MOUNTAIN MAN RENDEZVOUS
Since 1989 the 1838 Rendezvous Association has been working to preserve one of the rare historical sites associated with the American mountain men. This site is at the confluence of the Wind River and Popo Agie (now Little Wind) rivers and was used for the 1830 and 1838 Rendezvous`, and Captain Bonneville`s camp in the summer of 1835.
19th century trappers who met on the site several times were explorers of an unmapped and exotic landscape very different than the woodlands found in the east. These adventurers lived in the west without leaving a permanent trace of their lives on the land and the undeveloped site is an appropriate memorial to their mysterious lives. Mountain men were not interested in development or civilization and they adapted their own distinct nomadic culture that was very similar to that of the Plains Indian. Since permanent structures or physical remnants of the mountain men are even rarer than even those of the Native Americans the places they were known to inhabit become more important with time.
The historic area along the Wind River still retains the flavor of the land as it looked in 1830 and 1838 when Jim Bridger, Kit Carson, and a host of famous mountain men met for the annual fur trade and to re-supply. The landscape near the forks of the Wind River harbors one of the rare rendezvous sites accessible to the public and still in pristine condition. A fifteen year span of early 19th century history is represented by the site.
The 1838 Rendezvous Association is asking for the help of interested people who will work toward the goal of preserving this historic site. “We look forward to being able to treat our valuable Wyoming historic site like other important sites in the United States are treated, says association member Lee Teter.
The Wyoming Department of Highways has been a major player in the preservation of the site and continues to press ahead in an effort to end mining in the surrounding area as soon as possible. They have assured the 1838 Rendezvous Association that they are trying to inflict as little damage to the landscape as possible and when mining is complete the site will be reclaimed. Other interested parties including officials from the State of Wyoming, Fremont County, and the city of Riverton joined with organizations such as the Fremont County Historic Society and the Wind River Muzzleloaders to secure the site and preserve it for future generations. The site was even selected as the “Lasting Legacy Project by Riverton`s 1990 Wyoming Centennial Committee.
An annual re-enactment of the 1838 Rendezvous is part the effort to draw attention to the history and romance of the area. Reenactors , or “buckskinners have done their part for the site, but the organization is presently in need of more members who are creative, energetic and love history. They need active members who care how the world sees Wyoming’s ancient landscape and early history. “We have a lot to do and we need help, said an association member, “People come from all over the world to this site. European, South American, Canadian and Asian people visited the site this year and we can make their impression of American values more accurate by showing how important this site is to American history.