48th annual Fort Bridger Rendezvous

Grizzled mountain men were a hot topic at the Fort Bridger State Historic Site over the Labor Day weekend at the Fort Bridger Mountain Man Rendezvous. PIONEER PHOTO/Virginia Giorgis

FORT BRIDGER — Time was turned back to the early 1800s last weekend at the Fort Bridger State Historic Site as the 48th Fort Bridger Rendezvous and Black Powder shoot took over the site to recreate a slice of history.

Previously it was predicted to be a cooler weekend with intermittent moisture, but the only real damper proved to be the downpour Thursday night in which the skies opened and dumped a lot of rain. But the blue skies returned and the weather proved to be on the warmer side with plenty of sunshine. Nary a breeze for most of the weekend, and the Rendezvourers and the flatlanders (tourists) had excellent weather to take their walk into the world of the past.

Rendezvous or a French word for meeting, creates a step back in time to the pre-1840’s of the American West in the Rocky Mountains. In the fur-trapping years, a place would be designated for the meeting in the fall so the mountain men could trade their furs, or plews, for products normally bought with cold, hard cash. The rendezvous is reminiscent of the trips west by entrepreneur William Ashley and the goods he carried for the mountain men to replenish their stock to get them through the next winter. The plews were like money in the bank and were used to buy the supplies the mountain men would need for another year. The fur companies thought it was more economical to keep the mountain men in the wilderness to trap instead of returning east for supplies.

The Fort Bridger Rendezvous recreates a time in the Rocky Mountain West when men lived by their wits spending the winter trapping beaver for the fashionable top hats worn by gentlemen in the east.

This year’s 48th annual Rendezvous, was back to letting people enjoy a slice of life without the coronavirus clamping activities down. A few masks were seen over the weekend, but for the most part, they were far and few in between. The Fort Bridger Rendezvous has grown from the handful of tepees to the second largest visitor event in Wyoming. This year’s Rendezvous didn’t play out as the norm, as the traffic was definitely down on Monday and Sunday afternoon. But Saturday afternoon proved to be a bumper crowd and multitudes of people attending the Rendezvous.

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