Jedediah Smith

Jedediah Smith

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Jedediah Strong Smith was born in Bainbridge, New York, on January 6, 1799. He supposedly read about the Lewis and Clark Expedition as a small boy and was inspired by that great adventure.Adventures and misadventures beginIn 1822, 23-year-old Smith responded to an advertisement in the St. Louis Gazette and Public Advertiser calling for adventurous young fellows to explore the West. He soon became a member of General William Ashley's exploration and fur-trapping team.Early on in 1823, a grizzly ripped off Smith's scalp and one ear. With only a flint, knife, and his Bible, Smith stayed alive by eating beaver meat.Smith later became primarily a guide and one of three partners of the new Rocky Mountain Fur Company. (By late 1826 the young businessman and two associates had bought out General Ashley.)A meandering route into CaliforniaIn 1824 at the age of 26, Smith escorted a 15-member expedition, the first American group through South Pass, explored the areas north to the Canadian border, and then headed south to the Great Salt Lake in what is now Utah. In 1825, his group moved from Salt Lake, across Ute and Paiute lands, down the Colorado River, through the Mojave Desert, over the High Sierras and on to Mission San Gabriel near Los Angeles, California.After staying at the mission for two months, authorities took Smith to San Diego. The Mexican governor, José María Echeandía, wary of American intrusion, ordered Smith and his party to leave.Instead of leaving, Smith's party went into the San Joaquin Valley via Tejon Pass and went north.In May 1827 he returned to Utah to hire more trappers, but as they crossed the Colorado River, the formerly agreeable Mohave Indians assaulted and killed 10 men. When Smith and his remaining men reached Mission San José, he was arrestedand sent again to Governor Echeandía.Again banished from the province, the party went north through redwood country and reached what would be named the Smith River in June 1828. That year, Smith & Co. He was posthumously honored when the river and a state park were named in his honor.Heading homeTwo years later, Smith and his partners sold their business and returned to St. Louis. Smith adapted to a more-ordinary existence.He had, however, promised to make one last trek to the Southwest. Smith left Missouri in 1831 and followed the Santa Fe Trail. On May 27, he was encircled and killed by Comanche warriors at a watering hole near the Cimarron River in New Mexico. His remains were never recovered.Smith’s exploration did much to bring fur trappers into the American West. Classic mountain-man experiences aside, Smith was a strikingly atypical denizen of the Rockies — he consumed no liquor, no tobacco, had little sense of humor, and held a strong religious faith.

Death of A Mountain Man

On May 27, 1831, Jedediah Smith’s desperate attempt to find water for his wagon train led him off the main trail of the Cimarron Cutoff of the Santa Fe Trail down Sand Creek, a tributary of the Cimarron River. While watering his horse, with his guard down, Smith was ambushed and killed by a small party of Comanches, after he killed their chief.
— “The Trapper’s Last Shot” by William T. Ranney, Courtesy The Beinecke Library, Yale University —

“Yet was he modest, never obtrusive, charitable, ‘without guile,’…a man whom none could approach without respect, or know without esteem. And though he fell under the spears of the savages, and his body glutted the prairie wolf, and none can tell where his bones are bleaching, he must not be forgotten.”

The anonymous eulogy to Jedediah Smith was published in Illinois Monthly Magazine in June 1832. The author’s view of Jed Smith’s character and motives differs from the views of Maurice S. Sullivan and Dale L. Morgan, the scholars who have worked most fully on his life. I see Smith as a man torn by conflicting allegiances—the values of his church and his society, and the values he learned and lived by in the wilderness. The evidence of his letters to his family seems to be that he judged his life as a mountain man to be wicked that conviction seems to have been deep and sincere. He seems to have damned himself for his love of wildness in the same way that settlers would later damn most mountain men for it. So he went home in an attempt to live by his beliefs he professed.

Smith says nothing about his decision to return to the mountains in 1831. Though it was only a partial turning back to his former way of life, I think it expressed a strong-felt need, a need he probably chastised himself for. So what is remarkable here, to me, is the conflict between professed values and the values he actually lived by. When his anonymous eulogist said that Smith made his altar the mountaintop, he meant that as a tribute to Smith’s ability to live in Christian faith in the mountains. The irony may be that Smith made the mountaintop his altar in a different sense—that he replaced, symbolically, the altar of the Christian Church with his mountaintop as an object of worship.

I believe that Smith, had he lived, would have been unable to stick to his decision to become a respectable citizen of the settlements.

A descendent of Puritan New Englanders, Jedediah Strong Smith was born in 1799, the oldest of four brothers, and raised on the edge of the New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio frontiers.
— True West Archives —

The Pious Man of the Mountains

Jed had been aware, from the beginning that he was unlike most of the men in the mountains. He was learned, for one thing. He was serious—serious about his religion, serious about turning a profit, serious about writing a book and making maps. He didn’t go for debauchery: He stayed away from Indian women and didn’t join in the rendezvous carousing. He tried to practice his religion in a profane environment.

Jed, a Christian in the Puritan tradition, regarded making money as one of a man’s positive duties, and thought of unused capital as an evil. He now had to decide on some use for his capital. Well, he might go to Ohio and that farm eventually, but he wanted some business venture in the meantime. The role of gentleman farmer may have pulled at his fancy, but not strongly enough. He hired Samuel Parkman, a young man who had gone to the mountains in 1829 and come back with Jedediah, to copy out his journals and help him make his maps. That was one important enterprise.

He also thought that he might go into a partnership with Robert Campbell. He discovered, though, that his Irish friend had gone home to Ireland Robert’s brother Hugh, who lived in Richmond, Virginia, informed Jed that Robert’s health was failing again. He wrote to Hugh with good wishes for Robert’s well-being and a fervent wish that the two friends might be together again. In the spring, he added, he would still have capital to start a business with Robert.

Younger brothers Peter and Austin had wanted to follow ’Diah to the mountains. Another young man, J. J. Warner, came to Jed for advice on how to become a mountain man Jed talked him out of such a pagan life. So Jed began to think of the West again—not Absaroka and Cache Valley, this time, but Santa Fe. Maybe he could explore the possibilities of trade with the Mexican provinces.

He missed the mountains. Writing t o Hugh Campbell on November 24, 1830, just a month back from the mountains, he admitted, “I am much more in my element, when conversing with the uncivilized Man, or Setting My Beaver Traps, than in writing Epistles.”

He decided to put off going home. He did miss his father, his teacher Dr. Simons, and his brother Ralph. But that could wait. Business, he told them, was too pressing. He didn’t add that the lure of wild country was too strong.

Jedediah Smith’s Christian piety was a moral compass he did not waver from when it came to his relationship with American Indian women during his 10-year career as a fur trapper in the American West.
— “Giving a Drink to a Thirsty Trapper” by Alfred Jacob Miller, Courtesy The Beinecke Library, Yale University —

He made up his mind for Santa Fe. That was less risky than beaver trapping, even though the route lay through Indian country. He knew the business of supplying, and plenty of trappers were operating out of Santa Fe and Taos. He could get Peter, Austin, and J. J. Warner started in the world, give them a taste of the trail and the mountains, and still not be shot at by Blackfeet. At first he thought that he himself might not go along—he’d just handle the business end. But by the end of January, Jed had determined to hit the trail again. He wrote General Ashley for help in getting a passport.

He could explain it all to himself. He was making a good investment he was going into a business he knew he was g iving a hand to young men of enterprise. Besides that, he could go beyond Santa Fe and see the Southwest. That was the only part of the entire West he did not know firsthand a trip there would let him complete his map. He didn’t have to believe that he was giving in to the perverseness of his wicked heart, or to an uncivilized love of wild places.

Bill Sublette and David Jackson, meanwhile, had been waiting for Tom Fitzpatrick to arrive with confirmation of their deal to take supplies to rendezvous in the summer of 1831. But Fitzpatrick had not shown up. They had already arranged to buy the provisions and equipment. Stuck, they elected to go with Jed. Legally, the two parties would be separate, and Sublette-Jackson would get an independent passport and hire their men and sell their goods independently. But the outfits would travel together as far as Santa Fe. So, by late March of 1831, Jedediah Smith, who had tried to commit himself to the settlements by buying a farm, a fine house and two servants, was back in the mountain trade with his old partners.

In 1831, after 10 seasons tramping, trapping and trading across the West, Jedediah Smith thought he might settle back into civilization in St. Louis, Missouri. But the siren call of the trail—as well as the opportunity to establish new profitable trading partners in New Mexico—led the veteran mountain man to organize a wagon party to Santa Fe with three of his most trusted compadres of the beaver trade: Bill Sublette, David Jackson and Tom Fitzpatrick.
— “Mural of Western Trappers and Mountain Men” by Alfred Jacob Miller, Jackson Lake Lodge, Courtesy Gates Frontiers Fund Wyoming Collection within the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress —

The Siren Call of the Trail West

They set out from St. Louis on April 10 with 22 wagons, including one bearing a six-pound cannon, and 74 men. Before they reached the frontier, two more independent wagons and nine more men joined them. Near Lexington, Missouri, they camped for final preparations. Jed took the precaution of making a new will, since he was heading back into Indian territory. But they still had several hundred miles of beautiful rolling plains before any possible danger.

Then they had a surprise in camp: Tom Fitzpatrick rode in. He was headed for St. Louis, two months late, to contract with Sublette and Jackson for supplies for the 1831 rendezvous.

The Irishman explained: Henry Fraeb and Jean Baptiste Gervais had gone to Snake country Jim Bridger, Milton Sublette and he had moved back to the Three Forks area, again in strength, to cash in on Blackfoot country. They had made a good hunt but during the winter they had heard nothing from their other two partners. Finally they decided to take a chance on buying a new outfit anyway. But Fitz hadn’t gotten away until March to make the express to the settlements. What could be done about the outfit?

Jackson and Sublette were not carrying exactly what they would have taken to the mountains. They were supplying two towns as well as possibly some trappers. They decided that if Fitzpatrick would go along to Santa Fe, they would supply him there. Sublette and Jackson would let him have two-thirds of the outfit, and Smith the other third. The credit of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company was good with these old friends. But Fitzpatrick would have to get the goods to rendezvous on his own. And since it was already into the first week of May, he would be plenty late.

So they set out for Council Grove. They had no troubles that they weren’t used to— drizzle for days at a time, miry ground and willful mules. At Council Grove they stocked up on wood for axles—the country was barren from here on—and got organized into disciplined units for traveling safely through Indian territory. Before long a war party made a charge on the wagons, but the cannon scared them off. A little later the clerk for Sublette and Jackson dropped behind the party to hunt and was killed by Pawnees. The Santa Fe Trail was not looking as trouble-free as it was supposed to be. This expedition, though, had an unsurpassed congregation of masters of the craft of the plains and the mountains. Jed Smith, Bill Sublette, David Jackson and Tom Fitzpatrick were four of the half-dozen most skilled mountain men living.

In 1826, Jedediah Smith was the first to lead a party of trappers to California from Salt Lake, south to the Colorado River, and then west across the Mojave Desert and San Bernardino Mountains. Returning under extreme conditions, he crossed the Sierra Nevada and the states of Nevada and Utah to Salt Lake.
— “Trappers Starting for the Beaver Hunt” by Alfred Jacob Miller, True West Archives —

They followed the Arkansas River southwest for over a hundred miles to come to the place where the route forked. The round-about way was easier and safer—along the river to the mountains and then due south, through Raton Pass, to Santa Fe. The short way was quick but treacherous. It was a straight line across the Cimarron Desert. It was a scorched country without water, without any landmark, crisscrossed by buffalo trails that disguised the wagon road and could lead a party the wrong way and into a torturous death by thirst. They took the Cimarron Cutoff. If anybody knew how to cross a desert and find water when he had to, it was Jed Smith.

In the confusing maze of buffalo trails, even these old hands lost their way. Soon they had spent three days without water. The animals were about to die. The men were delirious with thirst. Discipline was breaking down and small groups were wandering through the desert in a desperate search for water.

So Jed did what needed doing. Taking Fitzpatrick with him, he pushed ahead of the wagon train to try to find a water hole or a spring. He knew that the Cimarron meandered out there somewhere. Even if it was as sporadically wet as the Inconstant River, he would find a hole and dig for water.

Jim “Old Gabe” Bridger was a peer and well-respected friend of Jedediah Smith. They both went west with William Ashley and Andrew Henry’s Ashley-Henry Company in 1822 and spent many seasons together trapping beaver across the West. Both were masters of survival, trailblazing, mapmaking and trading. Bridger, Smith’s junior by six years, would out-live Smith by 50 years, dying at 77 years old in Kansas City, Missouri, on July 17, 1881.
— True West Archives —

The two men came to a hollow that should have had water. It was dry. Jed told Fitzpatrick to stay there, dig for water, and tell the main party in which direction he had gone. He was going to look further ahead. It was a dangerous choice in Indian country, because a lone man was an irresistible temptation. But Jed had to take the chance. He found the dry bed of the Cimarron 15 miles further on. It was dried to sand in most places, but here and there were holes filled with liquid. Jed’s mind said caution: Buffalo holes would make good hunting spots for Indians and were likely to be watched. But his body cried out for wet. He rode down, let his horse walk in, and waded in himself.

After his pain eased, he got back on his horse. He would be able to save the wagon train now. But when he turned, Jed saw a band of 15 or 20 Comanches blocking his way. He realized they had crept up while he was splashing in the water. He knew his chances were slim: The Comanches had a reputation for savagery.

His one hope was to make a strong front of it. He rode straight up to them and made signs of peace. They paid no attention. Since he had his gun cocked, the Indians fanned out to either side, away from the line of his rifle. Jed watched to make sure they didn’t get behind him, and again tried to talk to their leader.

His horse was fidgeting back-ward. Suddenly the Indians began shouting at the horse and waving their blankets to frighten it. The horse wheeled and turned so that Jed’s back was to the flank of braves. Instantly, one of them fired and hit him in the shoulder. Jed gasped, his breath knocked away. He turned the horse around to front, leveled his Hawken, and killed the chief.

He grabbed for his pistols. A lance knocked his arm away from a handle. Two more blows, like sledgehammers, crushed his chest. He felt a falling, back and sideways, like falling in a dream, falling without stopping. He forced his eyes to register: Blue, a vivid blue. He couldn’t think what the blue might be. It darkened. And the sense of falling slipped away.

Between 1822, when the Ashley men first went West (including Jedediah Smith), and 1843, when the first hordes of emigrants came, the trappers in a way became Indians themselves. They dressed like Indians, adopted some of the values of Indians, learned Indian languages, married (sometimes permanently) into Indian tribes, and came to believe in Indian religion.
— “Scene of Trappers and Indians” by Alfred Jacob Miller, True West Archives —

Jed Smith’s brothers and friends waited and waited for him. Finally, for the safety of the caravan, they moved on. They hoped that he would miraculously survive whatever had happened, as he had always survived, and catch up with them on the trail. When they got to Santa Fe on July 4, they heard the story of his death. Mexican traders had gotten it from the Comanches. Peter and Austin bought Jed’s rifle and pistols from the traders. Jed’s body was never found.

Jed Smith had made his traditional Christianity a deep principle within himself. But the love of wild places had rooted into him and become a deeper religion. His place of meditation was not the oak pew but the lone wilderness, as his eulogist said. His altar was the mountaintop, in a sense truer than his eulogist me ant. His sacraments were mountain skills. At the age of 32, he had lost his life in the service of his true church.

He had made a great pilgrimage to discover and know intimately the West he loved. For that mission he had risked, in his own eyes, even his salvation.

Though he died young, his quest had been successful. He had found the way across the Rocky Mountains at South Pass. He had led his men the length and width of the Great Basin. He had pioneered the overland route to California. He had become the first man to cross the Sierra Nevada. And he had been first to travel by land from California to Oregon. If the trappers were light years ahead of the American government and American people in their knowledge of the West, it was because Jed Smith had shown them the way. As an explorer of the West, he had come to rank with Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Such were the accomplishments of the public man.

In late May 1831, Jedediah Smith and his wagon party got lost among the waterless buffalo trails of the Cimarron Cutoff in southwestern Kansas. Desperate to save his wagon train, Smith went off alone in search of water along the Cimarron River and Sand Creek. He never returned. Today, a bronze marker on Kansas Highway 25 between Ulysses and Hugoton, Kansas, commemorates the approximate location of his fatal fight with Comanches.
— John Charles Fremont’s 1846 map of his expedition to New Mexico and the southern Rocky Mountains Courtesy NYPL Digital Collections —

The private man had met his own standards in enterprise, courage, integrity and fairness. He had challenged the dangerous and the unknown with a fierce energy, and had thrived in them. He had spent his days living and feeling in the particulars—the creeks and meadows, the ridges and peaks—of the country he loved most, the Rocky Mountains.

A decade or two later, newspapers publicized the trapper garishly. Dime novelists idealized mountain men into heroes for wide-eyed boys and dreaming fathers. Kit Carson and Jim Bridger became epic figures, American versions of Odysseus. But then, when he should most have been remembered, Jedediah Strong Smith was forgotten.

“Death of a Mountain Man: Jedediah Smith’s Last Trail” is excerpted from Give Your Heart to the Hawks: A Tribute to the Mountain Men (TorForge) by Western Writers of America Hall of Fame member Win Blevins. Originally published in 1973, Blevins’ masterpiece has been in print for nearly 50 years, a remarkable accomplishment for any work of history. As Blevins notes in the 40th anniversary introduction, “The men in these stories lived vigorously, daringly, adventurously. I hope readers will ride along with them for decades to come. It is good for the soul.” Amen.

In addition to Give Your Heart to the Hawks, Win Blevins is the author of over 35 books, including the Spur Award-winning Stone Song, a novel about Crazy Horse. He is proud to call himself a member of the world’s oldest profession—storyteller.

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Jedediah Strong Smith: A Classic American Mountain Man

1827 – Jedediah Strong Smith starts the flow of trappers, traders and explorers into the Tehachapi Mountain area.

Jedediah Smith, born in New York State, took to the western wilderness as a young man. He made his mark as one of the most respected American pathfinders.

Among the American “mountain men”—frontiersmen, explorers and pathfinders of the early 19th Century—Jedediah Strong Smith was one of the most remarkable. By some accounts, his travels into unmapped western realms were unmatched by his peers.

Smith went west at a young age and died not much later. His short life was filled with more adventures and achievements, however, than most people experience.

Smith the Young Trapper

Jedediah Strong Smith (6 January 1799-circa Spring 1831) was born in New York State. The published journals of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark from their historic overland expedition to the Pacific Northwest coast (1804-06) are said to have inspired him as a teenager to become a wilderness explorer.

By 1822 he was in St. Louis, Missouri, where he answered an advertisement to join a fur trapping “brigade” into the little known West, led by Gen. William Ashley. Ashley recognized Smith’s zeal in roughing the elements and finding furry prizes, and his courage in staving off an Arikara Indian attack. He made Smith, barely 23 years old, a squad leader.

Smith trapped the Rockies for Ashley’s company for four seasons. In 1824-25, he brought down to the trappers’ rendezvous 668 pelts—believed to be a record.

In 1826, Smith and two other rugged entrepreneurs bought out Ashley’s trading operation. For his share of territory, Smith took to the southwestern mountains.

Jedediah Smith’s Achievements

Besides trapping for profit, Smith had a lifelong hankering to explore new country. He is credited as the first European American to cross what is now the State of Utah, north-to-south. He and his men later stumbled into the Mojave Desert and, after 15 torturous days in the sun, entered the region of what is today southern California.

Legally, Smith and his party were foreign invaders of Mexican territory. At Los Angeles, they were not imprisoned but were placed under house arrest. After several months, they were given fresh horses and allowed to leave the territory—on condition they not return.

Smith sought a different route back east, across the Sierra Nevada range. His first attempt was blocked by heavy snow. He and two of his men, leaving 11 others encamped on the Sierra’s western face, then succeeded in crossing the mountains and the broad desert east of it. Assembling another small expedition when they reached the annual rendezvous, he returned to California and rescued the frontiersmen he’d left behind.

Jedediah Smith and the Bear

Smith knew many hardships and life-threatening experiences. Among them were near starvation and thirst. In one of his journals, he recorded: “I have at different times suffered all the extremes of heat and thirst. Hard as it is to bear for successive days the knawings of hunger yet it is light in comparison to the agony of burning thirst. . . .” While crossing a bleak, treeless desert, he and his men on one journey resorted to covering themselves with sand to block the killing sun.

His most dramatic episode, however, occurred during the seasons he trapped for William Ashley in the Rockies. Smith was attacked and mangled by a grizzly bear. Claws ripped off much of his scalp. Surviving the ordeal, Smith stoically ordered one of his men to sew his pate back together, using such crude needle and string as could be found among the party’s supplies.

He afterward wore his hair long to overflow his mutilated left ear.

Smith’s Reserved Personality

Smith carried a well-thumbed Bible on his wilderness epics. He was known to pray and meditate regularly. He refused to drink alcohol or smoke. He was straightforward in speech, never boastful and rarely indulging in humorous banter.

Jedediah Smith was killed by Comanche Indians in 1831. After selling his interest in the fur company and retiring from the mountains, he bought a farm in St. Louis. However, he made one last trip into the southwestern wilderness that spring. Setting out alone from his small party to look for water, he was set upon by hostiles.


Jedediah Strong Smith (born January 6, 1799 or June 24, 1798 — presumed date of death May 27, 1831) was a hunter, trapper, fur trader, trailblazer, and explorer of the Rocky Mountains, the American West Coast and the Southwest during the nineteenth century. He was the fourth of twelve children. " Jedediah Smith's explorations were significant in opening the American West to expansion by white settlers. According to Maurice Sullivan:

Smith was the first white man to cross the future state of Nevada, the first to traverse Utah from north to south and from west to east the first American to enter California by the overland route, and so herald its change of masters the first white man to scale the High Sierras, and the first to explore the Pacific hinterland from San Diego to the banks of the Columbia River.

Prospectors and settlers later poured in to the areas that "Old Jed" Smith had trail-blazed as a trapper and fur trader, during the subsequent Gold Rush.

Smith was born in Jericho, New York (now known as Bainbridge) on January 6, 1799. His early New England ancestors include Thomas Bascom, constable of Northampton, Massachusetts, who came to America in 1634. Thomas Bascom was of Huguenot and French Basque ancestry.

Smith is best known for leading the party of explorers who rediscovered South Pass when the Crows, with the use of a unique map (buffalo hide and sand) made by one of Smith's men during an exploritory expedition in 1824, showed the Americans where to shorten the time needed to get to the west slope of the Rocky Mountains from St. Louis, Missouri. He was the first explorer to reach Oregon overland by traveling up the California coast.[4] Smith was often recognized by significant facial scarring due to a grizzly bear attack along the Cheyenne River. Members of his party witnessed Smith fighting the bear, which ripped open his side with its claws and took his head in its mouth. The bear suddenly retreated and the men ran to help Smith. They found his scalp and ear nearly ripped off, but he convinced a friend to sew it loosely back on. The trappers fetched water, bound up his broken ribs, and cleaned his wounds.

Smith was also a devout Christian from a Methodist background. His Bible and his rifle were said to be his closest companions. In his lifetime, Smith traveled more extensively in unknown territory than any other mountain man.

First trip to California, 1826�

Smith made two expeditions to California in 1826 and 1827, which landed him in trouble with the Mexican authorities.[5] As with the Zebulon Pike expedition two decades earlier, the authorities saw Smith's party as a harbinger of future trouble with the United States. Unlike Pike's expedition, which was commissioned by the United States Army, the Smith party was a private commercial venture. Although five members of the 1826 party carried United States passports, the excursion deep into Mexican territory was unauthorized by the United States government and without permission from the Mexican government.

In its first trip, the Smith party followed the Colorado River deep into the west in search of new beaver hunting grounds, and ended up in harsh territory. To gather supplies for the return trip, the group chose to travel to California. After an arduous pass through the mountains into the Mojave Desert, the party was attacked by a group of Mohaves, and lost several men. Finding shelter with a friendly Mojave village, the men recuperated and met two Tongva men, who offered to guide them to San Gabriel Mission. The guides led them through the desert via a path that avoided Death Valley and which more or less follows the route of today's Interstate 15. From Soda Lake they followed the intermittent Mojave River into the San Bernardino Mountains, which they crossed, emerging at the point where today the Community of Etiwanda is, and into a vastly different environment, the paradisal California that sailors and newspapers talked about on the East Coast. Rather than head to the nearby mission ranch, they quickly made their way west (following the path of the future Route 66), arriving at the Mission on November 27, 1826.

They were received warmly by the President of the Missions, José Bernardo Sánchez, who managed to hide any misgivings he might have had. (Several of the Smith party remembered Sánchez fondly in their journals.) Sánchez advised Smith to communicate with Jefe Político (governor) José Mar໚ Echeand໚, who was at San Diego, about his party's status in the country. On December 8, Echeand໚ ordered Smith to San Diego, apparently under arrest (there was one symbolic soldier accompanying the party of mission priests and a British sea merchant escorting Smith). The rest of the party remained at the mission. Badly needing supplies, they quickly found work to do around the mission under the supervision of Joseph "José" Chapman, a former impressed sailor in crew of Hippolyte de Bouchard, who had become a naturalized citizen of Mexico. In San Diego Smith was interviewed several times by Echeand໚, who never became convinced that Smith was only looking for food and shelter. Smith asked for permission to travel north to the Columbia River, where known paths could quickly take his party back to United States territory. Smith even handed over his journals in an attempt to prove his intentions. However Echeand໚ delayed a quick resolution, forwarding the issue for the authorities in Sonora to review, much to Smith's displeasure. After being hounded by Smith for a month, Echeand໚ released Smith and his men on the promise that they leave California by the path they entered and never return. Nevertheless, once released the party made their way to the San Joaquín Valley, which they explored.

By early May 1827 Smith and his party had accumulated over 1500 pounds of beaver getting these furs to the mountain man rendezvous near Great Salt Lake was clearly a problem. He had traveled 350 miles north but had seen no break in the wall of the Sierra. He turned up the rugged canyon of what would later be called the American River (named after his party). The snow was too deep. Had he completed his crossing this far north, it is possible he could have found Lake Tahoe and the Humboldt River in Nevada, the vital route across the Great Basin later used by California immigrants. But the heavy snow forced Jed into a decision: he would save his horses, and his men, by heading back west to the central valley and the Stanislaus River and re-establish camp there. Then he took only two men, and some extra horses, and began what would become his epic crossing of the Sierra Nevada somewhat further south, crossing in the vicinity of Ebbets Pass. His plan was to get to rendezvous as quickly as he could and return to his California trapping party with more men later in the year.

After crossing the Sierra, Smith likely saw Walker Lake and continued east across central Nevada. His route was straight through some of the most difficult desert in North America. One man, Robert Evans, collapsed and could go no further. Jed and Silas Gobel briefly left Evans and pressed on to the foot of a mountain. Finding some water, Jed went back and rescued Evans. The three eventually reached Great Salt Lake, a beautiful sight to Smith as he called it “my home of the wilderness”. Local Indians told him the whites were gathered further north at “the Little Lake” (Bear Lake). The three de facto explorers reached the rendezvous on July 3. The mountain men celebrated Jed's arrival with a cannon salute (the first wheeled vehicle ever brought this far west) for they had given up Jed and his party for lost.

Second trip to California, 1827-1828

Despite Echeand໚'s warning, Smith returned to California the next year with eighteen men and two women following the Colorado River and Mojave Desert route he now knew well. At the Colorado River, the party was attacked by the Mojave, killing ten men and taking the two women. Smith and the other survivors were again well received in San Gabriel. The party moved north to meet with the group that had been left in the San Joaquin Valley. Unlike in San Gabriel, they were coolly received by the priests at Mission San José, who had already received warning of Smith's renewed presence in the area. Echeand໚, who was at the time in Monterey attending business, once again arrested Smith, this time along with his men. Yet despite the breach of trust, the governor once again released Smith on the same promise to leave the province immediately and not to return, and as before, Smith and his party remained in California hunting in Sacramento Valley for several months, before heading north to use the Columbia River to return to their headquarters. However, his second run-in with the authorities, in addition to the extreme hardships his parties experienced in both trips, convinced him never to return to California, and he devoted his next years to building up his fur company.

Trip to the Oregon Country

n the Oregon Country, Smith' s party fell into conflict over a stolen ax with the Umpqua people near the Umpqua River. Smith's party had threatened to execute the man they accused of stealing the ax. Later, Smith's group was attacked and fifteen of Smith's nineteen men were killed. Smith managed to reach the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) post at Fort Vancouver, where he received aid. HBC governor George Simpson happened to be at Fort Vancouver at the time, and he both sympathized with Smith and chastised him for treating the Indians harshly. Simpson sent Alexander McLeod south to rescue the remnants of Smith's party and their goods. McLeod returned to Fort Vancouver with 700 beaver skins and 39 horses, all in bad condition. John McLoughlin, in charge of Fort Vancouver, paid Smith $2,600 for the goods. In return, Smith assured that the Rocky Mountain Fur Company would confine its operations to the region east of the Great Divide.

Later in his career, Smith became involved in the fur trade in Santa Fe. Smith was leading a trading party on the Santa Fe Trail in May, 1831 when he left the group to scout for water. He never returned to the group. The remainder of the party proceeded on to Santa Fe hoping Smith would meet them there, but he never arrived. A short time later, members of the trading party discovered a Mexican merchant at the Santa Fe market offering several of Smith's personal belongings for sale. When questioned about the items, the merchant indicated that he had acquired them from a band of Comanche hunters. The Comanches told the merchant they had taken the items from a white man they had killed near the Cimarron River, south of present day Ulysses, Kansas. Smith's body was never found.

A further account in Give Your Heart to the Hawks: A Tribute to the Mountain Men by Winfred Blevins, cites details of Smith's encounter with the Comanches in a box canyon. By their account, four braves trapped Smith in the canyon.

According to Dale L. Morgan, Jedediah Smith's biographer, Jedediah was looking for water for the 1831 expedition when he came upon an estimated 15-20 Comanches. There was a brief face to face stand off until the Comanches scared his horse and shot him in the left shoulder. After gasping from the injury, Jedediah wheeled his horse around and with one rifle shot was able to kill their chief. The Comanches then rushed on Jedediah, who did not have time to use his pistols, and stabbed him to death with lances. Austin Smith, Jedediah's brother, was able to retrieve Jedediah's rifle and pistols that the Indians had taken and traded to the Mexicans.

Jedediah Smith's explorations were the main basis for accurate Pacific-West maps all the travels and discoveries of the trappers and fur traders since Ashley went into the map of the western United States he prepared in the winter of 1830-31. This map has been called 𠇊 landmark in mapping of the American West”. In an eulogy for Smith printed in the Illinois Magazine for June 1832 the unknown author claimed “This map is now probably the best extant, of the Rocky Mountains, and the country on both sides, from the States to the Pacific.”The original map is lost, its content was superimposed probably by George Gibbs on a base map by John C. Frémont, which is on file at the American Geographical Society of New York. His expeditions also raised doubts about the legendary Buenaventura River from maps.

Smith's exploration of northwestern California is commemorated in the names of the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and the Smith River.

Most of the western slope of Wyoming's famous Teton Range is named the Jedediah Smith Wilderness after him. And the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail runs between Folsom and Sacramento, California, through the former gold-dredging fields that are now the American River Parkway.

In the Frontiersman Camping Fellowship of Royal Rangers, New Mexico is designated the Jedediah Smith Chapter.

A street in Temecula, California is named for him.

A road in Colorado Springs, Colorado is named for him.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted By Walter Ashworth 4th cousin SEVERAL X REMOVED Smith was the first white man to cross the future state of Nevada, the first to traverse Utah from north to south and from west to east the first American to enter California by the overland route, and so herald its change of masters the first white man to scale the High Sierras, and the first to explore the Pacific hinterland from San Diego to the banks of the Columbia River.

Hiker With a Cause Retraces Steps of Trapper Jedediah Smith

Stopping along the trail up Humbug Mountain, Al Le Page looked through a break in the trees at the rugged coastline stretching north and tried to envision mountain man Jedediah Smith scouting his route through the Oregon coast.

Dressed in homemade faux buckskins and modern hiking shoes, and munching on high-carbohydrate energy bars, Le Page is walking the newly designated Jedediah Smith Trail on the southern Oregon coast to connect the legendary fur trapper to the 21st century. It is one of the nation’s Community Millennium Trails.

As executive director of the National Coast Trails Assn., Le Page hopes to inspire people to follow in his footsteps as well as Smith’s to get closer to the land and the history and cultures that have shaped it since an entrepreneurial venture made Smith and his band the first white men to travel here 182 years ago.

“It’s a personal journey for myself, touching that history,” Le Page said as he paused in his 200-mile trek at Humbug Mountain State Park near one of Smith’s campsites. “It’s also an exploration of what exists today and an invitation to people to explore their own minds. What do they want to see on their coasts in the future?”

The motels, condominiums and pavement along U.S. 101 are a far cry from what Smith saw in the summer of 1828, when he and his band of 18 men passed though southwestern Oregon while driving 315 horses and mules from Mission San Jose in California to sell at the annual fur trading rendezvous outside Salt Lake City, Utah.

Born in Jericho, N.Y., in 1799, Smith got his start as a mountain man after floating a flatboat loaded with whiskey pickles down the Mississippi to New Orleans. On his way back north in 1822, he answered a newspaper ad in St. Louis for “enterprising young men” and joined a fur brigade heading up the Missouri just 18 years after Lewis and Clark.

Over the next eight years, looking for new beaver to trap, Smith became the leading expert of his day on the American West, said James C. Auld, who is writing the first biography of Smith since 1953.

Before he was killed by Comanche Indians in 1831 on a trading caravan to Santa Fe, Smith had become the first American to cross the Sierra Nevada and the Mojave Desert, travel overland to Los Angeles and explore California’s Central Valley. In the Dakotas, a grizzly tore off his left ear, which Smith ordered one of his men to sew back on.

“He was a gritty explorer who had an enormous ability to persevere and keep moving,” Auld said. “He was described by a Hudson’s Bay Company person as a sly and cunning Yankee.”

Based on entries in Smith’s journal, the trail starts at Wilson Creek near Requa, Calif., where Smith’s band reached the Pacific after crossing the mountains from the Sacramento Valley.

It ends outside Reedsport, Ore., where the Smith River empties into the Umpqua. Near this site some 200 local Indians, angry that two of their number had been humiliated during earlier trading sessions, nearly wiped out Smith’s party. Smith--who had been up the Umpqua in a canoe when the attack struck--and three of his men escaped to Ft. Vancouver, where the Hudson’s Bay Company helped them get their goods back, as well as Smith’s journal.

To get closer to Smith and his journey, Le Page is hiking the sections of the trail on the same dates that Smith did, starting June 23 at the mouth of the Smith River in California and planning to finish July 14, the date of the massacre.

On June 30, Smith wrote in his journal: “From a high hill I had an opportunity to view the country which Eastward was high rough hills and mountains generally timbered and north along the coast apparently Low with some prairae. In climing a precipice on leaving the shore one of my pack Mules fell off and was killed.”

At 1,700 feet, Humbug Mountain offers the best view for miles and may be the promontory Smith climbed. Pausing during his own hike up Humbug Mountain, Le Page gazed through a gap in the trees at the rugged coastline and pointed out the route he would take along the beach the next day to avoid the highway and rugged bluffs.

But Le Page’s desire to get close to Smith has its limits. As a strict vegetarian, Le Page did not want to wear actual buckskins. His fringed jacket, pants and shoulder bags are made of synthetic fabrics that look and feel like suede.

Other parts of his kit are more authentic. The black powder pistol he carries, for example, looks remarkably like a photograph of Smith’s. Le Page also carries a powder horn, a handmade skinning knife and the sort of trade goods Smith would have carried: a small mirror, a string of blue beads, brass thimbles.

As talismans, Le Page carries three copper pennies, two dated 1828 and the other 1826. He also has a bag of new golden Sacagawea dollars, which he hands out as gifts. At night he stays with supporters along the way. During the day he munches on energy bars.

That hasn’t kept him from connecting with the past. He gave a dentalia shell necklace to an elder of the Tolowah tribe in Northern California, rode horseback along the beach with descendants of pioneers and gave $10 and some energy bars to a guy calling himself Yukon Jack, who was walking up U.S. Highway 101, pulling a handcart loaded with suitcases, to pan for gold in the Rogue River.

Le Page and the National Coastal Trail Assn. hope someday to see the Jedediah Smith Trail as part of a 10,000-mile network of coastal trails encircling the nation.

“When you see the world at 3 mph versus 60 mph, it looks a lot different,” Le Page said. “With this trail, people can literally walk in the footsteps of history.”

Jedediah Smith - History













































I. THE YUROK in 1886 and 1887









E. LOGGING CAMPS in the 1870s-1920s














NATIONAL REGISTER FORMS (Deleted from March 1982 reprint omitted from online edition)

Plate I Historical Base Map, 1828-1969, Redwood National Park.
Plate II Historical Base Map, 1857-1969, Redwood National Park.
Plate III "Map of the Klamath Reservation, by D. C. Lewis Crescent City, 1857."
Plate IV "Topographical Map of the Trail from Fort Gaston to Stone Lagoon, California."
Plate V "Official Map of Humboldt County, California."
Plate VI "Map of Humboldt County, California, 1888, by J. N. Lentell."
Plate VII "Map of Del Norte County, California, published by Harry M. Malpas, County Surveyor, 1915."
Plate VIII "Lagoon & Mining Flumes on Gold Bluff."
Plate IX "Cove, Flume & Res. of John Chapman, Gold Bluff."
Plate X "Old Mining Camp, near Fern Canyon."
Plate XI "Sketch of Fort Ter-Waw, Spring of 1862," by G. E. Young.
Plate XII Howland Hill-Gasquet Road, circa 1900.
Plate XIII Smith River Stage, circa 1900.
Plate XIV "Crescent City-Requa Stage," circa 1910.
Plate XV Crescent City-Trinidad Road, 1925. (Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park).
Plate XVI Crescent City Trinidad Road, 1925. (Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park).
Plate XVII Requa Ferry, circa 1915.
Plate XVIII Construction of Redwood Highway along the Cliffs South of Cushing Creek, Del Norte County, California, circa 1922.
Plate XIX Ox Team, Bull Puncher, and Skid Road at Fort Dick, circa 1895.
Plate XX Horse Team Pulling a "Car" on a Pole Road. Small logs served as rails for the log cars.
Plate XXI Peeling Logs, circa 1900.
Plate XXII Dolbeer Spool Donkey, Fort Dick Area, circa 189S.
Plate XXIII A Dolbeer Spool Donkey, with Bull Donkey in the Background, Fort Dick area, circa 1900.
Plate XXIV Type of Car used by Hobbs, Wall in the Fort Dick area before 1910.
Plate XXV Trestle on Del Norte & Southern Railroad . . . on Seven Percent Grade.
Plate XXVI Trestle on Del Norte & Southern Railroad . . . on Seven Percent Grade.
Plate XXVII Locomotive "R. V. Hume," near mouth of Smith River.
Plate XXVIII Hobbs, Wall Camp No. 10, from Howland Hill, circa 1915.
Plate XXIX View of site of Camp No. 10, from Howland Hill.
Plate XXX Rows of Bunkhouses in Camp No. 12-2.
Plate XXXI "Rules and Regulations, Mill Department," Hobbs, Wall & Co., circa 1890.
Plate XXXII Hobbs, Wall Mill, No. 1, circa 1910.
Plate XXXIII Crew at J. Wenger & Co.'s Mill, circa 1900.
Plate XXXIV Log Dump, Hobb, Wall Mill.
Plate XXXV "Del Norte Salmon Cannery, Requa, Cal." circa 1915.
Plate XXXVI View of Requa, California, circa 1913.
Plate XXXVII "Salmon Fishing at the Mouth of Klamath River, Requa, California," 1913.
Plate XXXVIII "Louis DeMartin's Diary Ranch at Mouth of Wilson Creek."
Plate XXXIX "Wreck of Steamer Queen Christina," off Point St. George.
Plate XL Hulk of Tanker Emidio, Crescent City Harbor, December 1941-January 1942.
Plate XLI H. H. Alexander's Dairy Ranch.

Wild West Book Review: Jedediah Smith

Comanche Indians cut short Jedediah Smith’s life in 1831, but the trapper and explorer had accomplished much in his 32 years. He had recognized the importance of South Pass in what would become northwest Wyoming. He was among the first American frontiersmen to travel overland to California, the first recorded white man to cross the Sierras from the east, and the first to lead parties across the Great Basin and along the seacoast from California to Oregon.

“Jedediah Strong Smith roamed through more of the American West than practically any man of his era,” Barton H. Barbour writes. Indeed, Smith was, as Barbour tells us in the title of his biography, “no ordinary mountain man.” (Then again, were any mountain men ordinary?) Drawing on contemporary sources (including Smith’s own writings), as well as material from Mexican archives, Barbour expands on other biographies of Smith, including John G. Neihardt’s The Splendid Wayfaring (1920) and Dale Morgan’s Jedediah Smith and the Opening of the West (1953), and paints a balanced portrait.

Sorting through Smith’s legends is a tough assignment. Like Billy the Kid, much of his life falls into a black hole, although the last third was fairly well documented. Yet even the best tracker would have a hard time following Smith’s trail. His death is also subject to speculation, as his body was never found. Barbour, of course, is an excellent tracker. “At the time he died,” the author writes, “Jedediah Smith was quite possibly on the threshold of genuine fame, and if his adventures had been published, he would be far better known than he is today.” Barbour’s first-rate biography helps us know and understand him.

Originally published in the August 2009 issue of Wild West. To subscribe, click here.


In an expedition in 1826, now famous as the first overland trip from the American frontier to the California coast, trapper Jedediah Smith traveled through the Mojave Desert. The journey brought him and his companions up the Mojave River and past the Topiabit site.

Surprisingly, this prodigious feat began simply as a search for beaver that originated in the Great Salt Lake region following the 1826 rendezvous of fur trappers in Cache Valley. Smith and about fifteen others explored the southern Utah area, arriving at the Virgin River in September. They followed the Virgin to its confluence with the Colorado River, and then continued on down the Colorado for four days until they reached the Mohave Villages.

By this time their stock was jaded and supplies were running low. Smith was told the California missions were not far off, so with two mission runaways as guides, they set off for the coast, and for the first time the important route through the arid desert, with its precious watering spots, was revealed to American fur trappers.

Smith and his party reached the vicinity of Victorville in November. Their Indian guides, identified by Smith as "Wanyumas" (Vanyumes), both lived in the area, and they took the trappers to an Indian lodge located in a spot with "groves of Cotton wood and in places Sugar Cane and grass," a description that fits several places along the river, including Topiabit. The Indians at the encampment, whom Smith noted were not very numerous, shared what food they had with the visitors and treated them well.

The trappers stayed the night at the lodge, and the next day they continued on their journey along the Mohave Indian Trail. The knowledge of this trail presented new opportunities for trade, and the next year, when Jedediah Smith left the rendezvous in Bear Lake, Utah, he made a return trip through the Mojave using the same route.

Colorado River
In these groves of the flood plain of the Colorado the Mojave .

Mohave Villages
In 1859, the central group, which occupied Mohave Valley, had .

Mojave Indian Trail (Mojave Road)
Long ago Mohave Indians used a network of pathways to cross the Mojave Desert to reach the .

Jedediah Smith

Jedediah Smith was a young, religious, mountain man traveling more miles of unexplored territory than any other single mountain man. He is credited with being the first American to travel overland to California through the southwest and the Mojave. In a most amazing journey, he also came back from California across the desert of the Great Basin.

In 1823, a 23 year old Jedediah Smith first turned up in Sante Fe, New Mexico in response to an advertisement asking for enterprising young men wanting to be fur trappers. Immediately he displayed courage and cleverness in leading men. He was described as, "a bold, outspoken, professing, and consistent Christian." Also, "No one who knew him doubted the sincerity of his piety."

In what was to be his first trip across the Mojave, Smith and his band wandered along the eastern Great Basin Desert through what Smith called, "the land of starvation." Crossing the Colorado River and into Arizona, He traveled south along the mountains until reaching a Mojave Indian village (near Needles, California ).

All went reasonably well, he traveled along a branch of what became known as the Mojave Indian Trail , up the fickle Mojave River and into southern California.

Returning east by a northern route, he made another trip through the Mojave. On this trip his party was attacked as he crossed the Colorado River. Ten of his men were killed and the two women with the party were kidnapped. Smith and the few remaining men of his band were forced to cross the Mojave with sparse supplies.

Cajon Pass
Later, explorer/trapper Jedediah Smith. Next, the Mormon Battalion in search of land in which to expand -- Then Mormon settlers, and those eager to find .

ZZYZX Mineral Springs - Mojave Desert, Mojave Preserve
Over 50 years later, Jedediah Smith passed south of the springs up into Afton Canyon (he instructed his Mohave indian guide to take him the most direct .

Mojave Road
In 1826 Jedediah Smith trod these trails to become the first white man to reach the California coast overland from mid-America. The routes became a military .

History of Hoover Dam
Jedediah Smith and other trappers came looking for beavers in 1826, gold miners on the way to California followed in 1849, and Mormon settlers arrived in .

Mojave Indian History - Explorers
Between 1826 and 1831, Mojave territory was visited by Jedediah Smith and Harrison Rogers (1826 and 1827) Ewing Young in 1827 George C. .

Serrano / Vanyume Indians of the Mojave Desert
They ranged along the Mojave River from Victorville/Hesperia to east of Barstow. The Vanyume (Wanyuma) are mentioned in the journal of Jedediah Smith as .

Jedediah Smith - History

Jedediah Smith

Jedediah Smith and the Opening of the West
Dale L Morgan
University of Nebraska Press, 1964
Price: $16.00
This is the classic source historical scholarship about Jedediah Smith and the fur trade era of the American West! It traces his beginnings as a young man of 23, and his explorations and business ventures until his death about a decade later. The appendix contains letters written by Smith himself about his explorations, and to members of his family. Well-researched and documented, it's a great book to dig into if you want to know more about how life really was in America's wild frontier during the early 1800's.

The Travels of Jedediah Smith, A Documentary Outline, Including His Journal
Maurice S. Sullivan
University of Nebraska Press, 1961
Price: $9.95
This book begins with Smith's own description of his entry into the fur trade in 1822, when he left St. Louis with an expedition headed by William H. Ashley and Andrew Henry. It continues with Smith's daily record from June 23, 1827, to July 3, 1828, dealing with his remarkable journey on foot over the Utah desert, his second visit to California, and his trip to Oregon. Included is the diary of the fur trader Alex R. McLeod, describing events during the Hudson's Bay Company expedition in 1828 to recover Jedediah Smith's property after the attack of most of his men on the Umpqua River in Oregon on July 14, 1828.

Mountain Men, Fur Trade & The American West

Mountain Men & Fur Traders of the Far West
Leroy R. Hafen, Editor
University of Nebraska Press, 1982
Price: $14.95
The legendary mountain men -- the fur traders and trappers who penetrated the Rocky Mountains and explored the Far West in the first half of the nineteenth century -- formed the vanguard of the American empire and became the heroes of American adventure. This volume brings to the general reader brief biographies of eighteen representative mountain men, selected from among the essays assembled by LeRoy R. Hafen in The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West (ten volumes, 1965-72)
Introduce yourself -- if you dare -- to the likes of . . . Jedediah Smith, Kit Carson, Jim Bridger -- William H. Ashley, John McLoughlin, Peter Skene Ogden -- William Sublette, Benjamin L. E. Bonneville, Joe Meek -- Andrew Dips, Manuel Lisa, Thomas Fitzpatrick, Pierre Chouteau Jr., Wilson Price Hunt, Ceran St.Vrain, Old Bill Williams, Joesph Walker, and Nathaniel Wyeth!

Journal of a Trapper
Osborne Russell
Edited by Aubrey L. Haines
University of Nebraska Press, 1965
Price: $9.95 Paper
"Reader, if you are in search of the travels of a Classical and Scientific tourist, please to lay this Volume down, and pass on, for this simply informs you what a Trapper has seen and experienced. But if you wish to peruse a Hunter's rambles among the wild regions of the Rocky Mountains, please to read this and forgive the authors foibles and imperfections, considering as you pass along that he has been chiefly educated in Nature's School under that rigid tutor experience . . . "
Osborne Russell's journal covering the years 1834 to 1843 is, in the words of the editor, "perhaps the best account of the fur trapper in the Rocky Mountains when the trade there was at its peak. It is a factual, unembellished narrative written by one who was not only a trapper but also a keen observer and an able writer." Edited from the original manuscript and originally printed in a limited edition of 750 copies, this classic piece of Western Americana in now available to the general public.

Mountain Men, Volume 8, Tales of the Wild West Series
Rick Steber
Bonanza Publishing, 1990
Price: $4.95 (Suggested Retail)
From Daniel Boone to Jedediah Smith, from Indian Trappers to Rendezvous's, this book packs a lot of information for the general reader.
What's great about this book is its ability to tell a story or deliver a chunck of information about the mountain men and the era of the fur trade in a single page. This makes for quick and enjoyable reading, and allows one to gain a basic knowledge of what it was like to live the lifestyle of a mountain in the early history of the American West.
And . . . it's one of a series of books about the "Wild West!"
Click Here For More Tales of the Wild West by Rick Steber

The Fur Trade of the American West 1807-1840
David J. Wishart
University of Nebraska Press, 1979
Price: $14.95
This book focuses not on "personalities," but on "place." It's about the interrelationships between the biological, physical, and cultural environments that formed the basis for the evolution of the fur trade itself.
The first trappers and traders began by learning how they could successfully exploit the fur resources of the West. In the mid 1820s, after twenty years of experimentation, two fur trade production systems emerged -- one involving trappers and beaver pelts, the other Native Americans and bison robes.
This study considers the geographical setting of the fur trade with an analysis of these two production systems, a provides a fascinating look at the annual cycle of fur trapping and trading itself. Finally, it assesses the fur trade era as a stage of frontier occupation, which for almost forty years at the beginning of the nineteenth century was the primary form of Euro-American acitivity in the Trans-Missouri West.

A Majority of Scoundrels, An Informal History of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company
Don Berry
Comstock Editions, 1961
Price: $7.95
There was no more exciting era in the history of the West than the early years of exploration, and no saga more fascinating than that of the mountain men and trappers who joined the Rocky Mountain Fur Company in its brief history from 1822 to 1834.In these pages Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith, Hugh Glass, James Beckwourth and all the others who names are now legend, come to life in material drawn directly from original sources -- their journal notes, letters, and contemporary accounts.

Exploring the American West, 1803-1879
National Park Service
US Government Printing Office, 1982
Price: $7.50
When Thomas Jefferson took office as the third President of the United States in 1801, much of the land between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean was unknown territory belonging to France or Spain. By the time Rutherford B. Hayes left office as the nineteenth President in 1881, this land was not only part of the United States but it had been explored, surveyed, mapped, photographed, and was rapidly being settled.
Exploring the American West, 1803-1879, is the story of how and why all of this came about. The book begins with the lure of the American West and is followed with a consideration of the explorer, mountain man, and scientist in the western landscape. Finally, the pictorial record by artists, mapmakers, and photographers is also highlighted with a visual record of what they saw before and during western settlement. If you want a quick summary of the history of the American West, this is a great introduction with a wealth of visual information!

South Coast Pioneer & Native American History

A Guide to Oregon South Coast History, Traveling the Jedediah Smith Trail
Nathan Douthit
Oregon State University Press, 1999
Price: $22.95
This indispensable guide and reference work opens with an overview of South Coast history, from prehistory to the present. This first section features in-depth looks at the region's native peoples, early exploration, White settlement, Indian-White warfare, the forest industry, transportation, and town development.
The second section follows the route taken along the South Coast in 1828 by Jedediah Smith, one of the foremost explorers of the American West. It describes key historic sites from the from the California/Oregon border to Heceta Head. Drawing on journal entries, the author traces the Jedediah Smith Expedition's advance, and recounts its troubled relations with coastal Indians and its tragic ending. Along the expedition's route, the book profiles the region's many historic places.

Requiem for a People, The Rogue Indians and the Frontiersmen
Stephen Dow Beckham
Oregon State University Press, 1996
Price: $15.95
This classic history of southwestern Oregon's Rogue River Indian wars is the only complete record of the region's Native Americans and the destruction of their ages-old lifeways in the 1850s. It tells of the penetration of their land by fur seekers, explorers, overland emigrants, and miners. Throughout his study, Beckham strives to relate the Indian view of this tragic history. Ninetyfive hundred strong when Euro-Americans first began to settle on their land, the Indians fell victim to the forces of the newcomers -- their diseases, vices, technology, and prejudice. Within six years, only two thousand survived.
In addition to chronicling this painful story, the book identifies the consequences of white settlement and mining. What had been a land of abundance endured significant ecological upset, driving the Indians from their homes and to the brink of starvation. Finally, the book confirms the failure of federal Indian policy in Oregon, a dismal record of wars, ineffective treaties, and extension of "trust responsibility" to the natives.
A popular and acclaimed work of Northwest history, this book was first published in 1971 and is still the only scholarly treatment of this subject.

South Slough Adventures, Life on a Southern Oregon Esturary
Meloday J. Caldera, Editor
The Friends of South Slough, 1995
Price: $20.00
Indians, fur trappers, explorers, sailors from wrecked schooners, gold miners, loggers and farmers have played a part in the history of South Slough. Read about a young Indian girl who won esteem because of her athletic ability, a trapper's wife and child who became stranded with the Coos Indians, epidemics, shipwrecks, gold strikes, massacres, a fued, and bootlegging, all intermixed with information about transportation, cooperation, romance, and industry! The authors of this book are many,and the sources used include ethnological information,journals of fur trappers, books written by gold miners, records left by the first pioneers, a soldier's diary, local history books, and actual interviews with people who lived and worked there.
This book will definitely give you a good taste of what it was like to live on the southern Oregon coast in times past.


Pioneer Trails Of The Oregon Coast, Second Edition
Samuel N. Dicken
Oregon Historical Society, 1978
Price: $5.95
This unusual book deals with the historical geography of coastal pioneer trails during the period of settlement, for the most part before 1860! The Oregon Coast is presented as it was seen through the eyes of early travelers, and against the background of coastal features, climate, terrain, drainage, and vegetation. Readers, perhaps, may visualize how it was, compared to the ease of reaching many breath-taking scenic vistas today.
The book is richly illustrated with historic and topograghic maps, and old black and white photos of the spectacular Oregon Coast. The author was actually the originator of the the Oregon Coast Trail concept, the idea coming to him while doing the research for this very book.

120 Hikes on The Oregon Coast, Second Edition
Bonnie Henderson
The Mountaineers, 1999
Price: $14.95
Undulating sand dunes, primeval forests, rocky headlands, secret beaches: the wild Oregon shoreline is impossible to resist. This guide presents 120 excursions, from easy walks along the beach to hikes that climb to panoramic views. Additional activities such as tidepooling, off-road cycling, wildlife watching, and camping are suggested for further adventures. Whether you're out for just a day or trekking the border-to-border Oregon Coast Trail, use this comprehensive guide year-round to make your coastal visit complete.
Recipient of the 1996 National Coast Trail Association Coastal Education Award

100 Hikes / Travel Guide, Oregon Coast and Coast Range
William L. Sullivan
Navillus Press, 1996
Price: $14.95
Whether you're touring Highway 101or exploring off the beaten path, this guide has everything you'll need to plan a trip to Oregon's spectacular coast. Flip to the book's 18 Travel Guide sections for tips on discovering lighthouses, secluded beaches, campgrounds, and quaint Old Town harbors. Here too are suggestions for birdwatching, kayaking, bicycling, and tidepooling. The 100 Hikes guide features easy-to-read maps and detailed descriptions of best hikes for kids, trails near campgrounds, and old-growth forest paths. There's even a list of 42 paved, planked, or graveled trails accessible to everyone.
This book also includes information just north and south of
the Oregon Coast into both Washington's Long Beach Penninsula
and California's Redwood National and State Parks.

Hiking Oregon's History
William L. Sullivan
Navillus Press, 1996
Price: $18.95
Hang on for a rollicking tour of Oregon's grandest musuem -- the great outdoors!
Recounted in a fresh style that's fun for armchair travelers and hikers alike, this guidebook tells the stories behind 56 of the state's most scenic historic sites. Discover paths to fire lookouts, lighthouses, and abandoned gold mines. Relive legends, discoveries, scandals, and triumphs that rocked the West. Come hike Oregon's history!
Richly illustrated with black and white photos and detailed hiking maps, this book is truly one-of-a-kind, and one-quarter of them are on the coast!

Expedition Planning & Leadership

The National Outdoor Leadership School's Wilderness Guide
Mark Harvey
Simon & Schuster, 1999
Price: $15.00
The classic backpacker's handbook -- revised and updated with information on new equipment and techniques -- providing expert guidelines for backpackers, hikers, campers -- anyone who loves the outdoors.
This guide brings the savvy of the world's most famous and respected outdoor organization to everyone -- from the 16 million backpacking Americans to the more than 265 million people, tenderfoot and trail-hardened hikers, who visit out national parks annually. Illustrated throughout with instructional drawings and photos and featuring lists of equipment, this book is a must-have for anyone planning to explore the great outdoors.
This book will serve as the primary source of information, especially for planning the Jedediah Smith Millennium Expedition, and is recommended reading for all expedition members.

Outdoor Leadership, Technique, Common Sense & Self-Confidence
John Graham
The Mountaineers, 1997
Price: $16.95
The only handbook available on the subject, this book is a practical, readable guide to the skills, attitudes, and inner resources you need to be an effective leader, at whatever you are called to lead. The book covers all aspects of leadership, including forming a personal style, finding courage, making decisions, communicating effectively building teams, coping with stress, and inspiring others to be at their best.
While the examples given focus on the outdoors, the lessons in this book can apply to any life situation. Use it to lead a company work team, organize an event or campaign in your community, or guide a family beach walk in the rain. Leadership issues crop up in al aspects of life -- expect this book to affect more than your next hike.
This book will serve as the primary reference for leading the Jedediah Smith Millennium Expedition, and those who read it will gain greater insight about leadership during the expedition itself. Expedition members are encouraged to read it before leaving.

The Outward Bound Wilderness First-Aid Handbook, Revised and Updated Edition
Jeffrey Isaac
The Lyons Press, 1998
Price: $14.95
This essential first-aid guide is both accessible and useful. Now thouroughly updated and expanded to include the lastest terminology, methodology, and treatments available, it is invaluable for anyone venturing into the outdoors. Based on techniques used by the world-renowned Outward Bound organization, this concise handbook clearly explains all of the major diagnostic and first-aid procedures you can use in the wilderness. Complete with numerous diagrams and drawings that illuminate concepts and procedures, this book is a must for anyone heading into nature.
This book will serve as a reference for first-aid during the Jedediah Smith Millennium Expedition.

Links to books on "Mountain Men" and the "Fur Trade" era
(Use these key words to enhance your search at the following links.)



Watch the video: Jedediah Smith Mountain Man and Explorer


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