The first five volumes of the new edition of the Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition have been widely heralded as a lasting achievement in the study of western exploration. The sixth volume begins on November 2, 1805, in the second year of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s epic journey. It covers the last leg of the party’s route from the Cascades of the Columbia River to the Pacific Coast and their stay at Fort Clatsop, near the river’s mouth, until the spring of 1806. Travel and exploration, described in the early part, were hampered by miserable weather, and the enforced idleness in winter quarters permitted detailed record keeping. The journals portray the party’s interaction with the Indians of the lower Columbia River and the coast, particularly the Chinooks, Clatsops, Wahkiakums, Cathlamets, and Tillamooks. No other volume in this edition has such a wealth of ethnographic and natural history materials, most of it apparently written by Lewis and copied by Clark, and accompanied by sketches of plants, animals, and Indians and their canoes, implements, and clothing.
Incorporating a wide range of new scholarship dealing with all aspects of the expedition, from Indian languages to plants and animals to geographical and historical contexts, this new edition expands and updates the annotation of the last edition, published early in the twentieth century.