Another iconic figure from the History of The American West, the so named “Mountain Man” was a Class of Hunter, Scout and Trapper – first mentioned in documents around the middle of the 18th Century in Colonial America. In most cases, these Men were contracted by Regional Trading Companies, capitalizing on The Pelt Trade. Both France and England hired Men who already lived in The Colonies and had a God working knowledge of established hunting grounds for Beaver, Raccoon and related fur bearing animals. These Men often had close ties with local Native-American Tribes, and as such – could speak their languages. They were experts in hunting and trapping, and often served as Scouts.
Their title of “Mountain Man”, derived from The Northwest Rocky Mountain Range, where most preferred to hunt and live. These Men adapted so thoroughly to the wilderness, that they required nothing more than a good Knife, hatchet and Musket – to survive, regardless of Season. As such, these Men adapted a similar lifestyle of The Native-American. Highly adaptive and extreme outsiders to Society, these Men could go for many years without contact with the “Civilized” World. What Nature did not provide, they traded with Tribes, Trappers or on occasion – other Mountain Men.
Many Mountain Men grew tired of low pay for the essentially high profits yielded from the export of Beaver Pelts (highly sought in Europe). Most quit to generate their own business. Often, Trading Companies brought their Pelts, due to the cut in cost. When many of these Trading Companies quit or folded, their Trappers likewise turned to The “Mountain” lifestyle. Their height of prominence was around 1806 to 1870. As America began to slowly move Westward, The Mountain Man became a necessary component of Exploration. Some Mountain Men became famous Scouts for both Settlers and The Army.
However, their “Hermit” views of life, caused them to retreat higher and higher into the Hills and Mountains of The Northwest. Time (and progress) would eventually spell an end to the traditional all image of The American Mountain Man. But there are still large groups of persons who still espouse their somewhat “free” lifestyle, and still – even in today’s Age, live the “Frontier Life” of The Mountain Man.