Mountain Men And The Fur Trade
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Opening Up The West
The beaver resources of western Wyoming’s Green River Basin became the focal point for efforts to procure the valuable pelts. The reasons why were threefold: 1) the Northern Rockies beaver had much thicker fur then its counterpart to the south; 2) beaver fur was in high demand because it was the preferred fashion on hats at the time; 3) this region had an astoundingly high quantity of beavers.
On To The Bighorn
It would take another 16 years before trappers again came through the Bighorn Canyon area. This would be done by the so called Mountain Men who were working for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company headed by business partners William Ashley and Andrew Henry. These mountain men inaugurated a ten year period from 1823 - 1833, where the Bad Pass Trail was heavily traveled.
A Route Wild And Perilous
The difficult Bad Pass route, plagued by rugged terrain and the constant threat of Indian attack was given up. By the late 1830s the trade in beaver furs was also dying out. Most of the major trapping grounds had been exhausted and a change in fashion - to silk hats - sent the business into a downward spiral from which it never recovered.
Nonetheless, the mountain men had blazed new paths in and around the Bighorn Canyon region. Though the era lasted only a few decades, the fur trader’s legacy of exploration, commerce and contact with native tribes would influence the course of western history for years to come.
Mountain Men And The Bad Pass Trail was a perfect fit to carry furs back from fur trade rendezvous.
Did You Know?
The Lockhart Ranch - the best preserved historic homestead - in the Bighorn Basin was owned by noted author Caroline Lockhart. Starting with 160 acres in 1926, she added land until she controlled over 6,000 acres. More...