Getting 'Real' with the American Mountain Men
Todd "Teton" Glover traps his own hand to show how a beaver trap won't hurt larger animals if they step in it.
Living History Days at the Museum of the Mountain Man
by Clint Gilchrist
May 21, 2006
The Rocky Mountain Fur Trade era ended more than 160 years ago. During that time, the Mountain Man became the first purely American iconic figure. Today, the Mountain Man is often just a character. Every May, the Museum of the Mountain Man and the American Mountain Men partner to put on "Living History Days", where students from all around western Wyoming come to learn about the "real" Mountain Man.
The demonstartions focused on the day-to-day life of the Mountain Men. Among other things, students learned that the Mountain Men were in the Rocky Mountains to make money trapping beaver. They set traps in the frigid beaver ponds during the cold fall and spring months when beaver fur was the thickest. Some Indians in the area were their friends, and some were enemies. Some married Indian women, and all the trappers learned techniques from the Indians for living in the harsh environment. Their clothes and tools were a combination of items traded from the Indians and supplies brought from St Louis each summer. It was a harsh life with many men losing their lives to grizzly bears, Indians and Mother Nature.
Members of the American Mountain Man Association giving demonstrations this year were Mike Powell, Todd "Teton" Glover and Roy "Cray Cyot" Hansen. The American Mountain Men organization was formed in 1973 by a group of mountain man enthusiasts who wanted to learn the life of mountain men by living it. They all have regular jobs, but live and learn the mountain man ways as a hobby, and for some, a life-long passion for the lifestyle.
The 6th annual Living History Days was held May 16-18 at the Museum of the Mountain Man. Over 700 students from Pinedale, Big Piney, Rock Springs, Green River, Kemmerer, and Jackson attended. Demonstrations covered fur identification, beaver trapping, weapons, clothes, sign language, tipis, Indian goods, and a few tall tales.
Photos and story by Clint Gilchrist