This Reckless Breed of Men: The Trappers and Fur Traders of the Southwest

By Robert Glass Cleland | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
Jedediah Strong Smith: From the Big Lake to the Sea

BY 1825 American fur traders had extended their operations far west of the Continental Divide and equally far south of the Mexican border. The line of exploration at that time ran in a great jagged arc from the Mexican settlements of the upper Rio Grande, through the valley of the Green River and the basin of the Great Salt Lake, to the Snake and Columbia rivers. During the next ten years a series of further explorations extended the radius of this arc till it reached the coast of California, the Gila and lower Colorado rivers, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora.

Most of the expeditions that invaded the wilderness lying beyond the strategic outposts of 1825 were Anglo- American in their origin and leadership, but a few set out from the forts and trading posts of the Hudson's Bay Company on the Columbia. The "Great Company" was especially active in the exploration of the northern and western part of the Great Basin and in trapping the beaver streams of California. On occasion it even sent its motley brigades as far south as the Gulf of California.1

The story of these expeditions, American and British

____________________
1
Chapter 9 contains an account of these activities.

-54-

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