National Geographic : 1965 Nov
Boisterous rendezvous climax to a year's toil DAY AND NIGHT, month after month, moun tain men lived with incredible danger and hardship. Once a year they claimed their reward-cash and supplies from the sale of their pelts, transacted at a summer gathering known as the rendezvous. Above, some 250 Shoshoni warriors parade in honor of Sir Wil liam Drummond Stewart at the 1837 Green River rendezvous. A Scottish nobleman and adventurer who loved western life, he en gaged Alfred Jacob Miller, a Baltimore artist, to paint these scenes for his castle in Scotland. The rendezvous at a predetermined place in present-day Wyoming, Utah, or Idaho has been likened to a medieval fair. "It was a place of buying, selling, haggling, cheating, gambling, fighting, drinking, palavering, rac ing, shooting, and carousing," wrote Robert 650 THOMAS GILCREASEINSTITUTE OF AMERICANHISTORY AND ART, TULSA, OKLAHOMA Glass Cleland in This Reckless Breed of Men. John Colter, member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, helped start the infant fur trade. Instead of returning to St. Louis, he stayed in the wilderness, joining Joseph Dixon and Forest Handcock-a pair of Illinois trap pers-heading up the Missouri. He guided them to rich beaver streams in the far moun tains. They became the first of the legendary mountain men-a breed whose heyday lasted from 1825 to 1840. Upon the skillful setting of traps depended the success of the year's work. Trappers put them out at dusk, in great secrecy (upper right). One mountain man explained that "it was not good policy... to let too many know where he intends to set his traps...." Cow buffalo provided plentiful camp fare. Artist Miller catches the moment (right) when "hump and boss boil in a kettle, cracked mar row bones sizzle .... " Hungry trappers in fire blackened elkskins await the repast.