Description of a Free Trapper
"From this point, several persons were dispatched in different directions in quest of a party of hunters and trappers, called Free Men, from the circumstances of their not being connected with either of the rival Fur Companies, but holding themselves at liberty to trade with one or all. They rove through this savage and desolate region free as the mountain air, leading a venturous and dangerous life, governed by no laws save their own wild impulses, and bounding their desires and wishes to what their own good rifles and traps may serve them to procure. Strange, that people can find so strong and fascinating a charm in this rude nomadic, and hazardous mode of life, as to estrange themselves from home, country, friends, and all the comforts, elegance's, and privileges of civilization; but so it is, the toil, the danger, the loneliness, the deprivation of this condition of being, fraught with all its disadvantages, and replete with peril, is, they think, more than compensated by the lawless freedom, and the stirring excitement, incident to their situation and pursuits. The very danger has its attraction, and the courage and cunning, and skill, and watchfulness made necessary by the difficulties they have to overcome, the privations they are forced to contend with, and the perils against which they must guard, become at once their pride and boast. A strange, wild, terrible, romantic, hard, and exciting life they lead, with alternate plenty and starvation, activity and repose, safety and alarm, and all the other adjuncts that belong to so vagrant a condition, in a harsh, barren, untamed, and fearful region of desert, plain, and mountain. Yet so attached to it do they become, that few ever leave it, and they deem themselves, nay are, with all these bars against them, far happier than the in‑dwellers of towns and cities, with all the gay and giddy whirl of fashion's mad delusions in their train."
From the book:
Life in the Rocky Mountains 1830-1835
by W. A. Ferris
Rocky Mountain Fur Company
Warren Angus Ferris was an ordinary trapper, employed by the
American Fur Company. He left a record of his day to day
experiences as a mountain man. He provides one of the most
detailed accounts of the fur trade in the Central Rocky Mountains
during the years 1830-1835.
Life in the Rocky Mountains was originally published in a series
of installments in the Western Literary Messenger, Buffalo, NY
from July 13, 1842 to May 4, 1844.
Download a PDF of "Life in the Rocky Mountains"