Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

Subject Guide


Mountain West

Malachite’s Big Hole

1827 Sweet Lake (Bear  Lake) Rendezvous:

William Ashley lead a pack train with supplies valued at  $22,447 out of St. Louis on April 12, 1827 for rendezvous in the mountains.  The men accompanying this pack train were to be paid $110 for one year service.  A four-pounder cannon mounted on wheels was also taken with this caravan. This would be the first wheeled vehicle ever taken to the mountains.  The route taken by the pack train would be along the Platte River, thence along the North Platte River, and across South Pass.  This route would eventually become the eastern part of the Oregon Trail.  

Mountain Men and Indians began gathering at the south end of Sweet (Bear) Lake in June of 1827.  This rendezvous location was again within the territory of Mexico.  (Map)

Just prior to or about the time of the arrival of the pack train, Blackfoot Indians attacked men at the rendezvous.  According to Daniel Potts, this event was more of a skirmish involving about 20 Blackfoot warriors, however, in James Beckwourth’s version (remember, Beckwourth is the “Immaculate Liar” because of his ability to embroidery any story) it was an all-out battle involving more than 300 trappers plus their Indian allies.  According to Beckwourth after six hours of pitched battle, more than 173 Blackfoot scalps were taken.   

Ashley’s pack train was on site by at least July 3rd, and may even have arrived prior July 1st.  Beaver was purchased at $3 per pound.  Although the new fur company Smith, Jackson and Sublette appeared to have had a successful year, primarily on markup of goods and supplies, there was grumbling amongst the trappers about the “exorbitant “ prices of goods.

Rendezvous this year broke up around July 13th.     

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1828 Rendezvous