Journal of a Tour into the Interior of Missouri and Arkansaw

Henry R. Schoolcraft
Journal of a Tour into the Interior of Missouri and Arkansaw
From Potosi, or Mine a Burton, in Missouri Territory, in a South-West
Direction, toward the Rocky Mountains.
Performed in the Years 1818 and 1819.
London: Richard Phillips and Company, 1821
by Henry R. Schoolcraft

Potosi, Thursday, 5th Nov. 1818
I begin my tour where other travellers have ended theirs, on the
confines of the wilderness, and at the last village of white inhabitants,
between the Mississippi river and the Pacific Ocean. I have passed
down the valley of the Ohio, and across the state of Illinois, in silence!
I am now at the mines of Missouri, at the village of Mine ˆ Burton,
(now called Potosi,) and surrounded by its mineral hills and smoking
furnaces. Potosi is the seat of justice for Washington county, Missouri
territory, and is situated forty miles west of St Genevieve, and about
sixty south-west of St. Louis, the capital. It occupies a delightful valley,
of small extent, through which a stream of the purest water meanders,
dividing the village into two portions of nearly equal extent. This valley
is bordered by hills of primitive limestone, rising in some places in
rugged peaks; in others, covered with trees, and grouped and
interspersed with cultivated farms, in such a manner as to give the
village a pleasing and picturesque appearance. It contains seventy
buildings, exclusive of a court-house, a jail, an academy, a post-office,
one saw, and two grist mills, and a number of temporary buildings
necessary in the smelting of lead. In its vicinity is found a considerable
tract of very fertile land, and a lively interest is manifested to the
pursuits of agriculture; but the trade of Potosi is chiefly in lead, which
is, in a great degree, the medium of exchange, as furs and peltries

formerly were in certain parts of the Atlantic states. Very great
quantities of lead are annually made at this place, and waggoned across
the country to the banks of the Mississippi, a distance of forty miles,
for shipment. It is estimated that, from the year 1798 to 1816,
9,360,000 pounds of lead were smelted here. There are about forty
mines in this vicinity. The price of lead is 4 per cwt. in the pig.Ê The
ore worked is galena, or sulphuret of lead, which is found in abundance,
and smelts very easily, yielding from sixty to seventy per cent of
metallic lead in the large way. It is found in alluvial soil, along with
sulphate of barytes, radiated quartz, and pyrites, and also in veins in
primitive limestone.
Friday, Nov. 6th
Having completed the necessary preparations, I left Potosi at three
o'clock, P.M., accompanied by Mr. Levi Pettibone, being both armed
with guns, and clothed and equipped in the manner of the hunter, and
leading a pack-horse, who carried our baggage, consisting of skins to
cover us at night, some provisions, an axe, a few cooking utensils, etc.
On walking out of the village of Potosi, on the south-west, we
immediately commenced ascending a series of hills, which are the seat
of the principal mines, winding along among pits, heaps of gravel, and
spars, and other rubbish constantly accumulating at the mines, where
scarcely ground enough has been left undisturbed for the safe passage
of the traveller, who is constantly kept in peril by unseen excavations,
and falling-in pits. The surface of the mine-hills is, in fact, completely
perforated in all directions, although most of the pits have not been
continued more than twenty or thirty feet below the surface, where the
rock has opposed a barrier to the further progress of the miner. On
reaching the summit of these hills, we turned to survey the beautiful
prospect behind us, the valley of Potosi, with its village and stream, the
cultivated fields on its borders, the calcareous hills crowned with oaks
beyond, with the distant furnaces smoking through the trees, and the
wide-spread ruins at our feet. A deep blue sky hung above us; the
atmosphere was clear and pure, with a gentle breeze from the
south-west, which, passing through the dried leaves of the trees,
scattered them over the valley we had left, and murmured a pensive

farewell. We turned to pursue our way with such feelings as many
travellers have experienced on turning their backs upon the comforts
and endearments of life, to encounter fatigue, hard fare, and danger. On
travelling three miles from this spot, we arrived at a deserted Indian
cabin on the banks of a small stream called Bates' Creek, where we
determined to encamp for the night.
Saturday, Nov. 7thÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ
As we are unacquainted with the hunter's art of travelling in the woods,
we shall necessarily encounter some difficulties from our want of
experience, which a hunter himself would escape. We find it
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