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Mountain Men

"Go west, young man" became a cry for adventuresome young men in the years following Lewis and Clark's expedition. They had brought back stories about mountain streams teeming with beaver, which meant fashionable beaver fur for hats!

Go to http://www.xmission.com/~drudy/amm.html and click on "Library." Choose one story to read. Take notes in order to share with your class the life of your mountain man. Then go back to the main page and click on "Archive." Examine some of the fur trade business records.

  • What items on the list surprised you?

  • Look at the costs of items. Which items were most expensive? Why do you think this was so?

Let's visit one town that was started by a mountain man — Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Go to http://www.themaestro.com/JH/History/#Jackson's_Hole and continue by scrolling down the page.

  • What made Davey Jackson come to Wyoming?

  • Why was this "hole" a good place to hunt?

  • What ended the fur trade?

One more stop to visit is The West, as seen by the PBS special created by Ken Burns. Go to http://www3.pbs.org/weta/thewest/wpages/wpgs100/w12_001.htm.

  • Why would this section be called "Hats"?

  • What hazards did mountain men face?

  • What happened to Joe Meek after the fur trade died out?

Extension Activity

Create a first-person monologue to present to your class, telling the story of the mountain man whose diary you read.

Mountain Men Teacher's Notes

Grade Levels: 4–8

Learning Objectives:

Time Required: Approximately two class periods for online research, several for in-class presentations as suggested in the Extension Activity.