Mountain Man

A mountain man is a trapper and explorer who lives in the wilderness. They were most popular in the North American Rocky Mountains from about 1810 through the 1880s (with a peak population in the early 1840s). They were instrumental in opening up the various Emigrant Trails (widened into wagon roads) allowing Americans in the east to settle the new territories of the far west by organized wagon trains traveling over roads explored and in many cases, physically improved by the mountain men and the big fur companies originally to serve the mule train based inland fur trade.

They arose in a natural geographic and economic expansion driven by the lucrative earnings available in the North American fur trade, in the wake of the various 1806–07 published accounts of the Lewis and Clark expeditions' (1803–1806) findings about the Rockies and the (ownership-disputed) Oregon Country where they flourished economically for over three decades.

By the time the two new international treaties in early 1846 and early 1848 respectively officially settled new western coastal territories on the United States and spurred a large upsurge in migration, the days of mountain men making a good living by fur trapping had largely ended. This was because the fur industry was failing due to overtrapping. Fortuitously, America's ongoing western migration by wagon trains with the goal of claiming cheap lands in the west was building rapidly from a trickle of settlers from 1841's opening of the Oregon Trail (now a wagon road) to a flood of emigrants headed west by 1847–49 and thereafter well into the later 1880s.

With the silk trade and quick collapse of the North American beaver-based fur trade in the later 1830s–1840s, many of the mountain men settled into jobs as Army Scouts, wagon train guides and settlers through the lands which they had helped open up. Others, like William Sublette, opened up fort-trading posts along the Oregon Trail to service the remnant fur trade and the settlers heading west.

Mountain men were ethnically, socially, and religiously diverse, fitting no ready stereotype. While they considered themselves independent they were, in fact, economically an arm of the big fur companies which held annual fairs for the mountain men to sell their wares known as Trapper's rendezvous. Most were born in Canada, the United States, or in Spanish-governed Mexican territories, although some European immigrants also moved west in search of financial opportunity, and the French and British both had long-standing active fur-trading industries in Canada. Like any businessmen, mountain men were primarily motivated by profit, trading Amerindians (and sometimes trapping) for beaver and other skins and selling the skins, although some few were more interested in exploring the West and traded solely to support their passion. As such, most of them were part trader, part explorer, part exploiter, part trapper, part teamster, and part settler, some of them farmers or occasional (army) hired scouts; most survived and kept their scalps by having good relations with one or more native tribes, being multilingual out of necessity. They quite frequently lived part of the year (mainly winters) with Amerindians and, as often, took Indian wives in the normal course of human events. By the time the fur trade began to collapse in the 1840s, motivating them to change jobs, the trails they had explored and turned into reliable mule trails and improved gradually into wagon-capable freight roads combined to allow them to hire themselves as guides and scouts. At the same time the great push west along the newly opened Oregon Trail built up from a trickle of settlers in 1841 to a steady stream in 1844–1846, and then became a flood as the highly organized Mormon migration exploited the road to the Great Salt Lake discovered by mountain man Jim Bridger in 1847–1848. The migration would explode in 1849's "The Forty-Niners" in response to the discovery of gold in California in 1848. Manifest Destiny had received a powerful push in the spring and summer of 1846 with the international treaties settling the ownership of the Pacific coast territories and Oregon Country on the United States.

Historical reenactment of the dress and lifestyle of a mountain man, sometimes known as buckskinning, allows people to recreate aspects of this historical period. Today's Rocky Mountain Rendezvous and other reenacted events are both history-oriented and social occasions. Some modern men choose a lifestyle similar to that of historic mountain men. They may live and roam in the mountains of the west or the swamps in the southern United States.

Read more about Mountain Man:  History, Mode of Living, Notable Figures

Other articles related to "mountain man, man, mountains, mountain":

Cold Prey 2 - Plot
... at the hotel where they discover several bodies nearby including the mountain man's and has it sent back to the hospital ... that Jannicke has been suffering nightmares from her previous encounter with the mountain man and even goes as far as attacking the mountain man's body in the morgue, much to ... However, at the hospital the mountain man shows sign of life and is frantically resuscitated, much to the horror of Jannicke who violently attempts to stop them but is tranquillized in the ...
Louis Vasquez
... (October 3, 1798 – September 5, 1868) was a mountain man and trader ... In 1823, he became a fur man, receiving his first license to trade with the Pawnee. 1830s he had shifted his operations to the mountains, a popular and active mountain man and trader ...
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James Clyman - Mountain Man
... After the war, he traveled back West and crossed the Great Salt Lake Desert and the Sierra Nevada Mountains ... On his way back, he met the Donner-Reed Party and accompanying parties and advised them to go avoid this shortcut and remain on the regular route instead ...
Mountain Man - Notable Figures
... He started working with the Ashley expedition, signed on with the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, and became a well-known mountain man ... American path to create what became known as the Beckwourth Trail through the mountains to Marysville, California ... Bridger purchased shares in the Rocky Mountain Fur Company ...

Famous quotes containing the words man and/or mountain:

    What is the vanity of the vainest man compared with the vanity which the most modest person possesses when, in connection with nature and the world, he experiences himself as “man”!
    Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900)

    The ordinary man looking at a mountain is like an illiterate person confronted with a Greek manuscript.
    Aleister Crowley (1875–1947)