The Mountain Man & The Fur Trade

At the height of the fur trade it is estimated that the annual rendevous in the mountains was attended by about 600 trappers and traders. All told there may have been as many as twelve hundred men who went into the mountains in search of beaver during the first decades of the nineteenth century. Many, if not most, of the men who pushed west from St. Louis were never heard from again and few gained any real wealth. If we take Colter's return to the mountains in 1806 as the start of the era of the mountian man and the last great fur trapper rendevouz on Green River in Wyoming as the end, the age of the mountain man lasted from 1806 through the summer of 1838. (The Pioneer Era started when the Bartleson-Bidwell wagon train crossed into Oregon and California in 1841) Many of the mountian men remained in the West after the fur trade declined and a number of them became famous guides for the government explorers and pioneer settlers who followed them westward in search of knowledge, land, and gold. Among the men involved with the fur trade during this period were the following:

  • William Ashe - Organized Rocky Mountain Fur Company 1822

  • John Jacob Astor - Organized the Pacific Fur Company in 1810

  • Captain Benjamin Bonneville - Explored area west of South Pass 1832-1835

  • James Beckworth - Early Fur Trapper

  • Charles Bent - Early Fur Trapper- First Governor of New Mexico

  • William Bent - Early Fur Trapper - Established Bent's Fort

  • Jim Bridger - Early Fur Trapper - Abandoned Hugh Glass 1823
    First to Document Existence of Great Salt Lake 1825

  • Christopher "Kit" Carson - Early Taos Fur Trapper - Explorer and Guide

  • Moses Carson - Early Fur Trapper - Brother of Kit Carson

  • Toussaint Charbonneau - Early Fur Trapper
    Interpreter for Lewis and Clark on Voyage of Discovery

  • William Clark - Co-Leader Corps of Discovery
    Superintendant of Indian Affairs Louisiana Territory
    Partner Missouri Fur Company 1809

  • James Clyman - Early Fur Trapper
    Sewed Jeddediah Smith's scalp and ear after grizzly bear attack

  • John Colter - Corps of Discovery Member
    Early Fur Trapper 1806 - Guide for Missouri Fur Company 1809

  • Joseph Dickson - Early Fur Trapper 1804

  • George Drouillard - Corps of Discovery Member - Early Fur Trapper

  • John Fitzgerald - Early Fur Trapper - Abandoned Hugh Glass 1823

  • Thomas Fitzpatrick - Early Fur Trapper - Guide for Bartleson-Bidwell Wagon Train

  • Lucien Fontanelle - Early fur trapper

  • Hugh Glass - Early Fur Trapper

  • Caleb Greenwood - Early Fur Trapper
    Guide for Stephens-Townsend-Murphy Wagon Train

  • Forest Hancock - Early Fur Trapper 1804

  • Andrew Henry - Fur Trapper with Missouri Fur Comapny 1809
    Partner in Ashley's Fur Company 1822

  • John Hoback - Early Missouri Fur Company Trapper

  • Wilson Price Hunt - St. Louis Clerk - Early Fur Trapper with Astor 1811

  • David Jackson - Early Fur Trapper
    Partner in Smith, Jackson, Sublette Fur Company

  • Meriwether Lewis - Co-Leader Corps of Discovery
    Governor of Louisiana - Partner Missouri Fur Company 1809

  • Reuben Lewis - Brother of Meriwether Lewis
    Partner Missouri Fur Company 1809

  • Manuel Lisa - Organized Missouri Fur Company in 1807

  • Alexander Mackenzie - Early British Fur Trapper - Crossed Canada 1793

  • Donald Mackenzie - British-Canadian North West Company Leader
    British-Canadian Hudson Bay Company Leader

  • Robert McLellan - Early Fur Trapper

  • John George McTavish
    Led the British-Canadian North West Company in taking over Fort Astoria, 1813

  • Joseph Miller - Early Fur Trapper

  • Peter Scene Ogden
    Early Hudson Bay Fur Trapper trapping in "Inland Empire"

  • James Ohio Pattie - One of first Americans to see the Grand Canyon

  • Etiene Provost - Early Fur Trapper Operating from Taos
    Probably Discovered Great Salt Lake 1824

  • Jacob Resnor - Early Fur Trapper

  • Antoine Robidoux - Early French-Canadian fur trapper
    Established White Rocks Tradding Post in Utah
    Encoraged John Bidwell to go to California 1841
    Wounded in Battle of San Pascual

  • Edward Robinson - Early Fur Trapper

  • Harrison G. Rogers
    Jeddediah Smith's company clerk on the Southwest Expedition

  • Edward Rose - Early Black Fur Trapper with Astor 1811
    Friend of the Crow Indians who called him "Five Scalps Rose"

  • Jedediah Smith - Member of Ashley's Fur Company 1822
    Partner in Smith, Jackson & Sublette Fur Company 1826
    Rediscovered South Pass 1824

  • William Sublette - Early Fur Trapper
    Partner in Smith, Jackson & Sublette Fur Company 1826
    Guide for Nathanial Wyeth 1832

  • Robert Stuart - Early Fur Trapper working with Astor
    Discovered South Pass 1812

  • Ceran St, Vrain - Early fur trader - Partner with Bent Brothers

  • Joseph Reddeford Walker - Sheriff of Independence 1827
    Field Commander of Bonneville Expedition 1832-1835
    Discovered Walker Pass 1833

  • John Weber - Early Fur Trapper

  • Ezekial Williams - Early Fur Trapper

  • William Wolfskill - Early Taos Fur Trapper

  • Nathaniel J. Wyeth - Boston Merchant
    First Person to Travel From East Coast to Oregon via the "Oregon Trail" 1832

  • Ewing Young - Early Taos Fur Trapper
    Mentor for Kit Carson regarding fur trade
    Led first American Party to the Grand Canyon