Today, fur trappers and traders are legendary figures in the American West and are often referred to as mountain men. They blazed trails across uncharted territory, guided pioneers, and were some of the first Europeans to interact with indigenous cultures. Their names stir up images of individuality, ruggedness and conjure a picture of one person alone against wilderness. The reality is a little different than the legend. While there were free trappers, the typical mountain man generally worked for a company and it was these companies that recorded routes through the west. Additionally, most mountain men worked together as a team to collect as many pelts as possible, so while they did explore vast areas of wilderness, they were almost never alone. However, their adventures were every bit as amazing as they sound and in many ways are even more compelling than the legend that grew around them.
Some of the first European visitors to the area that is now called Dinosaur National Monument and the Uinta Basin were trappers working for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. This company was created by William H. Ashley and Andrew Henry in St Louis and was often referred to as Ashley's Hundred, as they intended to recruit one hundred young men for the venture. Through the company's years of operations its ranks included many now famous individuals such as Hugh Glass, Jedediah Smith, Kit Carson and Jim Bridger. In May of 1825, they set out from what is now the town of Green River, WY in search of beaver pelts. The journey took them through what is now Flaming Gorge Reservoir and Browns Park and they were about to be the first known travelers to float the Green River in Dinosaur, an adventure that many park visitors enjoy today.