Malachite’s Big Hole
1828 Sweet Lake (Bear Lake) Rendezvous:
By the time the pack train loaded with furs had arrived in Lexington, Missouri, on October 1, 1827, Ashley had goods and supplies valued at about $20,000 ready to send back up to the mountains. Although some Mountain Men would be re-supplied as early as November, these supplies would not reach many of the trappers until the spring of 1828, and for some, not until the summer of 1828.
There would be no spring pack train this year. Even still, the Mountain Men anxiously awaited this years rendezvous, held this year again at the south end of Sweet Lake or Bear Lake, a location within the territory of Mexico. (Map)
As happened the year before, Blackfoot Indians made an attack just prior to the rendezvous. Approximately two or three hundred Blackfoot warriors attacked Robert Campbell’s party as it was just a few miles from the site of the rendezvous. Things might have gone poorly for Campbell’s group if it had not been so close to rendezvous. Ashley reports that 60-70 trappers and several hundred friendly Indians quickly arrived from rendezvous to reinforce Campbell’s group. Depending on who is telling the story, the Blackfoot Indians are believed to have retired from the field before the reinforcements arrived.
Rendezvous this year would last through the early part of July. Since there was no pack train to return the furs to St. Louis this year, the partners of Smith, Jackson and Sublette were responsible for this task themselves. It involved additional effort on their part, however, beaver was being purchased in St Louis at $5 per pound rather than the $3 per pound which Ashley had been paying in the mountains. Furs sold in St Louis this year would be valued at $35,810.
Of note is the presence of Joshua Pilcher’s fur company at this years rendezvous. They had been supplied by John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company, but most of their supplies, which had been cached, were destroyed by water seeping down into the caches. They were, however, successful in trading for 17 packs of beaver with the meager supplies that they were able to salvage.
William Sublette left the mountains on August 1, to return to St Louis with the furs and to purchase goods and supplies for the succeeding year. Some of Pilcher’s men along with their proceeds from trading at the rendezvous would accompany Sublette back to St. Louis. Although Sublette and Pilcher were competitors, it would not have been unusual for them to travel together, for the greater safety in larger numbers.