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Главная » Фотоальбом » Lewis & Clark Gallery » ROPE WALK CAMP, June 17, 1804
After several weeks of cordelling the massive keelboat and two large pirogues upstream against the Missouri River’s powerful current the men were exhausted and some of the equipment was beginning to wear out. Both ropes and oars were in need of replacement and Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark decided to layover a day not far from present day Lexington, Missouri to give the men a chance to recuperate and build new rope and oars. In this scene George Drouillard, the French Canadian/ Shawnee hunter and interpreter is shown returning from a hunt with one of the other men of the expedition. Hired on as an interpreter at Ft. Massac in 1803, George Drouillard proved to be one of the most trusted and valuable members of the expedition. He’s seen here wearing clothing typical to a woodland hunter. A rough, bloodstained linen smock is worn to protect his finer shirt underneath. The blue trade cloth leggings are trimmed in red ribbon, as are his woodland style moccasins. Drouillard is armed with a Kentucky style rifle and his hunting bag is of buffalo hide, perhaps traded for from an upriver tribe. The few descriptions of him mention his long, straight black hair and that he was unusually tall. One writer alluded to his legs being tattooed from the waist to his feet, a practice common among the early Illinois tribes and Shawnee and Delaware who had banded together in two large villages in the Cape Girardeau, Missouri area. Also common among the Shawnee tribe at this time was the slitting of the ear to accommodate numerous earrings. His companion is dressed in the linen and wool fatigue clothing issued to the military members of the expedition. He’s armed with one of the 1792 contract rifle taken from stores at Harpers Ferry. Sgt. Patrick Gass, the Corps best carpenter, is working with some of the Ash wood taken from the surrounding forest to make one of the 20 oars needed. He wears one of the fatigue hats the Infantrymen made for themselves out of old uniform material. By now many of the men were wearing moccasins to replace the poorly made issue bootee. The rope cable which Captain Lewis had made in Pittsburgh was wearing out and was to be replaced with a rope made from the material at hand; bear and deer skins. The men in the painting are cutting the hides into strips starting on one side of the hide then continuing in a spiral into the center of the hide. This would allow one hide to provide one continuous strip of material. Though there is no mention of the details of the rope machine the men used, it was reputed to be a three-strand machine with sun and planet gearing. The machine could have been similar to the Sellers and Bantle machine shown in the painting. The hand cranked gearing was housed in a wooden box mounted on a wooden stake. One man is 'walking' the rope using a tool that kept the three strands twisting in a consistent shape. 600 feet of rope were made at this camp. Much like the Missouri of today, Clark wrote in his journal that the 'Ticks & Musquiters are very trublesome'.
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