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Recommended Reading List

Mountain men were a breed apart. They roamed the wilderness hunting and trapping beaver until 1840. During this time period, they explored and marked trails that later supported the opening and settlement of the American frontier. During these "shining times", over 3000 mountain men traversed the land west of the Mississippi river. Some mountain men trapped for fur companies such as the "American Fur Company" and the "Hudson Bay Company". Other mountain men called themselves "Free Trappers" and trapped independently.

Mountain men trapped their furs and beavers in the winter months when animal pelts were their thickest. Winter in the mountains was harsh, and the mountain man often lived in total isolation. Many mountain men sought companionship with Native Americans, learning and adoption Native American lifestyle and techniques for survival. Come spring and the thaw, the mountain men took their pelts and "plews" to "Rendezvous" to trade for much needed supplies. The meeting place had been mutually agreed upon the year before. Rendezvous was a time to rejoice, lie, "palaver", gamble, compete with black powder guns, hawk and knife, renew old friendships, and remember those friends who had "gone under".

After Rendezvous the mountain man packed his plunder and disappeared once again into the mountains to become one with the wilderness.

Below is a list of books and periodicals that would be beneficial to read if you are interested in "The Fur Trade Era", how the Mountain Men lived, Black powder shooting, etc.

  • The Complete Black Powder Handbook, By Sam Fadala
    A great book for the novice shooter as well as the veteran black powder shooter.

  • Crow Killer, The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson, By Raymond W. Thorp and Robert Bunker

  • Joe Meek, By Stanley Vestal
    Born in Virginia, Joe Meek became a trapper, Indian fighter, pioneer, peace officer, frontier politician, and lover of practical jokes and Jacksonian democracy.

  • Mountain Men and Fur Traders of the Far West, Edited by LeRoy R. Hafen
    The legendary mountain men--the fur traders and trappers who penetrated the Rocky Mountains and explored the Far West in the first half on the nineteenth century--formed the vanguard of the American empire and became the heroes of American adventure.

  • The Company of Adventurers, By Isaac Cowie
    A narrative of seven years in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company during 1867-1874

  • The Southwest Expedition of Jedediah Smith, Edited by George R. Brooks
    No one did more to open the American West than this mountain man. His greatest exploring expedition came in 1826 when he looked to the Southwest for trapping grounds. His personal account of the journey to California.

  • The American Fur Trade of the Far West, By Hiram Martin Chittenden

  • Journal of a Trapper, By Osborne Russell
    A classic piece of Western Americana which has been described as the best account of a trapper in the Rocky Mountains when the trade was at its peak.

  • French Fur Traders and Voyageurs in the American West, Edited by LeRoy R. Hafen

  • Forty Years a Fur Trader on the Upper Missouri, By Charles Larpenteur
    The son of French immigrants who settled in Maryland, Charles Larpenteur was so eager to see the real American West that he talked himself into a job with the Rocky Mountain Fur Company in 1833.

  • Fur Traders, Trappers, and Mountain Men of the Upper Missouri, Edited by LeRoy R. Hafen
    This book focuses on eighteen men who represented the American Fur Company and its successors in the Upper Missouri trade.

  • Jim Bridger, By Stanley Vestal
    Jim Bridger was one of the greatest explorers and pathfinders in American history. He couldn't write his name, but at eighteen he had braved the fury of the Missouri. When he was only twenty, he had discovered the Great Salt Lake. Later he was to open the Overland Stage, the Pony Express, and the Union Pacific. One of the foremost trappers in the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, he was a legend in his own time as well as ours. He remains one of the most important scouts and guides in the history of the West.

  • Bent's Fort, By David Lavender
    Bent's Fort was a landmark of the American frontier, a huge private fort on the upper Arkansas River in present southeastern Colorado. Established by the adventurers Charles and William Bent, it stood until 1849 as the center of the Indian trade of the central plains.

  • John Colter, By Burton Harris
    John Colter was a crack hunter with the Lewis and Clark expedition before striking out on his own as a mountain man and fur trader. He is known to history as probably the first white man to discover the region that now includes Yellowstone National Park.

  • Jedediah Smith and the Opening of the West, By Dale L. Morgan

  • Trappers of the Far West, Edited by LeRoy R. Hafen
    In the early 1800's vast fortunes were made in the international fur trade, an enterprise founded upon the effort of a few hundred trappers scattered across the American West. From their ranks came men who still command respect for their daring, skill, and resourcefulness. This volume brings together brief biographies of seventeen leaders of the western fur trade.

  • Adventures of a Mountain Man, By Zenas Leonard
    A free trapper until the summer of 1833, when he entered the employ of Captain B.L.E. Bonneville, Leonard was part of the group sent under command of Captain Joseph Walker to explore the Great Salt Lake region--an expedition that resulted in Walker's finding the overland route to California.

  • Indian Crafts and Skills, By David R. Montgomery
    An illustrated Guide for making authentic Indian clothing, shelters and ornaments.




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