The design for this t-shirt that is currently sold at the Museum of the Mountain Man in Wyoming just says “Green River Rendezvous”. A mountain man rendezvous was when trappers would come down from the mountains with their furs and sell them to traders who had come across the plains to buy the furs and sell other things mountain men would want, such as supplies for feeding themselves and trapping during the next year. The Green River Rendezvous is a commemorative living history rendezvous held in Pinedale, Wyoming annually.
Mountain men are known for being antisocial, bearded men with raccoon hats dressed in leather shirts and pants. Actually, as shown in the design, they were likely to be cleanshaven, which was the current fashion, as well as easier than keeping a beard clean in the wild and less offensive to Indians they might be trading with. They would dress in fabric such as wool, which was more suitable than leather for standing in icy mountain streams, and wear “white man” styles. The reason for not wearing the same clothing as local Indian tribes was that if Tribe A was at war with Tribe B, looking too much like either one could get a man killed by the other one. But local Indians were less likely to be currently at war with distant white men, and many mountain men had good working relationships with multiple tribes and married local women. Also, mountain men were not necessarily antisocial; for an industrious young man, trapping was a good way to build up some money to take back East and start a business, and many mountain men were only in the mountains long enough to do so. Then they became successful businessmen, presumably with good stories to tell their grandchildren.
The original design for this shirt, shown above, included a famous notice by William H. Ashley that appeared in 1822 in the Missouri Gazette & Public Advertiser and the St. Louis Enquirer, and inspired many young men, now called “Ashley’s Hundred”, to head west. Ashley was only asking for a hundred men, but over two hundred applied.
Enterprising Young Men
The subscriber wishes to engage ONE HUNDRED MEN, to ascend the river Missouri to its source, there to be employed for one, two, or three years. For particulars enquire of Major Andrew Henry, near the Lead Mines, in the County of Washington, (who will ascend with, and command party) or to the subscriber at St. Louis.
Biographies of some well-known mountain men are at the Manuel Lisa Party website.