1840 - The last fur rendezvous

Green River, Wyoming, the site of many mountain man rendevous during the fur trapping era.

         Pierre DeSmet attended one of the last mountain man/fur trading rendezvous at Green River, in 1840, and described the scene as a group of Snakes (Shoshone) arrived: "Three hundred of their warriors came up in good order, and at full gallop into the midst of our camp.  They were hideously painted, armed with clubs, and covered all over with feathers, pearls, wolves' tails, teeth and claws of animals, outlandish adornments, with which each one had decked himself out according to his fancy.  Those who had wounds received in war, and those who had killed the enemies of their tribe, displayed their scars ostentatiously and waved the scalps they had taken on the ends of poles, after the manner of standards."

Mountain Men , High Plains

  Mountain men headed to the annual summer rendezvous.



         It was on this trip, while travelling north with the Flatheads to visit their homeland in what is modern day Montana, that DeSmet 'discovered' Alder Gulch, the scene of the gold rush near Virginia City, in Montana, in the 1860s.  DeSmet described the bed of the river being covered in gold sand, but he mentioned the discovery to no one.  Twenty years later - rediscovered by prospectors - Alder Gulch would become the richest placer mine in the world.  For two decades, white trappers had been taking beaver in streams that were holding inconceivable fortunes.  DeSmet took not even a tiny pinch of gold dust for fear that his discovery would be revealed, and he kept the secret for years.