Rocky Mountain Rendezvous

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Rocky Mountain Rendezvous
Rocky Mountain Rendevouz.jpg
Typical rendezvous scene
StatusNo longer held
BeginsEarly summer
Years active1825 – 1840
Founder William Henry Ashley
ParticipantsFur trappers & merchants

The Rocky Mountain Rendezvous was an annual gathering, held between 1825 to 1840 at various locations, organized by a fur trading company at which trappers and mountain men sold their furs and hides and replenished their supplies. The fur companies assembled teamster-driven mule trains which carried whiskey and supplies to a pre-announced location each spring-summer and set up a trading fair (the rendezvous). At the end of the rendezvous, the teamsters packed the furs out, either to normally the British Companies to Fort Vancouver in the Pacific Northwest for the British companies or to one of the northern Missouri River ports such as St. Joseph, Missouri, for American companies.


Rendezvous were known to be lively, joyous places, where all were allowed—fur trappers, Indians, native trapper wives and children, harlots, travelers and later tourists—who would venture from as far as Europe to observe the festivities. James Beckwourth describes: "Mirth, songs, dancing, shouting, trading, running, jumping, singing, racing, target-shooting, yarns, frolic, with all sorts of extravagances that white men or Indians could invent." [1]

Rendezvous are still celebrated as gatherings of like-minded individuals. The fur trading rendezvous are celebrated by traditional black-powder rifle clubs in the U.S. and Canada. These events range from small gatherings sponsored by local clubs to large gatherings like the Pacific Primitive Rendezvous, the Rocky Mountain National Rendezvous, and others. They include many of the activities as the originals, centering on shooting muzzle-loading rifles, trade guns and shotguns; throwing knives and tomahawks; primitive archery; as well as cooking, dancing, singing, the telling of tall tales and of past rendezvous. Personas taken on by participants include trappers, traders, housewives, Native Americans, frontiersmen, free-trappers and others, including soldiers.


Alfred Jacob Miller - Sioux Indians in the Mountains - Miller en route to a Rocky Mountain Rendezvous In the spring of 1837, Captain William Drummond Stewart hired the Baltimorean Alfred Jacob Miller to accompany and record an expedition to the annual fur traders' rendezvous held in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in what is now Wyoming. Alfred Jacob Miller - Sioux Indians in the Mountains - Walters 371996.jpg
Alfred Jacob Miller - Sioux Indians in the Mountains - Miller en route to a Rocky Mountain Rendezvous In the spring of 1837, Captain William Drummond Stewart hired the Baltimorean Alfred Jacob Miller to accompany and record an expedition to the annual fur traders' rendezvous held in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in what is now Wyoming.

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  1. Bonner, Thomas D. (1856). The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth, Mountaineer, Scout, and Pioneer, and Chief of the Crow Nation of Indians. With Illustrations. Written from His Own Dictation. New York: New York. p. 107. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  2. All locations according to rendezvous sites (Archive Accessed: February 12, 2018)
  3. Official State Highway Map of Wyoming (Map). Wyoming Department of Transportation. 2014.|access-date= requires |url= (help)

Further reading