Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

Subject Guide


Mountain West

Malachite’s Big Hole

1830 Wind River Rendezvous:

The pack train which left St Louis in April of 1830 under William Sublette was unique.  The supplies were carried in ten wagons drawn by five mules each, and two Dearborn carriages, each drawn by one mule.  These were the first wagons to proceed west along the Platte River and thence over South Pass.  Twelve head of cattle and one milch cow were also brought.  There were 81 new recruits bound for the mountains along with this train.

The year 1830 also was the first year that there was any real rivalry to the firm of Smith, Jackson and Sublette.  An American Fur Company supply train (Jacob Astor) under the direction of Lucien Fontenelle, Andrew Drips and Joseph Robidoux also left St Louis in the spring of this year.  Warren Ferris accompanied the American Fur Company train.  

Sublette’s supply train arrived at the Wind River Rendezvous in the middle of July.  Although the American Fur Company supply train arrived on the Green River on June 21st, they failed to find the rendezvous, and subsequently cached their goods prior to starting the fall hunt.  (Map)

Joe Meek writes about this rendezvous “ …Beaver, the currency of the mountain, was plenty that year and goods were high accordingly.  A thousand dollars a day was not too much for some of the most reckless to spend on their squaws, horses, alcohol, and themselves…Pure alcohol was what they “got tight on;” and a desperate tight it was, to be sure!””  

For Smith, Jackson and Sublette, this was an extremely successful year.  A total of 170 packs of beaver valued at $84,499 were taken.  After expenses, this left about $55,000 for the three partners, plus $28,000 still on the Ashley’s books as a credit from previous years.  Not a bad return over four years at a time when $100-$200 a year was considered to be an above average wage.   

Sensing that the business was changing, Smith, Jackson and Sublette, sold out their interest in the company on August 4, 1830, to Thomas Fitzpatrick, James Bridger, Milton Sublette, Henry Fraeb and Jean Gervais and the name of the company was changed to the Rocky Mountain Fur Company.  Smith, Jackson and Sublette would provide a supply caravan for the new company, however the new company would need to send a representative down from the mountains in the spring to complete the arrangements.  Smith, Jackson and Sublette left the mountains with about 70 men to return with the furs to St. Louis, arriving there on October 10, 1830.    

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1831 Rendezvous