Mountain men had an even
harder life than the frontiersmen. They lived alone with only the
animals and Indians for company. Some traveled on horses while other
used small rafts along the rivers. Mountain men lived off the land,
eating what they could find. They were in constant danger. Wild
animals and Indians were their enemies. They had to fight the cold
and snow. Some mountain men became explorers and guides.
Jim Bridger was a
mountain man who became an explorer and guide. He traveled
many of the same routes as Lewis and Clark. He also helped
Jedidiah Smith find the South Pass through the Rocky
Mountains. This pass was used by settlers moving to
Bridger was hired in
1822 by the Ashley-Henry Fur Trading Company to trade with
the Indians. As part of his job, Bridger helped construct
the first fur trading post on the Yellowstone River. He
was the first white man to see Utah’s Great Salt Lake.
After tasting its salty contents, Bridger thought he had
found the Pacific Ocean.
From 1830 to 1840,
Bridger spent his time trapping. When he became tired of
traveling, Bridger built Fort Bridger by the Green River
along the Oregon Trail. This became a regular stopping
place for pioneers traveling west.
Bridger lost his first
wife, lost a daughter, remarried, and then lost his second
wife. After each tragedy, Bridger isolated himself in the
mountains to trap and hunt.
In 1850, Bridger married
the daughter of a Shoshoni chief. The two divided their
time between Fort Bridger and the Shoshoni.
After Mormons burned
Fort Bridger in 1853, he moved his family into the
mountains. Bridger spent ten years as a guide and army
scout during this time
In 1868, Bridger retired to his Westport farm. He died at
the age of 76 on July 17, 1881.
Bridger was a great story teller. He told many tall tales.
He told of a lake near the Grand Canyon that was freezing
cold at the bottom and boiling hot at the top. Bridger
said you could catch a fish at the bottom and by the time
you pulled it out of the lake it would be cooked and ready
Davy Crockett was born
in 1786 in East Tennessee. At the age of 12, Crockett’s
father hired him out to Jacob Siler to herd cattle. After
the job, Crockett returned home and started school. He ran
away soon afterwards to escape his father’s punishment for
playing hooky. Crockett worked odd jobs including a
wagoner to support himself for 2 ½ years. Crockett
returned home in 1802 and spent a year working to pay off
his father’s debts.
Crocket married Mary
Finley on August 14, 1806 when he was 20 years old. They
had two sons.
In 1813, Crockett began
his military career. He served under Andrew Jackson
fighting the Creek Indians.
In 1815, Crockett’s wife
died, and he remarried Elizabeth Patton. Elizabeth was a
widow with two young children.
Crockett was elected to
the Tennessee State Legislature in 1821 and to Congress in
1825. Crockett spoke against many of President Andrew
Jackson’s policies, especially the Indian Removal Act. His
opposition led to his defeat in the 1831 elections. He was
reelected in 1833 and 1835.
Crockett wrote his
autobiography called "A
Narrative of the Life of David Crockett, of the State of
In 1836, after losing the election for Congress, Crockett
moved his family to Texas. Crockett died on March 6, 1836
trying to defend the Alamo. Crockett fought for 13 days
against thousands of Mexican soldiers by General Antonio
Lopez de Santa Anna. Santa Anna was later defeated on
April 21, 1836. After this defeat, Texas won her
independence. Texas became a state on December 29, 1845.
Carson was born on
December 24, 1809 in Kentucky. He grew up in Boone’s Lick
on lands bought from Daniel Boone. His father died when he
was just 9, so Carson left school to help his mother.
At the age
of 14, Carson moved to
Franklin, Missouri to serve as an apprentice to a saddle
maker. In 1826, Carson broke his contract with the saddle
maker, so he could lead a wagon train to Santa Fe, New
Mexico. After this, he worked as a trapper.
In 1842, John C. Frémont, an officer for the U.S.
Topographical Corps, hired Carson to guide him on his
expedition to Oregon and California. Frémont’s writing
made Carson a national hero. He became a popular hero in
many Western novels.
Carson spent several years working for the United States
government. In 1846, Carson fought in the Mexican-American
War. Later he became a federal Indian agent. He carried
important messages for President James Polk.
Carson fought in the Civil War for the Union Army. In
1863, Carson led a campaign against several Native
American tribes. He helped relocate the Navajo to Bosque
Redondo, a reservation located at Fort Sumner in New
After the Civil War, Carson moved to Colorado where he
became commander of Fort Garland. He negotiated a peace
treaty with the Utes in the area. In 1867, he resigned
because of his health. Carson died on May 23, 1868, at
Colorado's Fort Lyon.
Stories about a giant north woodsman who was
helped by a giant blue ox named Babe were told. This mountain man
was named Paul Bunyan.
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