Mountain Men Clothed in greasy buckskins, slouched deep in the saddle with a good rifle across his knees, the Mountain Man was a curious figure even in the pioneer society of time. A man of which legends were made. The life of a trapper was lived a thousand miles from a road or store. He traveled light and needed few luxuries. He probably had a gun or two, his clothes, camp gear, blankets, beaver traps, powder horn, lead for bullets, bait for traps and some food. He might even have a couple of horses or mules to help him carry his belongings.
Jim Bridger Jim Bridger was a hunter, trapper, fur trader, mountain man and a well known American pioneer and frontiersman. He was the 1 st man to see the Great Salt Lake in Utah. He thought it was the Pacific Ocean and he took a drink. In 1804, Jim was born in Richmond, VA. Around 1818, the Bridger family moved to a St. Louis farm. By the age of 13, Jim was an orphan. He went to work as a blacksmith’s apprentice. In 1822, when Jim was 18, he joined a fur trading group. He spent the next 20 years trapping beaver in the West. Jim retired from the fur trade in 1868 and he died in 1881.
Kit Carson 1809 – 1868 Christopher “Kit” Carson was a trapper, guide, fighter and Native American agent. He learned to live with the Natives, speak their language and become their friend. “Kit” never attended school and didn’t learn how to read and write until he was 50 years old.
John C. Fremont 1813-1890 John C. Fremont was a solider, an explorer, and a political leader. In 1842 he explored the Oregon Trail. Fremont led American forces and captured what is now California during a war with Mexico. In 1856, he ran for President of the United States but lost to James Buchanan.
Daniel Boone 1796-1836 Daniel was born in Kentucky but moved West and lived in Texas.
James Bowie 1796-1836 Jim Bowie was a solider and pioneer. He died at the battle at the Alamo.
David Crockett 1786-1836 Davy Crockett became famous in the early days of the West. Crockett was born in Tennessee. He was a fur trader and solider. He was also a United States Congressman. Davy fought in the battle of the Alamo.
Mike Fink 1770? – 1823 Mike Fink was born in Pennsylvania and became a scout and marksman. Fink was also a keelboatman on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. He told wonderful tales as he guided the boat. In 1822, he left the river to become a trapper.
Meriwether Lewis 1774-1809 William Clark 1770-1839 Lewis and Clark were soldiers and explorers. Together they explored unknown America at the request of President Jefferson. Clark made the maps and recorded plants/ animals they saw. The expedition was also guided by Sacagawea. She interpreted the Native language and guided the men.
Samuel Houston 1793-1863 Sam was a soldier and public official. Age the age of 15 he moved into the woods and lived with Native Americans for part of the time. He later joined the army. In 1827, he was elected governor of Tennessee. In 1832, President Jackson sent him to Texas to help with the “talks” with Mexico. In 1836, Houston became the 1 st President of the Republic of Texas.
William Cody 1846-1917 “Buffalo Bill” was a scout for the U.S. Cavalry. He hunted buffalo to feed the troops and rode for the Pony Express. He spent more than half his life in show business, performing in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
Annie Oakley 1860-1926 Annie Oakley was good with guns! She won a shooting match against an expert marksman when she was only 15. She married that man, Frank Butler, when she was older. In 1885, the two of them joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Annie traveled the world showing how well she could shoot.
James Butler Hickok 1837-1876 “ Wild Bill” was a good shot with a rifle and a pistol. He was also a stagecoach driver on the Santa Fe Trail and the Oregon Trail. Later in life, he also joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. He later moved to Deadwood and was killed in a card game!
Martha Jane Cannary-Burke 1852-1903 “ Calamity Jane” was a frontierswoman and professional scout best known for being friends with “Wild Bill Hickok”.
Zebulon Pike 1779-1813 Zebulon was an American soldier and explorer. He explored the Southern portion of the Louisiana Purchase. He is best known for Pike’s Peak in Colorado.
The Chisholm Trail Jesse Chisholm drove his trading wagon over the start of this trail. Later, herds of longhorn cattle were driven over the Chisholm Trail to Abilene, TX. Abilene is where the railroad began and cattle were shipped off. The Chisholm Trail is famous for cattle drives.
The Oregon Trail The Oregon Trail was a route pioneers used to travel Westward. The trail was about 2,000 miles long. The Native Americans and fur traders started the trail but pioneers soon came along with their wagons and families. In 1832, the 1st explorer to travel the entire route was Nathaniel J. Wyeth. Traffic was especially heavy during the gold rush of the last 1840’s.
The Pony Express The Pony Express was the 1 st fast mail service in the United States. The Pony Express started in 1860 and ended by 1863. The Pony Express started in Missouri and went to California. Stations were about 25 miles apart. Riders and horses changed and the stations to refresh. Two riders were Buffalo Bill and Wild Bill Hickok. The Pony Express wasn’t necessary after the telegraph was invented in 1861.
The El Camino Real “ The King’s Highway” The El Camino Real was the 1 st trail Franciscan friars traveled while spreading Christianity. As they traveled South, they built missions and settlements.
The legends and feats of the mountain men have persisted largely because there was a lot of truth to the tales that were told. The life of the mountain man was rough, and one that brought him face to face with death on a regular basis--sometimes through the slow agony of starvation, dehydration, burning heat, or freezing cold and sometimes by the surprise attack of animal or Indian.