Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

Subject Guide


Mountain West

Malachite’s Big Hole

Warm Weather Sleeping:

While traveling to the 1836 Rendezvous, Narcissa Whitman wrote the following description of sleeping arrangements in a letter to her sister:

"Mary, you ask concerning my beds and bedding.  I will tell you.  We...spread our India rubber cloth on the ground then our blankets, and encamp for the night. We have plenty of Mackenaw blankets, which answer for our bed and bedding... " 


"As to our bedding, it was not very soft, for we were not allowed to carry more than one pair of 3-pound blankets."

Written April 18 or 20, 1833 by Charles Larpenteur in Forty Years a Fur Trader.  At this time Larpentuer was a young man going on his first trip up to the mountains as a hired hand with the pack train Sublette and Campbell were taking to supply the Rocky Mountain Fur Company at the Rendezvous of 1833.  


"The Bed of a mountaineer is an article neither complex in its nature nor difficult in its adjustment.  A single buffalo robe folded double and spread upon the ground, with a rock, or knoll, or some like substitute for a pillow, furnishes the sole base-work upon which the sleeper reclines, and, enveloped in an additional blanket or robe, contentedly enjoys his rest." 

Written in early September 1841 by Rufus Sage (Rocky Mountain Life) on his first trip to the mountains with a supply train under the command of Lancaster Lupton heading to Fort Platte.  Fort Platte was setup in direct opposition to Fort Laramie on the North Platte River.    


"I had for bed purposes, the half of a buffalo robe, an old camlet cloak with a large cape, and a blanket.  I spread the robe on the ground, wrapped the blanket about my feet and the cloak around me, throwing the cape loosely over my head to break off the moonshine, and a saddle for my pillow.  And oh!  I always slept most profoundly.  We had tents, but it never raining and but little dew, we did not use them."  

Written by John Ball in his autobiography, 1832


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