Fort William 1834-1841

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The mountain man was a frontiersman of the first order-an adventurer, loner, and a part-time diplomat. But he was also an entrepreneur, seeking to make a living in the perilous Rocky Mountain fur trade, where many of those who went into the mountains were never heard from again.

Conflicts between Indians and trappers were relatively rare. Instead, mountain men often took Indian wives and established themselves in Indian families. Trade was mutually beneficial and, for the most part, honestly conducted.

Competition for Indian trade did not become ruthless and unscrupulous until large fur trading corporations arrived, each company trying to drive the others out of business. Fort William, the first fort at the confluence of the North Platte and Laramie Rivers, was established in 1834 in this atmosphere of competition and company rivalry.

Though the heyday of the fur trade lasted only 20 years, the changes it wrought were immense. The mountain men were truly the vanguard of the great migration West. The letters, reports, and tall tales that filtered east excited a nation to the seemingly limitless land, wealth, and possibilities that awaited in the West.

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