Historic Diaries: James Doty, 1820
July 31, 1820: Doty, on the Founding of Fort Snelling
Although Doty's diary entry is given at left, Schoolcraft also wrote a lengthy account of the St. Peter's River this day, including a description of the variously colored clays in its bank with which the Indians of the region painted their bodies, and the remarkable red stone from which they manufactured the bowls of their pipes.
Location: modern St. Paul, Minn.
View Schoolcraft's complete description in his 1821 Narrative
View Doty's handwritten manuscript of this page
View page in the 1895 printed edition
...A short distance above the falls of St. Anthony a river empties in which Carver calls Rum river. The Indians say it is the residence of good and bad spirits. Carver not understanding them must have entirely mistaken their meaning; and instead of its waters being filled with aerial things he has made the waters real old Jamaica!
…We had passed some way down on the right hand side, and were rapidly approaching them, before we ascertained the falls were near. We soon gained the other side of the Island and descended to the first break in the river where we landed on the rocks… The Falls are about 30 ft. perpendicular. There are 3 Islands at about equal distance, at the foot of the perpendicular fall. The river below is 171 yards wide. Few Cataracts present as pleasing a view as this. The scenery is grand and beautiful; the green groves which cover the Islands and the west bank, a verdant prairie rising on the east, and the broken rapid below the fall, add greatly to the view.
It is 9 miles by water and 7 by land from St. Peters to the Fall. The encampment of the 5th Regt. Infy. wintered last season in log huts which they flung up on their arrival on the lower bank of the St. Peters. It is on a rich bottom which produces luxuriantly. The prairie rises gradually in the rear to the usual heighth of the country, and has strongly the appearance of well cultivated farms. During the last winter the troops were taken with the scurvy, with which 40 out of 100 men died, before the least relief was found. It was at length arrested and cured by making strong decoctions of hemlock boughs. The troops subsisted entirely on salted provisions, without any vegetables, which is supposed to have caused their ill health…
Preparations are making to erect a Fort on a high bluff at the junction of the Mississippi and St. Peters. Its latitude 44° 54' as calculated by Capt. Douglass, & Lieut. Talcott, Engineer to the Yellow Stone Expedition. He had arrived at this post a few days before we did, having been 2 weeks from the Council Bluffs. His object was to ascertain the practicability of making a road from the Bluffs to the St. Peters, distance about 300 miles. He states the whole country to be almost an entire prairie…