Author Archives: Gliffen Designs

Jim Bridger’s Rifle

In 1853, Louis Vasquez a good friend and business partner of Jim Bridger, had this 40 caliber half-stock rifle engraved J. Bridger 1853, and presented it to Jim for reasons still unknown.  Perhaps it had something to do with their long business association or possibly it was due to the fact that 1853 was indeed a turning point in Jim Bridger’s life.

Following Bridger’s death the rifle was held as part of a private Buffalo Bill Collection.  In 1940 the scout’s rifle and the powder horn were put to auction by Theodore Dexter, then one of the most notable rare-arms dealer in the United States, and it stayed in the private collection of Mr. A. W. McCollough of Laramie, Wyoming until 1968.  Rare-arms dealer Robert Nelson of Cheyenne, Wyoming purchased the Bridger Rifle in 1968 but subsequently sold it to another dealer in Texas where it has remained until it found a permanent home in the Museum of the Mountain Man in 1988.

This half-stock, percussion plains rifle is bored .403 Caliber (rifled).  It carries a pewter fore-end cap, brass trim, “plains” style trigger guard, H.T. Cooper back-action lock, and hickory ramrod.  The rifle’s walnut stock is decorated with inlain eagles, the left eagle engraved, “J. Bridger 1853.” An unusual feature is that its stock was built with two cheekpieces.  Riflemaker W. Ogden of Owego, New York stamped his name on the barrel.  It weighs eleven pounds and its overall length is 49-1/2 inches.

Gift of the May Schwabacher Memorial.

Overall Length: 49-½ inches
Hexagon Barrel:
Length of Barrel: 32-¾ inches
Flat to flat at muzzle: 1-1/16 inches
Flat to flat at breech: 1-1/16 inches
Caliber: .403
Under rib from Muzzle to front of nose cap: 21 ¾ inches
Tang (embedded in stock behind lock): 5 ¼ inches, 3/8 inch wide at back
Diameter: 15/16 inch
Length:  23-1/2 inches
Front pipe: ¾ inch long
Back pipe: ¾ inch long
Muzzle to front of front pipe: 4-5/8 inches
Muzzle to front of back pipe: 13-¼ inches
Front sight is ¼ inch embedded base and 7/8 tapered sight above barrel
Back sight is ½ inch embedded base, ¼ inch tall, and 5/8 inch wide
Muzzle to front of front sight at base: 1-1/8 inches
Back of front sight base to front of back sight base: 22-9/16 inches
Muzzle to front of nose cap: 21-¾ inches
Nose cap length: ¾ inch
Front of nose cap to butt plate at center of curve: 26 inch
Butt plate to comb (rise just behind wrist): 8-3/4
Cheek in:  6 inch long, 1 inch high in front, 2 ¼ inch high in back, ½ inch deep at bottom
Oval inlay: 1-3/8 inch wide, 7/16 inch tall
Bird inlay: 1-3/16 wide (wing tip to wing tip), 1-9/16 tall (top head to bottom base)
Length of Pull (front trigger to center of butt plate): 13-½ inches
Drop at heel (from top of barrel to top of butt plate): 4-½ inches
Drop at comb (just behind wrist): 1-7/8 inches
Wrist just in front of comb: 2 inch wide, 1-5/8 inch deep
Wrist in front of lock mortus: 2 inch wide
Top of barrel to bottom of stock in front of lock mortus: 2 inches
Top of butt plate to bottom of toe plate: 4-½ inches
Width at center of butt plate: 1-1/8 inches
Width at top and bottom of butt plate: ½ inch
Top of butt plate: 3 inches long
Butt plate: 3/8 inch thick at top, 1/16 inch thick at toe plate
Toe plate: 3-15/16 inch long, ½ inch wide, 1/32 inch thick

The Rocky Mountain Fur Trade

Permanent Exhibit
Upper Gallery
This exhibit offers a broad overview of the fur trade in the Rocky Mountains and specifically the Green River Valley between 1820 and 1840. Displays include trappers’ equipment on loan from the American Mountain Men Association, a diorama of a Rendezvous scene, flintlock and percussion guns from the late 1700s and early 1800s, and tools, equipment, and trade goods used during the fur trade era. One of the most prized artifacts on display is Jim Bridger’s rifle, a gun presented to the mountain man in 1853 by Louis Vasquez. Vasquez had Bridger’s name and the date engraved on the gunstock of the half-stock .40 caliber rifle. The gun is one of the few artifacts in the museum that is known to have been owned by a specific mountain man.
Throughout the exhibit are a variety of animal mounts of species encountered by the fur traders and mountain men in the Rocky Mountains. Beautiful paintings and sculpture depicting the mountain men compliment the artifact displays.

Hugh Glass Diorama

Permanent Exhibit
Upper Gallery

In life, Hugh Glass became a mountain man.  In history, Hugh Glass evolved into a legend of the Rocky Mountain fur trade.  In Hollywood’s film, The Revenant, Hugh Glass emerged as a larger-than-life character of the American West. As such, Glass’s epic tale of survival has rendered him  one of America’s most indomitable mountain men for nearly two-hundred years.

While hunting near the headwaters of South Dakota’s Grand River to supply the 1823 Ashley fur trapping party with food, Glass encountered a sow grizzly bear and her two cubs. The enraged bear charged and severely mauled the mountain man. Believing Glass only had a few hours or a day left to live, Major Henry, leader of the Grand River party, requested two volunteers to stay with Glass until he died.

Apparently, Glass’s indomitable spirit kept him alive longer than his comrades were willing to wait. Fearing for their own lives, Glass’s companions left him for dead without his gun and other necessities. Vowing to exact revenge on the heartless deserters, Jim Bridger and John Fitzgerald, Glass mustered up the raw courage he needed to doggedly crawl more than 200 miles to safety at Fort Kiowa.

After recovering from his wounds, Glass tracked down Jim Bridger.  Realizing that Bridger was just a kid, Glass decided to forgive him. Discovering that Fitzgerald had joined the Army, Glass was compelled to give up his pact for revenge. Glass returned to the adventurous and dangerous life of a trapper for the next decade.  While trapping along the Yellowstone River in 1833, Glass and two of his companions were killed by the Arickara.

The grizzly bear mount in this diorama represents the largest size that sow grizzly bears ever achieve in a lifetime.

The Museum of the Mountain Man would like to thank all the donors and granting foundations, whose generosity made this diorama possible.

For more information on Hugh Glass check out our website


Shoshone Sheephorn Bow

The most powerful short bow of the Native American horse culture, sheephorn bows were backed and wrapped with sinew for increased strength and recoil. Such a bow was a prized possession. This specimen is one of the oldest authenticated, and was probably made using stone tools. It dates to 1690 – 1730 and is approximately 34 inches long.




Chief American Horse Warrior Society Tipi, c. 1876

One of the highlights of the Museum of the Mountain Man is the full-scale replica of American Horse’s tipi, which stands in the center rotunda of the museum’s main exhibit gallery. The 20′ diameter, brain-tanned buffalo hide tipi is one of the few buffalo-hide tipis in existence today, and one of only two on display in museums. This display comes complete with furnishings, buffalo robes, utility bags, hand-painted drum, parfleches, headdresses, buffalo bull neck shield, bow and arrows, elaborately pained buffalo hide liner, war lance, pipes, Indian kitchen, and much more. This exhibit is a donation from Gayle McMurry Kinnison through her Wyoming Community Donor Advised Endowment.

The U.S. Army captured the original buffalo hide tipi on September 9, 1876, following the Battle of Slim Buttes, South Dakota, against the Sioux. The tipi belonged to Chief American Horse of the Oglala Sioux, who had fought in the Battle of Little Bighorn against General Custer on June 26, 1876. Captain Anson Mills, who led his cavalrymen to victory at Slim Buttes, captured the tipi and many battle trophies that American Horse had taken from Custer at Little Bighorn, including the 7th Cavalry flag. After the Battle of Slim Buttes, frontier photographer Stanley J. Morrow photographed captured Sioux women and children and the 7th Cavalry flag in front of the tipi. Captain Mills claimed the tipi as spoils of the battle, and it remained in his family until finding its final home at the Smithsonian Institution.

The original American Horse tipi is one of only thirty-two surviving buffalo hide tipis from the nineteenth century, and one of only four used prior to the reservation era, making it a rare national treasure.

Native American historian Michael “Bad Hand” Terry created a full-scale tipi for the Museum of the Mountain Man as an authentic replica after carefully studying the artifact at the Smithsonian Institution’s storage facility in Suitland, Maryland. He duplicated each stitch, patch, and measurement of the original, which the Smithsonian considers too fragile to display. Terry used twenty buffalo hides and painstakingly sewed them together by hand with sinew. The replica is twenty feet in diameter, just like the original, making it the largest buffalo hide tipi on exhibit in the world.

The beautiful replica is one of the museum’s crown jewels, and is decorated with reproduction furnishings and accoutrements typical of the tribe during the period.

The tipi makes an excellent backdrop for a family photo. Make sure to snap a shot during your visit to the Museum of the Mountain Man.

Vernon & Virginia Delgado Winchester Commemorative Collection

Permanent Exhibit
Upper Gallery Theater

The Winchester Arms Collectors Association introduced its first commemorative repeating rifles in 1964, coinciding with the Wyoming Diamond Jubilee. Each commemorative specifically honors a significant person, group, event, or institution in U.S. and Canadian history. Vernon Delgado, a member of the Winchester Arms Collectors Association, acquired these firearms over decades, and generously donated his beautiful collection to the Museum of the Mountain Man in 2008. The collection contains over 100 commemorative repeating rifles as well as shotguns, revolvers, and pistols, and includes the Wyoming Centennial and Sublette County Commemorative rifles. Many of the guns are rare, never fired, limited edition pieces.

Museum releases new publication

Obstinate Hope: The Western Expeditions of Nathaniel J. Wyeth
Volume 1
by Jim Hardee

The Sublette County Historical Society/Museum of the Mountain Man is proud to announce the publication of our newest book, Obstinate Hope: The Western Expeditions of Nathaniel J. Wyeth by Jim Hardee which is now available.

Obstinate Hope: The Western Expeditions of Nathaniel J. Wyeth, Volume 1, is part one of a two-part examination of the life of Nathaniel J. Wyeth.

The book begins with a look at Wyeth’s pre-fur trade life including his heritage, operation of the family’s Fresh Pond Hotel and his early career in the ice industry. The bulk of the book details his first expedition to the west (1832-1833) using his letters and journals as its base. The narrative follows Wyeth on his trip to the fur trade rendezvous in Pierre’s Hole, on to the Pacific Northwest and then back to the East coast. Each of Wyeth’s journal entries are accompanied by the author’s commentary, providing insight into Wyeth’s experiences. The story is supplemented with information from the journals and letters of other people who were with him for all or part of the trip. The commentary also compares what Wyeth encountered in the west with events and occurrences from other trapper diaries. Ten maps and more than three dozen images illustrate the text.

Jim Hardee is the editor of the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Journal, published by the Sublette County Historical Society/Museum of the Mountain Man in Pinedale, Wyoming. Mr. Hardee is also the author of Pierre’s Hole: The Fur Trade History of Teton Valley, Idaho, and has published numerous articles on various fur trade topics. He is also the director of the Fur Trade Research Center and is a presenter for many conferences and symposiums.

Published by Sublette County Historical Society/Museum of the Mountain Man – 2013
Hardback, 500 pages, Black and White illustrations, 6 x9 inches
First Edition – 2000 Copies
ISBN: 978-0-9768113-7-4

To order copies of Obstinate Hope visit the Museum website at
or call 307-367-4101 or 1-877-686-6266

If you are interested in arranging a book signing with the author please contact or write:
Museum of the Mountain Man
Sublette County Historical Society Inc., A Foundation
PO Box 909
Pinedale, WY 82941

Archaic Camp – Who were the people who lived here 6,000 years ago and why were they here?

Archaeologists have uncovered a significant amount of evidence of people living in the Upper Green River Valley 5,000 to 7,000 years ago during the “Archaic” time period. In the 15 years of the gas boom from 1995 to 2010, archaeologists documented more than 5,500 cultural sites including surface sites, rock alignments, bone beds, animal sites and ancient game processing areas. Sublette County has one of the densest areas of known house pit sites in the state of Wyoming, many of which date to the Archaic periods 3,000 to 7,000 years ago. The house pits include post holes which are evidence of support poles used for the shelters people made when they were out on the area south of Pinedale. It is unknown how long these shelters were used, and if they were temporary or longer-term living structures. It is also not known exactly what they looked like, if they used straight tipi-like poles for a conical lodge or bent poles to create a rounded top, hut-like structure. The Sublette County Historical Society has created a 3-D best-guess representation of what one of these houses might have looked like, based on the archaeological evidence. The display, along with many pictures, is located downstairs in the Museum of the Mountain Man.

Sommers Ranch Homestead Open House-9/14/13

Annual open house, great food, exhibits, living history demonstrations. This year’s event will include a celebration for the Green River Drift nomination to the National Register. More details to come. This event is in conjunction with the opening of the Lander Trail New Fork River Crossing historical park. Two days of great history and fun, Friday and Saturday. Mark your calendars and plan to take part in the events on both days!

Three Worlds Meet-7/12/13 & 7/13/13

Friday & Saturday, July 12th & 13th

Three Worlds Meet animates Alfred Jacob Miller’s sketches and paintings through the “magic” of tableaux vivants. Popular in 19th century America, tableaux vivants use costumed actors in sustained poses to imitate well-known artworks. Based on rigorous scholarship, the Three Worlds Meet script and narrative features the words of William Drummond Stewart, Alfred Jacob Miller, and other fur trade personalities, as well as the languages and cultures of Native Americans. The Three Worlds Meet production, a series of tableaux vivants with narration, sound, and lighting effects, will debut during the Green River Rendezvous Days in July 2013.

The organizers plan to bring entertaining and innovative programs to additional venues, such as Jackson Hole and Murthly Castle in Perthshire, Scotland, the ancestral home of William Drummond Stewart.

Click here for a brochure.

Green River Rendezvous

The Sublette County Historical Society and Museum of the Mountain Man are excited to offer a variety of great programs again this year, along with the presentation of the Seventh Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Journal and Forum, 2013.

2013 Full Schedule (PDF)

Always the second full weekend in July!
Four full days of events at the Museum of the Mountain Man
Phone 1-877-686-6266 or 307-367- 4101 for more information

Thursday, July 11th
9:00 – 5:00 Museum of the Mountain Man Gallery & Gift Shop Open
3:00 – 5:00 American Mountain Men Encampment Setup
6:00 pm Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Journal Reception & 2013 Awards
7:00 Author presentations and book signing: Mark William Kelly – “Lost Voices on the Missouri: John Dougherty and the Indian Frontier”
7:30 pm RMFTJ Editor & Author Jim Hardee – “Obstinate Hope: the Western Expedition of Nathaniel J. Wyeth, 1832-1833”

Friday, July 12th
9:00 – 5:00 Museum of the Mountain Man Gallery & Gift Shop Open
9:00 – 10:00 AMM Camp – Mountain Man Clothing talk
9:00 – 10:30 Children’s Program with Lapita Frewin
10:00 – 11:00 “Trade Guns of the Fur Trade” by Barry Bohnet
10:30 – Noon Children’s Programs with Lapita Frewin
10:30 – 1:00 Bad Hand Plains Indian Encampment
11:00 – Noon AMM Camp – Sign Language talk
11:00 – 3:00 Buffalo Burger Lunch on the MMM patio
1:00 – 2:00 AMM Camp – Beaver Skinning demonstration, Trapping, Fur Press
1:00 – 2:15 Children’s Program with Lapita Frewin
2:00 – 4:00 Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Journal Guest Speakers
2:30 – 3:45 Children’s Program with Lapita Frewin
3:00 – 4:00 AMM Camp – Mtn Man Shelter, Buffalo Hides talk
3:00 – 5:00 Bad Hand Plains Indian Encampment
6:00 Three Worlds Meet Pinedale High School Auditorium (free!)

Saturday, July 13th
9:00 – 5:00 Museum of the Mountain Man Gallery & Gift Shop Open
9:00 – 11:00 AMM Camp – Horses, Tack & Packing talk
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 AMM Camp – Knives, Tools, Accoutrements talk
1:00 – 2:00 AMM Camp – AMM Camp – Beaver Skinning demonstration
1:00 – 2:30 Bad Hand Plains Indian Encampment
1:00 – 3:00 Children’s Programs by Lapita Frewin
2:00 – 3:00 AMM Camp – Firearms talk
2:00 – 4:00 Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Journal Guest Speakers
3:00 – 5:00 Bad Hand Plains Indian Encampment
4:00 – 5:00 AMM Camp – Beaver Trapping, Skinning, Fur Press talk & demos
6:00 Three Worlds Meet Pinedale High School Auditorium (free!)
8:30 American Mountain Man Campfire Stories and Songs

Sunday, July 14th
9:00 – 5:00 Museum of the Mountain Man Gallery and Gift Shop Open
9:00 – 10:00 AMM Camp – Sign Langage
10:00 – 11:00 AMM Camp – Horses, Tack & Packing
10:30 – 12:30 Bad Hand Plains Indian Encampment
11:00 – Noon AMM Camp – Mountain Man Clothing talk
1:00 Green River Rendezvous Pageant at the Rodeo Grounds
2:30 – 4:00 Bad Hand Plains Indian Encampment

All Journal/ Forum events held at the north lawn grandstand
All AMM demonstrations held at the north amphitheater
All Michael Terry events held at the far east area canopy
All Children’s programs held at the near east area canopy

Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Journal & Forum, The seventh annual Journal introduced with lectures by authors and discussion panels. Thursday evening will be a special reception and journal signing. Books will be available for purchase.

“Bad Hand” – Michael Terry, Native American Historian and Ethnologist, Plains Indian Encampment. His lectures are FREE to the public and give an overview of life of the Plains Indians in the 1800s.

Lapita Frewin
, heads up our Children’s Programs with morning and afternoon sessions, free to all kids.

The American Mountain Men
Trapper’s camp, north of the Museum at the amphitheater. Live lectures and demonstrations throughout Rendezvous weekend will include firearms, sign language, beaver trapping, clothes, tools, fire making, horse tack, packing, and stories & songs.

Friday & Saturday: Buffalo Burger Lunch Sponsored by Shell. 11:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Museum.

Museum Gallery & Gift Shop Open 9 am to 5 pm, and in the evening during Rendezvous.

The Sublette County Chamber of Commerce Rendezvous Parade is held on Saturday morning at 11:00 am down main street in Pinedale. The Green River Rendezvous Pageant is on Sunday at 1:00 pm at the Rendezvous Grounds just south of Pinedale adjacent to the rodeo grounds.

As part of Pinedale’s Green River Rendezvous weekend, the Society and Museum are excited to offer a variety of great programs for 2013. For other weekend events see the Pinedale Online Rendezvous Calendar and the Green River Rendezvous Pageant website.

Spring Thaw Party

Annual Sublette County Historical Society members meeting. 6 PM at the Museum in Pinedale. Short business meeting, then a presentation by retiring Historical Society President Clint Gilchrist on “Albert Bierstadt in the Green River Valley, 1859 – Sublette County’s Oldest Photographs.” Everyone welcome.

Spring Thaw Party – Annual Meeting of the Sublette County Historical Society

The Sublette County Historical Society held their annual meeting and Spring Thaw Party on Thursday, March 14th at the Museum of the Mountain Man. The membership elected J.D “Sam” Drucker as the new Board President, and Jackie Sell as a new board member. Retiring Sublette County Historical Society President, Clint Gilchrist, gave a presentation on photographs by artist Albert Bierstadt who came to the Green River Valley in 1859 with Frederick Lander. The Historical Society recently acquired a donation of two Albert Bierstadt photos taken along the Lander Cutoff of the Oregon Trail in 1859. They are believed to be the oldest photographs taken in Sublette County. Two new employees were hired in January, Kim Fletcher, as the new Business Manager, and Hannah Braun as Curator. The Museum also got a new look for the gift shop. The redecorating was donated by Wendy Walter and Mary Lynn Mickelson of The Barn Door Interior Design in Pinedale. Antique furniture, a beautiful red rug and round table, and crates were brought in to use as design elements for the displays. New items have been brought in to expand the purchase items in the gift shop. The delicious refreshments for the Spring Thaw Party were generously donated by Sue Eversull.

Beautiful wreaths on display at Museum’s annual Wreath Auction

The Museum of the Mountain Man held their 2012 Wreath & Chocolate Auction on Friday, December 7th at Rendezvous Pointe in Pinedale. A good crowd turned out to see and bid on all the beautiful and unique hand-made creations More than 50 wreaths and holiday decorations were entered this year. The event included a Silent Auction for chocolate delights and gift baskets. New this year was a raffle for several items. The annual Wreath & Chocolate Auction is the main fundraiser for the Museum of the Mountain Man and their programs and projects for the upcoming year. Jay Fear served as auctioneer again this year. The food was generously sponsored by First Bank. The beverages were provided by Wind River Brewing. This was the 19th year for this annual event to support the Museum.

Agreements pave the way for historic New Fork River Crossing Park

A significant historical site on the Lander Wagon Road (commonly known as the Lander Trail) in the Pinedale Anticline area has been preserved thanks to agreements by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), SWEPI LP (Shell), Ultra Resources (Ultra), and PacifiCorp (Rocky Mountain Power). As a result of the agreements, the three companies are funding the purchase of the property, to make it available to the public as the New Fork River Crossing Historical Park. Shell and Ultra are participating to mitigate natural gas field development impacts to the setting of the Lander Trail on the Pinedale Anticline. PacifiCorp is participating to mitigate transmission line impacts to the setting of the Lander Trail.

The Sublette County Historical Society (SCHS) will own, develop and operate the historical park in consultation with the BLM and other interested parties. Creation of the park provides a unique and permanent trail river setting experience for the public.

Other interested parties involved in the negotiations included the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation (ACHP), Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), Oregon-California Trails Association (OCTA), National Park Service – Long Distance Trail Office (NPS), Alliance for Historic Wyoming (AHW), Sublette County Historic Preservation Board (SCHPB), and the Lander Trail Foundation (LTF).

Once the park is developed, the Wyoming Land Trust will hold a permanent conservation easement on the property. Each of the three companies (Shell, Ultra and PacifiCorp) donated one-third of the cost of the property to SCHS, which affected the purchase of the property on August 20, 2010. SCHS will raise additional funds to develop the property.

Historical significance of the Lander Trail and New Fork River Crossing Historical Park site:
The Lander Trail is part of the federally-designated National Historic Trails. Unlike other emigrant trails that evolved from repeated use, the Lander Trail was actually a constructed road, the first federally funded road west of the Mississippi River. The 256-mile wagon road, built in 1858, started at Burnt Ranch near South Pass, in Wyoming, and ended at Fort Hall in Idaho. It was an alternative to the original Oregon Trail through Fort Bridger, saving up to seven days of travel, avoiding larger desert sections and avoiding expensive ferry crossings over the Green River.

The road was engineered and built by its namesake, Frederick Lander. Lander had an extensive background in railroad construction in the east and had been part of the Pacific Railroad Survey in 1853. He worked on improving emigrant trails from 1857 until entering the Civil War in 1861. Lander died from a battle wound in 1862. He estimated that 13,000 emigrants used the new road in its first full year 1859. The road was used extensively until the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869. The road continued to see some emigrant traffic into the 20th century and played an important role in the settlement of the area.

Major river crossings like the New Fork were significant markers for the emigrants because of the peril in crossing, but were also common camp spots. The New Fork River crossing was one of the most difficult on the Lander Trail, and because it followed an 18-mile waterless desert, the crossing was also a camp site for most emigrants. River corridors were later prized homestead sites, so almost all river crossings are now on private land.

The Lander Trail Today:
The Lander Trail has been marked and can be followed on public land for much of its length including the 18-mile desert section through the Green River Valley which is bisected by the Pinedale Anticline. The BLM and companies carefully manage the road through the Anticline with a no surface occupancy (NSO) for ¼ mile on each side of the trail. Additionally a 3-mile viewshed buffer limits drilling activities, and best management practices minimize impacts to the road setting.

Realistically, it is not possible to eliminate all impacts to the road setting. Instead of mitigating each separate impact to the road (i.e. a new well pad) as natural gas development progresses, these agreements recognize the overall effects over the life of the development and define an appropriate collective mitigation.

Plans for the New Fork River Crossing Park:
The New Fork River Crossing Historical Park sits about 5 miles west of the crest of the Anticline and just on the edge of the Pinedale Anticline Project Area (PAPA). The park is 82 acres in size with more than half a mile of river frontage. The setting at the park is very similar to what emigrants experienced 150 years ago. The goal is to leave the area as untouched as possible, so development of park facilities will be minimal. A parking lot will be developed at the entrance and the rest of the property will be accessible only by walking trails with interpretive signs. The park will be open in the summer for day use with no overnight camping. SCHS plans to open the park sometime during the summer of 2011.


Aimee Davison, Natural Resources Advisor for Shell in Pinedale: “Responsible development of natural gas on the Pinedale Anticline means respecting areas that are culturally and historically significant. Shell and Ultra’s contribution for the historical park will help preserve the setting and significance of the Lander Road, allowing future generations of residents and visitors to enjoy the history of Southwest Wyoming.”

Larry Elcock, Rocky Mountain Power, Customer and Community Manager: “We’re pleased to be part of this collaborative process to make the Lander Trail New Fork River Crossing Park a reality, and available to the public. Rocky Mountain Power has provided safe and reliable electric service to Wyoming customers for nearly 100 years, and we think it’s important to be a good corporate citizen and community partner in the areas we serve.”

John Fowler, Executive Director of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. “This was a good outcome for all parties, demonstrating how the Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act enables projects while protecting our heritage when creatively applied. The BLM mitigated adverse effects to the historic Lander Trail from both a new transmission line and additional gas and oil development. It permitted both efforts to proceed while protecting the historic river crossing by placing it in the hands of the Sublette County Historic Society.”

Clint Gilchrist, Sublette County Historical Society: “The New Fork River was an oasis after the desert to emigrants 150 years ago, half way along their 6-month journey to Oregon or California. During the peak summer months hundreds of people each day camped here before or after braving the dangerous crossing. After the emigrant era, the crossing was never cultivated, so remains today much like what the emigrants experienced. The gas development through the Pinedale Anticline could last a generation or two, but the New Fork Crossing Historical Park will now last forever. This is a tremendous legacy Shell, Ultra, PacifiCorp and the BLM have made possible.”

David Welch, Oregon-California Trails Association, National Preservation Office: “The New Fork River Crossing land purchase marks a milestone in the achievement of adequate mitigation for impacts to cultural resources like the Lander Road due to the development of natural resources in the area. While acknowledging the need for these resources, we must protect historical sites to the same degree that we work to protect our wildlife and the environment. The participation of the developers (Shell, Ultra Petroleum and PacifiCorp) indicates their acknowledgement of this responsibility. The combined efforts of the Sublette County Historical Society, the Alliance for Historic Wyoming and the Oregon-California Trails Association demonstrates how a partnership can help achieve our mutual objectives.”

Fur Trade Papers: Press Release

Joint Press Release February 3rd, 2010
Sublette County and Sublete County Historical Society

Sublette County acquires rare fur-trade documents
Auction a ‘Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’

Sublette County and the Sublette County Historical Society are proud to announce the acquisition of a number of very unique and important historical documents related to the Rocky Mountain fur trade of the early 1800s in Sublette County.

Just before Christmas, the Historical Society became aware of an extraordinary public auction of a huge collection of extremely rare original documents related to American history. This was an estate auction from the private collection of Floyd Risvold, who passed away in June 2009 in Minnesota. Risvold, 97 years old at the time of his death, had been a collector of historical documents for over five decades, mostly with a focus on postal routes related to American exploration and expansion.

The Risvold collection included material from early Indian wars, American fur trade companies, Civil War, Mormon history, railroads, steamboats, Pony Express letters, military forts, and much more. The collection included historical postal envelopes – many with their original contents, autographs, manuscripts, rare photos and books – documents which bring to life the story of America’s journey westward.

The documents included a collection of particular interest to the Historical Society and the Museum of the Mountain Man: an extensive assortment of letters and business papers related to the Rocky Mountain fur trade era of the early 1800s. The Upper Green River Valley was one of the primary locations for fur trapping and trading activity during that time period, and this history is the main focus of the Museum of the Mountain Man.

Actual artifacts and original documents that directly relate to the fur trade are extremely rare, and this auction represented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase genuine, irreplaceable artifacts which are a part of American history. Fur-trade documents rarely come available on the open market.

This estate auction garnered national attention and attracted over 600 bidders. With very few recent comparables, no one really knew what the documents were worth or what they would sell for.

The Historical Society immediately acted to fundraise private money to obtain as many documents as it could for the Museum of the Mountain Man in Pinedale. Historical Society members pored over the catalog of hundreds of documents to come up with a priority list.

The documents the Historical Society was interested in were letters and business papers written and signed by some of the biggest names in the Rocky Mountain fur trade such as William Sublette, Robert Campbell, Thomas Fitzpatrick, John Jacob Astor, William Ashley, Jedediah Smith, Nathaniel Wyeth, Lucien Fontenelle, William Drummond Stewart, and more.

Creating a sense of urgency to the fundraising efforts was the news from experts in the field that the document sale prices could go many times the estimated high bid price listed for each document.

The Historical Society decided to approach the Sublette County Commissioners for additional funding for the acquisition effort. The Sublette County Museum Board and County Commissioners agreed to use money from the County’s Museum Board reserve fund to assist in purchasing as many top priority documents as possible. On such short notice, it would have been impossible for the Historical Society to bring these rare documents back to Sublette County without the emergency help of the County Commissioners, and it was an opportunity Sublette County would likely never have on this scale again.

The three-day auction was held January 27-29 at the Spink Shreves Galleries in downtown Manhattan. Historical Society board member Clint Gilchrist, fur trade historian Jim Hardee and Historical Society member Dawn Ballou flew to New York for the auction with a Wish List of 65 lots of specific interest to Sublette County related to the Rocky Mountain fur trade.

Lots were auctioned at a pace of about one per minute, with bids entered live in the room, over multiple live telephone lines, two live internet feeds and mailed-in. Early on the first day, a John Adams letter set the tone by selling for $160,000. Later a Stephen F. Austin letter sold for $180,000 – 12 times its estimated value. However, most lots went in the low thousands range. The final total of 1300 lots was over $7 million.

Ultimately, Sublette County was able to obtain 35 lots and the Historical Society obtained 4 lots of the 65 lots on the Wish List. Some of the lots contained multiple documents, so the total acquisition was a little over 90 documents for a total of $271,000.

To the community, the Museum, and to history scholars, these documents are priceless. They will become the cornerstone for many future exhibits, interpretive displays and educational programs for years to come.

These valuable papers are now in a publicly-accessible repository. They will reside in an institution where the people of Sublette County, and the nation, will be able to see and learn from them. Most have never been publically available before.

Far from the reclusive, old, outcast portrayed in fiction books and movies, the letters help reveal educated, adventurous, young men conducting well organized big business that eventually involved the richest man in the country. For example, in a series of William Sublette letters, the prominent fur trader writes about problems with acquisition and transportation of tens of thousands of dollars worth of trade goods on the east coast destined for the Green River Rendezvous in what was to become Sublette County, Wyoming.

The County document collection will be preserved and housed through an agreement with the Historical Society at the Museum of the Mountain Man. The Museum will be responsible for managing, protecting, interpreting and displaying the documents. The documents may also be displayed at the Green River Valley Museum in Big Piney. It will take years to interpret and publish the hundreds of stories related to the content of this incredible document collection.

The papers will come to the Museum by private carrier sometime this week. Once they arrive, the Museum’s curator will carefully inspect and stabilize them. The documents will be scanned at high resolution so the originals can be safely stored and the process of transcribing the handwritten documents will begin using the scanned copies. Some of these documents are extremely fragile, so it is important that the originals be handled as little as possible.

No decisions have been made as to when the documents will be on public display, but it will be as soon as possible once a preservation plan is developed. There has already been much discussion about the endless opportunities for interpretation, education and public displays related to these valuable documents.

About the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade era – 1824 to 1840

The Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Era started in 1824 when a small group of trappers including Jedediah Smith, William Sublette, and Thomas Fitzpatrick came over South Pass to find the Green River Valley, full of beaver and few hostile Indians. They quickly developed a system of trappers working the winter in the mountains and a re-supply train meeting them at summer rendezvous taking beaver pelts back to St. Louis, Missouri for sale.

The Green River Valley became the center of the mountain fur trade hosting half of the summer rendezvous, and six were held near present day Daniel at the confluence of the Horse and Green rivers. With the decline of beaver and beaver prices, the era ended with the last formal rendezvous in 1840. But the trails blazed by the trappers would open the way for the flood of emigrants on the California and Oregon Trails just a few years later.

Just like those of us today who have chosen Sublette County as our home, some of the men could not stay away from the mountains they grew to love. Jim Bridger built a fort in the southern end of the valley which became an important resupply post for pioneers on the Oregon Trail. Well after the hey-day of the rendezvous, William Drummond Stewart and William Sublette travelled 1000 miles from St. Louis in 1843 for a two-week rendezvous reunion vacation on the shores of Fremont Lake and the banks of the New Fork River.

Many current landmarks are tied to the era of the mountain man. In 1922, the newly formed Sublette County was named after William Sublette. The Jim Bridger Wilderness in the Wind River Mountain range and the Bridger-Teton National Forest are named for the famous mountain man who spent his whole adult life in the mountains. The Fitzpatrick Wilderness, named for mountain man Thomas Fitzpatrick, is on the eastern slopes of the Wind River Range. The Jedediah Smith Wilderness is located west of Jackson Hole. Fort Bonneville, an early fur-trade post, is located just northwest of present-day Daniel, Wyoming. The Hoback, Greys, Labarge, Fontenelle, Blacks Fork, and Hams Fork rivers are all named for mountain men. These all stand as reminders of the mark these brave and enterprising men left on the land and on our heritage.

Each summer for the past 75 years, Sublette County has celebrated Green River Rendezvous Days, a re-enactment of the rendezvous and activities of the mountain men who frequented the Green River Valley.

The trappers and their time can seem like a distant or faded memory. These 175-year-old documents represent an opportunity to learn more about the events of the fur trade era through the actual words of the people living it in the 1820s and 1830s, bringing the men and our history back to life.

About the Sublette County Historical Society and the Museum of the Mountain Man

The Historical Society is a non-profit foundation organized in 1935. It is the oldest historical society in Wyoming.

The Museum of the Mountain Man is operated by the Historical Society in a public-private partnership with Sublette County. The Museum of the Mountain Man was opened in 1990 in Pinedale. The Historical Society holds over 15,000 artifacts ranging from pre-historic to the settlement era.

Approximately one-half of the Historical Society’s yearly budget is from private funds and one-half is public funds, via the Sublette County Museum Board. This unique 50-year-old partnership is a commitment by local government and private citizens to work together for local history. Sublette County’s community heritage is preserved and interpreted by a private foundation that can raise private funds to maximize the power of the public funds.

Founding members of the Historical Society began the modern-day rendezvous reenactment program in 1936 in Daniel, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1836 rendezvous, which was attended by the first white women to cross the Continental Divide. The Rendezvous Pageant is still performed every year in July by the Green River Rendezvous Pageant Association during Rendezvous Days in Pinedale.

Artifacts directly traceable to the mountain man are extremely rare. The Museum’s collection has many period-correct pieces from the fur-trade era, but few directly attributable to the mountain men. Genuine artifacts in the Museum’s collection include a rifle owned by Jim Bridger after the fur trade era and archaeological pieces from the site of Fort Bonneville. Sublette County’s acquisition of the fur-trade papers significantly expands the Museum’s genuine artifact collection and ability to interpret the Rocky Mountain fur-trade era.

Our mountain man heritage is the kinship we have to those adventurous young men who chose this remote and harsh environment to make a living, much like those of us who live here today. We have a multi-generational history of embracing and celebrating the men who opened the West and expanded a country.

For more information contact the Museum of the Mountain Man,
PO Box 909
Pinedale, Wyoming 82941
Email: – Phone: 877-686-6266 – Fax: 307-367-6768

Fur Trade Papers: Use Policy

The Sublette County Fur Trade Papers are owned by Sublette County or the Sublette County Historical Society. Scans are made available free online for personal, research, and educational use. The scanned images can not be reproduced in any media (including, but not limited to print, internet, video) without prior permission.

To obtain a higher resolution scan and/or get permission to reproduce an image, read the Photo Use Policy and fill out a Photo Request Form. A small processing fee will apply.

The original papers are old and fragile, so access is limited. Very high resolutions scans have been made which should satisfy the vast majority of research needs. Original papers may be viewed by researchers in rare cases where scans and reproductions are not sufficient. If needed, please contact to discuss access needs and policies.

To refer to content of one of the fur trade papers please use reference “Sublette County Fur Trade Papers, Museum of the Mountain Man, Pinedale, WY,,”, where is the accession number of the paper.

All images used must give credit as follows “Courtesy of the Museum of the Mountain Man/Sublette County Fur Trade Papers, Pinedale, WY”

Sublette County Historical Society
Museum of the Mountain Man
PO Box 909, Pinedale, WY 82941
Phone: 307-367-4101