Jim Bridger: Trailblazer of the American West

Jerry Enzler
Missouri Valley Sundays
Jim Bridger: Trailblazer of the American West
Sunday, May 16, 2021
3:00 pm

Even among the iconic frontiersmen of the American West, Jim Bridger stands out as larger than life. 

Born in 1804 and orphaned at 13, Bridger made his first western foray in 1822, traveling up the Missouri River to trap beaver. As a young man in his early 20s, he was the first mountain man to come upon the Great Salt Lake, paddle the Bighorn River’s Bad Pass, and explore the wonders of Yellowstone. In the decades to follow, Bridger led trapping excursions and military and scientific expeditions out west, operated a trading post on the Oregon Trail, and was a pioneering merchant in Westport when it was a frontier outpost. 

In a discussion of his new book Jim Bridger: Trailblazer of the American West, historian Jerry Enzler examines Bridger’s remarkable life – from early explorer, guide, and fur trader to his retirement to a farm near Watts Mill outside of Kansas City. He was 77 when he died in 1881, and is buried in Mount Washington Cemetery. 

Enzler served as founding director of the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque, Iowa, for 37 years. He has written and curated national exhibitions and films and published historical articles on Jim Bridger, river history, and other topics. 

Watch his presentation live online at YouTube.com/kclibrary