Rendezvous Trade Goods

The purpose of rendezvous was to trade beaver pelts for goods that were needed in the mountains by both the trappers and Native Peoples.

Blankets, guns, powder and lead, knives, kettles and pots, cloth, food and spices, whiskey and such items were brought out to trade.

Prices were highly inflated and became known as "mountain prices". Markups of over 1000% were common. It was quickly learned by some that the real money in the fur trade was in the supply business.

Many items were brought out specifically for trade with the Indians. It was normal for there to be more Native People at rendezvous than trappers. Beads, brass rings and bracelets, vermillion, bells, ribbons, and cloth were highly sought after by the Indian women.

Rendezvous was normally held in early July, and could last from days to a couple of weeks. It was one of the few times that the mountain men didn't work. They eagerly waited for news from the states, visited friends, discussed affairs of the mountains, drank, played, fought and generally had a good time.

People from the east attending rendezvous were taken aback by the sights and happenings. John Kirk Townsend, seeing a rendezvous for the first time described his camp as " a perfect bedlam!"


Bee's wax Candle



Fire Steels

Comb and Razor

Powder Horn and Copper Kettles

Nesting Kettles

Nesting cooking pots in both copper and tin were brought to the mountains in great quantity for use by the trappers and in trade with the Indians.

I. Wilson Skinning Knife


Moccaisins were extensively worn by the mountain men. Several styles were used: side seam (shown here), center seam, and pucker toe.

Winter Moccasins

Winter moccasins were made of buffalo hide with the hair left on and turned inward. Winter moccasins were also made using blanket scraps as liners, with a leather shell. Bear grease was used to make moccasins more leather resistant.

Pound Beads

Trade Rings

Finger rings were traded to the Natives in great quantity and many native women adorned themselves with such items to show how wealthy their husbands were.

Spice Horn and Salt Cache

Hide Scrapers

Rendered Soap


Flax Tow

Used for tinder and for cleaning gun barrels.


Vermillion was a type of pigment and was widely prized by the Indians. Beads, brass rings, and bracelets were other items that were imported exclusively for the Indian trade. Knives, blankets, copper and tin kettles, lead gunpowder, and food stuff were traded to both the trappers and the Indians. Whiskey was also a very popular trade item at Rendezvous, and many a trapper used his newly traded kettle as a drinking glass!

Smoking Pipe and Tobacco Plug

Powder Keg

Shooting Pouch

Powder Horns

Bullet Mold

Nearly all the items in this display are made by and regularly used by members of the American Mountain Men (AMM).

These items appear to be used and trail worn because they are. AMM members regularly camp, hunt, trap, travel by horse, canoe and on foot. Research of journals from the fur trade era, as well as some surviving art from the period, direct the clothing and equipment that we use. Research and experimentation are never ending quests. We try hard to "do it right".

"Getting on the ground" with this equipment and clothing gives us insight into the lives and methods of the Rocky Mountain trappers. We learn what they did by doing it with the same clothing, equipment as they used. We camp in all times of the year, learning, as the mountain men did, how to cope with the environment and weather.

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