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There was much to be said for traveling light as one undertook to voyage into the frontier. Certainly no man of solid thinking would even consider the adventure without a reliable flintlock rifle and accessories.


"One can fail in all attempts at self sufficiency such as trapping or panning for gold. But if it comes to living or dying in the Rockies, a good rifle and a soft foot will reward and save, even the unluckiest trespasser --- even if he be using them to permit the robbery of another."

(Quote attributed to a firearms salesman in St Louis circa 1816).


While gear was functional and commodities few, some of the era appeared to display a tendency toward flambuoyant dress by today's standards. Quite the contrary was true in most cases.
Furs and buckskin, with bead and feather ornaments were the materials at hand, and many [men] sewed their own clothing and did not fret about a little overhang at the seams.
Beads and other decorative items served to identify association with particular Indian tribes or nations. A man's presence at rendezvous or other gatherings could, simply by his appearance, tell; where he has been, who he calls friend and what it is he does with his life.


Meriwether Lewis, on the other hand, had quite a lot to say in his manner of dress. His uniform of the day left no doubt to an observer that he felt he was a man of significant importance.

Reflection on the period of exploration and frontier adventure arouses opinions of extreme nature.
Some say the early mountain men decimated buffalo, beaver and other game to near extinction. It is said they were the first whites to cheat the native peoples and rob them of their existence.
In some quarters they are portrayed as toothless, drunken scanvengers of no morals and less intelligence.

Others say they are the greatest heros in the history of our country; Men of courage, willing to sacrifice all and endure extreme hardships in the name of exploration to find a better life for all. Men, they say, who knew the true meaning of independence while subscribing to fellowship and inter-dependence at the same time. Men of honour and courage second to none.

I say, that as I write this, the television is squawking about manned colonies on the moon and research stations on asteroids. A new frontier that beckons some to risk it all and make that voyage.
Surely, those who go will be immortalized as Jim Bridger, J.F. Ballard, Lewis and Clark and many others were.
But, Even if I could, I would not be among them, for there are no painted aspens or snow laden spruce. No iced-over rivers, muskeg or spagum moss and surely there will not be found, in that desolation, one single Eagle!

Bob Fuhrman 3/19/99

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