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Historic Diaries: Marquette and Joliet

Late July, 1673: Against the Current in the Lower Mississippi

Editor's Note:

Marquette left few details about the stretch of river from the mouth of the Arkansas to the mouth of the Ohio -- a journey of nearly 400 miles that took them roughly three weeks. We will supplement his account, therefore, with descriptions by other French explorers and missionaries who followed close after him. The first is by Henri Joutel, the survivor of LaSalle's ill-fated colonial venture, who describes canoeing against the current of the lower Mississippi in the month of August 14 years after Marquette was there (pages 161-62 of his journal).

Joutel's Journal, Aug. 1687: "It is certain our Toil was very great, for we were oblig'd to row in the Canoe, to help our Indians to stem the Current of the River, because we were going up, and it was very strong and rapid; we were often necessitated to land, and sometimes to travel over miry Lands, where we sunk half way up the Leg; other Times over burning Sands, which scorch'd our Feet having no Shoes, or else over Splinters of Wood, which ran into the Soles of our Feet; and when we were come to the resting Place, we were to provide Fuel to dress our Meat and provide all Things for our Indians who would not have done so much as go fetch a Cup of Water, tho' we were on the Bank of the River; and yet we were happy enough in having them."

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