The Exploration of Western America, 1800-1850: An Historical Geography

By E. W. Gilbert | Go to book overview
Save to active project

PART II
THE EXPLORATION OF WESTERN
AMERICA, 1800-1850

INTRODUCTION

No great physical obstacles hinder movement westward from the Mississippi until the barrier of the Rocky Mountains is reached. There is only a gradual and almost imperceptible rise towards the west, and no forests delay the rapid movement of the traveller. The direction of the natural drainage was the most important factor in the history of westward movement to the Rockies. The rivers flow in parallel courses from the west to the east before they join the Mississippi. Explorers and traders followed the courses of these rivers, because they provided a supply both of water and of fuel, the latter being obtained from the cottonwood trees, which grew along their banks.

There are many eastward flowing rivers, but the Missouri was by far the most important, as it was the only river on which navigation was always possible. The other rivers either possessed so little water that they entirely evaporated in the plains, or in some cases were only navigable for short periods of the year.

The superior navigability of the Missouri resulted in the early exploration of this river. The Missouri was already known as far as the villages of the Mandans, when Lewis and Clark pushed their way up the river in 1804. The fur-traders who followed Lewis and Clark explored the sources of the Missouri, from the source of the Big Horn in the south, to the source of the Milk River in the north. It seems natural that the earliest explorations of the west of the present United States should have been confined to the sources of the Missouri.

-101-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Exploration of Western America, 1800-1850: An Historical Geography
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 233

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?