Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

Subject Guide


Mountain West

Malachite’s Big Hole

1840 Green River (Siskeedee-Agie) Rendezvous:

Andrew Drips, aided by Jim Bridger and Henry Fraeb, lead the supply train from Westport on April 30, 1840.  The supply train included thirty carts and forty men.  Why this years supply train was so much larger than the previous year’s is unexplainable, in that there was no reason to believe that fur harvest had improved.  Market conditions for beaver fur certainly had not improved.  A party of missionaries, including the Catholic Father, Pierre Jean DeSmet, were traveling west with the supply train.

The supply train arrived at the rendezvous site, located at the confluence of Horse Creek and the Green River on June 30th.  (Map)  Furs gathered at this rendezvous were meager.  Many trappers in the mountains were now packing their furs to Fort Hall, Fort Crockett, or Fort Robidoux to obtain supplies, rather than going to rendezvous.  

At the close of the rendezvous, around July 4th, Robert “Doc” Newell engaged to guide three of the missionary couples to Fort Hall.   While at Fort Hall, and planning out their future, Joe Meek writes of a conversation he had with Newell.  “Come, We are done with this life in the mountains – done with wading in beaver dams, and freezing or starving alternately – done with Indian trading and Indian fighting.  The fur trade is dead in the Rocky Mountains, and it is no place for us now, if ever it was.  We are young yet, and have life before us.  We cannot waste it here; we cannot or will not return to the States.  Let us go down to the Wallamet [Willamette Valley in Oregon] and take farms … What do you say, Meek?  Shall we turn American settlers?”  (Frances Fuller Victor, The River of the West: The Adventures of Joe Meek)

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