Highest Bluff  LbNA # 16073

OwnerWisconsin Hiker      
Placed DateJun 11 2005
LocationMcGregor, IA
Found By Hart x6
Last Found Oct 10 2015
Hike Distance1-2 mi
Last EditedMay 14 2016

Last found/checked: 17-MAY-14. Clues updated 17-MAY-14.

Location: Park just south of McGregor, main parking area at south end of park
Time: 30-60 minutes
Terrain: Hilly trail w/diverse trail surfaces

Excerpted from the diaries of Lieutenant Zebulon Pike:

August 9, 1805 - Left St. Louis with 20 men. Our objective is to explore the Upper Mississippi River as official representatives of the United States of America. We set sail in a 70-foot keelboat. These ugly, yet functional craft can be rowed, sailed, poled or pulled by ropes.

August 20, 1805 - We had little time to prepare for this trip. There is no interpreter of Indian languages along, no physician or anyone with medical training, and scientific equipment is limited to a watch, a thermometer, and a theodolite (a device to determine latitude).

August 29, 1805 – Our orders are to find the source of the Mississippi, reconnoiter British fur trade operations, establish a military post north of St Louis, and develop treaty relations with tribal leaders. I am also authorized to purchase sites from American Indians for future military posts, and to bring a few important chiefs back to St. Louis for talks.

September 5, 1805 – I found a nice spot for an American fort on a bluff a few miles south of Prairie du Chien, on the west side of the River, 500 feet straight up. The view is to the east, looking at the mouth of the Wisconsin River. We established a temporary camp here last night. It's a fabulous view, but an Army garrison way up here may be very difficult to supply and extremely easy for our enemies to isolate. I therefore decided to explore the area to get a better understanding of the site.

I walked to the north, and passed one of the sculpted "effigy" mounds we have seen before. This may have been a bear shape. I next reached another viewpoint I dubbed the “Crow’s Nest”, then descended to the west.

When I came to a fork I headed toward the sound of falling water and eventually passed over the top of a waterfall. I then ascended and headed left at a fork. I passed through an area of towering trees and then many fallen trees. At the next fork I headed south and at the next I headed west. I continued west past a structure of some sort, through an intersection and then came to a fork that had a signpost installed by some previous explorers. At this point I decided to head north. The trail descended, and then ascended slightly. I passed a rotting stump on the left and then descended on a mossy path. The path continued to wind on a gently rolling terrain, eventually reaching a grassy clearing.

At the clearing I headed north until I came to a spot to sit and rest and once again view the mighty river. I noticed a large pile of logs to the northeast on a rough trail and decided to investigate. From the bench I took 90 steps until I reached a stump on a small hill on the right. I looked due west and saw a place to rest. Another 36 steps in a westerly direction brought me to the split log abode.

September 6, 1805 – After a good night’s rest, I retraced my steps out of the woods to the spot I sat to view the river. I next headed south through the grassy area until I saw a long resting spot on the left. I then descended to the southeast and took a right at the next fork. After ascending along a curving path, I saw our base camp on the bluff where I had started out the day before.

Please submit a report on Mr. Pike to the authorities noted above since they are unable to travel to the Mississippi region very often to check on his activities.