Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

Subject Guide


Mountain West

Malachite’s Big Hole

The Rendezvous of 1829:

The year 1829 was unique in that there were two rendezvous that year. William Sublette left St Louis  on March 7th with a supply train for the mountains.  He carried supplies valued at $9,500.  He had approximately 55 men in his party, including first timers Joe Meek, Robert Newell and George Ebberts.  Sublette’s party took the usual route up to the mountains, however, just east of South Pass they headed to the Popo Agie River.  

1829 Popo Agie Rendezvous:  William Sublette took the pack train up the Popo Agie River to the vicinity of present day Lander, Wyoming.  Here he met up with Robert Campbell and his men who were just returning from their spring hunt in Crow Indian territory.  (Map showing location)

It is possible that Campbell had with him the fall and spring catch of Fitzpatrick and Jackson as well.  Thus Campbell  would have the entire trapping results of all of the men in the employ of Smith, Jackson and Sublette.  This rendezvous, which occurred sometime in the first half of July had been pre-arranged by Sublette and Campbell in the fall of 1828. This was not the major gathering for the year. Joe Meek writes regarding this rendezvous “… as the goods were opened the scene grew livelier.  All were eager to purchase, most of the trappers to the full amount of their year’s wages; and some of them, generally free trappers, went in debt to the company to a very considerable amount, after spending the value of a year’s labor, privation, and danger, at the rate of several hundred dollars in a single day.”  (Victor, River of the West)  

Campbell returned with furs to St. Louis  where he received $22,476 at a rate of $5.25 a pound for beaver.  

1829 Pierre’s Hole Rendezvous:   After the Popo Agie rendezvous, Sublette followed the Wind River to its source, and then crossed To-gwo-tee-a Pass and then down to Pierre’s Hole.  Pierre’s Hole was named for “Old” Pierre Tevanitagon, an Iroquois Mountain Man killed in a battle with Blackfeet Indians in 1827.  Sublette arrived in Pierre’s Hole on August 20, 1829 . According to Robert Newell, there were 175 Mountain Men, including free trappers at this rendezvous.  

This rendezvous was memorable for the reappearance of Jedediah Smith, who after two years in California, and Oregon, had been given up for dead. As it was, nearly everyone who had accompanied Jedediah had died either in an attack by Mojave Indians on the Colorado River, or in an attack by Kutish Indians on the Umpqua  River.  

This rendezvous broke up in late September.  After a fall hunt, approximately 200 trappers set up a winter camp on the Wind River where it emerges from the Wind River Range.  Joe Meek writes the following about winter camp “… the occasion when the mountain-men “lived fat” and enjoyed life: a season of plenty, of relaxation; of amusement, of acquaintanceship with all the company, of gayety, and of “busy idleness.””  (Victor, River of the West)   

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1830 Rendezvous