News 4/20/99

Mountain men and women rendezvous in Cache

By Jessica Warren

For 25 years members of the Old Ephraim Mountain Man Club have been getting together to relive the era of beaver trappers, rendezvous and homes in the mountains.

Whether it's teepees or "tin teepees" (trailers), these modern-day mountain men and women bring history to life.

The history is more than just dressing in leather and beaver skin. The organization has done its homework on the mountain men of Utah. They have pinpointed the site of the first rendezvous in 1826 at the mouth of Cache Valley's Blacksmith Fork Canyon.

Fran Morgan, club historian, has studied up on the area. She has found journals and accounts of furs being cached there, and is preparing to submit her reports to the local historical society.

"Everything I've read puts it (the first rendezvous) in Cache Valley," said Morgan.

The club hopes to erect a monument of on the site to signify the importance of its history.

Cove, Wyo., however, has already claimed to be the place of the first rendezvous in 1826.

Morgan has done research that falsifies their documentation, but is unsure about how to approach them about it.

"That's the only kink I've got," said Morgan.

She said it is difficult to question something like this because Wyoming has two prominent monuments and has printed its claim to the first rendezvous in three history books that Morgan knows of.

She does say that the research is getting close to being submitted.

In the meantime, the Old Ephraim Mountain Man Club will be preparing for it's own rendezvous Memorial Day weekend.

Each year the members gather and build their own temporary community of teepees, trading sites and gathering spots.

Traders come from all over to set up on "trader's row" selling and trading their leather products, trunks, jams and jellies and jewelry.

Participants cook dinners in Dutch ovens and leave modern items like cameras and watches behind. Everything is authentic to the early 1800s.

Participants also give demonstrations on "school days." On May 25 and 26 participants will teach 25-30 bus loads of elementary school children who stop by each day how to shoot a black powder rifle, the arts of storytelling, wood carving, leather art and bead work, all the crafts of the times.

The members stay for about a month at the site in Left Hand Fork, about five miles up Blacksmith Fork Canyon.

They clean the area when they arrive; they clean up before they leave. Because of this, their relationship with the forest service is good, according to Lynda Atkinson. She and her husband, LaDell, have been members for 21 years.

If you would like to see what the club is about, go to the rendezvous Memorial Day weekend, they welcome new members any time.


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