Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Paintings


Twelve paintings by recognized Montana Historical artist Frank Hagel depicting events during the time the Corps of Discovery spent in what is now the state of Montana. 

Giclees are available. Please use the contact link above for further information.


Grizzly Chasing Lewis near Great Falls   June 14, 1805


From Meriwether Lewis' Journal: 

"...I selected a fat buffalo and shot him very well, through the lungs. 

While I was gazing attentively on the poor animal discharging blood in streams from his mouth and nostrils, expecting him to fall every instant, and having entirely forgotten to reload my rifle, a large white, or rather, brown, bear had perceived and crept on me within twenty steps before I discovered him. In the first moment, I drew up my gun to shoot but at the same instant recollected that she was not loaded, and that he was too near for me to hope to perform this operation before he reached me, as he was then briskly advancing on me. It was an open level plain, not a bush within miles nor a tree within less than three hundred yards of me. The river bank was sloping and not more than three feet above the level of the water. In short, there was no place by means of which I could conceal myself from this monster until I could charge my rifle. 

In this situation, I thought of retreating in a brisk walk as fast as he was advancing until I could reach a tree about 300 yards below me, but I had no sooner turned myself about but he pitched at me, open-mouthed and full speed. I ran about 80 yards, and found he gained on me fast. I then ran into the water. The idea struck me to get into the water to such depth that I could stand and he would be obliged to swim, and that I could, in that situation, defend myself with my espontoon. Accordingly, I ran hastily into the water about waist deep and faced about and presented the point of my espontoon. 

At this instant, he arrived at the edge of the water within about twenty feet of me. The moment I put myself in this attitude of defense, he suddenly wheeled about as if frightened, declined the combat on such unequal grounds, and retreated with quite as great precipitation as he had just before pursued me. As soon as I saw him run off in that manner, I returned to the shore and charged my gun, which I had still retained in my hand throughout this curious adventure. I saw him run through the level open plain about three miles, till he disappeared in the woods on Medicine River. During the whole of this distance he ran at full speed, sometimes appearing to look behind him as if he expected pursuit." 

Lewis and Seaman - First View of The Rockies

May 26, 1805


From Meriwether Lewis' Journal:

"while I viewed these mountains I felt a secret pleasure in finding myself so near the head of the heretofore conceived boundless Missouri; but when I reflected on the difficulties which this snowey barrier would most probably throw in my way to the Pacific, and the sufferings and hardships of myself and party in thim, it in some measure counterballanced the joy I had felt in the first moments in which I gazed on them; but as I have always held it a crime to anticipate evils I will believe it a good comfortable road untill I am compelled to believe differently."

The Red Pirogue

May 31, 1805

From Meriwether Lewis' Journal:

"The obstructions of rocky points and riffles still continue as yesterday; at those places the men are compelled to be in the water even to their armpits, and the water is yet very could, and so frequent are those point[s] that they are one fourth of their time in the water, added to this the banks and bluffs along which they are obliged to pass are so slipperty and the mud so tenacious that they are unable to wear their mockersons, and in that situation draging the heavy burthen of a canoe and walking acasionally for several hundred yards over the sharp fragments of rocks which tumble from the clifts and garnish the borders of the river; in short their labour is incredibly painfull and great, yet those faithfull fellows bear it without a murmur. ... I fear her evil gennii will play so many pranks with her that she will go the bottomm some of those days."

Tanning Hides and Smoking Meat

June 3, 1805

From Meriwether Lewis' Journal:

"Those who have remained at camp today have been busily engaged in dressing skins for clothing, notwithstanding that many of them have their feet so mangled and bruised with the stones and rough ground over which they passed barefoot that they can scarcely walk or stand. At least, it is with great pain they do either. For some days past, they were unable to wear their moccasins. They have fallen off considerably, but notwithstanding the difficulties past or those which seem now to menace us, they still remain perfectly cheerful." 

The White Pirogue

June 12, 1805

From Meriwether Lewis' Journal: 

"Saw a number of rattlesnakes today. One of the men caught one by the head, in catching hold of a bush on which his head lay reclined. Three canoes were in great danger today; one dipped water, another very near turning over, &c. At 2 o'clock P.M. a few drops of rain. I walked through a point and killed a buck elk and deer, and we camped on the starboard side. The interpreter's woman very sick. One man has a felon rising on his hand; the other, with the toothache, has taken cold in the jaw." 

Portage at Great Falls

June 21, 1805

From Meriwether Lewis' Journal: 

"This morning early, Captain Clark and myself with all the party except Sergeant Ordway, Charbonneau, Goodrich, York, and the Indian woman, set out to pass the portage with the canoe and baggage to the Whitebear Island where we intend that this portage shall end. Captain Clark piloted us through the plains. About noon we reached a little stream about 8 miles on the portage, where we halted and dined. We were obliged here to renew both axletrees and the tongues and horns of one set of wheels, which took us no more than 2 hours. These parts of our carriage had been made of cottonwood and one axletree of an old mast, all of which proved deficient and had broken down several times before we reached this place. We have now renewed them with the sweet willow and hope that they will answer better. After dark, we had reached within half a mile of our intended camp when the tongues gave way and we were obliged to leave the canoe. Each man took as much of the baggage as he could carry on his back and proceeded to the ever, where we formed our encampment, much fatigued. The prickly pears were extremely troublesome to us, sticking our feet through our moccasins." 

Meeting Sacajawea's Shoshone People
August 17, 1805

From William Clark's Journal: 

"Captain Lewis informed me he found those people on the Columbia River about 40 miles from the forks. At that place there was a large camp of them. He had persuaded those with him to come and see that what he said was the truth. They had been under great apprehension all the way, for fear of their being deceived. The Great Chief of this nation proved to be the brother of the woman with us, and is a man of influence, sense, and easy and reserved manners. Appears to possess a great deal of sincerity. The canoes arrived and unloaded. Everything appeared to astonish those people--the appearance of the men, their arms, the canoes, the clothing, my black servant, and the sagacity of Captain Lewis's dog. We spoke a few words to them in the evening respecting our route, intentions, our want of horses, &c., and gave them a few presents and medals. We made a number of inquiries of those people about the Columbia River, the country, game, &c. The account they gave us was very unfavorable, that the river abounded in immense falls--one, particularly, much higher than the Falls of the Missouri, and at the place, the mountains closed so close that it was impracticable to pass, and that the ridge continued on each side of perpendicular cliffs impenetrable, and that no deer, elk, or any game was to be found in that country. Added to that, they informed us that there was no timber on the river sufficiently large to make small canoes. This information, if true, is alarming. I determined to go in advance and examine the country. " 

Lewis Party at Hellgate Crossing

July 3, 1806

From Meriwether Lewis' Journal: 

"As we had no other means of passing the river, we busied ourselves collecting dry timber for the purpose of constructing rafts. Timber being scarce, we found considerable difficulty in procuring as much as made three small rafts. We arrived at 11 A.M., and had our rafts completed by 3 P.M., when we dined and began to take over our baggage, which we effected in the course of three hours, the rafts being obliged to return several times. The Indians swam over their horses, and drew over their baggage in little basins of deerskin, which they constructed in a very few minutes for that purpose. We drove our horses in after them, and they followed to the opposite shore." 

Across Lewis & Clark Pass to the Landmark, Shishequa Mountain

July 8, 1806

From William Clark's Journal: 

Set out at 6 A.M.... to the top of a hill from whence we saw the Shishequa mountain.... Passed Dearborne's River....The Shishiqua mountain is a high insulated conic mountain standing several miles in advance of the Eastern range of the rocky mountains.... We halted and dined on Shishequaw Creek. R. Fields killed a fine buck and a goat; Josh. Fields saw two buffaloe below us some distance which are the first that have been seen. We saw a great number of deer, goats and wolves as we passed through the plains this morning but no Elk or buffaloe....Much rejoiced at finding ourselves in the plains of the Missouri which abound with game. 

Clark Party at Pompy's Pillar

July 25, 1806

From William Clark's Journal: 

"...arived at a remarkable rock situated in an extensive bottom ... this rock I ascended and from it's top had a most extensive view in every direction. This rock which I shall call Pompy's Tower is 200 feet high and 400 paces in secumpherance and only axcessable on one Side ... The nativs have ingraved on the face of this rock the figures of animals &c. near which I marked my name and the day of the month & year."

Crossing Lolo Pass in Early Snow September 17, 1805

From William Clark's Journal: 

"After leaving the ridge, we ascended and descended several steep mountains in the distance of 6 miles further when we struck a creek about 15 yards wide, our course being S. 35 W. The road was excessively dangerous along this creek, being a narrow rocky path, generally on the side of a steep precipice, from which, in many places, if either man or horse were precipitated, they would inevitably be dashed to pieces. Frazer's horse fell from this road in the evening, and rolled with his load near a hundred yards into the creek. We all expected that the horse was killed, but to our astonishment, when the load was taken off him, he arose to his feet and appeared to be but little injured. In 20 minutes he proceeded with his load. This was the most wonderful escape I ever witnessed. The hill down which he rolled was almost perpendicular and broken by large, irregular, and broken rocks."

Lewis' Fight on the Two Medicine

July 27, 1806


From Meriwether Lewis' Journal: 

"I now hallooed to the men and told them to fire on them if they attempted to drive off our horses. They accordingly pursued the main party who were driving the horses up the river, and I pursued the man who had taken my gun, who, with another, was driving off a part of the horses which were to the left of the camp. I pursued them so closely that they could not take twelve of their own horses, but continued to drive one of mine with some others. At the distance of three hundred paces, they entered one of those steep niches in the bluff with the horses before them. Being nearly out of breath, I could pursue no further. I called to them, as I had done several times before, that I would shoot them if they did not give me my horse and raised my gun.

One of them jumped behind a rock and spoke to the other, who turned around and stopped at the distance of thirty steps from me, and I shot him through the belly. He fell to his knees and on his right elbow, from which position he partly raised himself and fired at me and, turning himself about, crawled in behind a rock, which was a few feet from him. He overshot me. Being bareheaded, I felt the wind of his bullet very distinctly."