Companies of wide-ranging American fur trappers were the trail blazers for subsequent explorers, gold rushers and settlers. The mountain passes they crossed, the routes they trod, and the valleys where they camped became the routes and stopping places that others followed. When the fur trade declined in the mid-1840s, many of these adventurous mountain men became emigrant guides to caravans of covered wagons.
Ohio-born Jacob Primer Leese, aged 21, was a trapper in Arkansas and soon afterwards a trader in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He first came to Mexican-owned California in 1833 to transport mules between New Mexico (also a Mexican province) and Southern California, returning in 1834 to settle briefly in Los Angeles. Two Continue reading The Pioneers: Jacob Leese
Although he never settled in California, renowned mountain man-fur trapper Jedediah Strong Smith explored many regions of the state in the 1820s, opening new paths in the interior plus other trails leading north to Oregon Territory and east to present-day Utah. Born January 6, 1799, the sixth of fourteen children, young Continue reading Trapper Jedediah Smith
Companies of American fur trappers were the trail blazers for subsequent explorers, gold rushers and settlers. Caught in the spell of a wild, free life, they were wide-ranging rovers. Trapping parties setting out from Taos, New Mexico, might Continue reading Those Famous Mountain Men
Fur trappers were the first non-Indians to discover the blue expanse of Mono Lake east of Yosemite, cradled by mountains and volcanoes in the parched region between the Sierra Nevada and Wasatch Mountains, an area named the Continue reading Mono Lake