Jim Bridger was one of the more famous mountain men in American history.  He trapped, guided and explored the American West during the early to mid-1800s and was instrumental in forging a new nation.

Bridger was one of those men that had the constitution of a bull.  He walked from Colorado to Canada and survived the perils of the American Rocky Mountains at a time that there were few white men occupying the land.  At a time when men died young he survived for seventy-seven years.  He opened a new route for the Oregon Trail and by using the newly discovered Bridger Pass the emigrants crossing the mountains and save over sixty miles of harsh travel.   He married a woman of the Flathead tribe and following her death he married a daughter of a Shoshone chief.  Bridger founded a fort that carried his name, Fort Bridger.  He would advise wagon trains going west and it was documented that the doomed Donner Party stopped there on the way to being snowed-in at Donner Lake, California and eventually survived by eating members of the party that had died of exposure and hunger.  The Donner Party had apparently not enlisted guidance from Bridger.

Jim Bridger’s friends list was like a who’s who of Mountain Men and people that forged a new country from the wilds of the Rockies and Sierras.  Kit Carson, mountain man, military scout, explorer, Indian agent and military officer was one friend.  John Fremont, founder of Pike’s Peak and commander of troops during the Mexican American War in California was also a friend as was General George Armstrong Custer.  John Sutter, owner of Sutter’s mill where gold was discovered in California and thus led to the great California Gold Rush was also among Bridger’s circle of associates.  Probably the most controversial acquaintance was a man named Hugh Glass.

Glass has been immortalized in the recently released movie, “Revenant”.  This movie starring Leonardo DeCaprio is ear marked for a year of awards as the enormity of Hugh Glass’s survival odyssey is displayed on the silver screen.  Glass was attacked and mauled by a bear before the carnivour was killed.  Two men remained with him to wait for Glass to die and then bury him.  One was a battled hardened mountain man and the other was a seventeen year old kid on his first expedition.  Glass refused to die and the two abandoned him with the knowledge that he would eventually die.  Glass didn’t die and his epic quest to survive and wreck vengeance on those that left him for dead is legendary.  This movie is a remake of a 1971 movie, “The Man In The Wilderness” starring Richard Harris and John Huston.  My first encounter with the Hugh Glass story and his adventure predated the 71 movie by 5 years when Troop 16’s iconic scout master, Larce Holder told us this story over some campfire at a camp on the Corney.

Glass did survive and later found the two men that left him for dead. The older man had joined the army as a scout and returned Glass’s gun that he took when left for dead.  Glass did not kill the scout fearing execution for killing a soldier.  The younger man was also left alone.  That man would later open up much of the west to settlers and traders.  His name; Jim Bridger.


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