Synopses & Reviews
On March 20, 1822, the Missouri Republican published a notice addressed and#147;to enterprising young menand#8221; in the St. Louise area. and#147;The subscriber,and#8221; it said and#147;wishes to engage one hundred young men to ascend the Missouri River to its source, there to be employed for one, two, or three years. For particulars enquire of Major Andrew Henryand#133; or of the subscriber near St. Louise.and#8221; The and#147;subscriberand#8221; was General William H. Ashley, and among the and#147;enterprising young menand#8221; who embarked with Major Henry less than a month later was eighteen-year-old James Bridger, former blacksmithand#8217;s apprentice. So began the Ashley-Henry fur empire and the long, colorful career of Jim Bridger.
In the years that followed, Jim Bridger became a master mountain man, an expert trapper, and a guide without equal. He came to know the Rocky Mountain region and its inhabitants as a farmer knows his fields and flocks. Indeed, J. Cecil Alter tells us, and#147;he was among the first white men to use the Indian trail over South Pass; he was first to taste the waters of the Great Salt lake, first to report a two-ocean stream, foremost in describing the Yellowstone Park phenomena, and the only man to run the Big Horn River rapid on a raft; and he originally selected the Crow Creek-Sherman-Dale Creek route the Laramie Mountains and Bridgerand#8217;s Pass over the Continental Divide, which were adopted by the Union pacific Railroad.and#8221;
Such knowledge, together with extraordinary skill and uncanny luck, preserved Jim Bridger in a country where nearly half of his mountain companions met violent death. It also gave rise to a brood of impossible tales about Old Gabe and his adventures-tales which he himself may unwittingly have helped along with his droll humor.
Based on Mr. Alterand#8217;s original biography of 1925 (a facsimile edition of which, with addenda, appeared in 1950) and a wealth of new facts gleaned from many years of careful research, Jim Bridger is the authentic story of the Old Scoutand#8217;s life. Only those events in which Bridger took part are included; improbable and uncorroborated stories, however interesting, have been omitted.
About the Author
J. Cecil Alter, who retired from the U.S. Weather Bureau in 1949 after forty-seven years of service, has long been interested in Western history. In addition to Utah: The Storied Domain, a four-volume history of that state, he has written two other books and many articles about the West and was for twenty years the editor of the Utah Historical Quarterly. A member of the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, and the Utah State Historical Society, Mr. Alter now makes his home in Lomita, California.