The fur trade in the western part of the United States is one of the more enduring American stories of exploration, adventure, hardship, and success in the wilderness. Its importance and popularity as an American epic is evident in the thousands of books, articles, dedicated journals, movies, web pages for mountain men organizations and gear, and rendezvous are still held every year throughout the West. When most people think of the fur trade, they think about the trade in Canada, the Upper Missouri, and the Oregon country, or the famous mountain man rendezvous, but the fur trade in Colorado has been routinely ignored in literature even though there were at least twenty-four trading posts in the state between about 1800 and 1850. This talk discusses the trade in general but focuses on the trade in Colorado.
Bill Butler is an archeologist by training beginning with an A.A. degree from El Camino College in Torrance, California. Following an all expense paid “vacation” in southeast Asia, he received his B.A. and M.A. from California State University at Long Beach, and Ph.D. from the University of Missouri. He has done field work throughout the western United States and has published over 100 technical reports on archeology and history. Although retired, he remains active in researching plains and mountain history and prehistory. He and his wife have lived in Colorado for over thirty-five years. He is an avid model railroader and golfer of the true duffer variety.