Lewis and Clark Visit The Niobrara
"The expedition set out from camp on the morning of 4 September 1804 with a "verry Cold" southeast wind at their backs. It soon shifted to the south and "blew very hard," according to Sergeant Ordway. "We hoisted Sail," he wrote, and "ran verry fast a Short time. Broke our mast." That was the fourth such mishap since they left Camp Dubois on 14 May. The party "came to" — landed — on the arrow-shaped point somewhere beyond the left end of the bridge, on the west side of the Niobrara. There the men made a new mast from the trunk of a tall, sturdy red cedar, which apparently lasted at least until they reached the Mandan villages on .
French travelers had named this river L’Eau qui Court, or "The Water that Rushes," but which the Omaha Indians called, more suitably, níubthatha, meaning "wide river." Early settlers re-spelled the Indian name more or less phonetically as Niobrara. Clark measured it at "152 yards wide at the mouth & 4 feet Deep Throwing out Sands like the Platt (only Corser) forming bars in its mouth." It was, he later wrote, "not navigable a single mile," but he himself explored it three miles above its mouth, "to a butifull Plain on the upper Side" where the Ponca Indians once had a large village"