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Foggy Morning on the Missouri River,1804

  Hazards on the Missouri River were many. Fog was not an uncommon occurrence, thus, forcing the members of the Corps of Discovery to forge forward, easy as she goes. Many times I have found myself on the river as the fog moves in and envelops me with a heavy layer of opaque gray. If the fog is thick enough, the result can be highly disorienting. One may become paralyzed with fear, thus, causing the traveler to guess at his direction, position on the river, and feel the knot in his stomach start to tighten at the thought of coming to rest on or under a formidable obstruction. The mean Missouri River was bad enough when you could see the snags, shifting sandbars, rocks, floating rafts of trees, and excessive currents. However, when the veil of gray mist descended over them, a guess was the only navigational aid they possessed.

The Captains have chosen the power of the oars as the optimum power source for this part of the river. With men on the bow as lookouts and manning their long spar poles, the helmsman steers and waits for instruction from his forward crew. The silence of the river on this foggy morning running through the virgin wilderness of the West must have been overwhelming by today’s standards of noise from which we cannot escape. Oars on the water, a groan or two from the crew under the strain, and an occasional order shouted to give guidance, would have been the only sounds to pierce the veil of the river. 

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