
them on horseback the first effect is to break them into a gallop, when
they move more slowly and soon tire. In deep snow, when the herd breaks
the trail for the horse to follow in, there is no difficulty in catching
I remember a chase in the Yellowstone Valley one
winter day when two of us killed seventeen elk in less than an hour. Two
large wagon loads of meat. On this occasion I did not shoot, as we had a
long march to make and it would have caused delay, but watched them 'til
lost to view and rode on. This sign of abundant game was exceedingly
favorable and gave a confidence which nothing else could have
For the following 2 days the expedition remained in
camp on the shore of the lake, preparing the outfit for double
transportation by land and water, the pack animals and part of the men
to follow the shoreline, the others to take the boat across the lake.
The little boat was assembled, the seams pitched, and the "Teeps"
erected for the first time, bough shelters having been used
On October 24, the men worked until late in the night
making equipment ready and
. . . retired to rest feeling all was well so far.
During the night the stock stampeded and ran in close to the camp fire.
A strange, threatening voice was heard in the dense forest nearby, a
noise I had never heard before. A loud roaring was repeated. Applegate
gathered his belt and carbine and I the big rifle, and while the others
quieted the stock we moved out in the direction from which the sound
came. It receded as we advanced, and shortly, with a continued crashing
the animal retreated out of hearing into the timber. We soon came upon
its trail and I sent back for a lantern. It was an old bull moose. It
had pawed up quite a space and barked a couple of young trees with its
horns thus producing the crashing sound we had first noticed. In
accounts of moose hunting, read previously, I had never seen it stated
that a moose gave any call whatever. These in the Park have voices,
unquestionably, and use them with the utmost freedom. Toward morning we
were again roused by a flock of swans circling over us with their wild
and splendid notes, harmonized to a glorious symphony. In the morning I
shot and wounded a large wolverine but did not stop him, and Starr,
while prowling along the river bank below camp, shot a goose and found a
small plank canoe in which he proceeded to paddle out into the lake.
Doane's description of the moonlight night which
followed is a classic example of his ability to portray, in words, a
picture of the wilderness he loved so well.
That evening, the moon was in full and rising high
above the lake and mountain, its soft light bathed the splendid
landscape in floods of silver. The mighty ranges of the great divide
were sharply outlined in cold, gleaming white. Below their ragged
summits dark green forest masses filled the spaces to the margin of the
water. At intervals, steam jets played along the shore and the deep
valley of the Upper Yellowstone reached the farthest limit of vision in
the foreground. On the left front appeared a group of ghastly hills of
chalky lustre by the banks of Pelican Creek, and beyond there a winding
valley constantly rising as it receded with glittering channels, from
thermal springs threading its long, green slopes. On the right front
loomed up the yellow flank of Mount Sheridan, seemingly ready to burst
forth with sulphurous flames; and flooding the space between lay the
glorious lake with its rippling moonlit waters, its long sand beaches
and deeply indented shores, its rocky islands of splendid coloring, its
cliffs and inlets, and its still lagoons. A picture indescribable,
unequalled and alone. From the distant marshes on the newborn
Yellowstone came the sound of fluttering cries of restless waterfowl.
From the echoing forest beyond, the mountain lions screaming and moaning
at intervals while we put the finishing touches on our little vessel.
Starr and Applegate, both expert boatmen, paddled the little canoe far
out on the sparkling waters and sang Crow Indian war songs, as the work
went on. The horses and mules having stuffed themselves with luxuriant
mountain grasses, came up and stood meditatively with their noses over
the camp fires in thorough contentment. It was a night and a scene to be
remembereda touch of nature vibrating into infinity.
In this entry also, seated by the campfire in a
wonderfully expansive mood of the utmost wellbeing, touched by the
serene beauty of his surroundings, Doane takes occasion to describe the
other members of his party, the "picked men selected for special
Of the men who composed my party, Sergeant Fred
Server was a Philadelphian of good familya wild boywho had
settled down to a splendid daring soldier, an expert horseman, a good
shot, a man of perfect physique and iron constitution.
Private F. R. Applegate was a small, wiry Marylander,
used to hard knocks, thoroughly at home anywhere, full of expedients and
know all about managing small water craft.
Private Daniel Starr was a man of powerful voice and
massive form, had served on a war vessel, could turn his hand to any
work. A man of infinite jest and humor, and reckless beyond all
conception. He was already a celebrity in Montana on account of his
uproarious hilarity, daring, and wild adventures. He ran the first boat
on the Yellowstone Lake in 1871, had piloted several parties through the
Park, and was always a volunteer in anything which promised a new field
and a basis of new stories of the most ludicrous and most exaggerated
Private William White was a quiet, solemn young
fellow, useful in any service, full of romantic ideas, sober, reserved.
A man of fearless disposition.
Private John B. Warren was an Englishman, very set in
ideas, an older man than the others. A man of intelligence, a most
indefatigable fisherman and an all round utility man.
Private C. B. Davis was a born cook. He lived for his
stomach alone and knew how to prepare food for its pacification. He saw
no value in anything that was not edible; talked, thought, and dreamed
of good things to eat, but came out strongly over a camp fire. With a
dishcloth in one hand and "something dead" in the other, he smiled
beamingly into the yawning interior of an open Dutch oven, and inhaled
with unspeakable delight the fragrant aroma of a steaming coffee pot.
The above formed the regular detail for the expedition.
The others, Private Morgan Osborn, a carpenter, was a
careful, sober man, not used to the mountains, faithful and honest and
Private John L. Ward was a hardy, vigorous man, good
on a trail, in a boat, or on a wheel mule, a packer and a woodsman.
They were all enthusiastic on the subject of the
present expedition, and were reliable, intrepid men.
The "little vessel" was launched on October 26. No
champagne christening this, but she rode on an even keel and rose in
fine style to the waves. Doane, Starr, Applegate, and Ward voyaged out
to Stevenson's Island and returned. The next day the boat was carefully
loaded, it carried everything except the saddle outfits on the animals.
A broken-down mule was left behind, and with a mule harnessed to a tow
line, and one man to steer the boat off shore, she was so pulled along
the beach for some 12 miles. At a rocky promontory, the tow line was
taken in and two men rowed the craft around the point. Coming close to
shore a wave struck the "little vessel under the lee quarter, and
swamped her instantly." The water was shallow and everything was saved,
but camp was made at once, 15 miles from the point of launching.
The rest of the afternoon and half the night was
spent in keeping fires going to dry out the baggage. The following
morning it was discovered that waves had knocked loose some of the
calking on the bottom of the boat. It was repaired with the remaining
oakum and pitch. At this point, the Lieutenant was "very uneasy on
account of the snow in sight on the Continental Divide in front of us",
so decided to leave Starr, Applegate, and Ward to complete repairs to
the boat, while he and the others, with all the "property, should push
on, cross the divide, break a trail and return with mules and horses to
the lake shore to meet the party with the boat."
Doane and his group accordingly struck through the
forest for several miles on October 28, reached the lake shore again and
followed it to the "lower end of the southwest arm where the foothills
come on the shore. Skirted around to the east side past the great group
of silicate springs (probably the West Thumb area) and camped at the
foot of the Great Divide at the nearest point opposite Heart Lake."
The following morning the land party remained near
camp "in hopes that the men with the boat might come", and spent their
time examining the springs.
One crater cone still active stands in front of the
main group, pouring a stream of boiling water into the cold surrounding
lake. It is here that anglers catch the trout and cook them on the
The boat failing to appear, Doane and his men started
up the slope to the Divide in a "heavy and blinding snow storm" through
a "tangled forest." The weather turned very cold, travel was difficult
up the slopes in snow some 2 feet in depth. On the top of the ridge it
was necessary to stop and build a fire, the animals and men were "loaded
with snow and ice." The party reached a "hot spring basin" a mile from
Heart Lake long after dark, built a great fire of seasoned pines, and
spent most of the night drying out.
Doane was not at all satisfied with the route he had
followed, and on the following day, in clear weather, the party worked
its way back to Yellowstone Lake by a route which proved to be much
shorter. The boat not having arrived, a watchfire to serve as a beacon
was built on a bluff on the lake shore. Doane's entry in the journal for
October 30 indicates his concern for the fate of the voyageurs, Starr,
Applegate, and Ward.
That was their third day and I was consumed with
anxiety. A cold, wintry blast was driving down the lake in a direction
at right angles to their course. The waves were running high and on the
opposite shore we could see the surf flying against the rocks, covering
them with glittering masses of ice. It was growing colder every minute,
and the night was intensely dark. A driving sleet began to fall. This
was dangerous, as it adhered to whatever it touched. Our apprehensions
were almost beyond endurance. I knew those men would start that night no
matter what perils might be encountered. They had twenty miles to come,
in an egg shell boat which had never been tried in rough water. Nothing
could live in that icy flood half an hour, if cast overboard. The wind
and cold were both increasing constantly. Hour after hour passed. I
followed the beach a couple of miles, but finding no traces returned.
The Sergeant went in the other direction with like results. We were
standing together on the shore despairing when suddenly there was borne
to us on the driving blast the sound of boisterous and double jointed
profanity. The voice was Starr's and we knew that the daring, invincible
men were safe and successful. We ran to meet them and helped them beach,
and unload the few articles that the boat contained. The oars were
coated an inch thick and the boat was half full of solid ice. When the
three men came in front of the camp fire, they were a sight to behold.
Their hair and beards were frozen to their caps and overcoats and they
were sheeted with glistening ice from head to foot.
The boat had nearly filled three different times, but
Applegate, who steered, threw her bow to the waves and held her there
while the others bailed her out. They found that she would not bear the
cross sea, so they kept her head to the wind, and forced her to make
leeway by pulling stronger on the opposite side and working the steering
oar to correspond. Thus they battled with the storm hour after hour
until they had drifted twenty miles and reached the other shore. We
changed clothing with them and after giving them a warm supper made them
go to bed at once. The rest of the night we put in drying their clothes,
as they soundly slept.
On October 31, the boat was cleared of ice by
chopping it out with axes, hot ashes were thrown in to dry her out
inside, and "slipper poles" were cut and fitted under her to serve as
runners. Dragging side poles were also attached to fend her off standing
trees in passing. Two mules were hitched to the boat in tandem to drag
her, and although progress was slow because the boat frequently became
wedged between trees, and the deep snow made travel very difficult for
the mules, the Divide was crossed, and "at 9 o'clock at night we left
her on the Pacific slope of the Rocky Mountains, and went on with the
tired stock into camp."
On November 2, the extra men, Ward and Osborn, with
their horses and the 3 poorest mules, were started back to Fort Ellis,
since they were no longer needed. They were to pick up the mules and
property left at different points on the way, and after an arduous trip
of several days they reached Fort Ellis safely.
The Lieutenant and his reduced party now had 7 horses
and 4 pack mules. In camp at Heart Lake it was necessary to make
extensive repairs to the boat, the cold had "shrunken the boards and
opened all the seams." She was finally in order and launched on Heart
Lake on November 5. During this layover the party feasted on baked
porcupine, which "resembled in taste young pork with a faint flavor of
The party moved across and around Heart Lake on
November 6, the boat loaded with all the equipment, the horses and mules
taken along the western shore. It was necessary to drag the boat across
the frozen lower section of the lake for some 3 miles to the outlet,
there the volume of the stream was so small it would not float the
craft, even unloaded, over the rocks of the stream bed. For the next
several days the "little vessel," the men, and the animals took a
beating from the stream, the weather, and the terribly hard going.
November 18th. Reached camp in the forenoon with all
the calking melted out of the seams and all the ice thawed out of the
interior of the boat by the floods of boiling water passed through in
the river channel just above. Took her out of the water and put her on
the stocks to be dried out and thoroughly repaired. Her bottom was a
sight to behold. The green pine planks were literally shivered by
pounding on the rocks. The tough stripping of the seams, two inches or
more in thickness, was torn away. Two of the heaviest planks were worn
through in the waist of the vessel, and three holes were found in her
sides. The stern was so bruised and stove that we had to hew out a new
one. We took out the seats, floor, and bulkheads, and this gave us
lumber enough to put on a new bottom. Mended the holes with tin and
leather. Recalked her, using candles and pitch mixed for the filling.
Split young pines and put a heavy strip on each seam and made her
stronger than ever. This occupied the 19th which was a stormy day, and
the 20th, which was clear long enough to enable us to finish the boat.
When it is remembered that the wood had to be dry before the pitch would
adhere, and that we were obliged to keep a bed of coals under the boat
constantly to effect this on ground saturated with snow water and with
the snow falling most of the time, it can be realized that the labor was
of the most fatiguing description. Half of the party worked while the
others cared for the animals and slept. Warren here came out as an
invaluable member of the party. He kept the camp full of trout and we
fared sumptuously. The stream from Shoshone Lake is the true Snake River
and not the one we are on. It is twice as large as this one, and should
be mapped as the main stream.
From this point we feel sure of plenty of water and
will start with a partial load in the boat. The strain on the animals
has been terrible as they have had to double trip the route almost
constantly, which means three times the distance of actual progress. We
have had but little depth of snow, and this, while favorable in one
sense, has been detrimental in another, as it has allowed the game to
run high on the mountains, where we had not time to go. Had there been
deeper snow, the water supply would have been greater, the game would
have been forced down to the valleys, and we would not have been obliged
to use the animals so constantly.
The problem was to get where the boat would carry the
property and make distance before the animals gave out. Also to get to
settlements before rations were exhausted. I knew we had the formidable
"Mad River Canyon" of the old trappers between us and human habitations.
With plenty of large game in range, this would have caused no
uneasiness, but we were descending daily and leaving the game
I spend many an hour over this problem studying all
the chances, and endeavoring to be prepared to act instantly in any
possible emergency that might arise.
The party resumed their travel on November 21, Doane,
Starr, Applegate, and White in the boat, Sergeant Server, Warren, and
Davis with the animals. The boat was headed down the now powerful
stream, Applegate steering, Starr astride the bow. Starr and White were
armed with "spike poles" to push her off rocks and guide her into deep
All was lovely. Starr had just begun to sing one of
his favorite missionary hymns, something about "the Gospel ship is
sailing now," when the river made a sudden turn to the left with a
boiling eddy, and the boat crashed head on against the overhanging wall
of rock, smashing all the lodge poles and compelling the boisterous
singer to turn a somersault backward to save himself from being
instantly killed. The gallant little craft bore the shock without
bursting, and we went down stream (stern) foremost a short distance onto
a shelfing rock where an examination developed the fact that nothing was
damaged excepting twenty-two fine lodge poles.
On November 23, nearing Jackson Lake, the valley of
the Snake was opening before the party.
Hundreds of otter were seen. These growled at us in
passing from their holes in the bank, not being accustomed to boats. We
shot several . . . An hour later we ran out into Jackson's Lake, and
passed the train just as a mule fell under a log across the trail,
struggled a moment, and died. Camped on the lake shore three miles from
The following day both land and water parties
progressed along the western shore of Jackson Lake, the train
. . . terrible severe traveling, climbing over rocks
and through tangled forests of pine, aspen, and other varieties of
timber . . . Abandoned one horse . . . We were too near the mountains to
get a full view, but above us rose the huge masses of glistening
granites too steep to retain much snow . . . On the opposite shore are
extensive Beaver swamps, and great areas of marsh, now
The trout bite well, and we have a good supply. Ate
our last flour today. Starr cooked one of the fine otter killed the day
before. The flesh was nice looking. It was very far and tempting. Baked
in a Dutch oven and fragrant with proper dressing we anticipated a
feast, were helped bountifully and started with voracious appetites. The
first mouthful went down, but did not remain. It came up without a
struggle. Only Starr could hold it. The taste was delicately fishy, and
not revolting at all, but the human stomach is evidently not intended
for use as an Otter trap. Like Banquo's ghost, "It will not down." We
did not try Otter again.
November 25th. Laid over, giving the stock a rest and
repaired boat. Warren kept us well supplied with trout, which were in
fine condition. In the afternoon my attention was called to an object
moving in the lake. It proved to be a deer, swimming from the large
island across to the opposite shore of the little bay. We had just
finished with the little boat, and catching up the big rifle, while the
others pushed off, Starr and Applegate rowed (me) out to intercept the
deer. It saw us coming and turning to the left reached the shore about
three hundred yards away, where it stopped, shivering on the bank. We
stopped and let the boat settle to steadiness and I fired. The deer was
badly hit, and stood still. I fired again, and it fell into the water
dead. It was the first game we had killed for a long time and came in
the nick of time. After dragging it into the boat we found the two
bullet holes about three inches apart and the last one had gone through
the heart of the animal.
When the gun was fired first, the whole party turned
out along the shore thinking than an avalanche was coming, and the noise
of the second discharge had not ceased when we landed with the game. It
was an echo. We spent hours testing it afterward, and surely nothing on
earth can equal it. The report of the big rifle was followed by a
prolonged roar that seemed to eddy in the little bay in a vast volume of
condensed thunder, hen charged up he great channel in a hollow, deep
growl giving consecutive reports which bounded from cliff to cliff and
these re-echoed until far up the canyon came back a rattle of musketry
as on a skirmish line, mingled with mournful waves of vibratory
rumbling. These were succeeded by cracks and rustlings, and a moaning
sigh which slowly receded and died away far up along the heights. Time,
one minute and 25 seconds. We tried our voices together, and the result
was deafening and overwhelming. There were seven in the party, and we
were answered back by a hoarse mob of voices in accumulating thousands
from the great gorge, and these, a moment after retreating up the
channel called to each other and back at us 'til the multiplied voices
mingled in a harsh jargon of wierd and wild receding volume of sound,
ending in a long moaning sigh and a rustling as of falling leaves among
the gleaming spires far away above us.
I then tried Starr's tremendous voice alone, and had
him call, "Oh, Joe!" with a prolonged rising infection on the first and
an equally prolonged falling infection on the second word, repeating it
at intervals of 30 seconds. Experience had taught us that this call
could be heard more distinctly and farther in the mountains than any
other practiced. The sound of his voice at the first call had not ceased
when a hundred exact repititions were reflected to the little bay. Then
a rush of hoarse exclamations followed up the gorge and the fusilade of
calls on very rock and cliff answered, "Oh, Joe!" And these sounds
echoed and re-echoed a thousand times reaching higher and higher along
the mighty walls, 'til faint goblin whispers from the cold, icy shafts
and the spectral hollows answered back in clicking notes and hisses, but
distinctly always the words, "Oh, Joe!"
A full band of music playing here would give such a
concert as the world has never heard. There is a wierd, unearthly volume
and distinctness to the echo here, and a chasing afar off and returning
of the sounds, unequalled and simply indescribable. We named this inlet
Spirit Bay. 3
The party continued along the lake shore, the usual
mode of travel being 3 men in the boat, 4 with the animals on land.
Doane's horse was abandoned on November 26. All of the men were
violently ill from the deer meat, the Lieutenant diagnosing the sickness
as "cholera morbus." The party was forced to lay over most of 2 days,
but reached the outlet of the lake on November 30, started down river,
and camped 2 miles downstream from the Buffalo Fork on that date, the
boat having made about 30 miles that day.
December 1st. Moved on down the river. Sergeant and
myself still very weak. Camped opposite Gros Ventre Butte, which is in
the middle of the valley, and in front of Mount Hayden (earlier name for
the Grand Teton) and its mighty canyon. (From this description this camp
appears to have been opposite Blacktail Butte, in the vicinity of the
present location of Moose.) During the day Warren and White followed a
herd of Elk 'til dark, but did not get one. Light snow on the ground.
Weather warm. At noon 65 degrees. Distance 12 m.
The boat now carries all the property as the animals
can carry no more. The river is a fine broad stream but the current is
that of a mountain torrent and the channel divides so often that we
counted over one hundred islands today. Occasionally therefore, we came
to shoal water by getting in the wrong shute and had to lift her over.
The bed of the stream is entirely of coarse gravel and boulders, mostly
of granite, and the banks are low. Fishing good, but fresh fish is too
thin a diet to subsist on alone. We have now no coffee, sugar, tea,
bacon, and worst of all, no tobacco. Nothing but a few beans left. The
game is scarce and shy. I cannot hunt and keep the observations at the
same time. The boat can now go faster than the stock, but we cannot
separate, with "Mad River Canyon" in front of us.
A glorious night, moon in the full, but empty
stomachs. We are now far enough away from the lakes to be clear of the
clouds of vapor and local snow storms. Our camp is about at a central
point with reference to obtaining a view of the Tetons, and at a
distance of fifteen miles from the nearest part of the range. (Distance
actually about 7 miles, Doane's estimate inaccurate.) The moonlight view
was one of unspeakable grandeur. There are twenty-two summits in the
line, all of them mighty mountains, with the gleaming spire of Mount
Hayden rising in a pinnacle above all. The whole range is of naked rock
in vast glittering masses, mostly coarse granites, but with some
carboniferous and metamorphose rocks, the splendid colorings of these
sheeted as they were with ice, contrasted finely with the snowy masses
in all places where the snow would lie, and with the sombre depths of
the great avalanche channels and mighty canyons. Of the latter the
grandest is the Teton (Cascade Canyon) which half surrounds Mount
Hayden, is four thousand feet deep, where it opens out into the valley
in front of us, has a splendid torrent of roaring cascades in its
channel and a baby glacier still at its head. The wide valley in front,
seamed with rocky channels and heaped with moraines, is a grim, ruinous
landscape. There are no foothills to the Tetons. They rise suddenly in
rugged majesty from the rock strewn plain. Masses of heavy forests
appear on the glacial debris and in parks behind the curves of the lower
slopes, but the general field of vision is glittering, glaciated rock.
The soft light floods the great expanse of the valley, the winding
silvery river and the resplendent, deeply carved mountain walls. The
vast masses of Neve on the upper ledges from their lofty resting places
shine coldly down, and stray masses of clouds, white and fleecy, cast
deep shadows over land and terrace, forest and stream. And later on when
the moon had gone down in exaggerated volume behind the glorified spire
of the Grand Teton (Doane must have used the names Mount Hayden and
Grand Teton interchangeably) the stars succeeded with their myriad
sparkling lights, and these blazed up in setting on the sharpcut edges
of the great, serrated wall like Indian signal fires in successive
spectral flashes, rising and dying out by hundreds as the hours passed
on. On the wide continent of North America there is no mountain group to
compare in scenic splendor with the Great Tetons. There was not a pound
of food in camp. We ate the last beans for supper, before going out to
make notes on the Teton view.
The weakened party again laid over on the following
day. They hunted carefully but to no avail, since the horses were too
weak to carry the riders far afield from the camp, and the game was well
up in the hills to the east. Warren, that "most indefatigable
fisherman," caught 16 magnificent trout, all of which were eaten for
supper. Warren's horse was shot for food, since it was the weakest and
poorest of the lot.
He had not a particle of fat on his carcass, and we
had no salt or other seasoning. Drew the powder from a package of
cartridges and used it. We had been using the same old coffee and tea
grounds for two weeks and the decoctions derived therefrom had no power
in them, no momentum. For tobacco we had smoked larb, red willow, and
rose bush bark. All these gave a mockery and a delusion to our ceaseless
cravings. We chewed pine gum continually, which helped a little. We
boned a quarter of the old horse, and boiled the meat nearly all night,
cracking the bones as well, and endeavoring to extract a show of grease
therefrom out of which to upholster a delicious and winsome gravy. The
meat cooked to a watery, spongy, texture, but the gravy sauce was a dead
failure. Horse meat may be very fine eating when smothered with French
sauces, but the worn out U. S. Cavalry plug was never intended for food.
The flesh tastes exactly as the perspiration of the animal smells. It is
in addition tough and coarse grained. We ate it ravenously, stopping to
rest occasionally our weary jaws. It went down and stayed, but did not
taste good. Weather turned colder toward morning. River running ice in
cakes which screamed and crashed continually through the night.
For the next several days the party continued without
serious mishap, other than damage to the boat on two occasions when she
crashed into submerged boulders. Warren continued to take trout
successfully, the fish and horsemeat making up the sketchy bill of fare.
On December 7, moving through the open country of the southern part of
Jackson Hole, Sergeant Server and Davis, while hunting, found the cabin
of a trapper, John Pierce. The old man was greatly surprised to see
anyone with animals in the upper Snake River Basin at that time of the
year, gave the men a substantial meal and some salt,
. . . which improved our regal fare by somewhat
smothering the sour perspiration taste of the old horse. He also sent
word to me about the settlement below "Mad River Canyon." River too
shallow for fishing, but we had salt on our horse for supper.
December 8th. The old trapper came to our camp before
we started, bringing on his shoulder a quarter of fat elk, also a little
flour. He was a gigantic, rawboned, and grisled old volunteer soldier. We
gave him in return some clothing of which he was in need and a belt full
of cartridges, as he had a big rife with the same sized chamber as mine.
While talking with him, Starr and Davis were busy and soon we had a
meal. The elk meat all went, the balance of the four was reserved for
The old trapper gave me explicit and correct
information about the settlements below. He was trapping for fine furs
only, mink, martin, fisher, and otter. Said it would not pay to go after
beaver unless one had pack animals and these could not winter in the
He told me that he had not believed the Sergeant's
story about the boat at first, and throughout his visit was evidently
completely puzzled as to what motives could have induced us to attempt
such a trip in such a way and at such a season. I sent him home on
horseback with Sergeant Server, who told me after returning that he had
been given another "Holy meal." Meantime we worked on down the river
with renewed strength among rocks and tortuous channels. Worked until
after dark and camped at the head of "Mad River Canyon." 15 miles.
The upper end of the Grand Canyon of the Snake, Doane's
"Mad River Canyon." The wicked white water of the Snake brought disaster
to the Expedition on December 12, 1876, near the lower end of the gorge,
when "all of a sudden the boat touched the icy margin, turned under it,
and the next instant was dancing end over end in the swift, bold
The voyage down the Grand Canyon of the Snake, "Mad
River Canyon," was a series of nightmares. Steadily deepening and
narrowing, the canyon walls closing in with oppressive gloom, the river
became almost completely unnavigable. It was necessary to handline the
boat down boiling rapids, drag her over the ice of frozen pools, portage
the equipment, in this manner advancing 6 to 7 miles a day. Doane writes
that it was
. . . very cold in the shaded chasm. Otter, fat and
sleek, played around us on the ice and snarled at us from holes in the
wall, all day long, safe from molestation in their fishy
unpalatableness. We had no time to shoot for sport, nor transportation
for pelts, and no desire for any game not edible. All day and as late at
night as we could see to labor, we toiled to make six miles.
On December 11, Doane concluded to split his
No food left but a handful of flour. Shot White's
horse, and feasted. It was now evident that we were not going to run the
canyon with the boat, but must tug away slowly. We were about 42 miles
from the first settlement, if our information was correct, but the
canyon, if very crooked as it had been so far, might double that
distance. I desired to get the boat through if we had to risk everything
in order to do so. This canyon was the terrible obstacle and we were
more than half way through it. Apparently the worst had been gone
through with. All the men agreed to this with enthusiasm. We gathered
together all the money in the possession of the party, and arranged for
Sergeant Server, the most active and youngest of the party, and Warren,
who could be of no assistance to those remaining, as his stomach had
begun to give way, to go on next day with the two horses and one mule
remaining and bring us back rations.
Sergeant Server and Warren loaded up as planned the
following day, leaving the Lieutenant and the other 4 men to continue
with the boat.
The river was becoming better, the ice foot more
uniform and the channel free from frozen pools when all of a sudden the
boat touched the icy margin, turned under it, and the next instant was
dancing end over end in the swift, bold current. All of the horse meat,
all the property, arms, instruments and note books were in the roaring
stream. A few hundred yards below there was a narrow place where the ice
foot almost touched the middle of the river. We ran thither and caught
whatever floated. The clothing bags, valise, bedding, bundles, and the
lodge were saved. All else, excepting one hind quarter of the old horse,
went to the bottom and was seen no more. All the rubber boots were gone
excepting mine. The warm clothing all floated and was saved. We dragged
in the boat by the row line and pulled her out of the water and far up
on a ledge of rock. 6 miles.
After this mishap, the Sergeant and Warren, who had
been traveling along the river bank, keeping in contact with the boat
party, were sent at once on their way, while Doane and his men dried out
and rested. The boatmen fought their way down the river for the next two
days, but on December 14 the boat was hauled high on the bank in an
apparently secure place. The last of the horse meat had been eaten for
breakfast, no food was left.
The following morning the bedding was stored away in
rolls with the valise, high up among the rocks, and Doane's party
. . . unarmed, without food, and in an unknown
wilderness to find settlements (previously described by the trapper,
Pierce) seven miles up on a stream which we had no positive assurance of
being able to recognize when we came to its mouth.
That day the men waded the Salt River (near the
present site of Alpine) having spent 7 days in the gloomy depths of the
"Mad River Canyon."
On December 16, they were moving at the break of day
in bitterly cold weather, and about noon reached an ice bound creek
which showed signs of placer washings. They assumed, correctly as it
developed, that the settlements described by Pierce were on this
tributary stream. Due to crusted snow they could make only about 1 mile
an hour, but upon reaching the creek they walked on the ice, and were
thus able to make better progress. Some distance upstream the creek
forked, and the men took the left hand branch. By dark they had
determined they were in error. They sheltered by a huge fire that
We slept a little but only to dream of bountifully
set tables loaded with viands, all of which were abounding in fats and
oils. What conservation there was turned entirely to matters pertaining
to food. Davis talked incessantly on such subjects, giving all the
minutest details of preparing roast, gravies, meat pies, suet puddings,
pork preparations, oil dressings, cream custards, and so on, until Starr
finally choked him off with the Otter experience. None of us felt the
pangs of hunger physically. Our stomachs were cold and numb. We suffered
less than for two days before, but there was a mental appetite, more
active than ever. It was an agony to sleep. All the party evidenced the
same mental conditions excepting Davis who was hungry clear through,
sleeping or waking. One feeling we had in common. It can be found
explained in Eugene Sue's description of the Wandering Jew. We were
impatient of rest, and all felt a constant impulse to "go on, go on,"
continually. The men did not seem to court slumber, and Starr had an
inexhaustible fund of his most mirth provoking stories which he never
tired of telling. We listened, laughed, and sang. Afterward we tried to
catch a couple of Beaver which splashed within a few feet of us all
night long. Had not a firearm in the party and here was the fattest of
good meat almost under our hands, enough to have fed us for two
With the first gray streaks of dawn they were again
on their way, working over the ridge to the other fork of the creek
which they reached a few hours later.
A couple of miles farther on we stopped to build a
fire and warm ourselves. Davis showed signs of undue restlessness. We
had to call him back from climbing the hillsides several times. While we
were gathering wood for the fire, I found a section of sawed off timber
blocks such as they use for the bottoms of flumes. It had been recently
cut on one side with an axe. This satisfied me without farther evidence
that the mines above were not old placers, now deserted. The men were
not so sanguine, but were cheerful, and we soon moved on again. In a
couple of hours we came to an old flume. Shortly after, Applegate
declared he smelled the smoke of burning pine. In half an hour more we
reached a miner's cabin and were safe. We arrived at 3 p.m. having been
80 hours without food in a temperature from 10 degrees to 40 degrees
below zero, and after previously enduring privations as before detailed.
Two old miners occupied the cabin and they were both at home, having
returned from a little town above with a fresh stock of provisions. They
at once produced some dry bread and made some weak tea, knowing well
what to do. We had to force those things down. None of us felt hungry
for anything but grease. About this time, to our unspeakable delight,
Sergeant Server and Warren also arrived. They had passed the mouth of
the creek on the 13th and gone below to the next stream which they had
followed up fourteen miles without finding anything, and returning to
meet us had found our trail and followed it, knowing that we had nothing
to eat, while they had two horses and a mule with them. Mr. Bailey and
his partner now gave us a bountiful supper of hot rolls, roast beef, and
other substantial fare, and we all ate heartily in spite of our previous
resolutions not to do so. Cold, dry bread had no charms, but hot and
fatty food roused our stomachs to a realization that the season of
famine was over. The change affected us severely. I had an attack of
inflammation of the stomach which lasted several hours. All of the men
suffered more or less, excepting Starr who seemed to be unaffected.
The next day the party moved upstream to the little
town, Keenan City, which consisted of a store, saloon, post office,
blacksmith shop, stable, and "a lot of miners' cabins." Doane found that
they had followed McCoy Creek, and that the settlements were
collectively known as the Caribou mining district. The Lieutenant
records that his weight was down to 126 from a normal 190, and the
others were similarly reduced.
A "jerky stage line" operated between Keenan City and
the Eagle Rock Bridge on the Snake above Fort Hall, and Lieutenant Doane
accordingly prepared the following telegram to be forwarded by the Post
Adjutant at Fort Hall:
Commanding Officer, Fort Ellis, Montana. Arrived here
yesterday. All well. Write today. Send mail to Fort Hall. (Signed)
It was the Lieutenant's plan at this time to
construct small sleds for the rations and bedding rolls, these to be
drawn by the 2 horses and the mule left to the expedition, and thus
proceed downriver to Fort Hall. All was in readiness by December 23, and
the party set out, proceeding some 20 miles through Christmas Day. While
in camp on the evening of December 26, voices were heard in the river
bottom nearby, where a party of troops had just gone into camp.
It was Lieutenant Joseph Hall, 14th Infantry, with
four men and a good little pack train. I shall never forget the puzzled
expression on the face of this officer when he first met me. He
conversed in monosyllables for a couple of minutes and then told us that
he had been sent to arrest a party of deserters, half a dozen in number,
which had been advertised for in the Montana papers, as having left Fort
Ellis and were supposed to have gone through the Park and down Snake
River. Thirty dollars each for apprehension and capture. The stage
driver had read the papers it seems and denounced us to the Post
Commander at Fort Hall. We first had a hearty laugh over the joke and he
then placed himself and party at my disposal. We sat by the fire and
talked nearly all night. (He was Post Adjutant at Fort Hall, and
evidently knew something more than he felt at liberty to tell me, but he
denounced Major Jas. S. Brisbin, 2d Cavalry, my Post Commander, in
unmeasured terms, and told me that I was being made a victim of infamous
treachery. This was a revelation but not a surprise.)4
Next day Sergeant Server and 4 men were sent with
fresh animals to recover the boat and the bedding cached upriver. They
returned the day following, reporting that it was only "fifteen miles by
the trail on the other side of the river." They brought with them the
equipment but not the boat, which had been crushed to splinters by an
ice jam which had piled up in masses 20 feet high.
This was a bitter disappointment as they found the
river open all the way down, and we so found it afterwards below. Here
was another strange occurrence. In exploring as in hunting there is an
element of chance which cannot be provided against. No foresight will
avail, no calculations will detect, no energy will overcome. Caution
might prevent, but with caution no results will be obtained. Risks must
be taken, and there is such an element in human affairs as fortune, good
or bad. I decided at once to make all possible speed to Fort Hall, there
refit and returning bring lumber to rebuild the boat on the ground
where it had been lost, and continue to Eagle Rock Bridge on the Snake
River, previously going back far enough beyond Jackson's Lake to take a
renewal of the system of triangulation and notes, lost in the river when
the boat capsized. At Eagle Rock Bridge it would be necessary to rebuild
the boat again in a different form and much larger, to run the heavy
rapids of the lower rivers to Astoria, at the mouth of the great
Columbia. The hardships and greater dangers we had already passed. With
food for one day more we could have made the passage of "Mad River
Canyon" despite the loss of all our weapons, instruments, and tools. We
had run all the rapids but two, and these were easier than many others
safely passed above. All the party enthusiastically endorsed this
Lieutenant Doane was indeed a persevering and
meticulously thorough individual, so much so that he not only planned to
return to run the river from the point where he had been obliged to
leave off, but to retrace his route to a point above Jackson Lake in
order to bring his notes to completion. It is difficult to follow his
thinking when he indicates his intention of running the Columbia to
Astoria, since his orders were to "make exploration of Snake River from
Yellowstone Lake to Columbia River." His statement that the
"greater dangers" had already been passed seems incompatible with the
Hell's Canyon of the Snake below, a section of the river about which
Doane must have had some knowledge. Here indeed were "risks to be taken"
with "bad fortune" certain, quite probably occurring beyond a point of
The party continued on December 29 toward Fort Hall,
with Doane's journal describing in detail the route followed, the nature
of the terrain, and the course of the river. They arrived at Fort Hall
on January 4, having been met about half way between Fort Hall and the
Eagle Rock Bridge by ambulances sent to bring them.
Captain Bainbridge, Commanding Officer at Fort
. . . received us with the greatest kindness, and
everything possible was done for the comfort of myself and party, by all
at the post.
There followed an exchange of communications between
the Lieutenant and the Commanding Officer at Fort Ellis, Major Brisbin,
with no reference therein to the charge of desertion. In the meantime,
We put in time at Fort Hall preparing to get together
materials for another boat, intending to renew the expedition from "Mad
River Canyon." Meantime I had made one of my Centenial Tents for Captain
Bainbridge. While so engaged on the 8th of January, the following
Dated Chicago, Ill. January 6, 1877
Received at Fort Hall, Idaho, January 8, 1877
To Commanding Officer, Fort Hall, Idaho
You will direct Lieut. Doane, Second Cavalry, with
his escort to rejoin his proper station Fort Ellis, as soon as
practicable. Acknowledge receipt.
R. C. Drum
A. A. G.
That Doane was very bitter at this turn of events is
indicated by subsequent entries in his journal.
This was the result. I simply note here an extract
from Sergeant Server's journal. The only one left us when the boat
capsized. "Lt. Doane was very mad in consequence of our having to
return, and so were all the men, but we tried to make the best of
Over a year afterward I received the key to this
mystery. And here it is. It will be observed that there is some little
truth in it, and much that is false. And bear in mind that my letter and
telegram from Keenan City were received on the 28th December, and that
I had not yet been heard from at Eagle Rock or Fort Hall.
Fort Ellis, January 2, 1877
To Assistant Adjutant General
Saint Paul, Minn.
I hear Doane lost all his horses, seven and mules,
three, his boat and camp equipage, even to blankets; lived three weeks
on horse meat straight; the last three days, before reaching the
settlement, his party being without food of any kind. I recommend that
he be ordered to his post for duty with his company.
Accordingly Doane and 4 men were returned to Fort
Ellis by stage, arriving on January 20. Sergeant Server and White,
leaving Fort Hall on January 12, "with the expedition's baggage and the
extra horse" arrived at Fort Ellis on February 2, bringing to a close
the final stage of the exploration.
One last entry in Lieutenant Doane's journal is
worthy of mention.
In December, 1878, I was told by my commanding
officer, Major Jas. S. Brisbin, that he had disapproved of the
expedition from the beginning, and had worked to have me ordered back
because I had not applied for the detail through him. I make no
A careful study of the journal reveals statements
that can be questioned in the light of later knowledge. The mellifluous
descriptions, the references to "hundreds of otter," and some other
observations, together with the general tone of the document, may to
some readers appear overdrawn. It must be borne in mind, however, that
the journal was obviously written some time after Doane's return to Fort
Ellis, and from Server's notes, since the Lieutenant's records had been
lost when the boat capsized on December 12. Server's notes were probably
sketchy at best, much of the writing then was done from memory. That the
account is colored by some imagination and a desire to make a "good
yarn" of it is probably true, but forgivable, particularly when one
considers the usual tenor adopted by writers of that day.
However critical the reader's opinion may be, it
cannot be denied that here is an odessey which defies comparison with
any other record of winter exploration of the region. It was fortunate,
beyond any reasonable doubt, that Doane's expedition did not continue.
That his party could have survived ultimate disaster in the Hell's
Canyon of the Snake is incomprehensible. That Doane, stubborn and
fearless as he was, would have been turned back by any terrors the river
threw at him is equally so. Doane was an explorer in every sense of the
word, he was determined to overcome all obstacles, he was, in truth, a
man "to ride the river with."
Chittenden, Hiram Martin: The Yellowstone National
Park, J. E. Haynes, Saint Paul, 1927.
Doane, G. C.: Expedition of 1876-1877, 44 pp.
typed from original manuscript, Library, Grand Teton National Park.
1 Years later a peak almost due west from
this ramp, at the head of Waterfalls Canyon, was named Doane Peak, in
honor of the Lieutenant.
2 Prior, to the construction of Jackson
Lake Dam, completed in 1916. the natural water level was some 39 feet
below the present high water line.
3 Probably Moran Bay.
4 Parenthetical statement crossed out in