Colorado Mountain ManApr 25,2014
Mountain men were trappers and explorers who roamed the North American Rocky Mountains from about 1810 to the early 1840s.Mountain men were ethnically, socially, and religiously diverse. Most were born in Canada, the United States, or in Spanish-governed Mexican territories, although some European immigrants moved west in search of financial opportunity. Mountain men were primarily motivated by profit, trapping beaver and selling the skins, although some were more interested in exploring the West.Historical reenactment of the dress and lifestyle of a mountain man, sometimes known as buckskinning, allows people to recreate aspects of this historical period. Rendezvous and other reenacted events are both history-oriented and social occasions. Some modern men choose a lifestyle similar to that of historic mountain men. They may live and roam in the mountains of the west or the swamps in the southern United States.The stereotypical mountain man has been depicted as dressed in buckskin and a coonskin cap, sporting bushy facial hair and carrying a Hawken rifle and Bowie knife, commonly referred to as a "scalpin' knife." They have been romanticized as honorable men with their own chivalrous code, loners who would help those in need but who had found their home in the wild.Most trappers traveled and worked in companies. Their typical dress combined woolen hats and cloaks with serviceable Indian-style leather breeches and shirts. Mountain men often wore moccasins, but generally carried a pair of heavy boots for rough terrain. Each mountain man also carried basic gear, which could include arms, powder horns and a shot pouch, knives and hatchets, canteens, cooking utensils, and supplies of tobacco, coffee, salt and pemmican. Items (other than shooting supplies) that needed to be "at hand" were carried in a "possibles" bag. Horses or mules were essential, in sufficient number for a riding horse for each man and at least one for carrying supplies and furs.In summer, mountain men searched for fur animals, but they waited until autumn to set their traplines. They sometimes worked in groups. Several men would trap, others would hunt for game, and one would remain in camp to guard the camp and be a cook. Since there were always Indians in the areas where they trapped, trappers had to deal with each tribe or band separately. Some tribes were friendly, while others were hostile. Mountain men traded with friendly tribes and exchanged information. Hostile tribes were avoided when possible.