The festival over, our people resumed their ordinary occupations: while some cut timber for building, and others made charcoal for the blacksmith, the carpenter constructed a barge, and the cooper made barrels for the use of the posts we proposed to establish in the interior. On the 18th, in the evening, two canoes full of white men arrived at the establishment. Mr. M’Dougal, the resident agent, being confined to his room by sickness, the duty of receiving the strangers devolved on me. My astonishment was not slight, when one of the party called me by name, as he extended his hand, and I recognised Mr. Donald M’Kenzie, the same who had quitted Montreal, with Mr. W.P. Hunt, in the month of July, 1810. He was accompanied by a Mr. Robert M’Lellan, a partner, Mr. John Reed, a clerk, and eight voyageurs, or boatmen. After having reposed themselves a little from their fatigues, these gentlemen recounted to us the history of their journey, of which the following is the substance.
Messrs. Hunt and M’Kenzie, quitting Canada, proceeded by way of Mackinac and St. Louis, and ascended the Missouri, in the autumn of 1810, to a place on that river called Nadoway, where they wintered. Here they were joined by Mr. R. M’Lellan, by a Mr. Crooks, and a Mr. Mueller, traders with the Indians of the South, and all having business relations with Mr. Astor.
In the spring of 1811, having procured two large keel-boats, they ascended the Missouri to the country of the Arikaras, or Rice Indians, where they disposed of their boats and a great part of their luggage, to a Spanish trader, by name Manuel Lisa. Having purchased of him, and among the Indians, 130 horses, they resumed their route, in the beginning of August, to the number of some sixty-five persons, to proceed across the mountains to the river Columbia. Wishing to avoid the Blackfeet Indians, a warlike and ferocious tribe, who put to death all the strangers that fall into their hands, they directed their course southwardly, until they arrived at the 40th degree of latitude. Thence they turned to the northwest, and arrived, by-and-by, at an old fort, or trading post, on the banks of a little river flowing west. This post, which was then deserted, had been established, as they afterward learned, by a trader named Henry. Our people, not doubting that this stream would conduct them to the Columbia, and finding it navigable, constructed some canoes to descend it. Having left some hunters (or trappers) near the old fort, with Mr. Miller, who, dissatisfied with the expedition, was resolved to return to the United States, the party embarked; but very soon finding the river obstructed with rapids and waterfalls, after having upset some of the canoes, lost one man by drowning, and also a part of their baggage, perceiving that the stream was impracticable, they resolved to abandon their canoes and proceed on foot. The enterprise was one of great difficulty,