1825 Rocky Mountain Rendezvous
“When all had come in, he (Ashley) opened his goods, and there was a general jubilee…. We constituted quite a little town, numbering at least eight hundred souls, …half were women and children. There were some…who had not seen any groceries, such as coffee, sugar, etc, for several months. The whiskey went off as freely as water, even at the exorbitant price he sold it for. All kinds of sports were indulged in with a heartiness that would astonish more civilized societies.”
Taken from, The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth, as told to Thomas D. Bonner, this passage describes a raucus social event; the rendezvous. Here, mountain men swapped stories, tested their skills, and shared news of friends. The annual event was actually begun as a time saving measure whereby trappers could replenish supplies and trade furs, without traveling to St. Louis each summer. North of this point on Henrys Fork of the Green River, between Birch and Burnt Fork Creeks, the first Rocky Mountain Rendezvous was held during June and July, 1825. Held under the direction of William Ashley the gathering was planned for the Green River, but was moved up Henrys Fork because that site provided better forage for animals. One-hundred twenty trappers gathered to barter their furs at Burnt Fork. Among those assembled were some of the industry’s most colorful characters: General Ashley, Jedediah Smith, Bill Sublette, Davey Jackson, Tom Fitzpatrick, Etienne Provost, James Beckwourth and a still green Jim Bridger. On July 2, 1825, Ashley and his men headed for St. Louis with a load of furs worth $50,000.
Held annually throughout the region until 1840, when the demand for beaver pelts decreased, the rendezvous is remembered as one of the western frontiers most colorful traditions. Modern day mountain men still reenact these 19th century “fur fairs”.