Alfred Jacob Miller attended the enormous 1837 rendezvous with Scottish adventurer Sir William Drummond Stewart. His paintings of the gathering have helped in creating a romantic image of the West that persists today.
Near what is today the small western Wyoming town of Daniel, fur traders held the rendezvous of 1837 along the Green River, in the shadow of the Wind River Range of mountains. Over the years, trappers and traders held eight rendezvous in Green River Valley, out of a total fifteen held between 1825 and 1840.
The 1837 rendezvous was one of the largest ever held. Alfred Jacob Miller, an artist known for his paintings of the American West, attended the rendezvous with Sir William Drummond Stewart, a British military officer and adventurer who was touring the American West. Stewart hired Miller to sketch their trip through the West. When Miller arrived at Green River, he was struck by the sight of hundreds of white lodges stretched out into the distance. He camped out under the Wind Mountains among over 3,000 Native Americans, many of whom were from the Snake tribe. Osborne Russell, a fur trapper, also recorded detailed descriptions of the events.
Fur trappers dedicated the first day to festivities and celebration; men gambled, raced horses, and gathered in small groups to tell their stories. The mountain men used animal skin for clothes and bedding, and their diets consisted mainly of meat from any animals they could catch. The American Fur Company arrived the second day to raise their tents and begin trading, and Thomas Fitzpatrick arrived on July 5 with the supply train: twenty mule-drawn carts. Trappers again complained about the highly inflated costs of goods in the mountains. There was a high demand for alcohol, and a one gallon sold for $64. The St. Louis traders brought newspapers as well as letters from friends and family members for the mountain men.
In addition to the relationships white men made with each other, Miller also observed white–Native American relations at the rendezvous, including gift exchanges and the smoking of a ceremonial pipe. He even observed the marriage between native woman and a half-Native American trapper named Francois. Francois paid the bride’s family in currency and material goods, giving the marriage an economic context. Miller also took frequent trips to a chain of lakes to take sketches of the scenery. Trading lasted a few days, after which traders packed up the furs and shipped them to St. Louis, or “the States” as Russell called them.
Daniel, Wyoming is now a very small town with a population of 150 in Sublette County, which is named after fur trader William Sublette. The Upper Green River Rendezvous Site became a National Historic Landmark in 1963 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. Annual rendezvous reenactments are held in the nearby town of Pinedale, seat of Sublette County.