FORT BRIDGER — The Fort Bridger Mountain Man Rendezvous brought thousands of visitors and participants to the Fort Bridger State Historic Site over a dry, warm Labor Day Weekend.
Although the majority of the participants don’t spend the long, cold winter months foraging for food and trapping beaver in the cold waters, one mountain man said the Rendezvous was a success as he got a “good buffalo coat.” When asked about the coat, he said it would come in handy as he lived in the mountains in northern Wyoming without the benefits of modern civilization. He reminded me of Two Eagle from the northern Wyoming mountains who used to come to the Fort Bridger Rendezvoius. A true-mountain man at heart and in his lifestyle. Scruffy from top-to-bottom, and his black leathers with feathers were well-worn. Two Eagle wrote to me for years and then, one year, he no longer came to the Rendezvous. A passing of time as the world kept spinning.
The Fort Bridger Rendezvous and black powder shoot brings to life the mountain man era when hardy men went West to trap beaver, the preferred material for hats for city gents in the east in the early 1800s. The era was short-lived as silk top hats became the norm.
But while furs were in vogue, William Ashley, an early entrepreneur, brought goods West to the men who braved the frontier and trapped the beaver.
The Fort Bridger Rendezvous is the second largest visitor event in Wyoming. Activities at the site bring to life the facts out of the history books.
During the weekend, the State Site is dotted with teepees, lean-tos, grizzled buckskinned mountain men and women, Native Americans in ceremonial dress, children in buckskins or ginghams and more.
This scene is punctuated by the beat, beat, beat of the Native American drums, the chants of the lead singers and the intermittent sound of musket fire.
Pictured: Stepping out alive in the early 1800s, the cultures meet and blend. PIONEER PHOTO/Virginia Giorgis