John Colter

John Colter was one of the youngest men selected to accompany the Lewis & Clark Expedition. He was also one of the men most depended upon throughout the trip, being sent on several short side explorations on his own. On the return trip down the Missouri, the expedition* encountered a couple of men, Hancock and Dickson, who were headed up to the Yellowstone country to trap for furs. The trappers stayed with the expedition, in fact went downstream with them, for their stay at the Mandan villages where they had spent their first winter (1804 - 5). During the stay with the Mandans, Dickson and Hancock asked John Colter to join them and return to the Yellowstone country.

Although his enlistment did not expire for another 2 months, Captains Lewis and Clark gave their permission for him to leave and return upriver. He would go on to become one of the most famous of the "mountain men." He was well known in the Jackson Hole area. Colter's Bay is but one of the features named for him.

*At this point the return expedition was still split into two groups. Lewis had been accidentally wounded and the anxiety level was rising because they had expected to rejoin the Clark led part of the expedition by this time.

Ronda, James, 19988, Lewis and Clark Among the Indians,Univ. Nebraska Press.

Josephy, Alvin M., The Nez Perce Indians and the Opening of the Northwest, Houghton Mifflin Co.

Ambrose, Stephen, Undaunted Courage : Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West, Touchstone. (Hardcover)

deVoto, Bernard (Editor), The Journals of Lewis and Clark, Houghton Mifflin Co.

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© 1995 - Karen M. Strom