Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

Subject Guide


Mountain West

Malachite’s Big Hole

The Greenhorn Mountaineer: 

Men on their first trip to the mountains found themselves on a very steep learning curve.  There were no training manuals, classes or guides to prepare a man.  It was very much a sink or swim situation in which a man's success, and very survival depended on how quickly he could learn the necessary skills and how lucky he was.  I've read that as many as fifty percent of all new hands were killed, deserted, quit, or otherwise disappeared by the end of their first year in the mountains.  If a greenhorn was lucky, he would find himself assigned to a mess with a group of experienced old timers who he could watch and learn from. 

The following are stories about "first" experiences of Greenhorns:

Osborne Russell and His First Buffalo Hunt

Osborne Russell and His First Encounter with a Grizzly Bear

Drinker Hunts for "Porcupine"

"Big Jim" was a greenhorn who accompanied Lancaster Luptons caravan to Fort Platte in 1841.  The "Big Jim" Adventures are related by Rufus Sage in Rocky Mountain Life.

"Big Jim" Hunts Sandhill Crane

"Big Jim" Hunts Antelope

"Big Jim" Kills Venomous Serpent

"Big Jim" First Adventure on Guard Duty

"Big Jim" Challenges a Buffalo Bull

"Big Jim" 2nd Adventure on Guard Duty

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