| Share

James Bridger

Bridger, James, 1804–81, American fur trader, one of the most celebrated of the mountain men, b. Virginia. He was working as a blacksmith in St. Louis when he joined the Missouri River expedition of William H. Ashley in 1822. From that time until the fur trade declined in the 1840s he was a trader and trapper in the mountains, becoming familiar with most of the country N of Spanish New Mexico and E of California. He was associated with Thomas Fitzpatrick and Jedediah Smith in many of their journeys, and he is generally credited with being the first white man to see (1825) Great Salt Lake. He was the guide for the party of Marcus Whitman, and in 1843 he and a partner, Louis Vasquez, opened Fort Bridger on the Oregon Trail. They later were forced by the Mormons to give up the post. Bridger was a guide, notably to Gen. A. S. Johnston on the Mormon campaign in 1857, to an expedition to the present Yellowstone Park (a region he did much to publicize), and to the surveying party of Gen. G. M. Dodge for the Union Pacific RR. He came to be famous for his talk, was a fine spinner of "tall tales," and was one of the most picturesque figures of the frontier.

See biographies by J. C. Alter (1925; rev. ed. 1962, repr. 1967), S. Vestal (pseud. of W. S. Campbell; 1946, repr. 1970), and G. Caesar (1961); B. De Voto, Across the Wide Missouri (1947).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on James Bridger from Infoplease:

  • Fort Bridger State Park - Fort Bridger State Park Fort Bridger State Park, on Blacks Fork of the Green River, SW Wyo. The ...
  • fur trade: Movement West - Movement West A U.S. law in 1816 excluded British traders from the United States, and many British ...
  • Oregon Trail: The Wagon Trains - The Wagon Trains The mountain men were chiefly responsible for making the route known, and Thomas ...
  • Wyoming - Information on Wyoming — economy, government, culture, state map and flag, major cities, points of interest, famous residents, state motto, symbols, nicknames, and other trivia.
  • mountain men - mountain men mountain men, fur trappers and traders in the Rocky Mts. during the 1820s and 30s. ...

See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. History: Biographies

24 X 7

Private Tutor

Click Here for Details
24 x 7 Tutor Availability
Unlimited Online Tutoring
1-on-1 Tutoring