Readers of The Purple Sage Bookstore

America's  Mountain  Men
[1800s to 1870s]

Crow scouting party visiting trappers camp (cropped) from 'A Taste of Honey' painting by artist Ron Lesser          short history


books about mountain men

movies about mountain men

famous mountain men
Lewis & Clark Expedition

“I can't say [that] I was ever lost, but I was bewildered once for three days.”
— Daniel Boone [1734-1820]

         Napoleon Bonaparte of France needed cash for his wars of defense (on-going since 1800), so he was glad to turn loose of French landholdings in faraway America. Despite domestic opposition, President Thomas Jefferson paid $15 million in 1803 for the 828,000 square miles (2,140,000 km²) that were basically the western half of the Mississippi River watershed, which was 3¢ per acre in 1803 dollars (or 42¢ per acre in 2012 dollars). Jefferson also commissioned the Lewis & Clark Expedition that departed Illinois in May 1804, reached the mouth of the Columbia River in December 1805, and returned to St. Louis in September 1806; the trip was roughly 4,300 miles in length and took two years, four months, and ten days time.
         Early trappers and hunters and guides in the West – America's 'mountain men' – sought a life in nature (that's all that existed west of the Mississippi) and found means for earning a living by trapping beaver and shooting other animals for their pelts and meat. These pioneer mountain men chose the route of each official trail, first as a foot path, then as a wagon track. Early traders along each route acted as middlemen, buying pelts and meat from the mountain men, as well as from Native Americans, and shipping such goods to the East. Traders also sold supplies - flour, salt, bacon, gunpowder - which business grew steadily, especially after the semi-official openings of the Santa Fe Trail in 1821 and the Oregon Trail in 1843.
         Various fur trading companies sponsored annual Rocky Mountain Rendezvous events from 1825 to 1840 that traded ammunition and whiskey and other supplies in exchange for the pelts captured by the trappers; each event resulted in a series of heavily-loaded pack trains departing for the East or to the Pacific Coast. (These rendezvous gatherings still exist for the enjoyment of anachronist organizations, with contests in black powder gunnery, chuck wagon cookery, and the like.)
         'Kit' Carson hired on as guide for John C. Frémont's First Expedition (five months in 1842); Frémont's report to Congress was a sensation, and traffic westward increased dramatically. The Oregon Emigrating Company began commercial use of the Oregon Trail route in 1843, adding thousands of disparate Americans to the westward migration toward fertile new lands that they could settle and make their own. Frémont's report to Congress of his Second Expedition was published in 1845 and again increased both his & Carson's reputations. During its twenty-five year history, the Oregon Trail essentially changed every year. The rough beginnings grew into an organized route, and by 1846 ferries serviced most of the major river crossings.
         The Transcontinental Railroad from St. Louis, Missouri to Sacramento, California was completed in May 1869, and effectively made the Oregon Trail obsolete. But the side trails north and south of the railroad continued in use for many years: there were still mountain men surviving on their out out in the wilderness even past the end of the Indian Wars (around 1890). The southern Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1881; the Northern Pacific was completed in 1883; and Canada's Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1885 – by which time the need for trappers and hunters and guides just about disappeared.
         U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward purchased the Alaska Territory from Russia in 1867. For $7.2 million the United States acquired 586,412 square miles (1,518,800 km²) of new territory at a price of roughly two cents per acre. Although denounced as 'Seward's Folly' at the time, his visionary real estate deal increased the territory of the United States by 18.8 percent for a pittance. One of the last exploratory expeditions was that of one-armed John Wesley Powell down the unexplored Colorado River and Grand Canyon in 1869. The Klondike Gold Rush of 1896 to 1899 brought {dubious} civilization to Canada's Yukon Territory; the spillover to Alaska was the last Western U.S. migration. The Paiutes in Nevada quit fighting in 1923 and the Apaches of the Southwest U.S.A. were finally pacified in 1924, so many consider that year as the final Taming of the West. Alaska achieved statehood in 1959 and is still virtually all wilderness, where mountain men still exist and prosper.

L i n k s
'Mountain Man' entry at Wikipedia
Museum of The Mountain Man [est. 1990], 700 E. Hennick Street in Pinedale, Wyoming

Lewis & Clark Expedition [1804-06] Page at 'Readers of the Purple Sage' Western Bookstore

Books  About  Mountain Men
search books on keywords 'mountain man' at Amazon

German author Karl May [1842-1912] wrote a hugely-popular series of books published from 1875 to 1910 that were about
the Mescalero Apache chief Winnetou and his 'blood brother', the mountain man Old Shatterhand.

The Ferguson Rifle Western novel by Louis L'Amour  "The Ferguson Rifle: A Novel" [March 1973] by Louis L'Amour [1908-88]
Set in 1804 in Louisiana Territory; after a tragedy in Boston, Ronan Chantry heads west and hooks up with a party of mountain men returning to trap beaver pelts over the winter; they intercept a proud Irish beauty trying to escape from Santa Fe and from an evil uncle who thinks that she knows the location of old Spanish treasure.
Kindle Edition from Bantam/Random House [2005 edition] for $5.12
Bantam mass pb [3/85] for $5.39
Bantam mass pb [1982] out of print/many used
Mountain Men / Lore of The First Frontiersmen book by George Laycock  "Mountain Men: The Dramatic History and Lore of The First Frontiersmen" [1988]
by George Laycock [1921-2014]

Covers the craft and skills developed by the mountain men to live in the wilderness, as well as entertaining tales of many important historic people and events.
Lyons Press 9x6 pb [11/2006] for $11.24
Stackpole Books 10¼x8¼ hardcover [11/90] out of print/many used
Stackpole Books 10½x8¼ hardcover [8/88] out of print/many used
'Wilderness' frontier novel by Gerald Hausman & Roger Zelazny  "Wilderness: A Novel" [1994] by Roger Zelazny & Gerald Hausman
Based on a combination of the stories of frontiersmen John Colter [1786-1836]
and Hugh Glass [1780?–1833].

Kindle Edition from Irie Books [12/2011] for $5.99
Irie Books 9x6 pb [11/2011] for $12.95
Tor Books mass pb [12/94] out of print/50+ used
Tor Books 9½x6½ hardcover [2/94] out of print/many used
warped (best available) cover for 'The Last Long Rifle' frontier novel by Dan Parkinson  
"The Last Long Rifle" [1995 novel] by Dan Parkinson
"It took three generations to fulfill a prophecy of justice"
Zebra Books mass pb [6/95] out of print/used

Into the Savage Country Western novel by Shannon Burke  "Into The Savage Country: A Novel" [2015] by Shannon Burke
Young William Wyeth takes off on a trapping expedition, nearly loses his life, and is nursed back to health by widow Alene. Hoping to make the fortune needed to woo Alene, William embarks on an expedition to dangerous Crow territory, where three factions are doing battle: the native tribes (also battling each other), the British, and Spaniards in the South.
Kindle Edition from Pantheon/Random House [2/2015] for $10.99
Pantheon 8½x6 hardcover [2/2015] for $18.60

"The Last Mountain Man" novels series by William W. Johnstone [#10} [#17] [#4]

Movies  &  TV  About  Mountain Men

"Men of The Mountains" [Lubin/General Film March 1915]
Two-reel silent short directed by & starring Edgar Jones; written by Mildred Mason; also starring Justina Huff,
Edwin B. Tilton & Lew Mortelle • print status unknown • credits at IMDb

"Hudson's Bay" [1941] /tt0032613/

"Across The Wide Missouri" [M.G.M. Oct 1951]
poster for 'Across The Wide Missouri' 1951 movie starring Clark Gable  Filmed in Technicolor™ near Silverton & Durango in SW Colorado; a tale of 1830s beaver trappers in the mountains of Montana & Idaho. Directed by William A. Wellman {hated the final cut}; written by Talbot Jennings & Frank Cavett, based on the book by Bernard DeVoto; music by David Raksin; narrated by Howard Keel; starring Clark Gable, Ricardo Montalban, John Hodiak, Adolphe Menjou, J. Carrol Naish, Jack Holt, Alan Napier, George Chandler, Richard Anderson, María Elena Marqués, Frankie Darro & James Whitmore
Warner Archive color DVD-R [9/2011] for $11.49
MGM/UA Home Video color VHS [9/98] for $11.99
full credits at IMDbmovie entry at Wikipedia

Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Bernard DeVoto  "Across The Wide Missouri" [1947] by Bernard DeVoto [1897-55]
Second volume of DeVoto's historical trilogy; book won the Pulitzer Prize for History
and the Bancroft Prize

Mariner Books mass pb [9/98] for $13.69
Mariner Books 8¼x5½ pb [8/80] out of print/70+ used
Bonanza Books 9¾x6¾ hardcover [1981] out of print/many used
book entry at Wikipedia

"Northwest Passage" TV series [1958-59] /tt0051299/
starring Keith Larsen, Buddy Ebsen & Don Burnett

"Hudson's Bay" TV series [1959] /tt0163940/
starring Barry Nelson & George Tobias

Winnetou & Shatterhand Movies [1962-68]
A series of 'Euro-westerns' about the Mescalero Apache chief Winnetou and his 'blood brother', the mountain man Old Shatterhand were made in Germany
from 1962 to 1968, based on the hugely-popular novels & stories by German author Karl May [1842-1912]. The stars were French actor
Pierre Brice and American actor Lex Barker • visit the Movies Section on the 'Readers of The Purple Sage' Bookstore's Karl May Page

"The Naked Prey" [1966]
The script for director Cornel Wilde's movie was largely based on the pursuit
of John Colter by Blackfoot Indians in Wyoming in 1809.

"Man In The Wilderness" [1971] /tt0067388/ starring Richard Harris

"Jeremiah Johnson" feature film [Warner Bros. Dec 1972]
Jeremiah Johnson movie poster  Directed by Sydney Pollack; script by John Milius & Edward Anhalt based on "Mountain Man" by Vardis Fisher & "Crow Killer" by Thorp & Bunker; starring Robert Redford, Will Geer, Delle Bolton, Joaquín Martínez, Allyn Ann McLerie & Stefan Gierasch; won Western Heritage Bronze Wrangler Award
Warner widescreen color DVD [9/98] out of prodn/many used
Warner color VHS [6/2001] out of prodn/many used
Warner widescreen color VHS [6/2001] out of prodn/used
full credits from IMDb

"The Saga of Jeremiah Johnson" 11-minute promotional featurette [Warner Bros. 1972]
Directed by Elliot Geisinger; written by Jay Anson; featuring Stefan Gierasch, Sydney Pollack & Robert Redford
credits at IMDbwatch [10:44] online at YouTube

"Jeremiah Johnson" music video [2010?] with two songs by Johnny Cash II
watch [11:00] online at YouTube

"The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams" [1974] /tt0074797/ starring Dan Haggerty

"Kit Carson and The Mountain Men" TV movie [Disney 1977] /tt0325689

"The Mountain Men" [1980] /tt0081187/ starring Charlton Heston

Famous  Mountain  Men

Westward Ho! Explorers of the American West book by Charlotte Foltz Jones  "Westward Ho!: Eleven Explorers of The American West" [2005]
by Charlotte Foltz Jones

Eleven absorbing biographies of noteworthy American explorers: navigators Robert Gray, George Vancouver, and Alexander Mackenzie; mountain men John Colter, James Bridger, Jedediah Strong Smith, and Joseph Reddeford Walker; military men Zebulon Montgomery Pike and John C. Frémont; and surveyors Stephen Harriman Long and John Wesley Powell
Holiday House 9½x8 hardcover [2/2005] for $20.66

John 'Grizzly' Adams [1812-60]
"The Legend of Grizzly Adams: California's Greatest Mountain Man" [] by Richard H. Dillon

Jim Beckwourth [1800-1866]

William Wells Bent [1809-1869] and Bent's Fort

Col. Daniel Boone [1734–1820]
Daniel Boone entry at Wikipedia
browse books about Daniel Boone
The Historic Daniel Boone Home & Heritage Center [built c1800] in Defiance, Missouri
The Boone Society, Inc. [est. 1996, online 1998]

Daniel Boone autobiography  
"Daniel Boone: His Own Story" by Daniel Boone [1784]
and "The Adventures of Daniel Boone" by Francis Lister Hawks

Applewood Books 11x8½ pb [2/96] for $11.21
book text at Early America Archives

"Daniel Boone: Wilderness Scout" [1922] by Stewart-Edward-White

"Daniel Boone" biography [1992] by Faragher

Jim Bridger [1804-81]
"Tomahawk" [1951] starring Van Heflin {as Jim Bridger}, Yvonne DeCarlo & Preston Foster

fictional Andy Burnett
Popular author Stewart Edward White [1873-1946] wrote four short novels about a young Pennsylvania farm boy who escapes his overbearing stepfather
by running away to the West with grandmother's blessing and 'The Boone Gun', the original Kentucky rifle carried by Daniel Boone. "The Long Rifle"
[1930], "Folded Hills" [1932], "Ranchero" [1933], and "Stampede" [1942] were collected as "The Saga of Andy Burnett" in 1947.
The various tales were adapted as six episodes of "The Wonderful World of Disney" during 1957 and 1958.

The Long Rifle frontier novel by Stewart Edward White  "The Long Rifle" [1930 novel] by Stewart Edward White
"The great American frontier novel of Andy Burnett" Young Andy Burnett inherits Daniel Boone's own long rifle and heads West to the majestic Rocky Mountains in the early XIXth Century fur trade era - a tale of endlessly expanding horizons, of oneness with nature, and of refreshing innocence.
Scurlock Publng Co. 9x6 pb [2/94] for $13.37
Scurlock Publng Co. 9x6 hardcover [2/94] out of print/used
this rare 1932 hardcover edition of "The Saga of Andy Burnett" is a reissue of "The Long Rifle" only
Garden City Books 9x6½ hardcover [1932] out of print/rare

"The Saga of Andy Burnett" [1957-58]
Starring Jerome Courtland {as Andy Burnett} and Jeff York {as friend & mentor Joe Crane}; VHS/DVD/Blu-ray not available

'Readers of The Purple Sage' Western Bookstore's
'Kit' Carson [1809-68] Page

John Colter [1786-1836], first white man to set foot in Wyoming

The script for director Cornel Wilde's movie "The Naked Prey" [1966] was largely based on the pursuit
of John Colter by Blackfoot Indians in Wyoming in 1809.

"John Colter, His Years In The Rockies" [1983] by Burton Harris

Roger Zelazny and Gerald Hausman meshed the stories of John Colter and Hugh Glass in the 1994 novel "Wilderness".

David 'Davy' Crockett [1786-1836]
"Born On A Mountaintop" new Crockett bio by Bob Thompson

"Broken Hand: The Life of Thomas Fitzpatrick, Mountain Man, Guide and Indian Agent" []

U.S. Army officer John C. Frémont [1813-90]

frontiersman Hugh Glass [1780?–1833]

Roger Zelazny and Gerald Hausman meshed the stories of John Colter and Hugh Glass in the 1994 novel "Wilderness".

Luther Sage 'Yellowstone' Kelly [1849-1928]

John 'Liver-Eating' Johnson [1824-1900]

"Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson" [non-fiction 1958] by Raymond W. Thorp & Robert Bunker

Mountain Man novel by Vardis Fisher  "Mountain Man: A Novel of Male & Female In The Early American West" [1967]
by Vardis Fisher

Univ Idaho Press pb [12/2000] for $9.95
Amereon hardcover [10/80] for $30.95

Zenas Leonard []


Lewis and Clark Expedition [1804-06]
aka 'The Corps of Discovery'

the route of the Lewis & Clark Expedition of 1804-1806          souvenir poster/handbill for the Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition of 1905 in Portland, Oregon

Captain Meriwether Lewis [1774-1809]
Second Lieutenant William Clark [1770-1838]
Toussaint Charbonneau [1767-1843]
Sacagawea Charbonneau [c1788-1812]
Jean Baptiste 'Pomp' Charbonneau [1805-66]

Lewis and Clark were listed #70 on The Atlantic Monthly's Top 100 Most Influential Figures in American History [Dec 2006]
website of the National Lewis & Clark Bicentennial: 2013 homepagearchived in 2009 Lewis & Clark Trail
Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation []
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Dept.'s "Lewis & Clark's Legacy In Montana" page
Montana Historical Society's "Lewis & Clark In Big Sky Country" info site

"The Far Horizons" [1955] directed by Rudolph Maté, starring Fred MacMurray, Charlton Heston, Donna Reed & Barbara Hale

"Lewis & Clark: The Journey of The Corps of Discovery" [1997] by Ken Burns

official companion to SI docu = "L&C: Across The Divide" (2003)

U.S. Sacajawea Dollar, minted & issued in 2000          seal of Lewis & Clark College [est. 1867] in Portland Oregon          seal of Lewis & Clark County in Montana

Cooking On The Lewis & Clark Expedition book by Mary Gunderson  "Cooking On The Lewis & Clark Expedition" [grades 3-6; 1999]
by Mary Gunderson

Capstone Press 8¼x10¼ library hardcover [2000] out of print/many used
Lewis and Clark Cookbook by Teri Evenson, Lauren Lesmeister & Jeff Evenson  "The Lewis and Clark Cookbook: Historic Recipes From The Corps of Discovery and Jefferson's America" [2002]
by Teri Evenson, Lauren Lesmeister & Jeff Evenson

Celestial Arts 9¼x7½ pb [11/2002] out of print/60+ used
Whisper'n Waters 8¾x7½ spiral-bound pb [6/2003] out of print/many used

"The Food Journal of Lewis & Clark: Recipes For An Expedition" [12/2002] by Mary Gunderson & Dennis Dahlin

"Lewis & Clark and The Indian Country: The Native American Perspective" [11/2007] Edited by Hoxie & Nelson

"Edge of Survival" [6/2010] by John Toenyes & Phil Scriver

Bill Buck's "National Trails Guide" booksite


Joseph Lafayette 'Joe' Meek [1810–75]

Zebulon Montgomery Pike [1779-1813]

1810 bestseller "The Expeditions of Zebulon Montgomery Pike To Headwaters of The Mississippi River,
Through Louisiana Territory, and In New Spain, During The Years 1805-6-7"

Osborne Russell [1814-?]

Jedediah Strong Smith [1799-1831]

"The Champion Buffalo Hunter: The Frontier Memoirs of Yellowstone Vic Smith" [] by Jeanette Prodgers

Paulino Weaver [1797-1867]

William S. 'Old Bill' Williams [1787-1849]

here on the America's Mountain Men Page at 'Readers of The Purple Sage' Western Bookstore

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