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THE MOUNTAIN MEN. MOUNTAIN MEN Prime period 1820-1840 Only about 200-300 a year Lured by the west Opportunity to make money.

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Presentation on theme: "THE MOUNTAIN MEN. MOUNTAIN MEN Prime period 1820-1840 Only about 200-300 a year Lured by the west Opportunity to make money."— Presentation transcript:



3 MOUNTAIN MEN Prime period Only about a year Lured by the west Opportunity to make money


5 CHARACTERISTICS OF A MOUNTAIN MAN Illiterate Uneducated Primitive Relatively young Reckless Adventuresome In need of money However, some had college degrees and were very refined

6 DESCRIPTION OF MT MEN Many were very large-Natives looked at them with awe and superstition Eventually occupation developed lifestyle, conduct and habits, a culture of their own –Harsh language –Smelly and dirty –They never laundered their buckskin suit and seldom removed it

7 DESCRIPTION Many mountain men were more savage than Natives Little concern for family or comforts Not materialistic Traveled with a rifle,skinning knife, horse, traps and utensils


9 DESCRIPTION Ate well at times and poorly at others –Cut off horses tail and ears to make stew –Tapped into horses veins –Ate moccasins, ants, black crickets, deer excrement soup, bark and berries Explored trails & helped name the west Traders gave Indians the whiskey trade, small pox, diphtheria and cholera Trapped themselves out of business by the 1840s

10 TRAPPERS Trappers were divided into three categories –Free trapper - Unaffiliated, unfettered, most colorful and romantic –Company trapper -Affiliated with a company –Fur trader -Did not trap, but traded with Indians (The whiskey trade was his bonanza)



13 Beaver Skin Hats

14 Where trappers sold pelts: Either in Taos, New Mexico Caravan that brought supplies to annual rendezvous

15 Taos A wild city, north of Santa Fe Trail Pelts were sold Supplies purchased Gambling, whiskey, women


17 Rendezvous Different location each year in Wyoming or Utah Fur companies brought boats and wagons filled with supplies Weeklong party, dancing, story telling, trading Mountain men left penniless



20 Hudson Bay Company –1670 –British –Still operating-sells blankets –Dominated fur industry in Northern Rocky Mountains during the trappers era –250,000 skins sold in Europe –One man earned $50,000 in one year

21 Missouri Fur Company –1808 –First in the US –Owner was Manuel Lisa –Base-Omaha –Operated upper Missouri River system –1811-sent trappers to upper Arkansas River


23 American Fur Company –1808 –Operates in Yellowstone River system –Owner-John Jacob Astor (Americas first millionaire) –1811- Made settlement on Columbia river to expand industry into NW

24 Rocky Mountain Fur Company –1822 –Upper Missouri River –First Rocky Mountain success –1834-Was sold to American Fur Company

25 MOUNTAIN MEN 1840s saw the end of the Mountain Men Silk hats had replaced the beaver skin hat so there was no longer a market The rendezvous had been replaced by the trading post

26 Legacy of Mountain Men Discovered trail & passes Established relations with Native Americans Established trade routes and trails west

27 TRADE 1821-Mexican Independence (Spain had not allowed Mexicans to trade with Americans) William Becknell quickly took advantage of this and became known as the father of Santa Fe Trade Raiding Indians became a problem-Government marked the trail and provided escorts


29 TRADE Santa Fe Trail was in its prime from Preceded the Oregon Trail, the 49ers and the 59ers Manufactured goods from the east sent west for pelts, blankets and whiskey Tough trip because of long stretches without contact with civilization, natural barriers and Indian problems


31 BENTS FORT Charles (25 and a West Point graduate) and William (15) headed west to find their future To enter the fur trading business- carried trinkets to help trade Located along the Arkansas River (wood and water available) Established a good relationship with Indians, purchased pelts


33 BENTS FORT 1833-Chose a site on the Arkansas River –Ceran St. Vrain suggested the Spanish style (Bent, St. Vrain & Company) –Chose the high ground –Adobe instead of wood because: Wood was scarce Did not burn Warm in the winter and cool in the summer









42 BENTS FORT Tried to provide eastern culture (White tablecloths, imported china and a wine cellar) Permanent employees-Blacksmiths, carpenters, gunsmiths and hunters Six different languages spoken-French, Spanish, German, English, Comanche and Arapaho





47 BENTS FORT William Bent married a Cheyenne woman- Good relations with Indians US annexed Texas in 1845 –Mexicans viewed this as an act of war Bents Fort was used as an advance base and rendezvous for General Kearney (1650 troops); because of this trade stopped

48 BENTS FORT Charles Bent had been appointed governor of newly annexed New Mexico He was killed by the Mexicans and the Pueblo Indians St Vrain sold his interest in the fort to William Army wanted to buy it from him The fort was burned to the ground –Did not like the price –Possibly cholera Built a second fort 38 miles away

49 OTHER TRADING POSTS Ft Robidoux Ft Davy Crockett (nw colorado) Ft Lupton (S. Platte) Ft St. Vrain Forts died out –Indian trade fell –Silk Hats –Buffalo robes were plentiful


51 John Fremont 1840s- Manifest destiny Senator Thomas Hart Benton - from Mo. Pushed for $30,000 to explore and map the west John Fremont led the topographical corps of engineers in the US army Nicknamed the pathfinder Fremont eloped with Jessica Benton

52 John Fremont He led three expeditions (Jessica wrote the journals for him) His fourth journey west was for a RR company-this was a disaster His fifth journey was a private prospecting excursion to California His books were well written and his maps and journals were accurate-journals were best sellers and musts for anyone heading west The Library of Congress published 100,000 journals of his first expedition

53 John Gunnison John Gunnison went on a search for a pass through the mountains that a RR could get through Gunnison concluded that a RR could not get through the Colorado mountains After leaving Colorado Gunnison and his men were killed and mutilated Fremont concluded on his fifth expedition that a rr could get through the Colorado mountains Narrow Gauge railroad

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