Jim Bridger

Jim Bridger

Violet Wollschlager, Reporter

James Bridger was born in 1804 in Richmond, VA and was one of the greatest mountain men of the 19th Century. In 1822, James moved to St. Louis and got hired with the Ashley Henry Fur Trading Company. He then traveled along the Missouri River and traded with the Indians. While working with them he helped construct the first fur trading post on the Yellowstone River. He also was one of the first people to have seen the Great Salt Lake, even though he didn’t know it at the time. Several years after that, Bridger worked as an independent trapper and in 1830 he joined with some partners and made the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. However that company did not last long and sold out in 1834. Then in 1840 he founded Fort Bridger where his family settled to live.

His happy life in Fort Bridger did not last long, his wife and one of his daughters died so he then retreated to the mountains. In those times he was trapping and hunting, usually hanging out with the Indians. In 1850, he married the Chief’s daughter and spent the summers in Fort Bridger and winters in Shoshoni.  Sadly, in 1853, the Mormons wanted to arrest him as an outlaw so he ran away and left his family in Westport, Missouri. By 1868, his eyesight started to fail him and he died at age 76.