A trail guide, a fur tracker and hunter and a fur trader.  Jim Bridger may have been one of the best outdoorsmen of all times.  James Bridger was born on March 17, 1804.  In 1812 Jim’s parents moved to the vicinity of St. Louis.  He was orphaned at age 12 and became a blacksmiths apprentice.  In 1822, attracted by an ad in the Missouri Republican, 18 year old Jim, joined Gen. William H.

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Ashley’s fur tracking expedition to the head waters of Missouri.  In 1824 while searching for fur in the Rockey Mountains, Jim,  allegedly became the first person to see the Great Salt Lake.  Later on, he and a friend were one of the first white men to see the place which became Yellow Stone Park.  During the next 20 years Jim Trapped in the west as a partner in fur companies.  In 1843 when fur sales declined he set up a fort in southwest Wyoming as a way station to supply immigrants on the Oregon trail.

In the next 40 years he married 3 times to American Indian women, none of whom  survived with him.  Bridger’s vast knowledge of many trails gave him a job as a scout and he helped the army  when fighting the Indians. Bridger strongly opposed the Mormons and guided United State troops into Utah during a conflict that has been called the Utah war or Mormon war.  In 1865 he guided the powder river expedition.  And also became the first person to measure the bozeman trail (600 miles) from fort laramie, Wyoming to Virginia City, Montana.

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James Bridger was just about the most famous explorer of the American West.  In honor of his travels, The Bridger Mountains, Bridger pass and Bridger National Forest are among the places named for him.  And on July 17, 1881 James Bridgers life came to an end, just near Kansas City.

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