In the years that followed, Jim Bridger became a master mountain man, an expert trapper, and a guide without equal. He came to know the Rocky Mountain region and its inhabitants as a farmer knows his fields and flocks. Indeed, J. Cecil Alter tells us, “he was among the first white men to use the Indian trail over South Pass; he was first to taste the waters of the Great Salt lake, first to report a two-ocean stream, foremost in describing the Yellowstone Park phenomena, and the only man to run the Big Horn River rapid on a raft; and he originally selected the Crow Creek-Sherman-Dale Creek route the Laramie Mountains and Bridger’s Pass over the Continental Divide, which were adopted by the Union pacific Railroad.”
Such knowledge, together with extraordinary skill and uncanny luck, preserved Jim Bridger in a country where nearly half of his mountain companions met violent death. It also gave rise to a brood of impossible tales about Old Gabe and his adventures-tales which he himself may unwittingly have helped along with his droll humor.
Based on Mr. Alter’s original biography of 1925 (a facsimile edition of which, with addenda, appeared in 1950) and a wealth of new facts gleaned from many years of careful research, Jim Bridger is the authentic story of the Old Scout’s life. Only those events in which Bridger took part are included; improbable and uncorroborated stories, however interesting, have been omitted.
In The Adventures of the Mountain Men, editor Stephen Brennan has compiled many of the best stories about the mountain men—the most daring exploits, the death-defying chances taken to hunt big game, the clashes with the arrows of Native Americans, and also the moments when the men were struck by the incomparable beauty of the unsullied, majestic Rocky Mountains.
Written in an intensely personal style that lacks punctuation at times, The Journal of a Trapper abounds with details about hunting and trapping in the Rocky Mountains, including descriptions of the animals he encountered. He travelled along the Yellowstone, Snake, and Sweetwater rivers (among others), through the Rockies and Tetons. His book is so accurate that recent readers have retraced his steps using it.
Russell’s journal reflects the complex character of many of the independent men of that era: adventurous, tough, and resourceful. He was a politician in Oregon when he decided to write about his earlier life as a trapper in the Rockies, and he retained the authentic “voice of the West.” Read this book for its exact and colorful descriptions, and for a rollicking good time.
Not only did Sublette help develop the rendezvous system in the fur trade and blaze the first wagon trail through South pass, but also he established what was later Fort Laramie, was a participant in laying the foundation for present Kansas City, and left a large fortune to excite envy and exaggeration, One of the most successful fur merchants of the West, he also helped to break John Jacob Astor's monopoly of the trade.
Possessing remarkable historical and literary aptitude, Echoes from the West contains interpretively written factual stories of Americans, native and new, that occurred during this important twenty-five-year period. From tales of years in Oregon Country from fur trapper Jedediah Smith and fur trader John McLoughlin to stories of Hal Kelly, an agent of the Oregon Colonizing Company, and his new recruit, Nathaniel Wyeth, gifted historian Verda Spickelmier brings the tales of these intrepid men to vibrant life.
In addition, Spickelmier shows the political impact of this westward expansion in Washington DC. Vivid snapshots of John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, and Martin Van Buren provide an intriguing glimpse into the inner workings of the government. As the country rapidly expands and moves inexorably toward division over slavery, each person’s story becomes woven into the fabric of an energetic, yet struggling nation.
Engaging and eloquent, Echoes from the West offers deep insight into a subject not often studied while simultaneously giving a delightfully imaginative twist to history.
Fur traders first saw South Pass in 1812. From the early 1840s until the completion of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads almost forty years later, emigrants on the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails used South Pass in transforming the American West in a single generation. Bagley traces the peopling of the region by the earliest inhabitants and adventurers, including Indian peoples, trappers and fur traders, missionaries, and government-commissioned explorers. Later, California gold rushers, Latter-day Saints, and families seeking new lives went through this singular gap in the Rockies. Without South Pass, overland wagons beginning their journey far to the east along the Missouri River could not have reached their destinations in a single season, and western settlement might have been delayed for decades.
The story of South Pass offers a rich history. The Overland Stage, Pony Express, and first transcontinental telegraph all came through the region. Nearly a century later, President Dwight D. Eisenhower designated South Pass as one of America’s first National Historic Landmarks. An American place so rich in historical significance, Bagley argues, deserves the best of historical preservation efforts.