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First Cache Valley Explorers

Temporary Camp
Fur trappers cooking 

Fur trappers, also known as Mountain Men, were the first white men to enter Cache Valley and the surrounding areas [1]. Ephraim Logan and Peter Skene Ogden, the names of whom still mark the areas they explored, entered as early as 1824 [2]. These early explorers hunted beaver for their pelts which were in high demand for their use in fashionable hats back east and in Europe [1]. Although the aggressive trapping nearly caused the extinction of the beaver [3], Mountain Men were very mindful of preventing food waste. 


Beaver Hat Advertisement

Mountain men and trappers followed the example of the Native Americans by finding ways to use as much of the animal as possible. Beaver trappers tanned the fur for trading, saved the castor from scent glands for baiting other beavers, used fat for cooking and make-shift candles, cooked the tail in soup, and polished the teeth for trade with Native Americans [4]

The typical diet of mountain men consisted of primarily of meat that was available to them; this included fish, buffalo, or furbearers like beavers [5]. Trappers would preserve their meats with salting or drying to produce bacon, smoked ham, corned beef, dried fish or salt pork [5]. This prevented spoilage and extended shelf life.

Some Mountain Man favorite recipes include [5]:

  • Boudins - Cut portions of buffalo intestine and stuff with wild onions and other herbs. Tie ends of and roast until sizzling.

  • Bear - Baste liver, heart, and kidneys with melting fat. To tenderize meat, boil for ten hours.

  • Pemmican - Dry meat and available berries. Pound meat and berries into meal. Pour hot animal grease over mixture. Pack mix into a bladder bag. Will not spoil for months.

  • Bitters - Mix one a cup of buffalo gallbladder fluid with one pint of water.

1. Ricks, J. (1953, April 24). The Beginnings of Settlement in Cache Valley. USU Faculty Honors Lecture, Paper 43. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/ viewcontent.cgi?article=1037&context=honor_lectures
2. Cache Valley Visitors Bureau. (n.d.). The Early History of Cache Valley [Brochure]. Logan: Visitors Bureau. Retrieved from http://ewb.usu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/INFO-History-of-Cache-Valley.pdf
3. Alexander, T. (2016). Traders, Trappers, and Mountain Men. Utah History to Go. Retrieved from http://historytogo.utah.gov/utah_chapters/trappers,_traders,_and_explorers/traderstrappersandmountianmen.html
4. Somerville, R. (2002, January 9). Richard Smith: A modern day mountain man. State Gazette. Retrieved from http://www.stategazette.com/story/1032103.html
5. Schaubs, M. (2016, March 3). Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky Mountain West. Malachite’s Big Hole. Retrieved from http://www.mman.us/fooddrink.htm