County Museum Hosts Fur Trade Class for GRHS Students

County Museum Hosts Fur Trade Class for GRHS Students

Wyoming history students at Green River High School handle visual aids at the Sweetwater County Historical Museum’s Rocky Mountain Fur Trade class, presented by the museum's Aidan Brady. Photo courtesy of the Sweetwater County Historical Museum.

GREEN RIVER — The Rocky Mountain fur trade was the topic this week for more than a hundred Green River High School students studying Wyoming history at a special presentation hosted by the Sweetwater County Historical Museum.

Aidan Brady, the museum’s public engagement coordinator discussed the era of the fur trade, which peaked during from the 1820s through the 1840s. The fur trade started flourishing in the early 1820s. The demand for beaver pelts in the east and Europe skyrocketed, and trappers who came to be known as mountain men – men like Jim Bridger, William Sublette, and Kit Carson – pursued their lonely, dangerous craft in the rugged mountains and icy streams.

It was not practical for the mountain men to travel long distances to places like St. Louis, Mo., to sell their pelts and obtain supplies. The result was annual gatherings called Rendezvous which were organized by fur trading companies from 1825 to 1840 at different locations in Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho. Mountain men and Native Americans gathered to sell their furs, trade for supplies, and celebrate. The first Rendezvous, in 1825, was held in Sweetwater County, near present-day McKinnon, about 40 miles southwest of Green River.

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Brady spoke of the importance of the fur trade in Wyoming history, using a variety of period-accurate visual aids, including antlers, pelts, hides, traps, powder horns, and other muzzle-loading firearms accessories.

The works of Alfred Jacob Miller (1810-1874), an American artist known for his paintings of mountain men and Native Americans during the fur trade era, were discussed, and several students picked his life and work as the topic for their required research paper.

Educators, parents, and parent-teacher groups who are interested in learning more about museum programs for students in grades K-12 are encouraged to contact Brady at (307) 872-6435 or via email at