Jim Bridger - The Rest of His Story


Jim Bridger may well be the most celebrated of all the mountain men who lived and worked in the mountain west. So famous that today, roads, streets, trails, bridges, a power plant, schools, a fort, museum collections and many more things were named after the famous, hunter, and fur trader.

The inscription on his tomb stone reads (in part) – “Celebrated as a hunter, trapper, fur trader and guide. Discovered Great Salt Lake 1824, the South Pass 1827 [1823]. Visited Yellowstone Lake and Geysers 1830. Founded Fort Bridger 1843. Opened Overland Route by Bridger's Pass to Great Salt Lake. Was a guide for U. S. exploring expeditions, Albert Sidney Johnston's army in 1857, and G. M. Dodge in U. P. surveys and Indian campaigns 1865-66."

But that is not all the man was. For decades a popular American radio host, Paul Harvey, aired a program called, “The Rest of the Story,” – well here is a bit of the rest of the story of James Felix Bridger, a most remarkable man.

Today Wyoming is known as a ranching and oil producing state. Guess who was the states first cattleman and first oilman? Jim Bridger. Bridger was not the first to have cattle in Wyoming but he may, very well, have been the first to buy and sell cattle, a thriving part of his business from his fledgling trading enterprise at Fort Bridger. And along with his buddy, Kit Carson, he skimmed oil from a seep just west of present day Casper Wyoming. What did they do with it? Well, they mixed it with flour and sold it as axel grease for wagons heading west – and it worked pretty good.

 Bridger also took on special projects for the government. At the request of the army he blazed a new trail from near his Casper oil seep, up though Wyoming’s Big Horn Basin and into the gold fields of Montana. - (The Bridger Trail) - This trail allowed people a chance to avoid the bloody Bozeman Trail. If people would have listened to him and used his new trail maybe a large part of the Indian wars of the west could have been avoided.
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