Hot time at Fort Bridger Mountain Man Rendezvous

Mountain Men look over the pre-1840 wares on Traders Row. PIONEER PHOTO/Virginia Giorgis

FORT BRIDGER — It was a hot time at the 47th annual Fort Bridger Rendezvous, and the Rendezvous was ‘hot, hot, hot’ as visitors and participants talked about the good times and the heat.

The Rendezvous, as usual, brought thousands of visitors and participants to the Fort Bridger State Historic Site last weekend. Quite a mixture of people from many areas, some by themselves, some with family and some just passing through who saw the eye candy and it beckoned them to stop.

Participants dress in pre-1840 attire and goods on Traders Row are to be pre-1840. Some take a little stretch to make the era, but there are also furs, hides, beads and seed beads, knives, candles and more. Mountain men with long scruffy beards stride across the grounds dressed in leathers and moccasins. Ladies dressed in skins or pioneer type dresses are part of the mix. And soldiers, carrying the long barrel Flintlock rifles are also part of the scene.

Rendezvous or a French word for meeting, proved to be 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 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.

Again on tap at the Fort Bridger Rendezvous were the Native American dancers who perform north of the bandstand. The incessant beat, beat, beat of the drum is the precursor for the dances to start.

. Other events included things like knife and tomahawk throws, shooting contests, mountain man run and a Dutch oven cooking contest.

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