Author Archives: mmmuseum

Hide Dress Laundry

We got an email from one of our visitors who lives in Florida, she was intrigued by the hide dresses of the Indian women and asked if by any chance they washed them, and if, then how?
Our historian Jim Hardee helped us reply to her in telling us the Yucca root is just one of the many soaps for washing buckskin. If there was a great deal of decoration, then it was washed around it. The main reason buckskin is smoked is so that it can be washed and used in bad weather without fear of hardening up when dry. That will happen some, but rubs out for a better hide with each washing. Also white clay balls rub out those stubborn stains. An interesting laundry procedure we thought you all might enjoy 

French Trapper at a Dog Feast

Looking through some of our archives we came across a book that once belonged to local P.W Jenkins, who petitioned for Pinedale to be part of a new county, and now has a large collection of his items in the museum.
This book, entitled, LaBonte was a review of the original peice by George Frederick Ruxton published in 1848. It was dedicated to the Wyoming Pioneers and L.C. Bishop, president of the Wyoming pioneer association reprinted it in 1950. Ruxton actually interviewed the french trapper Labonte, and wrote of some of his adventurous experiences. We wanted to share one with you…

“One day LaBonte left camp for a last buffalo hunt in the mountains, preparatory to a trip to the North Fork (of the Platte) to trade his skins. Upon his return after 3 days he found his lodge burned and squaws and peltries gone. Since he was weary from his long hunt and saddened by his loss, he started a fire, and with rifle across his lap and a buffalo robe wrapped around his body, was soon asleep. During the night his squaw, Chil-co-the, who had escaped from her Arapaho captors, returned rebuilt the campfire and when morning came was seated by the fire opposite LaBonte.
With Cil-co-the on his buffalo horse and with his possessions packed on the mule, he shouldered his rifle and took the trail for the North Platte. On Horse Creek he came upon a party of french hunters and trapper encamped with their Indian wives. Several old companions were among them and in celebration of Labonte’s arrival a, a dog feast was made the order of the day. Six dogs were killed and a coyote and a wolf were added…In asking Labonte stated ‘It must be confessed that dog meat takes a high rank in the wonderful variety of cuisine afforded to the gourmand and the gourmet by the prolific mountains'”

 

Yum Beaver Tail!

A couple weeks ago, a visitor came in and asked another intriguing question. She was curious if the Mountain Men ate the meat of the beaver they caught. A common phrase most mountain men specialists, when asked this, say “If it was meat they’d eat it.”
True they were not very picky, but more importantly the beaver tail was considered a delicacy as the fat in the tail was very welcomed after a diet of lean wild meat.

Here is an excerpt from one of Nathaniel Wyeth’s Journal on his second expedition to the Oregon Country in 1834…

“22nd Snowed part of last night and rained the residue and the forenoon of today snow the rest and part of the night in morning our hunter went out and wounded a deer which the wolves ran down but before he could find him they had eaten up all but enough for 2 meals this morning breakfasted on two beaver tails which I had laid by and forgotten so we have not yet on this trip lost a meal as yet.”

Apparently in Canada, beaver tails are a delicacy too. But in a different way. Beaver Tails, a Canadian based chain of pastry stands formed their pastry to resemble a beaver tail…Canadians must be Mountain Men enthusiasts as well eh?

A Tribe That Ate Sheep

Did you know, that before Yellowstone was a National Park a group of Native Americans called the Shoshone or “Sheep Eaters” inhabited the area. Contrary to popular belief, this tribe was quite inventive, and intelligent. Instead of using horses to carry and pack in their belongings they used very large dogs. These dogs were quite loyal companions and very well behaved. Unlike other dogs that would hang around Indian camps, the Shoshone dogs would never get into food, or run away from their masters. The dog’s labor was essential to sheep eater survival so it was common that the dogs would be fed first at meal time.

Another unique feature of this tribe is that their main weapon was the sheep horn bow. These bows were considered a thing of beauty as they were skillfully made with either sheep, elk or buffalo horn and decorated with porcupine quills and/or snake skin. A fine trade item they were well sought out.
We have an original sheep horn bow on display at the museum. And the book featured below by Lawrence L. Loendorf and Nancy Medaris Stone is quite fascinating as each chapter goes into depth, the detail of these creative and caring people.    Click Here to order this book!

 

A Hat That Made Men Mad

To those who have ever read Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” can recall with quite fondness and curiosity the character of the Mad Hatter.

In his book, and later in the Walt Disney cartoon, The Mad Hatter was portrayed as a lively, witty and quite entertaining individual.
The inspiration behind the character, however, was not.

Carroll as a child grew up in Stockport, a large city in the greater part of Manchester England.
Here the business of hat making was a large industry.
As we know the Mountain Men in Europe, as well as out in our part of the West, would trap beaver to send pelts back to these factories for hat making.
Unlike the beaver muffs and coats, primarily used to keep one warm, the demand for a felt-like glossy hat, required for the use of mercury. Mercury, a metallic element, would cause the fibers of the fur to separate and mat easier, causing that timeless; shiny, durable AND waterproof hat that was so desired.
Lewis Carroll no doubt must have seen a number of hat makers who suffered from the prolonged exposure to mercury. It would, in effect, cause the individual a neurological reaction confusing speech and sight. This probably inspired the author to create the character of the Mad Hatter, as everything in his novel was interesting and whimsical. I’m sure all of us can be grateful though, that the process of using mercury in hats is long outdated.

An AMM Interview – Richard Ashburn

An Interview with Richard Ashburn.

“Mr. Ashburn how long have you been a mountain man?”

“30 years”

“And what initially drew you to it?”

“Probably my love of nature, I’m very intrigued just by the whole era, and I appreciate that it was before the genocide of the Indians. It was trade not battle, there was no war…there was peace. I also love the education on the harmony with nature and the earth…it’s sort of a spiritual aspect for me. Also I’ve always sort of been a mountain man, I love horses and was a professional outfitter for 25 years.”

An AMM Interview – Jim Langstein

An Interview with Jim Langstein…
“How long have you been a Mountain Man?”
“37 years”
“What drew you to this way of life?”
“My Dad gave me my first black powdered rifle when I was 14, I started going to Rendezvous and decided this was the life for me. Now I’m a historian.”
“Tell me a little about your outfit…did you make it?”
“yep, it’s brain tanned hide, and I made this necklace outta Elk Ivory’s”
“That’s too cool 🙂

An AMM Interview – Mike Powell

An Interview with Mr. Mike “Silver-Hawk” Powell (our Museum Factor)
“Hi Mike, How long have you been a Mountain Man?”
“Well, I’ve studied primitive stone and bone since 1990, bought my first Teepee in ’92 and joined the AMM in 1998.”
“What drew you to being a Mountain Man?”
“By the time I turned 35 I realized I wasn’t going to be Tarzan, Robin Hood or the Lone Ranger…so I figured being a mountain man was the next best thing. I’m kinda the lone wolf of the family.”
“And what do you like about it?”
“Im very interested in survival skills, and making and selling things never gets old. I hated History when I was a kid, but now I love it! So does my wife, Shes a member of the Women of the Fur Trade, We’ve been doing demonstrations for 20 years. And we make some pretty great capotes ”
“And what are you wearing right now? What is this look called?”
“It’s called Mountaineer swag!…*laughs* Just kidding it’s really called a St. Louis Trapper.”
Mike Powell passed away June 3rd, 2015.  The energy, dedication, and love he brought to the Museum of the Mountain Man and our community enhanced the lives of everyone he met. He will be missed more than words can say.

Fur Trade Mystery Journal Found!

For years a small 1826 journal was mistaken to be Robert Campbell’s diary. The journal was donated to the Campbell House Museum in St. Louis Missouri in an envelope marked “Campbell’s Diary” and it wasn’t until recently that an analysis of the handwriting revealed the the diary was not written by Campbell.

The question remains…who’s diary was this?

In comparing the writing in the journal to other fur trade documents there is considerable evidence that the owner was William H. Ashley. What a find!

A tangible piece of history, an actual item containing thoughts of William H. Ashley, one of the famous co-owners of the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Co.

Ashley’s diary contains numerous ledgers and drawings of rivers and topographical details.
For more information and the full story on the discovery of this item check out Vol. 8 of the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Journal which has a page by page transcript of the diary!
Go back in time as you follow Ashley’s travels.  This little book is quite a discovery for the fur trade community, and leaves the question…what other valuable fur trade items are out there waiting to be found.

 

 

 

Cache – Mountain Man Term

 

Today’s Mountain Man Term is: Cache – A safe place, often hidden, for storage of food and other supplies.

The mountain man, whether an explorer, a trader, or a trapper, cached goods for several reasons. The explorer could lighten his load for a difficult part of his journey, or cache important items (such as food, lead and gunpowder) for his return trip. The trader could store some of his trade goods for later retrieval. The trapper needed a place to hide his beaver pelts until he was ready to transport them to the markets back east. A successful cache had to be built in secrecy, in a safe location, and with the utmost care to avoid leaving even the smallest bit of evidence.

We have a replica on display at the museum, with intriguing information on how it was built and what all they could contain.

Below is an excerpt from Meriwether Lewis about building his cache…

“The cache being completed, I walked to it and examined its construction. It is in a high plain about 40 yards distant from a steep bluff of the south branch on its northern side The situation a dry one, which is always necessary. A place being fixed on for a cache, a circle about 20 inches in diameter is first described, the turf or sod of this circle is carefully removed, being taken out as entire as possible in order that it may be replaced in the same situation when the cache is filled and secured. This circular hole is then sunk perpendicularly to the depth of one foot, if the ground be not firm, somewhat deeper. They then begin to work it out wider as they proceed downward, until they get it about six or seven feet deep, giving it nearly the shape of a kettle, or lower part of a large still. Its bottom is also somewhat sunk in the center.

The dimensions of the cache are in proportion to the quantity of articles intended to be deposited. As the earth is dug, it is handed up in a vessel and carefully laid on a skin or cloth, and then carried to some place where it can be thrown in such manner as to conceal it, usually into some running stream where it is washed away and leaves no traces which might lead to the discovery of the cache.

Before the goods are deposited, they must be well dried. A parcel of small dry sticks are then collected, and with them a floor is made, three or four inches thick, which is then covered with some dry hay or a raw hide well dried. On this, the articles are deposited, taking care to keep them from touching the walls by putting other dry sticks between as you stow away the merchandise. When nearly full, the goods are covered with a skin, and earth thrown in and well rammed until, with the addition of the turf first removed, the hole is on a level with the surface of the ground. In this manner, dried skins or merchandise will keep perfectly sound for several years.”

Captain Meriwether Lewis, 9 June 1805

Westbound Lewis and Clark expedition, near the mouth of the Marias River (about 50 mi. NE of Great Falls, MT)

Mountain Man Profile

 

Rufus B. Sage

Rufus B. Sage was an American writer, journalist and later a mountain man. He is known as the author of Scenes in the Rocky Mountains published in 1846, depicting the life of fur trappers. Rufus B. Sage was born on March 17, 1817 to the family of Deacon Rufus Sage, in Cromwell, Connecticut,[1] beforehand known as Middletown. He was the youngest of seven children. His father died when Rufus was 9 which left him in trouble of self-educating and raising. However, due to his vigor and determination Sage was able to self-tutor himself and start working as a printer in the Middleton newspaper.
In fall of 1836 he ventured to Washington County, Ohio, where he became teacher and junior intern at the Marietta Gazette. Thereupon in the spring of 1838, he embarked on an enterprise which took him southward with a cargo of ice. It did not result in mundane earnings yet proved rich in observations; the events he observed in Louisiana and Mississippi made his mind upon the subject of slavery.
After returning to civilization, in Circleville, Ohio he became well known as a writer, speaker and activist. He organised a debating club, which became very popular, and his press connections brought him in contact with the most prominent citizens of the country. In 1839 he ventured to Columbus, Ohio and thereupon he engaged in Ohio State Bulletin.
In the early 1840 Sage became a part of political campaign obtaining to promote William Henry Harrison for president. A weekly campaign paper, and later on a daily, was edited and published by him, that did most effective service in bringing about the grand result of electing the whig national ticket by an overwhelming majority. Sage even exposed a democratic plot to smear his candidate.
After the struggles of political campaign his attention was once again drawn to the unknown – so little was known about the territories between Missouri and the Pacific ocean. Incited by a strong desire to explore the vast region beyond the Missouri frontier, Sage organized a party to explore the west. Despite the fact that his party was scarce, Sage ventured onwards and later joined a party of Indian traders. This period was later described in his famous recollections entitled Scenes in the Rocky Mountains.
In July, 1844, he returned to Columbus and commenced a campaign to support Henry Clay in becoming U.S. president, protesting against the annexation of Texas and the condition of Black slaves. His effort was grand but the election was won by James K. Polk.
Later on Sage became editor of the Chillicothe Gazette, and worked there until 1845, when returned to visit his home town. In the quiet of his house he prepared his recollections for printing. But his future ideas of travel and adventure had to be changed – his elderly and invalid mother convinced Rufus to marry and settle down which he did and lived for the rest of his life in Cromwell.
Rufus B. Sage died on December 23, 1893.

Men Called To The Mountains

When it comes to fur trade history there is nothing quite as well known as the 100 enterprising young men ad. This first call for adventurous and ambitious mountain men has been known as what started it all.

This advertisement appeared in Missouri Gazette & Public Advertiser, St. Louis, February 13, 1822. A similar ad was placed in Missouri Republican, St Louis, Mar 20, 1822 and in Missouri Intelligencer, Mar 16, 1822.

TO ENTERPRISING YOUNG MEN

The subscriber wishes to engage ONE HUNDRED MEN, to ascend the river Missouri to its source, there to be employed for one, two, or three years — For particulars, enquire of Major Andrew Henry, near the Lead Mines, in the County of Washington, (who will ascend with and command the party) or the subscriber, at St. Louis.

Wm. H. Ashley
February 13

 

This  next ad was placed in Missouri Gazette and Public Advertiser, Jan 18,1823:

FOR THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS

THE Subscribers wish to engage One Hundred MEN, to ascend the Missouri, to the
ROCKY MOUNTAINS

There to be employed as Hunters. As a compensation to each man fit for such business,
$200 PER ANNUM,

will be given for his services, as aforesaid.— For particulars, apply to J.V. Garnier, or W. Ashley, at St. Louis. The expedition will set out from this place, on or before the first day of March, next.

Ashley & Henry
Jan 18

 

Many flocked to the source of these ads in hope of financial success and exploring new lands. These days ads for adventure are few and far between, but the lucky who stumble upon them may go down in history like these brave mountain men.

A Brief History of the AMM

AMERICAN MOUNTAIN MEN ASSOCIATION
Brief History of the American Mountain Men
By Walt Hayward

The organization “The American Mountain Men” was started in 1968 by Walt Hayward. Of the original seven members, five; Walt Hayward, Fred Hutto, Ken Smith, Dennis Jackson, Stan McDade, Mark McDade and Brad McDade are still members [Feb 1986]. At this time, the organization was not primitive but rather a modern survival club known as “The Brotherhood of American Mountain Men”, a rather long name for a rather small club, small in numbers, but large in ideals and dreams.
The brotherhood had not been in existence long before it became clear to us that we were taking the wrong path, that modern survival concepts could and would only mislead us, that the true survivalists were those we took our name from. This started our study of the history of the Mountain Men, or at least our attempts to study the history and methods of the original Mountain Men. We soon found out that they were the forgotten pioneers of American history. Still we did what we could, picking up bits and pieces here and there.

In 1972 it was suggested by Ken Smith that there must be a few others across our nation who held the same interests that we did and that these individuals might be interested in joining with us. By now anything modern was strictly (almost, anyway) forbidden. We were working within the 1820 – 1840 era. We felt this fact alone would keep the number of interested individuals down to a very few if any. At this time, one of the pioneers of modern blackpowder sports was Major Slim Ackerman of New Mexico, who just happened to be writing a weekly blackpowder and related activities article for “Gun Week”. Walt Hayward wrote a letter to Slim, outlining what we were attempting to do and what our ideals and goals were. Slim took the information from this letter and devoted one of his articles to us, giving our address so that any who might be interested could contact us.

The few responses we thought we would receive turned into several hundred, enough to keep both Walt and Fred busy three or more hours each night for several weeks. Naturally not all who took the time to write to us were to become members, many wanted another magazine and nothing else, others wanted just another black powder club. These did not fall within our objective and were refused membership. We wanted men who would attempt to embrace the total life style of the original Mountain Men, who would research all they could about these rugged individualists and then go into the field and through practice see if what they were able to find out was even possible. We needed men who would be able and willing to take the time to share their findings with the other brothers through the medium of our magazine, “The Tomahawk & Long Rifle”.

There was still much to be done before we could call ourselves a national organization. For practical reasons the name was shortened to “The American Mountain Men”, a symbol was accepted and a rough set of by-laws was written and accepted. This gave us a base to work from and helped to cement our objectives and goals. From this time on growth would be slow but steady, and not without the usual growing pains. We have still not realized our total goals, perhaps we never will, but we will never give up our attempt to do so. We are not a large brotherhood and it is not our desire to ever be so, but rather to remain a small compact group of select brothers working together for a common goal, just as the original American Mountain Men were.

The AMM has continued its growth and knowledge through the years. Members have done a considerable amount of research, both academic and “getting on the ground”, to learn the ways of the original mountain men.

AMM members have written articles for every one of the eight Book of Buckskinning, a series of books on the history and “how to” of the mountain man. Members have penned innumerable articles for magazines concerned with the mountain men and the fur trade era.

Members of the AMM started the Fort Bridger rendezvous, and for the first years, were in charge of this event which has developed into the largest rendezvous in the West.

A memorial to “Liver Eating” Johnson was built in Cody, Wyoming by AMM members. The tradition was continued as other notable mountain men were honored at the memorial.

Hollywood has noted the skills and knowledge of many AMM members who have appeared in, and acted as technical advisors for many movies (including The Mountain Men, with Charleton Heston and Brian Keith) and numerous television documentaries.

AMM members continue their quest for knowledge of primitive skills of the original mountain men and Native Americans. We are happy to share the knowledge that we have gained with those who are interested.

A Day in the Life: Time Traveling Through Pinedale, Wyoming

New Exhibit Coming 2017!

We have discovered a new TIME LOOP in Wyoming!  Now you have a unique opportunity to become a professional time traveler.  Visit the museum and enter the loop to find out what was going on in Pinedale from 1890 to 1970.

Pinedale’s unique past is brought to life with steampunk-style graphics and historic objects and clothing from deep within the museum’s collections.  Whether you are a native of Wyoming or just traveling through the region, you are sure to enjoy this new and exciting exhibit.

 

Denizens: Wildlife on the Western Frontier An Exhibition of Vintage Engravings 1770 – 1902

This exhibit features the spectrum of wildlife, which graced the 19th century frontier West.  Original engravings from Harper’s Weekly, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, The Illustrated London News, and other historical sources illuminate native species and their interaction with humans.

These engravings created between 1770 and 1902 by notable and skillful artists, contains many beautifully hand-tinted images. The media include steel, copper, and wood block engravings, chromolithographs, and half tones.

The panoply of scenes includes dramatic surprise encounters between man and animal, stealthy approach by hunters, conflicts between predator and prey species, a stampede from a prairie fire, Native American veneration of wildlife, and faunal portraits.

 

March 10th 2016-       Annual Meeting and Spring Thaw

May 17th – 19th 2016-    Living History Days

July 7th -10th 2016-      Green River Rendezvous

December 3rd 2016-      23rd Annual Wreath & Chocolate Auction

Green River Rendezvous Days, 2014 at the Museum

Green River Rendezvous Days, 2014
At the Museum of the Mountain Man

 Thursday, July 10th
9:00 – 5:00 Museum of the Mountain Man Gallery & Gift Shop Open
3:00 – 5:00 AMM Encampment Setup
6:00 pm Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Journal Reception & 2014 Awards
7:00 pm Cocktail Social and Reception Honoring Thomas Steuart Fothringham, Laird of Murthly Castle

Friday, July 11th
9:00 – 5:00 Museum of the Mountain Man Gallery & Gift Shop Open
9:00 – 10:00 American Mountain Man Camp – Mountain Man Clothing
9:00 – 10:30 Children’s Program with Lapita Frewin
10:30 – Noon Children’s Program with Lapita Frewin
10:30 –1:00 Bad Hand Plains Indian Encampment
11:00 – Noon American Mountain Man Camp – Sign Language
11:00 – 3:00 Buffalo Burger Lunch on the MMM patio
1:00 – 2:00 American Mountain Men Camp – Beaver Skinning demonstration
1:00 – 2:15 Children’s Program with Lapita Frewin
1:30 pm Shoshone Tribal Induction
2:00 – 4:00 Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Journal Guest Speakers

  • “William H. Ashley’s Newly-Discovered 1826 Fur Trade Journal by Dr. Jay H. Buckley
  • “1836 and 1838:  When White Girls Crashed the Party by Jill R. Ottman
  • “The Blackfoot Road to Plunder” by Paul M. Raczka
  • “Jedediah Smith’s Disaster at Defeat River” by James C. Auld

2:30 – 3:45 Children’s Program with Lapita Frewin
3:00 – 4:00 American Mountain Man Camp – Mtn Man Shelter, Buffalo Hide
3:00 – 5:00 Bad Hand Plains Indian Encampment

Saturday, July 12th
9:00 – 5:00 Museum of the Mountain Man Gallery & Gift Shop Open
9:00 –11:00 American Mountain Men Camp – Horses, Tack & Packing
9:00 –11:00 Children’s Programs by Lapita Frewin
11:00 Rendezvous Parade Downtown
11:00 –3:00 Buffalo Burger Lunch on the MMM patio
Noon –1:00 American Mountain Man Camp – Knives, Tools, Accoutrements
1:30 – 2:30 Bad Hand Plains Indian Encampment
1:00 – 3:00 Children’s Programs by Lapita Frewin
1:00 – 2:00 American Mountain Man Camp – Beaver Skinning demonstration
2:00 – Tour of William Drummond Stewart Historical Sites
2:00 – 3:00 American Mountain Man Camp – Firearms
3:30 – 5:00 Bad Hand Plains Indian Encampment
4:00 – 5:00 American Mountain Man Camp – Beaver Trapping, Skinning, Fur Press
8:00 pm American Mountain Man Campfire Stories and Songs

Sunday, July 13th
 9:00 – 5:00 Museum of the Mountain Man Gallery and Gift Shop Open
9:00 –10:00 American Mountain Man Camp – Sign Language
10:00 – 11:00 American Mountain Man Camp – Horses, Tack & Packing
10:30 – 12:30 Bad Hand Plains Indian Encampment
11:00 – Noon American Mountain Man Camp – Mountain Man Clothing
1:00 Green River Rendezvous Pageant at the Rodeo Grounds
2:30 – 4:00 Bad Hand Plains Indian Encampment

Locations:
All Journal Forum/ AMM events held at the north amphitheater
All Michael Terry events held across the parking lot/ the east area canopy