We had the privilege to host the American Mountain Men Rendezvous in July.
The American Mountain Men (AMM) gathered at the Ladder Ranch June 29th-July 5th. It is an organization dedicated to preserving and living the lives of mountain men and trappers from the years 1800-1840. According to their website, they “do this by recreating the gear, learning the skills and techniques, and putting them to use in real life situations.”
The AMM came to hold their national rendezvous in the Little Snake River Valley through a series of unlikely circumstances. We have a couple of century-old barns. We were worried because although the buildings were basically sound, after many decades of use, they were beginning to list.
At the National Western Stock Show in 2011, Pat metf Bill Bailey, who restores historic buildings. The next summer, Bill showed up to redo the foundations and stabilize the barns for another 100 years. We soon became aware of his passion for the history of the Rocky Mountains, and especially the fur trapping era.
One thing led to another, and the next thing we knew, the mountain men were setting up their encampment near the confluence of the Little Snake River and Battle Creek. Battle Creek, Battle Mountain and Squaw Mountain take their names from the largest battle between fur trappers and Indians, and the battle site lies near the confluence (no one knows exactly where).
The mountain men, and women, who came to visit represented folks from all walks of life—from veterinarian to electrician to farmer. They came from all parts of the country, including Oregon, Massachusetts, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and of course Colorado and Wyoming.
The mountain men tried to live in their camp in a manner that recreates, as much as possible, the actual conditions of the fur-trading era. When we wandered through (in modern jeans and t-shirts), they were gracious in answering questions and talking about their interest in the fur-trading era. Many had hand-made trade goods—knives, buckskin pouches and other period gear—spread out on blankets for inspection and trade offers