Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mountain Men: America's Early Long Distance Travelers

The American mountain man defined the idea of long distance, long-term travel for their generation. While many mountain men went unknown in history, there were several who gained a level of renown that continues until today.

Men like John Coulter, Joseph Walker, Kit Carson and Jedediah Smith are examples of early western travelers whose reputations are imprinted on the American psyche. One of the better examples of these trail blazers is James P. (Jim) Beckwourth. Lesser known today, he was a legend in his own time.

Jim Beckwourth's Story

Beckwourth's tales were recounted by many in the middle 1800's and often considered merely outlandish boasts. However, he was credible enough to have found an alternative route for travelers from the east to reach California through the Sierra Nevada. His trail proved to be an easier path than the one further south taken by the ill-fated Donner party.

The Donner's wagon train followed today's I-80 over some of the highest elevations in the Sierra. Beckwourth's path is closely followed by Hwy-70 where it intersects with the Hallelujah Junction on I-395 and heads west through Portola and on to Chico in California's central valley.


  1. I heard that Beckworth had a that true?

  2. Hi Elisa,

    Yes, Jim Beckwourth owned, not only a ranch, but a trading post and hotel on his land. These were located on California's eastern sierra Hwy 70 between Beckwith (named after Jim) and Portola, CA.

    In classic Beckwourth fashion, Jim called his place "War Horse Ranch".

    Thanks for visiting and watch for updates on Jim Beckwourth in future posts!

    The Editiors