The cannons don’t thunder, there’s nothing to plunder
I’m an over-forty victim of fate
Arriving too late, arriving too late
As we travel the American back roads we’ve stumbled upon some fascinating cultures that are committed re-enactors living the life they wished they’d been born into.
There are of course the popular and famous Civil War reenactments or the Renaissance Festivals. Visit any of these fun events and you’ll see people that live, breath and are happiest when they are amongst fellow historical period enthusiasts.
But these events are tame in comparison with more niche groups like the Great Western Wars where there are virtually no spectators, just participants in full armor beating the crap out of each other.
Wyoming’s annual Mountain Man Rendezvous is somewhere between these. It is held every year in the tiny hamlet of Fort Bridger, Wyoming in the Southwestern corner of the state. For 5 days men, woman, families come from all over North America to set up camp and compete in skill challenges like Ax and Knife throwing, musket shooting with powder and ball, trap setting, archery , cast iron cookery and artisan skills that are preserved through this community. We had been told about this from a Wyoming resident a few years ago and it’s been on our “gotta’ checkout list” ever since.
Held at the Bridger State Historic park is named after the justifiably glorified real Mountain Man Jim Bridger. For the modest fee of $4.00 you can step back in time. If you come in period clothing, admission is Free. Hundreds of authentic tents and teepees create acres of encamped communities that are as much homes as they are exhibits.
We ate, wandered, sang, shopped, talked and learned with these living historians for three days. If you can, go one year to the Mountain Man Rendezvous. Even better take the children in your lives. This event is mostly participants that are competing for coveted recognition for their skills but visitors are welcome warmly.
Mountain Men Movies
“The Mountain Men” with Charleston Heston and Brian Keith
“Jeremiah Johnson” with Robert Redford