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Expedition - What Was the Weather Like During the Expedition’s Winter Stay in 1804-1805?

Ft. Mandan in Winter

According to the journals Lewis, Clark, and Gass kept, it was a northern plains winter of near mythic proportions. During 146 days in North Dakota, the Corps witnessed brutal air temperatures frequently well below zero, sometimes as brutal as - 40° F or more. In a climate like that, ink would freeze and make journal-keeping a frustrating task. Hunting became understandably more difficult as well, not to mention the problem of building proper quarters before the weather became too severe. Both Lewis and Clark expressed amazement at the vigor and resiliency of the Mandan and Hidatsa in these extreme conditions, as well as the warmth earth lodges provided. Despite the bad weather conditions, the time spent among the Mandan and Hidatsa were among the most memorable for the Corps leadership.

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